Presentation Date: September 22, 2016
Jerry was born in Chicago, IL in January 1922. His father was a chemist; his mother was a housewife. He had one brother four years older. After graduation from DePaul High School, he attended DePaul University. He joined the US Navy and was sent to Officer Candidate School at the Boston Navy Yard. Upon graduation from the three-month training, he was commissioned as a Deck / Engineer Ensign in January 1943.
Immediately after commissioning, he was ordered to join a new Landing Ship, Tank (LST) 991 which soon departed for the Pacific via the Panama Canal and thence to San Diego, CA.
Depending on location, an LST’s mission varied:
- In the European Theater of Operations, they routinely transported battle tanks, trucks, jeeps, and artillery pieces plus troops supporting landings.
- In the Western Pacific, they were essentially amphibious attack transports that very seldom carried tanks.
LST 991 was approximately 325 feet in length and 60 feet in width. It had bow doors that opened to provide access for trucks, jeeps, artillery pieces, etc. down its ramp from both the upper deck and the lower deck and onto the shore for beaching operations. The ship’s personnel included 125 enlisted men plus ten officers. In during attack landing operations, these LST's carried approximately 350 fighting personnel (both Marines and Army) and their equipment.
During 15 continuous months, LST 991 traveled in convoys protected by destroyers and destroyer escorts. While en route, the main hazards were enemy submarines and aircraft. Operations in the Western Pacific Included the Marianas, Marshalls, Carolinas, Solomons, Philippines, and Gilbert Islands.
The ship participated in five attack landings in a "leap frog" operation from island to island leading to their ultimate captures. These operations were extremely dangerous and difficult while both landing and retracting because of Japanese strafing and bombing. After retraction from the attack battle landings, wounded personnel were picked up and carried by reforming convoys to secured hospital and supply areas.
LST 991 received five citations from the US Government for attack battle landings. The ship and Jerry also received two citations from the Philippine Government for operations during the liberation of the Philippines. After the capture of Okinawa and and Japan’s unconditional surrender, Jerry received orders home to Berkeley where he returned to his studies at the University of California under the GI Bill and earned his PhD in physical and organic chemistry. Although he was in the Chemistry Department, he ended up teaching practical chemistry to Civil Engineering students until he became Emeritus in 1986.
In January 1943 before leaving for the Pacific, Jerry married Rosemary Renner. They have nine children, 23 grandchildren, and 13 great-grandchildren. The couple resides in Berkeley.