Tribute – Ernest V. Plantz, USN

Ernest Plantz

Ernest Plantz

GROTON, Conn. (Tribune News Service) — A standing-room-only crowd of veterans, family, friends and fellow shipmates in the U.S. Navy jammed the Noank Baptist Church on Saturday to remember the life of Ernest V. Plantz, a recipient of a Bronze Star and Purple Heart, and his “love, strength and courage.”  Plantz, one of the first inductees to the Connecticut Veterans Hall of Fame, died on Dec. 19 at his Gales Ferry home at age 95.

He spent three-and-a-half years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp after he and others on the crew of the USS Perch were captured.  Plantz weighed just 80 pounds when he was freed and needed 10 months in a Navy hospital to recuperate, yet went on to serve for 30 years in the Navy as soon as he was able.

He retired at the rank of lieutenant as director of advanced engineering at the Naval Submarine School in Groton.

“Ernie was a bullheaded, stubborn person, yet he was filled with love for all,” Jack Gallimore, base chaplain of the U.S. Submarine Veterans Groton Base, told an overflow crowd at the church.  Gallimore said he always made it a point to get a hug from Plantz whenever he could.

“I will miss that,” Gallimore said.

Two dozen submarine veterans in uniform stood in Plantz’ honor at the front of the church. Trumpeters played “Taps” and “Reveille.”

Caroline Plantz, Ernie Plantz’ wife, said she thought her husband had suffered some hard knocks in life, but “he always said that he had a good life,” she said.

Plantz’ daughter, Nancy Grant, remembered her father as a humble, thoughtful and loyal dad who loved to garden, paid homage to his southern roots while cooking and delighted in a good prank.

She recalled how his hugs let his children know they were loved, and that when things were tough, “Dad always believed that things would get better.”

The Rev. Kevin Bedford, of Progressive Baptist Church, described how Plantz touched his life. Bedford recalled he once considered resigning the Navy, and told Plantz.  “I gave him my resignation, and he ripped it up and said, ‘Call me when you make commander,’” Bedford said. So Bedford did, and called Plantz.

Then, when Bedford’s father died, Plantz said to him, “I bet you didn’t know you had a second dad.”

 Capt. Paul F. McHale described how Plantz, known as “the kid” for being the youngest man on the USS Perch, returned to the Navy despite his suffering as a prisoner of war.
USS Perch, first submarine sunk by the Japanese.

USS Perch, first submarine sunk by the Japanese.

The Perch was on its second war patrol when a Japanese destroyer escort forced it to submerge and was joined by other Japanese ships that dropped depth charges on it.

The sub was badly damaged but not destroyed because it sank into a muddy bottom. But the attack continued.

Then later, when the sub surfaced, the crew realized it could not submerge again. Plantz found himself in the water with his 59 shipmates, McHale said.

Seeing the USS Perch sink for the final time was, in Plantz’ words, “like watching your house burn,” McHale said.

Yet even after the misery that followed Plantz’ capture, he returned to service on submarines.  “The man had a huge heart,” McHale said.  McHale said his oldest son interviewed Plantz for an English course once, and asked Plantz a question: Knowing he would be captured, spend three years in a POW camp and be tortured, would he still have joined the Navy?

Plantz told him absolutely.

Ernest Plantz

Ernest Plantz

d.straszheim@theday.com

©2016 The Day (New London, Conn.)
Visit The Day (New London, Conn.) at http://www.theday.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Farewell Salutes – 

Everett Armstrong – Vona, CO; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Leslie Beck – Oklahoma City, OK; US Army, Vietnam

Stephen ‘Skip’ Bignell – Whangarei, NZ; RNZ Air Force # 47003 & 44904, WWII, J Force Squadron

Gerard Fromm – Juno Beach, FL; US Army Air Corps, WWIItribute

Virgil Lanpher – Thorntown, IN; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, 127th Engineers/11th Airborne

Warren McDonough – Central City, KY; US Army, WWII, ETO, Purple Heart

Kenneth Olsen – Windsor, CAN; Canadian Merchant Navy, WWII

Donald Reeve – Oakdale, MN; US Navy, WWII

David Stewart – Auburn, AL; US Air Force, Korea, Distinguished Flying Cross

Ken Williamson – Gympie Qld., AUS; RA Air Force # 022971, Squadron Leader

Try to keep in your thoughts that this year is the 25th Anniversary of the Gulf War.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_War

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on January 21, 2016, in First-hand Accounts, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 82 Comments.

  1. Thank you for showing us real lives…people who fought for us…who dedicated their whole lives to us and our country. You really show us these people…who they are/were…so much so that I cry with emotion! Many blessings to you for this important work. And thank you for always being such a wonderful support for me…I appreciate you!! ♡

    Liked by 1 person

  2. “Try to keep in your thoughts that this year is the 25th Anniversary of the Gulf War.”

    That’s a considerable revelation of all that has happened in that time, and in the context of everything directly and indirectly related.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. A beautiful tribute to a real hero. Thanks for sharing this wonderful story. And I’m finding it hard to imagine that it has been 25 years since the Gulf War.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Another “Unbroken” life!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. One of the many paperback books I read as a young man was “The Silent Service”.
    Lord how I wish I still had that one. It contained the story of the Perch; I recall feeling as though I were aboard her with her crew, when after many hours submerged, undergoing constant depth charging,,her CO finally had to surface and abandon ship.
    Most of the blame is upon the damned magnetic warheads of the torpedoes, that either ran too deep, failed to detonate, or even made a circular run and threatened the sub which had launch it.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A great generation was filled with unselfish character and bravery. I think Lt. Plantz and Old Man Jack would have caused quite the ruckus at a war time bar… with Smitty a willing peacemaker.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Back then, Smitty might been part of the ruckus, it’s hard to tell with Dad! The 3 of them would definitely have gotten along, that’s for sure!!
      [how’s things been, Koji? I haven’t wanted to bug you too much]

      Liked by 1 person

  7. What a strong and determined gentleman to have suffered as a prisoner of war and come back to enjoy life with his family. Perhaps his long life was a reward for all of his suffering. Sounds like the kind of person I would like to have for a friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I firmly believe it was his attitude that not only got him through it all, but made it possible for him to return to a normal family life afterwards. It would be nice to think of it as a reward, but what about all those others that didn’t get a life like his? Thanks for your comment, Bev – always a pleasure!

      Like

  8. How wonderful that Mr.Plantz, despite everything, came through, to die at home, aged 95. He certainly earned that privilege the hard way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This is a beautiful write up on an extraordinary man. Well done. I loved reading about him. I find stories like his very inspiring.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. A remarkable man, to go through that and go back to the navy afterwards was dedication at it highest.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A wonderful remembrance for a fine man. Thank you Brad.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. What a excellent tribute, Everett! He sounds like quite a man and went through so much!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. These are the type of stories that should be read allowed prior to every Presidential debate so that the candidates can learn the meaning of honor, duty WITHOUT self gain, humble, hero. If our Presidents conducted their duties with these soldiers integrity, ethics and morals our country would be a model for others to strive to duplicate.

    Liked by 2 people

  14. A beautiful tribute to him in The Day, GP. Thank you for posting that. His spirit and kindness is an inspiration to all.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Walkingfox will absolutely love this!!!!Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. What a loss to the Naval community. Thanks for sharing this.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. It may only be me… But I find it odd why he was the only one given a medal though there were several POWs captured with him. I may have missed something…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Wow, this is one tough sailor! Survived a Jap POW camp, won the Bronze Star and a Purple Heart and after all that was a Mustang too!! (In the picture he is wearing the Anchor of a Chief Petty Officer, E-7, but he retired a O-3, Lt.) Awesome!! And Although this is another of the Great WW2 Generation gone… their memory and their legacy will endure forever as long as Historians continue to write and remember them. Thanks GP! Keep it up!!

    Liked by 3 people

  19. There is absolutely NO WAY anyone could get me into a submarine. Those guys were something else.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. A very nice tribute to a redoubtable sailor, GP.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. I’m sending this to several of my coworkers who are Navy vets here in CT.

    Liked by 2 people

  22. Thank you Walkingfox.

    Like

  23. Thank you for helping to honor these men.

    Like

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