Sue Presley, one of our long-term volunteers first came to this Museum to purchase a poster of the Flight 19 Squadron. By the time she left, thanks to Museum's founder Allan McElhiney's persuasiveness, she was a member, volunteer assistant to Allan, and had acquired space to use for display of her Eastern Airlines memorabilia! Sue was employed by Eastern in Atlanta, Georgia in 1965 as an airport agent. She transferred to Fort Lauderdale Airport in 1970. She later worked at Miami International Airport as an agent and as a Special Services Representative. In 1979, after Sue's daughters were grown up and getting married, Sue became a Flight Attendant for Eastern. Along the way, she became a private pilot. She remained with Eastern until 1990, when she accepted early retirement nine months before Eastern ended its long life as one of the country's major carriers. Sue's love of flying remains intact. She has been to all 50 States and to more than 50 foreign countries like Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, many places it would not be possible to visit today. In February, Sue flew to Washington, DC with daughter Debbie and son-in-law Pat to see the newest addition to the family, their grandson baby James, who is Sue's first great-grandchild. Sue is thinking of one more major trip to Russia or Israel, health and finances permitting. Until then, she says that she will do her traveling through the many interesting displays in our Naval Air Station Museum. THANK YOU SUE, for all you do!
Larry Rivera, son of WWII veteran Ray Rivera, discovered this Museum while he was riding his motorcycle around Perimeter Rd. He told his father Ray (a WWII sailor and survivor on the USS Bunker Hill), about his visit to the place and brought him over to meet Allan, the founder and custodian. That was 7 years ago. Ray & Larry have been the most dedicated volunteers. They enjoy spending time together while painting, pressure cleaning, landscaping and taking care of the continuous maintenance of this Museum. OUR DEEPEST THANKS TO BOTH!
The following items and artifacts were donated
to the Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum
67th Anniversary US Navy Flight 19 Memorial
Honoring the WWII servicemen
During WWII, the Military had to mobilize with speed and urgency, thus the number of casualties at military bases was on the high side. A sad but equally historic note is the fact that 95 Americans lost their lives at the NAS Fort Lauderdale base during 1942-1945— the three most intensive training years of the war. The Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Historical Association proudly salutes all of the service members who perished while serving at this naval air station.
Memorial Ceremony Program Sample
- Click for larger view -
The historic WWII Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum hosted the 67th Anniversary of the US Navy Flight 19 Memorial, on 5 December 2012. The Master of Ceremony was Donald Prichard, Vice President of the NASFL Historical Association. In attendance were Broward County Aviation Department Directors, several historians and local politicians, including Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler, Broward County Commissioner Chip LaMarca and retired Mayor Jim Naugle, whose uncle Thomas "Tex" Ellison was a flight Instructor at this naval base. In all, about 160 people attended the ceremony.
Among the attendees were many veterans of wars, five of them were personnel of the former NAS Fort Lauderdale: Lt. David White, TBM flight Instructor who participated in the search for Flight 19; George Lord, Aviation gunner's mate on TBMs; Henry Torres, Sr., who was in charge of the Machine Shop at the Beach Target Range; Floyd Johnson, TBF Gunner; and Allan McElhiney USNR aboard the USS Asheville, a ship that tested weapons for this naval base. Also, Officers and crewmen of the USS Taylor (FFG-50) The Proud Defender participated with Commander Dennis Volpe, as well as members of the Stranahan High School Marine Corps JROTC Color Guard. The vocalist for this occasion was professional singer and entertainer Frank Loconto and the bugler assembly and TAPS was performed by Robert Young. This event was covered by the media.
Honoring Allan McElhiney
This Museum began with the vision of one man, who was a sailor in World War II, aboard the USS Asheville: Allan McElhiney, who in the course of more than 30 years has compiled a vast amount of documents, photographs, articles and artifacts for the institution he founded. This Museum is on the National Register of Historic Places, the only military museum in Broward county, and the only remaining WWII military building left in Broward county, thanks to his efforts.
We salute you Allan McElhiney.
Gallery of Images Copyright © David Baum Click for larger view
Captain Jeanne Grushinski joined fellow veteran Ray Rivera from the USS Bunkerhill at the NASFL Museum,
where they shared stories about their service in the Navy.
Jeanne Grushinski a Registered Nurse from Stirling New Jersey, was working at Bellevue Hospital, one of the biggest city hospitals in the USA— when she decided to join the Navy in 1942 at the age of 24. She felt she had to do something to help, as the war had touched her close to home. Her family is from Lodc, Poland, a country that was ravaged by Nazi Germany. Jeanne was transferred to her first station at a US Navy Hospital in Philadelphia, when the Battle of Guadalcanal was taking place. This hospital treated returning wounded sailors. After 6 months in Philadelphia, she transferred to NAS Pensacola where she remained for 1 1/2 years. She then got orders for San Leandro US Navy Hospital, where she would experience a more intense work load with total patient and psychiatric care units. The war ended when Jeanne was in San Leandro. Soon after, she received orders to set for the Pacific Islands with a small team of nurses and corpsmen, to provide post-war relief. They made their way from station to station until they got to Okinawa, where the team would take charge of a makeshift Fleet Hospital.
As Jeanne remembers: "The Hospital was between Yonabaru and Naha. Naha was raized to the ground. The nurses quarters was fenced in and we had marine guards patrolling, as well as flood lights all night. We slept in butler huts, which had one bed on each corner. We would take care of native civilians and American military. The corpsmen (male nurses), would bring in the wounded. We women couldn't go into any dangerous areas. We had a limited staff so we sometimes had to go 4 weeks straight on night duty. We stayed in Okinawa for a couple of months, then we were sent off to Guam where we waited for transportation, before making our way to Saipain. While in Saipan, we lived in quonset huts and it was a little more relaxed. It was not a Naval Hospital, but more of a US Navy Dispensary, where a staff of 4 would take care of 10 to 20 people at a time."
Jeanne related the day when a hurricane hit the area; and how they evacuated to the hills and caves with their patients in tow. They all made it through, safe and sound. She also remembers an unsettling experience with a patient: she discovered that the man in front of her was a Japanese soldier. She had taken care of Japanese civilians before, but this was different. Here it was, the enemy at her hands. Emotions overwhelmed her, but she reconciled with the fact that she was in service to make people feel better. She went on performing her job. After a year in Saipan she returned home to the USA. In 1947, Jeanne got married to a Navy pharmacist from New York. She then had to retire because as she says "back then, no women could stay in the military if married." Nine years later, Jeanne went back into the reserves and stayed in the Navy until 1978 when she became a Captain. Jeanne received the American Theater Ribbon medal, the Asiatic Pacific Theater medal and the WWII Ribbon. Captain Jeanne Grushinski lives now in Sunrise, Florida.
Click on images to enlarge
Rear Admiral Michael Yurina visited the Museum with his wife Jenni, mom and dad, and nephew Austin Scott as we had a group of sailors from the USS Gettysburg doing volunteer community service. He has been Director of Strategic Planning and Communication of the Submarine Warfare Division and Chief of Naval Operations Staff. The Museum was in a state of commotion, but he really enjoyed himself talking to the group and exploring the exhibits. He gave Allan McElhiney a beautiful Challenge Coin, as he expressed his thanks to Allan for his military service and dedication to the preservation of this historic Museum. ADM Yurina and John Bloom are friends from Saint Coleman's Grade School and Cardinal Gibbons High School. It was nice to see you Admiral!
ADM Michael J. Yurina
Rear Admiral Michael J. Yurina
Director, Strategic Planning and Communication
Submarine Warfare Division
Chief of Naval Operations Staff
Rear Admiral Yurina hails from Pompano Beach, Fla. and is a 1978 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. Following nuclear propulsion training and basic submarine school, he reported to USS Sturgeon (SSN 637) where he completed submarine warfare and nuclear engineer officer qualification. Yurina then reported to commander Submarine Squadron 18 as Submarine Performance Monitoring Team leader prior to transition to the Navy Reserve in 1985.
Yurina has completed Navy Reserve assignments supporting assistant chief of Naval Operations (Undersea Warfare); USS L.Y. Spear (AS 36); Submarine Squadron 8; Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic; commander Submarine Force (Headquarters and Battle Group Staff); Supreme Allied Commander, Transformation; and National Defense University. He served in command of five Reserve units. Following a tour as Reserve chief of staff, Submarine Force, he served as vice commander, Submarine Force from August 2008 to September 2009.
Complementing his uniformed military service, Yurina joined the Naval Sea Systems Command as a civilian in 1986 and served in a variety of submarine engineering, financial management, acquisition reform, knowledge management, Reserve coordination, and acquisition policy roles until 2003. Yurina is currently employed by the Transportation Security Administration. He has achieved level 3 program management certifications in DoD and the Department of Homeland Security.
Yurina’s awards include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, and various other personal and service awards. He holds a Bachelors of Science in Naval Architecture, a Masters of Public Administration and a Masters of Science in National Resource Strategy. He is a distinguished graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces and the Defense Acquisition University Senior Acquisition Course.
Photos by Minerva Bloom
Ray Rivera, USNR WWII
USS Bunker Hill Survivor
Frogman Trainee and Korean Veteran
Naval Air Station Fort Lauderdale Museum - Maintenance Volunteer
Ray Rivera was born in Bronx, New York. It was perhaps part of his ancestry of seafaring peoples from the French region of Corsica, that Ray was interested in the Navy ever since he can remember. At 13, he joined the group American Blue Jackets as a way to prepare for a career in the Navy. At 16, he was finally a member of the US Navy and on his way to the South Pacific on the USS Bunker Hill-- where he celebrated his 17th birthday. He became a 2nd class Petty Officer. Ray recalls that he was aboard the aircraft carrier on May 1945, when it got attacked by Japanese kamikaze pilots. He was below deck on his way to the galley, when the first plane hit the ship. He was immediately assigned to “damage control.” The fires raged on deck, and heavy smoke infiltrated into the decks below, killing many men. The crew of the Bunker Hill suffered from the loss of 346 sailors and airmen killed, 43 more missing (and never found), and 264 wounded. The damaged ship returned to Pearl Harbor, and then onto Bremerton WA, for repairs. When the war ended, the Bunker Hill became a “Magic Carpet” taking troops back and forth, throughout the South Pacific. Ray then got transferred to Little Creek VA, to become part of the Underwater Demolition Teams (UDT), also known as Frogmen. The UDT were an elite special-purpose force established by the United States Navy during World War II. Their primary function was to reconnoiter and destroy enemy defensive obstacles on beaches prior to amphibious landings. They were the precursor to the present-day SEALs.
Ray was discharged from the Navy in 1947 and joined the reserves. In 1950 when the Korean war started, he was called to active duty. He was assigned to the USS Grand Canyon AD-28, a destroyer tender (a ship designed to provide maintenance support to a flotilla of destroyers or other small warships). He was also on a tour of duty in the Mediterranean. Ray was awarded several medals: American Defense, Asiatic-Pacific-Campaign two battle stars, Victory medal, Liberation of Philippines, the Presidential Unit citation, as well as other Korean ribbons. Ray got discharged in 1953, and moved to Florida. He then joined the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and became Commander for 9 years; then District Commander for 2 ½ years in Hialeah, FL. Ray is married to Alice and they both live in Pembroke Pines. They have three children and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Ray Rivera has been one of the most active members and helpful volunteers of the NASFL Museum since 2006.