USS CHARLES R WARE ASSOCIATION

Last Updated 1/2/2024

By ESTHER NUNLEY

Original Publish Date: October 4, 2022

It has been 20 years since the USS Charles R. Ware Association traveled to Athens in order to dedicate a memorial to the Athens war hero their ship was named for, Lt. Charles R. Ware. They also adopted Athens as the ships “Final Home Port” and over the years have contributed to the memorials at Veterans Park, Market Park and an extensive exhibit at the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum.

The association holds an annual reunion in different locations around the country and makes a point to travel to Athens every three years to come home. Although most of their activities are private there will be a couple that will be open to the public. On Friday, Oct. 7 plans are to have the Dauntless SBD Dive Bomber make its appearance at the McMinn County Airport. Pre-booked flights on this vintage aircraft will begin at 10 a.m. With it will be a trainer plane called the T-6. Both will be on display before they leave at 3 p.m. The event is weather permitting.

The second event will take place on Saturday, Oct. 8, when they gather at the Veterans Park to have a brick dedication ceremony and recognition of the 20th anniversary. Association members will start arriving in Athens on Oct. 5 and once settled in will visit the local sites, conduct association business and enjoy the annual Pumpkintown celebration.

Lt. Charles R. Ware is a World War II hero who enlisted into the U.S Navy in 1929, when his mother Arva Zena Ware lived on Ohio Street in Athens. He was over a squadron of six Dauntless SBD Dive Bombers assigned with many others to the USS Enterprise during the Battle of Midway. His decision to stay and fight unexpected incoming Zeros made a decisive turn in favor of the U. S. in this battle, but it cost him and his gunner, ARM1/c William Henry Stambaugh their lives.

Our exhibit is a collection of the history of both the ship and Lt. Charles Rollins Ware. It consists of a continuous playing video that follows the dedication ceremony that took place 20 years ago and includes former USS Charles R Ware crewmember testimonies and history. There are artifacts in display cases that have come from former crewmembers and family, pictures of those who have served, flags that have flown over the ship, and awards. There are several models of the ship and the famous Dauntless SBD Dive Bomber. We even have a model of the Japanese Zero aircraft by which the pilots were challenged.

Among the collection is Lt. Ware’s logbook and an article entitled “The Last Flight of Charles Rollins Ware” by Mark E. Horan a military historian. Horan uncovered the story of what happened to Lt. Ware and his squadron on that day, something his mother tried to find out but died without ever knowing.

We learn many things in this article which gives a detailed account of the events of that day. Besides Lt. Ware, there was only one other experienced combat pilot in the squadron, Ensign John Reginald McCarthy. The rest of the pilots and gunners had only flown for two months making this their first combat mission.

After battling the Japanese Zeros, they were all challenged with two problems, running out of fuel and the need to find their ship the USS enterprise. McCarthy attempted to get Lt. Ware and the others to change course without success. He chose to take a different course watching as they all disappeared out of his sight never to be seen again.

McCarthy and his radioman, Earl Edward Howell were picked up by a United States ship after a dramatic ditch into the sea. The dive bomber ran out of fuel and did a cartwheel land in the sea, because it was so light without the bombs, ammunition, and gasoline. The two survived with getting only minor injuries.

Ensign Frank Woodrow O’Flaherty and his Aviation Machinist Mate, Bruno Peter Gaido ditched into the sea successfully inflating their life raft. They were picked up by the Japanese destroyer Makigumo—only to be executed later on.

The Navy invited Mrs. Ware to participate in the April 12, 1945 launching of the new Gearing class destroyer, DD-865 named for her son. She christened the ship on that day. The broken bottle still encased in its knotted rope netting covered with commemorative ribbons is a part of our display. The ship and its crew members created an impressive legacy serving around the world until 1974 when the ship was decommissioned in Galveston, Texas.

Names Among the Threads: Early American Coverlets ExhibitImagine a time when, if someone needed a new blanket, they had to shear their sheep, wash, dye, card and spin the wool, and spend countl...
Civil War Era Seth Thomas ClockThose who take an interest in the history of clocks in America will undoubtedly know the name of Seth Thomas (1785 – 1859), the renowned...
The Traveler: A Basic Measuring ToolMounted on the Timeline Wall at the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum is an iron tool consisting of a wheel attached to a handle. Thi...
19th Century Silver Tea ServiceSituated on a cabinet in the Main Hall of the McMinn County Living Heritage Museum is an ornate 150-year-old silver tea service. This se...
Heritage School: Italian Lessons Part III
Mar 09, 2024
11:00 AM EST
522 W Madison Ave
Athens, TN 37303
Read More 
Heritage School: Stroke Awareness
Mar 23, 2024
11:00 AM EDT
522 W Madison Ave
Athens, TN 37303
Read More 
History for Lunch: The White Cliff Hotel and Starr Mountain
Mar 28, 2024
12:00 PM EDT
522 W Madison Ave
Athens, TN 37303
Read More 
Heritage School: Beginner Quilt Squares
Apr 06, 2024
11:00 AM EDT
522 W Madison Ave
Athens, TN 37303
Read More