John Onufer Jr. (December 28, 1921 – )
The following article appeared in the July 2, 1943 edition of The Charleroi (PA) Mail:
John Onufer, Jr., son of Mr. and Mrs. John Onufer, Sr., of Highland Avenue, North Charleroi, has been promoted from Coxswain (3rd Class Petty Officer) to Boatswain (2nd Class). The new promotion became effective in May. John is stationed in French North Africa and is getting along fine. He wishes to say “hello” to all of his friends at home and those in the service. John has been in service since August 28, 1942, and before his enlistment was employed at the Allenport mill of the Pittsburgh Steel Company.
The following information was taken from a phone conversation with John Onufer Jr. on March 9, 2012. Many thanks to John for taking the time to share memories from his service:
John called my grandfather, Ralph Williams Jr., “Williams” while in the service and referred to him as “your grandpappy” throughout our conversation. He said Ralph never got mad and took orders well (John was in charge of the LCI deck force). Ralph always took care of the locks (devices for raising and lowering boats between stretches of water of different levels on river and canal waterways). He said Ralph was “a good man.”
Joseph McGonigle was First Officer of the LCI, but was transferred after the Allied Invasion of Sicily. John knew First Officer McGonigle would eventually leave, because he was a good leader.
In Italy, the crew all wanted to go ashore with John Pelle, because he spoke Italian. He remembered that John was from New York.
Jack Schraa was in charge of the LCI’s engine room. He also remembered John Hardy and asked about John Peganoff. Earlier he identified Bradley Bigelow and Noah Foreman in some of my grandfather’s photographs.
During Operation Overlord (the Battle of Normandy), John made six trips across the channel ferrying soldiers and supplies. After the Normandy campaign, Captain Ralph W. Wright asked John to stay aboard, even though he was approved for a 30 day furlough back to the states. John declined the invitation and went home. After his furlough, John was sent to the Pacific, where he served aboard an LCS (Littoral Combat Ship), which he called “a rocket ship.” He served aboard the LCS for 8 or 9 months until the war’s end.
John is currently 90 years old and in good health. He has resided in the Pittsburgh area his whole life and currently lives in Charleroi, Pennsylvania.