World War II veterans speak at USF

04/16/08 Seán Kinane
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Today four World War II veterans shared their war stories with students in a special topics class at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus.

Gary Mormino is co-director of the Florida Studies Program at USF and the professor of the class that invited the four World War II veterans.

William Emerson, wore a flight jacket and told the students about his reaction to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Eugene Williams was born in St. Petersburg in 1924 and was a student at the University of Florida at the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor. He was drafted in February 1943 and served in Europe.

John Clement joined the Marine Corps when he was a student at Yale University. He was injured on Iwo Jima. While recovering from those wounds in a Long Island Naval hospital, he got orders that he would go back to the Pacific on August 5, 1945. His mother-in-law was a first cousin of Secretary of War Henry Stimson. Clement had tea with them on the Sunday before the U.S. dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima Japan.

Gus Stavros was a high school senior in 1941. He was injured near the village of Nennig Germany while serving under General George Patton. Years later Stavros took his family back to Nennig.

John Clement said one of the differences between World War II and the wars of today are that these days Americans are not asked to give up anything during wartime.

Chase Bodden is a senior at USF St. Pete, majoring in history and minoring in anthropology. He said it was “amazing” to hear the perspective of World War II veterans after studying the war all semester.

Monica Rowland is a program coordinator with the Florida Humanities Council. She said reading about history is one thing, but it is important to see a real face behind the history. Rowland was impressed that the veterans tied their World War II experience to current wars.

Photo credit: Seán Kinane/WMNF

Photo caption, left to right: John Clement, William Emerson and Gus Stavros.

Learn more:

USF St. Pete

Florida Studies Program at USF St. Pete

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