News

The Armed Forces History Museum Announces Two Historic Veteran Events
Date:  10/12/2016
ArticleType:  Member News

PRESS RELEASE
For immediate release
THE ARMED FORCES HISTORY MUSEUM ANNOUNCES TWO HISTORIC VETERAN EVENTS
Veterans Day – Friday, November 11
75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor – Wednesday, December 7

Largo, FL (October 12, 2016)
The Armed Forces History Museum will be producing two events within the next couple of months.

On Friday, November 11th, veterans and their immediate families will receive complimentary admission thanks to sponsors Bosley & Bratch – Lawyers for Veterans. Tours will be available for those wishing to receive in-depth information, and coffee and sweets will be served in the museum’s Officers’ Club Quonset Hut. Children from elementary schools will be making thank you cards in advance, which will be distributed to each veteran. The museum will be open from 10am to 4pm.

The 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor will be recognized on its official day of Wednesday, December 7th. Seating, presentations and food will be added to the museum’s Pearl Harbor Gallery as the recognition will feature Mike Eversole, military historian, who will provide further facts and information on the day that will live in infamy. Young Naval Sea Cadets will present colors. And, 99-year-old Pearl Harbor and 4-time Kamikaze survivor William “Wild Bill” E. Monfort will engage in up close and personal conversations with guests.

“Wild Bill” was born on December 17, 1916 in Marion County, Georgia and spent a few years working on a farm. He enlisted in the Navy on November 19, 1935. He went to the naval training station in Norfolk, VA. Upon his arrival, he remembers placing all of his civilian clothes in a box and sending them home because he had to wear the appropriate uniform. He was a merchant’s mate and wound up in the radio room aboard the USS New Orleans in 1938. In 1939, he travelled to San Diego, Panama, San Juan and then back to San Diego. He jumped aboard the USS Minneapolis in Long Beach for a few months starting in May of 1939, then to the USS Chester.

In April of 1940, “Wild Bill” transferred to the USS Dobbin then to the USS Mahan in February 1941 where he worked as a 2nd Class Radio Operator, but found himself in charge. He remained on the destroyer until after the Battle of Midway then made his way to Boston in July 1942 aboard the USS Doran. He lived in the barracks of the USS Claxton until the ship was commissioned in December of 1942.

“Wild Bill” was at radio control on December 7th when he received the message, “Air raid in Pearl Harbor. This is not a drill.” He immediately took the message to the Captain who would be found on the bridge. The Captain took to the PA and announced, “All men to their battle stations.” He spent the remaining time sending out messages in 5-letter group codes. The USS Claxton was not in port in Pearl Harbor. Rather, it was a few hundred miles away but made its way to Pearl Harbor where he saw ships still burning. It took 16 days to put out one fire on one ship alone. “Wild Bill” witnessed the USS Oklahoma turned over and saw men as they drilled holes on the bottom of the ship in an effort to save any survivors. “Wild Bill” spent the next few weeks on patrol going in and out of Pearl Harbor. The USS Utah was blown to pieces and the USS Arizona capsized. “Wild Bill” discharged in January of 1946.

“Wild Bill” is also a 4-time Kamikaze survivor. He was hit once in the Leyte Gulf in the waters near the Philippine islands of Leyte, Samar and Luzon in October 1944.

“Wild Bill” will celebrate his 100th birthday just ten days following the recognition of Pearl Harbor. The museum and its guests will celebrate his birthday with cake and coffee. The museum will follow the Naval tradition of the oldest person in the room and the youngest person in the room as they cut the cake together using a Naval sword. In this case, it will be “Wild Bill” and the youngest Sea Cadet. The Naval Sea Cadets will stand guard on each side of “Wild Bill” during the program, which will be from 10:30am to noon. Discounted admission will be available during that time for $10.

Please contact Cindy Dion for further information at 727.539.8371 ext. 106 or cindy@armedforcesmuseum.com or visit armedforcesmuseum.com.

Photo:
99-year-old Pearl Harbor and 4-time Kamikaze survivor William “Wild Bill” E. Monfort of Tampa, FL will be featured at the Armed Forces History Museum at its 75th Anniversary of Pearl Harbor Recognition on Wednesday, December 7th from 10:30am to noon.

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