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Veteran Profiles

Each of our veterans has his or her own unique story to tell about their experiences in the U.S. armed forces. We are pleased to share a few of them with you.

LEWIS F. JUDAY ★ U.S. MARINE CORPS ★ WWII

Len Sherwinski, Honor Flight Chicago Veteran Interview Chairman
(Flight Date: 04/12/2017)

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(La Porte, IN)  He joined the Navy in 1943 and after nine weeks of basic training at Great Lakes Naval base, Mr. Juday anxiously awaited his ship assignment as a Seaman 1st Class. After weeks of checking the bulletin board each day, he decided to talk to a recruiter on base and ended up enlisting in the Marines. His reward was eight more weeks of basic training at Camp Elliott, CA near San Diego!

Before leaving he was assigned the task to make sure 19 Marine recruits made it to Camp Elliott on time. Lewis was able to complete his assignment and his Marine service was off to a good start.

Mr. Juday came from a family of seven children which included 4 sisters and 2 brothers. His brother Bill served in the Army and his brother Donald did his part by working in a manufacturing plant that made jeeps in support of the war effort. After his service, he returned home and went to work for a funeral home that had been in business since 1928. His work there became even more secure when he married the owner’s daughter. They were married on August 24, 1947 and look forward to their 70th wedding anniversary this year.

Prior to joining the service Lewis, was making his living as an ambulance driver so he became a Pharmacist mate and a Marine Corpsman. Lewis explains that a corpsman’s duty was to treat and dress the wound and then get the soldier to a jeep ambulance in hopes that they would make it to one of the Hospital ships in time.
Lewis was only supposed to stay in the Marines for 18 months and then return to the Navy, but as the saying goes “Once a Marine always a Marine”. He served with the 15th Marines, 6th Marine Division until his honorable discharge on March 12, 1946. The years between 1943 and 1946 are filled with memories and Mr. Juday shared his experiences of serving in Saipan, Guam and Okinawa.

JudayL170412IMG02As a Marine, Lewis gained high respect for the LST class ship that was used to deliver men and equipment to the combat areas. He expressed his deep feeling that it is only because of these ships and their crews that we could meet the Japanese in their strongholds and defeat them. His first experience with this was June 15, 1944 when he spent 24 days in combat on the island of Saipan assigned to the 22nd Artillery Marine Division. 2,949 Killed in Action; 10,346 wounded. Mr. Juday provides these battle statistics from the notes he uses to present to high school history classes and others on his WWII memories. Although originally having to be convinced that he should and could speak about his experiences, he now enjoys the opportunity to be a part of the living history lesson for these high school students.

Being from Indiana, Mr. Juday explains that some of the largest LST’s at 347 feet long were made in Evansville IN. Although he does not recall the exact ship numbers he was on, as there were many, he recalls the massive amount of equipment each one held and that he and his fellow Marines only had room to stand around the sides of the ships. His next experience was 20 days in the Battle of Guam July 21, 1944 when US troops recaptured the island from the Japanese. 1,747 killed in action, 6,053 wounded. Mr. Juday uses these facts to explain how blessed and lucky he feels to be a survivor of WWII and be here today to talk about it.

It was about this time that his commander came to him and said Lewis had completed his 18 months with the Marines.  He would either go home or go back into combat. Lewis could not leave his fellow Marines; he stayed on to participate in his longest combat assignment of 81 days and the Battle of Okinawa. 66 days were spent on an LST and they finally hit the beach in April of 1945. The beach landing was accomplished using Ducks with 20 men assigned to each landing vehicle. To this day, Lewis cannot attend fireworks displays as it reminds him of the motors called “screaming memies” which landed on his battalion causing many casualties. Lewis recalls when a student asked him if they took any prisoners during combat. Lewis responded that Marines do not take prisoners 1) because they are always on the move and 2) because the Japanese culture taught their soldiers that capture was dishonorable and so they would commit suicide.

JudayL170412IMG03Although his memories of the devastation caused by the dropping of the bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki are difficult to discuss he does have one very fond memory of this time. After Okinawa, Lewis heard that his brother was also somewhere in the area. He shared this with his commander and much to Lewis’s surprise his commander tracked him down. He gave Lewis the keys to his jeep and let him go surprise his brother. Lewis found him in the mess hall eating pancakes and just sat down next to him. What a great reunion it was.

After the service, Mr. Juday went to college in Chicago and eventually took over the Haverstock Funeral Home business, retiring after 50 years as the Funeral Director. Lewis turned the business over to his son Norman on the exact same day and time that he had originally started there. Lewis and his wife also have a daughter Alice as well as 3 grandchildren and 5 great-grandchildren.

When Mr. Juday speaks in public he sums up his experience with these words: “I wouldn’t take anything for what I saw and learned, but I wouldn’t give a dime for any more…… I am proud that I can say I was a part of it and got back to tell the story. Many of my buddies didn’t. Four of my high school classmates joined the Marine Corps. Only one got back home. … When I look back some 70 years ago, I know that God was there guiding my every step. How fortunate I was.”  

I could not write a better ending to his story. Mr. Juday, enjoy your well-deserved day with Honor Flight Chicago.

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