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William R. Horner « North Carolina's WWII ExperienceNorth Carolina's WWII Experience

William R. Horner

Hometown: Hendersonville, NC
Branch of Service: Navy, USS Henry A Wiley DM 29
Location of Service: Europe & Pacific

I entered the Navy at age 17 and underwent basic training in Norfolk, Va. Upon graduation, I was assigned to sea duty aboard the USS Farquhar DE 139.We escorted convoys carrying men and material to Europe, protecting them from submarine attacks. After I left the ship, it sank the last German U-boat of WWII.

After four trips to Europe I was reassigned to the USS Henry A Wiley DM 29 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. On Departure from New York, we escorted the Battleship Missouri out to the Pacific.

After much gunnery practice in the waters around Hawaii, we were sent to Iwo Jima and joined with the other ships and planes bombing the island, preparatory to the invasion. After the invasion we worked with the Marines in knocking out Japanese gun emplacements. We took out nine gun emplacements and were able to view the flag raised on Mt. Suribachi by the Marines.

After leaving Iwo Jima, we were directed to Okinawa and arrived with the first ships, and joined in the bombardment preparatory to the invasion. We served on radar picket duty and met the first suicide planes as they came in to attack the fleet. We shot down fifteen planes and two baka bombs. We remained unhit while our entire sister ships were. For our service at Iwo Jima we received the presidential unit citation.

After Okinawa we proceeded to the waters around Japan to clear out the mines preparatory to the invasion, which never took place, after the dropping of the A-bomb. While there, we were again attacked by enemy planes, which were driven off. Shortly afterward we were ordered to halt all offensive action against the Japanese forces. The war was over. It has been said that we very likely fired the last shots of WWII.

After the war I was assigned to The Navy Yard in Washington, DC, and served there until the time of my discharge.