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John Willey, a native of Seaford, Delaware, served in the Navy during World War II. Born in 1921, John is currently 97 years old and recalls both Home Front and war time experiences. Prior to the war, John worked for a regional oil distributor, Peninsula Oil. In 1940, John married Virginia Elliott and had two children. He entered the service in 1942 and served until late 1945. After returning from the Pacific he continued his work for Peninsula Oil until his retirement. Mr. Willey currently resides in his hometown of Seaford, taking photographs of the town to compare with images from the past.
In this interview, Mr. Willey shares his experiences on the Home Front and the Pacific Theater. He remembers hearing about Pearl Harbor and having a distinct feeling that he would be involved in the War. After being drafted into the Army, he opted to join the Navy where he was a Seaman First Class. His time in the Navy is marked with a number of encounters with death, including multiple kamikaze attacks, the invasion of Okinawa, minesweeping in the Yellow Sea and surviving a typhoon with winds exceeding 120 miles per hour. John’s stories of life on an “oiler” complement his stories about rationing, blackouts and POWs back home in Seaford.
Conducted June 20th, 2018
Interviewers: Ethan O’Malley, Isaiah Reese, and Patricia Rana