Skip to comments.Navy cook Richard Thill gets diploma from Humboldt Senior High almost 70 years later
Posted on 03/19/2009 6:10:04 AM PDT by WOBBLY BOB
Richard Thill's high school education was interrupted by the largest war the world had ever seen. But Wednesday almost 70 years later it came full-circle for Thill, when he was awarded an honorary diploma from Humboldt Senior High School.
The honor came as a surprise to Thill, and he was visibly grateful his voice began to shake, tears welled in his eyes.
It was something he had been thinking about for a very long time.
'I'm really proud boy, you can't believe,' said Thill, 85, holding the diploma. 'I'm going to frame this and have it up for anytime I want to look at it.'
Thill returned to his old high school in St. Paul to speak to students about his experience aboard the USS Ward, which fired the first American shots of World War II.
(Excerpt) Read more at twincities.com ...
nice guy. he signed a Ward photo for me a few years back at a WW2 memorial dedication at the MN capitol.
I’m glad they got around to doing this. Had they waited much longer, it might have been too late and they would have been told “The Thill is gone.”
Cool story, although I hate to be pedantic and point out the fact that the USS Ward fired the first American shots of WWII isn’t strictly true, as the US Navy was already engaging German U-boats operating in American waters for several months before Pearl Harbor.....
Yes, but as the US wasn’t “really” at war then, the Ward gets the credit. The Brits might have been in since September 1939 and their convoys may have been defended by destroyers and cutters of the US Navy and the Coast Guard but for the United States’ historical record WWII didn’t officially start until Pearl Harbor.
My old man always told me about how the US construction workers building the local naval base (in the UK) for the previous six months on the morning of 8th December 1941 suddenly came to work in their USN uniforms like butterflys emerging from their chrysalis but the Second World War for the United States didn’t ‘officially’ begin until December 7th 1941.
Of course not, *cough cough*.
Well, strictly speaking, when the Ward fired on that midget submarine, the US wasn’t ‘officially’ at war with Japan either...
You are correct that the USS Ward did not fire the first American shots of WWII.
On Sept 4, 1941, the USS Greer dropped depth charges on a German U-Boat and it fired torpedoes back at the USS Greer without result.
A German U-Boat sank the USS Reuben James on October 31, 1941. 100 sailors were killed and 45 sailors were rescued depending on which account you read.
Fair point I suppose but any US servicemen who were fighting back at Pearl Harbor would unquestionably be seen as taking part in the US’s part of the Second World War by virtue of that was the action which brought the US into a war which had already been declared on the US by an attacking power.
The men of the Reuben James and the Greer on the other hand certainly fought in the Second World War but it was against a nation that had not actually started hostilities against the US, but like I say it’s largely an academic point.