Joseph James Federel, WWII Veteran, Age 89

Joseph James Federel | Radio Operator 3rd Class, U.S. Navy, K Division | Served in the Pacific Theater during WWII | Received the following medals for his service: Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal and Philippine Liberation Medal

Federel relates what is was like to be aboard the U.S.S. Nassau, a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier that held 24 planes that were ferried along with supplies throughout the Pacific Theater during WWII. His emotional story includes a moving personal impression of docking near the wrecked U.S.S. Arizona in Pearl Harbor.

“My name came up when I was assigned to the U.S.S. Nassau, which is a baby aircraft carrier, which was based at the Alameda Naval Air Station just outside of San Francisco, California. The ship didn’t look too good when I arrived. It was tied up and I said “My god. This is what I’m going on?” [laughs] I couldn’t believe, but that was it. We sailed the next day for Pearl Harbor.”

From the deck of the U.S.S. Nassau, Federel sees before him the wreckage of the U.S.S. Arizona, which was attacked by Japanese air raid on December 7, 1941 — killing 1,117 servicemen.

“After maybe about five days, we arrived at Pearl Harbor and we tied up alongside of the dock on Ford Island, which is the navy base. I couldn’t believe the sight that I saw when I pulled into the harbor. All our ships sticking out of the water sunk. Ironically, we had tied up right behind the Arizona. You could see the outline underwater of all the boys down below. We had stayed there for several days. Again, we sailed for the island of Guam. Guam had just been taken back from us recently. It was now occupied by American forces.”

During its service, the U.S.S. Nassau ferried aircraft and supplies throughout the Pacific Theater, including missions to Guam and the liberation of the Philippines.

“And later on that year we had given support to the fleet and went in on the liberation of the Philippine islands. And when the war had ended in August of 1945, our ship was assigned and sailed into the port of Guangzhou, China. The Japanese had left after the surrender, and our ship by being in that port, the city was officially occupied by American forces.”

After fie years of active Naval service, the U.S.S. Nassau was officially decommissioned on October 28, 1946.