Tag Archive: WWII US Navy

Ed Shepherd Celebrates Centennial: born on the 4th of July

The World War II veteran, who survived the sinking of a Navy ship in 1943 and raised a family that honors his humor as well as his heroism, celebrated his 100th birthday on the Fourth of July.

Ed Shepherd Celebrates Centennial

Shepherd waved from a float during the parade in Edmonds on the 4th. Then he gathered with loved ones at a post-parade barbecue and party at the Elks Lodge. He shared a long table with four generations of his family, including his brother, daughter, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Friends sat around other tables.

Edgar Shepherd survived the sinking of the USS Helena in the Battle of Kula Gulf. The light cruiser, which had come through the Pearl Harbor attack, was tasked with protecting other ships in the South Pacific during the Guadalcanal campaign. The Helena went down on July 6, 1943. Nearly 170 crewmen died. Shepherd was part of a group that clung to a lifeboat.

Ed Shepherd Celebrates CentennialHe kept a dollar bill signed by the sailors who survived. It was one of two bills he had in his pocket at the time. He used the other bill, a five, to pay for telegrams so they could tell their families they were alive.

Shepherd was born in Pennsylvania, one of four brothers. He joined the Navy after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. On the USS Helena, he worked in the plotting room, which included the control system for the guns. He also fought in the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.

After finishing his time at sea, he helped start a Navy reserve center in Colorado before moving to California to help his uncle open a doughnut shop. He got a job in Los Angeles at an electrical company where he worked for 24 years.

A friend persuaded him to visit Seattle, and Shepherd bought a house in Edmonds. He lives there with daughter Paula Kilbourne.

She once offered to take him whitewater rafting. He turned her down. She asked if he didn’t think she’d be a good guide. That’s not it, he told her. He clung to a rubber raft, adrift in dark waters after the USS Helena sank. He wasn’t interested in getting on a raft again.

Photos The Herald, Article excerpted from The Herald article by Kari Bray, July 5, 2018 

Charter Draped for Past Commander Dennis Gassland

Dennis Lein Gaasland passed away peacefully on March 26, 2015, in Edmonds, WA. He enlisted in the Navy and served his country proudly during World War II ending up at the liberation of the Philippines as a Radarman 2C. Before arriving at the Philippines, the navy brought him throughout the south Pacific, just about circling the perimeter, being stationed on one tropical island after the other. After shipping out of San Francisco, with the obligatory goodluck coin toss as his ship passed under the Golden Gate Bridge, his first stop was New Caledonia. From there, he went to the Soloman Islands, New Hebrides Island, Guadacanal, the Russel Islands, then to the Phillipines through Leyte Gulf at Tacloban, then Dulig, then Guiuan, Samar, then finally to Calicoan Island where he was when the war ended. Then he headed home via Okinawa to Seattle. After the war ended, Dennis returned to Washington and he and Helen were married on November 22, 1947, in Seattle. They were married for 67 ½ years until his death. After the Navy, Dennis went to the University of Washington on the GI bill, receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration in 1952. Dennis was a successful businessman, working for law firms in Seattle, while also being involved with the Kiwanis, and teaching business classes at Edmonds Community College. Because of his love of his country and Navy background, Dennis became involved with the Veterans of Foreign Wars, Edmonds branch, serving as the Commander. He was also active with the American Legion in Lake Stevens. The Post honored him at the April meeting and covered the Charter in his memory.