Vere, 12/7/11 interview

Monday, May 16, 2011

Four Stars in the Gardner Window

Four Gardner brothers, Don, Jack, Vere, and Allen were raised during the depression and bravely served the United Stated of America during WW II. Jack entered the US Army in 1939 out of high school. Vere joined the US Navy in 1940 out of high school. Don joined the US Martime Service. (Merchant Marines), in 1942 as a returned missionary (and discharged as a Coast Guard member). Allen joined the US Marines in 1944 out of high school. The home of our parents Rea and Pansy Gardner was graced with a banner with four white stars during the war, and four blue stars at the end of the war.White, blue and gold stars represented each soldier's patriotic service to our country. 

Previously untold inspirational war stories of how and where each brother risked his life in the Pacific and Atlantic theaters are documented by family letters and oral stories. Vere on Dec. 7, 1941, the first day of the war, shot down a Japanese plane at Pearl Harbor with a rifle. Jack flew P-38s to Alaska. and later flew 13 secret missions, destinations unknown.(groups of officers were likely flown to Japan Invasion war planning meetings). Flying bombers to the Pacific was Jack's major assignment, at times returned with wounded soldiers. Don's voyages to the Atlantic exposed his ship to German U-boats. At one point, likely on Guam or Okinawa, Allen was a telephone lineman for the Navajo Code Talkers, and shared a tent with one of these brave forward spotters.

Each brother was supported by the Gardner family in letters and other ways. Don married Carol (1942), Jack married Christine (1943) and Vere married Artie (1945) during the war added moral support. Allen met Don, Carol, Jack and Christine at Long Beach.Vere and Artie  honeymooned in Long Beach to be near Don and Jack after years at sea. Allen met Jack on Guam and flew with him on an  instrument check before facing fire at Okinawa. All four brothers shared war stories and strengthened moral values that lasted each a life time.

 Rea and Pansy Gardner were high school grads. Rea was born in Dec, 1891, and Pansy in May 1894. Rea and Sy attended the same high school academy. Poor  financing killed their dreams of graduating from college. Sy and Rea were sports enthusiasts, checkers champs, historians, religious philosophers and missionaries. Rea's skills and aptitudes were emulated by his children, Rea followed many of Sy's interests adding geography, the medieval era, the Silk Road, Charlemagne, European Enlightenment, and economics.

Rea and Pansy moved from Utah to Orange County in 1920 with Don and Hal. Trees were pulled,  as  grandfather Archibald and great grandfather Robert pulled trees, moving to eastern Ontario, Canada in 1820. Rea and older sister Zella were partners. Funds were provided by Sy. Rea replaced Cora, a younger sister, who returned to Utah to teach high school music. Rea, a carpenter, built his own large home, as Sy had built his firs home (the first lumber home in Spanish Fork). Six children, Jack, Vere, Allen, Colin, Faith and Dixie were born in Orange County. Don completed high school in 1935 the year the depression forced the sale of the family business and home. Don excelled in tennis, serving and returning with either hand. Pansy was a musician (piano). Pansy motivated Don (clarinet), Jack (clarinet, trombone, trumpet), Allen (clarinet), Colin (clarinet, sax), Faith (piano, song), Dixie (drums, song), and Zoe (piano, song).

With $10,000, Rea and Pansy, and eight children, moved to Gridley and bought a large house on 10 acres with peach trees. The peach trees were pulled and a dairy was started. Zoe and Milo were born.  Don continued playing tennis, finishing second in a state tournament as northern California champion and went on a mission to Missouri in Jan. 1940. Jack excelled in football, basketball and baseball. The 1938 Gridley football and basketball teams won leagues championships. Vere excelled at track setting a national class B 1,320 yard record of 3:23. Allen was paid profits from five of Rea's  50 cows to run the dairy, and not play high school sports. After Colin attended Oroville high school in 1945-1946 to play in a big band the seven day a week dairy business became under manned. Rea built hay augers, blowers, and steel bottom wagons to reduce from the field to the barn costs by 50%. The cows were sold by 1948. A post-war chopped hay business was started with the return of Vere and Allen, in partnership with Hal and Rea.

1. German military Enigma messages were decoded by Polish code breakers before 1938  predicted a German invasion. The code and the decoded troop movements were passed to ally England before the Munich conference. The code nor the information were Prime Minister Chamberlain. At the Munich Conference England ceded the Sudenland to Germany assuring that the European war would begin. In 1939 German invaded Poland Winston Churchill replaced Chamberlain.
England read Enigma data after Aug. 1939 by finding daily alignments of five rotor machines for the entire WWII related to German Army and Air Force movements. Only U-boats of the German navy added an Enigma rotor in 1943 hiding movements of U-boats from US aircraft and other pursuit methods for one year.  
Overall, the US Army-Air Force suffered 78% of  WW II deaths, the Navy 12.27%, the Marines 6.55% and the Merchant Marines 3.22%, with the missing-in-action not counted. The Merchant Marines suffered the highest death rate of  the five US military services, 3.9%. The Marines suffered a 2.9%  rate, the US Army-Air Force a 2.1% rate, the US Navy a 0.88% rate, and the  US Coast Guard a 0.24% rate. In 1943 Merchant Marine losses in the Atlantic theater were heavy. U-boats picked off US ships like sitting ducks in a shooting gallery until the six rotor Enigma code was broken. In1944, the Enigma code was broken exposing wolf pack locations. Locations were passed to US bomber pilots, equipped with radar, ended the Atlantic Ocean phase of the war by end of the year by destroying the U-Boats..

2. The Pacific run up to the war is introduced by an attested story from Winifred, Allen's wife. In 1939 living in Monterey, California, Wini personally saw a Japanese submarine, with the rising sun flag flying, re-fueling in the harbor. In July 1941 the US placed an oil embargo on Japan, ensuring that a war would commence. By late 1941 a Japanese diplomatic code was read by US code breakers. Delay in passing along decoded Dec. 7 Japanese Pearl Harbor demands to US military planners before the info was formally passed to FDR by the Japanese ambassador created the surprise attack. Japan soon captured oil and raw material rich Asian nations. Many of the European colonies were first happy to be freed, until being treated badly by their new Japanese masters.

By 1942, and the battle of Midway, an often used Japanese naval code was broken, assisted in pin pointing the air craft carrier locations that were sunk in the battle, turning the war in the US direction. Japan had split their naval forces in the battle. Half of the naval force was attracted to Alaska by a flood of false US radio messages. The false message tactic created a method of confusing the enemy that was used at D-Day. Hitler was personally convinced that Gen. Patton had amassed an invasion force to be used elsewhere on the French coast, an error that gave Eisenhower's invasion force time and space to gain a foot-hold in France, and win the European war. Japanese military planners had been equally confused at Midway, and at other times in Pacific battles, by Navajo Code Talkers on land, and false messages at sea.

1. Don Gardner, narrative and war record links
Don was a Merchant Marine Chief Boson's mate,  stationed at Long Beach. He took training voyages to the Canal Zone, Florida, Norfolk, Hawaii, and  the California coast. On the Atlantic trips Don's ships were exposed to U-boats in 1942,1943 and 1944. Jerry and Tim arrived during the war were supported by Pansy who traveled to Long Beach for each birth.

2. Jack Gardner,  narrative and war record links
Jack entered the US Army as a private, wishing to be a pilot like uncle Ott. As a corporal, Jack was part of the "Mormon Men of Moffett". Jack was promoted to flying Sgt (article), Flight Officer (e.g. Warrant Officer) (article), and Lieutenant in the Army- Air Corp. Jack flew  P-38s to Alaska and new bombers to the Pacific theater. At times wounded were air-lifted from war zones. On Guam, the headquarters for the invasion of Japan (per Allen's time on the island) Jack flew groups officers to undisclosed meeting sites. As a cover story officers took R & R. Two log books detail Jack's flights including the secret missions, naming the planes he flew from 1942 to 1945. (A son Jack E. Gardner died in Viet Nam combat.)

Jack flew Eddie Rickenbacker on at least one secret mission  Here are related facts: During World War II  Eddie Rickenbacker was a civilian although he did have the attention of generals and often advised them. In late 1942, Eddie Rickenbacker was sent on a secret mission to the Pacific in the same Air Transport Command that Jack flew.  While flying from Hawaii to their destination, the navigation equipment on the plane malfunctioned.  The pilot became lost and crash-land in the ocean.  All survived the landing. For the next 3 weeks, in a remarkable survival tale, and only 4 oranges between them, all but one survived and was eventually rescued.  The rescue made national headlines. The pilot of the plane, Lt. James C. Whittaker, kept a diary.  After their rescue, for the next several months, Lt. Whittaker traveled around the U.S. giving motivational speeches based on his diary.  His experiences were first published in stories in the Chicago Tribune and  by March 1943, his experiences were published in a book  "We Thought We Heard The Angels Sing".  The book had additional printings in April, May and June 1943.  In June 1943, Lt. Whittaker gave Jack a signed copy of the book, which was inscribed: "Long Beach, Calif. June-9-1943. To my friend and flying mate in the 6th Ferrying Group  Lt. Jack Gardner.  Best of luck always, Jack.  Jim.   Lt. James C. Whittaker"  

3. Vere Gardner, narrative and  war record links
Vere was a US Navy gunner on the cruiser USS Salt Lake City. On land, by rifle he downed a Japanese plane on 12/7 at Pearl Harbor. Aboard the SLC he participated in all the major sea battles in the Pacific, the most of any US ship. Battles lasted as long as 48 hours. Vere unwound 24 hours before sleep could be obtained.

4. Allen Gardner, narrative and war record links
Allen was a US Marine telephone linesman. He met Don, Carol, Jack and Christine on weekends in Long Beach training in San Diego. On Guam, Allen met Jack before assigned to Okinawa. On Okinawa Allen ran telephone lines for the Navajo Code Talkers. One Navajo lived in Allen's tent. After the war's end telephone service was restored to Nagasaki, the atomic bomb site. and nearby major cities. Allen's unit also restored telephone service from the China Sea coast to Beijing, China before being discharged in North Carolina visiting Jack and Christine before returning home to Gridley. Allen passed away on Dec. 7, 2012 left 144 descendants.

Author, Milo Gardner, 7th son, and 11th of 11 children.


  1. ... trying link these fotos ...

  2. Replies
    1. You are welcome. Allen had written up a few pages of additional comments on this time period. Someone from your family should edit them, when found, and submit them at the right time.

  3. wishing to add uncle Ott photosm when the photos are loaded on a linkable blog ...

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  5. Sorry I made some errors: Thanks for passing along this information. If you would like to read Vere's personal account, go to website

    1. Thank you very much for the link. It has been added to the blog.

  6. Per Allen's autobiography and his military records he did not serve on Okinawa. He served on Guam until Japan surrendered then served at Sasebo on the Kyushu Island. While in Japan he work at Nagasaki for two weeks. He then served in China for about 6 months before heading back to the US.

  7. If this is Jeremy, let me offer a personal story on the incompleteness of DD214. I spent two months in Lebanon in 1958, time and an expeditiary medal that was required to purchase a Calvet house in 1970. The St. Lious records center was contacted, and the citation and expeditiary medal was quickly forwarded so that a 4 1/4 % interest rate loan was obtained in a couple of months.

  8. Yes it is me. Yes, I understand that military records can be incomplete. For example, Allen's records do not record his two weeks in Nagakasi. I would note that Allen's military records fully corroborate Allen's autobiography which he wrote in 1976 at the age of 50. Allen wrote that he was stationed in Guam, Saesko Japan, and China. This is corroborated by his military records. This is also what he told the military historian who interviewed him in 2010. Everything I have sent you or written, is based on those three documents.