Sen. Mike Bernskoetter’s Column for the Week of April 29, 2019

Recognizing A Member of the Greatest Generation

In the early morning of Sunday, December 7, 1941, the sun began to rise over the waters of the Pacific Ocean. As the sun rose, bombs began to fall as the Empire of Japan launched an unprovoked attack against the United States Pacific Fleet, stationed at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii. Despite the sudden surprise of the attack, America’s finest fought back, unknowingly becoming the first Americans to take part in World War II. By the end of the bombing raid, nearly 20 ships, including eight battleships, and over 300 airplanes were damaged or destroyed. The cost of the attack went far beyond the ships lost however. More than 2,400 American soldiers and sailors died in the attack, and more than 1,100 others were wounded.

While the events of Pearl Harbor may seem like a distant event relegated to the history books, for some, it’s more than that. For some, it’s a memory they will never forget. In fact, right here in Jefferson City, lives someone who bore witness to what President Franklin D. Roosevelt described as a “day that will live in infamy.”

William E. McAnany Jr. was serving in the United States Navy onboard the hospital ship USS Solace (AH-5) when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. As the bombs fell and chaos ensued, Mr. McAnany’s ship was one of those responding to the crisis, helping rescue survivors from the water and the burning remains of damaged ships.

Mr. McAnany witnessed the start of America’s involvement in World War II, and showing commitment to his country, would stay in the military until well after the war was won. From 1941 through May 1946, Mr. McAnany found himself serving in the Pacific theater of WWII. He continued to serve onboard the USS Solace before going to another hospital ship, the USS Samaritan (AH-10). While on these hospital ships, Mr. McAnany and others cared for and transported patients from such battles as Coral Sea, Midway, Guadalcanal, Quam, Saipan, Palau, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Tokyo Bay.

Even after World War II was over, Mr. McAnany continued to serve his country, this time during the Korean War. From March 1953 to March 1954, he spent time aboard the USS Repose (AH-16). Later, he served on the USS Eldorado (AGC-11). For his military service, William McAnany was awarded the Navy Unit Commendation, the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with six stars, the Japanese Occupation Medal, the Korean Campaign Award with two stars and the Korean Presidential Unit Citation.

After ending his military career, Mr. McAnany returned to the Midwest and sold medical X-ray equipment to hospitals and clinics. He and his wife, Linda, have been involved in our community for many years now, including with the United Way. Their service to our community and our country is truly admirable and worthy of our respect.

I was honored to visit with Mr. McAnany this week in our State Capitol and privileged to present him with a Senate resolution in recognition of his service to our country. He has served our country with honor and distinction and though we can never adequately express our gratitude, I want to thank him for his service. I also want to thank all those who have served or continue to serve our country for their brave efforts to keep our country safe for the next generation of Americans.

Please feel free to contact my office at (573) 751-2076. For information about my committee assignments or sponsored legislation, please visit my official Missouri Senate website at