Navy veteran saw a lot of action in World War II

Editor’s Note: One in a series of stories on local veterans’ military service.

Veteran: Linus Bishop, age 95

Branch: United States Navy

Service period: February 1943 to February 1946

To say that World War II Navy veteran Linus Bishop saw action in the South Pacific would be a huge understatement.

“It was hell, I’ll tell you,” he recently said. “I didn’t come home for two years and we were right in the middle of it (combat) the whole time. We saw a lot of action.”

Linus, also known as “Casey,” grew up in Chatfield, a small village a few miles west of New Washington. He spent his younger years working the family farm with his dad and six brothers, graduating from Chatfield High School in 1942.

“I was the only one out of the family to graduate, but they (his brothers and only sister) all made good lives for themselves.”

As did Bishop, who went to work for the Pennsylvania Railroad right after school. “I worked for 45 cents an hour,” he laughed. “I’ve never forgot that.” Working as a trackman, though, had its hazards. “I got my finger caught throwing a (rail) switch. They had to stop a train that was coming so they could get me loose.” Linus Bishop, 95, a WWII veteran, worked at The Tappan Stove Company for 35 years. Then came February 1943, bringing with it Bishop’s draft notice.

“I missed the bus to Toledo the night before, so my Dad drove me up (to the induction center). I got in there just as they called my name. I told them I wanted to go as a Marine, but they said the Navy needed me, so that’s where I went, the United States Navy.”

Basic training for the young seaman was held at Great Lakes, Illinois, where, Linus said, he first learned to swim. “I couldn’t swim a lick, but I learned to swim 300 yards,” he chuckled. “It’s a good thing I did because it saved my life.”

From Illinois, Bishop was shipped to the West Coast and on to the Pacific theater of war, departing Port Hueneme, California, aboard the U.S.S. Henderson, a naval transport. “I went right to the fleet on the Henderson. July the seventh (1943), I left the United States.”

As Linus recalls, his ship finally docked at the island of Fiji, where he and most of the ship’s company spent a few days before being sent to Guadalcanal.“I remember that first night there (Guadalcanal), I spent it in a fox hole. They (Japanese) strafed and bombed us just before sunset. It was terrible. Then, for the next three days, they had us fighting fires. I saw the fleet come in, they were all beat to hell. Some of them had big holes in the sides, a lot of battle damage.”Bishop was then assigned to the U.S.S. Pawnee, a large, ocean-going naval tugboat that was also equipped to combat fires aboard stricken ships. By his estimation, Linus said the Pawnee saved seven ships from sinking in the […]