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Franklin County WWII vet remembers service

Posted August 26, 2010
Updated August 27, 2010

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— Veteran Claude May remembers his time in World War II vividly. 

May was a farm boy from Franklin County who joined the Navy and ended up off the coast of Iwo Jima in WWII.

(Read May's diary from his WWII service.)

“We went alongside the USS Bowers to help with casualties,” he recently told WRAL News.

The absolute worst day, he said, was when a Japanese pilot crashed into the USS Bowers right by his ship.

“What an awful sight. Some (people) had arms, legs, heads blown off,” May said.

Fifty-five wounded men were taken from the Bowers, he said. “Three died before we got there,” he said.

May was also a lookout aboard the USS Swearer. He looked for submarines underwater and planes in the air. Some planes flew so close; he can remember one pilot's face.

“When he came by, I could see him kind of stout and grinning. He had an old, leather helmet,” he said.

Claude May Local WWII vet remembers service

Though his ship didn’t get hit, May said he did have some close calls. As a young sailor, May said he remembers shaking at times while holding his binoculars.

May said he was hopeful, at the time, that the war would end before the U.S. got to Japan.

“We found out later what they had waiting for us,” he said. “They had about 25 planes for every troop ship. We would’ve lost at least 100,000, I believe, if we’d invaded.”

At 85 years old, May said he is proud of his service.

In October, he’ll join other local veterans at the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C. The trip is part of the Triangle Flight of Honor program which raises money to send veterans to see the Memorial.

May said he has been there with his son, but wanted to share his experience with other veterans.

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  • floseh Aug 27, 2010

    When I went into the service in 1957, the starting pay for an e-1 was 68 dollars per month. After basic trng. it went to 72 dollars per month. What if we had to try to make it on that now?
    The Floseh

  • goodejrg Aug 27, 2010

    It's too bad certain politicians want to drive this country into another World War by picking fights with every country with different beliefs from those of the United States. I pray that Barack Obama's first steps towards world peace are carried on by his successor. Yes We Can!

  • Crankyone Aug 27, 2010

    The ineptitude of FDR still had not got us out of the depression, but its evils linger today. This has been excerbated but years of buying votes by giving goverment goodies, with out any of the stated results. The war on Poverty? LOL!

    We need a 2d American revolution to return to the era of freedom, opportunity and the abolition of handouts to those able to work.

    I am sure Mr. May served without thinking what's in it for him.

  • working for deadbeats Aug 27, 2010

    "That's when Americans were true Americans. What I mean by that is that is the generation that wasn't afraid of alittle hard work and EARNING what they had. People back then weren't looking for a handout and would work 10 jobs to support their family. My hats off to all veterans and active military for protecting whats left of this once great country. I still love America but it's nothing like it used to be." backwards

    You couldn't be more right!!

  • working for deadbeats Aug 27, 2010

    Thank you for you service, sir.

    It's too bad Obama wants to undo all of your hard work.

  • backwards Aug 27, 2010

    That's when Americans were true Americans. What I mean by that is that is the generation that wasn't afraid of alittle hard work and EARNING what they had. People back then weren't looking for a handout and would work 10 jobs to support their family. My hats off to all veterans and active military for protecting whats left of this once great country. I still love America but it's nothing like it used to be.

  • ORMA Aug 27, 2010

    Many thanks go out to all our veterans and active duty personnel for their service and dedication to upholding the freedoms that make this country great.

  • DiscoStu65 Aug 27, 2010

    greatest generation indeed

  • RaleighPirate Aug 27, 2010

    Thank you Mr. May and your fellow service personnel for your service and in many cases the ultimate sacrifice.

  • bekindinnc Aug 26, 2010

    Many thanks to him for his service.