The Veterans News Hour, February 6, 2017
The Veterans News Hour with David C. Cory and Richard Hurley. Updates on developments in the VA. Also, a tribute to WWII veteran Albert Byrne Litschgi, who passed away on January 31, 2017.
We pay tribute to some veterans who served in the United States Navy in WW2. They are often called America’s Greatest Generation, and for good reason. But their numbers are rapidly thinning, with the most in their 90s if they are still alive. Tonight we remember the crew of the USS Boise, a light cruiser which fought against the Japanese Navy with great success but not without suffering its own casualties. For those of you not familiar with WW2 Navy cruisers, let me describe the USS Boise for you. It was about 600 feet long, and carried a full crew of 868 men. Its weapons included 15 six-inch guns, 8 five-inch guns and a large assortment of 40 millimeter and 20 millimeter antiaircraft guns. The USS Boise took part in many combat missions and battles in the Pacific Theatre as well as in the Mediterranean Sea as well. In one of the most ferocious battles in the Pacific, the USS Boise fought against Japanese warships during the Battle of Cape Esperance off the coast of Guadalcanal in October 1942. During the night of October 11 and 12, 1942, the USS Boise engaged some Japanese ships in fierce shelling. The USS Boise was struck a number of times by Japanese shells, and suffered the loss of 107 sailors killed that night. Despite those losses and damage, the USS Boise and most of its crew survived not only that battle, but went on to participate in many other battles before the war ended. Tonight we would like to remember the sacrifices of the crew of the USS Boise, and the 107 sailors killed that October night in 1942. Most were very young men in their teens or early 20’s, with their lives cut short in service to their country. One of the men who served on the USS Boise, and survived the war, a young gunnery officer in his early 20s, was Albert Byrne Litschgi. His Navy experience in WW2 taught him many lessons, including, as he told his son years later, that any day you aren’t getting shot at is a good day, as well as the importance of perseverance in life. As he said, “Persistence erodes resistance.”
Having survived numerous battles and countless Japanese kamikaze attacks, Byrne Listchgi returned home to the United States, and like many of his peers who had survived the horrors of war and seeing buddies violently killed in battle, hit the ground running in life. Byrne Litschgi remained in the Navy Reserve, reaching the rank of Commander before retiring decades later. Meanwhile, though, he went to Harvard Law School, graduating in 1948, and then became a successful lawyer, businessman, banker, community leader, and philanthropist. He married and raised a family of which he was so proud.
Last week, on January 31, 2017, Byrne Litschgi passed away in Tampa, Florida, at the grand old age of 96 years, having accomplished more in his life than most people could accomplish in several lives. He epitomized the Greatest Generation who grew up in the great depression, fought and won WW2 and then worked at a frenetic pace to be successful in multiple complex endeavors while giving back to their communities in so many ways. So tonight, we salute Byrne Litschgi, a veteran of WW2 and a member of the Greatest Generation.