Service & Sacrifice: Shipmates reconnect after 70 years
Cracker Barrel Carson-Newman aboard ship life challenges Baptist minister goose bumps Oak Ridge
Two Navy men from East Tennessee who served aboard the same ship in the Pacific during World War II ran into each other for the first time in 70 years. We show you what brought them together.
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00:00 Two navy men from the east Tennessee who served aboard
00:03 the same ship in the Pacific during World War II. Ran
00:06 into each other for the first time in seventy years. In
00:11 our ongoing look at the lives in life challenges of east
00:14 Tennessee veterans we show you. What brought them together. On the
00:23 front porch of this east Tennessee Cracker Barrel sits a navy
00:27 man and veteran of World War II about to reunite once
00:31 more with the long lost shipmates. And it was unbelievable. Its
00:37 mission there. Seventy years. In his early twenties Joseph Wolfe was
00:43 an aircraft mechanic ward Ashley was machinist mate. Both served aboard
00:48 the USS Kenneth Whiting. The ship carried a crew of almost
00:52 1000 and serviced seat -- vital to spying missions in the
00:57 Pacific. The two sailors likely crossed paths aboard ship but this
01:02 front porch meeting marks just the second time they had seen
01:06 each other. In seventy years. It's. Hard. I'm good times --
01:14 -- mean how you do it. This picture was taken during
01:17 their first chance meeting a couple of weeks ago they stumbled
01:21 onto each other and in east Tennessee parking lot when. One
01:24 asked the other did you serve in the navy. Odds. 01
01:29 and then. This spring in new markets dating back to the
01:34 1930s. Brought those two World War II veterans together. They came
01:38 for water shared a surprise connection that gave everybody who witnessed
01:43 it goose bumps. And that promise they meet again very soon.
01:48 Out of all of the people. How many it just blows
01:53 your mind and can I had been. Hopefully -- might run
01:58 into some of the ship mates. Only that she when I
02:02 knew them or not. This is the first dad and pulling
02:08 out old photos and this is 1940. Yeah that's a forty
02:13 fat. The old memories start to surface like this -- to
02:17 bugler who. Hated his job and his bugle they throw it
02:21 overboard there. And they put him in the brig. This snapshot
02:28 of a kamikaze. Diving into their ship is another shared memory
02:33 I have a long. Right here jell O. And on June
02:38 the 21. That's silly sad plane hit us Joseph June when
02:44 a car yeah Mets -- chance piper wartime keepsakes that shed
02:49 light on their service together. Seventy years. Again. Yeah -- we
02:56 get much chance. But separated by seven decades now living just
03:00 an hour away from each other in east Tennessee. Both say
03:04 they -- recent re connection feels like one of those moments
03:08 in life. That was meant to happen will happen do this
03:12 again when we're under Joseph. Yeah. Both ward and Joseph went
03:20 on to attend Carson-Newman university but. Missed each other they --
03:24 by just a year to Joseph wolf went on to work
03:27 in their purchasing department in Oak Ridge port Ashley became a
03:31 teacher principal. And Baptist minister. But does it for ten news
03:35 at five nodding your headlines on ten news at six.
Two World War II veterans stumbled into each other in the parking of lot of the mineral spring in New Market after 70 years apart.
"The odds, a million to one? Gotta be a million to one," said Ward Ashley turning to his former shipmate Joe Wolfe who gave him a nod.
After that surprise coincidence the two Navy men met for a second time on the front porch of an East Tennessee Cracker Barrel. Before a lunch together they took time to page through old pictures and logs of their days aboard the USS Kenneth Whiting.
"I had my old copy of the Goodspeed translation of the Bible, the back of it is salty Joe, from all the waves," said Mr. Ashley.
One of the memories the two shared was an attack on their ship by a Kamikaze.
"I have a log right here Joe and on June the 21st that suicide plan hit us Joe," said Mr. Ashley.
"I remember, I remember," acknowledged Mr. Wolfe who turns 91 years old this month.
After their military service, both Mr. Ashley and Mr. Ward went on to attend Carson-Newman University, but missed each other there by a year or two. Mr. Wolfe went on to work in the purchasing department in Oak Ridge. Mr. Ashley became a teacher, principal, and baptist minister.