‘Mr. Lucky’ relives World War II missions
In the Navy during World War II Snyderville Basin resident Bill Guay said he was "Mr. Lucky."
"I was glad to get out of there when it was all said and done," Guay said about fighting in the South Pacific in the 1940s. "I always managed to get to these places when the fighting was over with, and it didn’t hurt my feelings."
Veterans Day is Sunday and as an 87-year-old member of the Greatest Generation of Americans, Guay reminisced this week about his historic travels to Pearl Harbor, New Guinea and the battle of Okinawa in Japan.
Guay was 22 years old when he joined the Navy in 1942 after graduating from college in his native Butte, Mont.
"I was just finishing up when the Japanese attacked," he said, adding that several months later he was at Pearl Harbor. "The public didn’t know what had gone on there. The newspapers and radio had minimized it."
Guay, who decoded messages as a communications officer, recalled the sinking of the U.S.S. Helena, named for the capital of his home state. He also served on the U.S.S. Morrison destroyer before suicide bombers attacked the ship killing about half its crew.
"I remember when some of those ships were going down with no survivors," he said. "I was about as green as you could get."
Before the end of the war, Guay said he sailed to Guadal and dropped soldiers from amphibious carriers onto enemy shores in Japan.
"We hung around there for about a week until the Navy thought it was secure," he said. "The Japanese had abandoned towns entirely and the streets were deserted. We went ashore there and it was eerie, it was a very strange feeling"
Guay was in Okinawa the day World War II ended in 1945 having served on destroyers and "every type of landing craft and the ships that were carrying the tanks," he said.
"Serving on a war ship in wartime is an awful place to be because there is no rest," Guay said.
In the interview, Guay lamented that reporters today are not as loyal to the United States as journalists who covered World War II.
"In World War II, the press was always on the side of the Americans," he said. "I can’t make up my mind about (President) Bush. The media have managed to totally ruin that guy, and maybe they’re right and maybe they aren’t. God help us either way."
Guay was born in Montana Feb. 25, 1920, on the brink of the Great Depression.
"We were born in a critical period of history," he said.
Guay moved to Park City to be close to his son and grandchildren who live at Kimball Junction. His said his wife and daughter died a few years ago.
"I’ve been in and out of Park City a couple of times," Guay said. "When you outlive everybody, you have to move near your grandkids. I don’t know anybody my own age anymore, they’re all gone."
Age: 87, Born: Feb. 25, 1920, Military branch: U.S. Navy, Rank: Lieutenant, Birthplace: Butte, Mont., Destinations: Pearl Harbor, Guadal Canal, Okinawa, Philippines
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Councilor Glenn Wright estimated that the ability to provide renewable energy sources for county power will cost the average Summit County resident $0.70 per year above current costs.