Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Navy Veteran John Olexa, who served aboard USS Boise in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
On Dec. 6, 1939, John Olexa enlisted in the Navy and went to basic training in Norfolk, Virginia. After training, Olexa served on USS Honolulu, before transferring to USS Boise. Olexa sailed to Manila, Philippines, to escort a convoy of five cargo ships safely to port, despite encountering a Japanese task force.
While going through the Dutch East Indies, USS Boise encountered an uncharted shoal that damaged the ship. The crew had to make their way to Mumbai, India for extensive repairs. After the repairs, USS Boise eventually made its way back to Pearl Harbor.
Olexa’s next mission with USS Boise was to aid the Guadalcanal campaign to land troops on the ground. The task force included two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers and five destroyers. Olexa was a member of the repair party. In October 1942, a Japanese task force attacked USS Boise, killing 107 sailors. After the battle, the crew made its way to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, for repairs.
Due to several illnesses, the Navy removed Olexa from sea duty and transferred him to Naval Supply Depot in Pearl Harbor. Olexa also served in Guam until the end of the war. On Dec. 30, 1945, Olexa discharged at Little Beach, New York.
After the war, Olexa studied business at West Virginia University. He passed away on Sept. 9, 2005.
More of his story can be found at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/loc.natlib.afc2001001.29103
We honor his service.
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Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Fact checker: Sierra Harbert