Harold Raney survived an attack by Japanese pilots during WWII. (Kaci Hutchinson/Special to The Collegian)

By Morgan Givney
Staff reporter

Despite displeasure from his family, Harold Raney was determined to join the armed forces. “They didn’t care for me going. I could have stayed and been a dairy man, but I told them ‘no, I’m going’ and they said ‘okay’,” said Raney.

Raney spent his time working on a dairy farm near Stillwell, Kan. before joining the Navy. “Before serving, I was helping my dad on a dairy farm. It was all right but I didn’t stay there very long,” said Raney.

Raney had a friend from high school who was enlisting and he wanted to go too. However, Raney was too young at the time, and lied about his age. “I was drafted by a lie. I lied about my age. I just wanted to get in the service. One of my buddies was in,” said Raney.

After entering the Navy and going through boot camp, Raney was sent to Treasure Island, Calif. Upon arrival, he was assigned to a ship in Seattle. The ship was named Howorth, and was not yet completed. In about a month Howorth was finished. All the guns and everything had been installed.

Raney served in the navy for three years from 1944-47. During these three years he was on a destroyer in the South Pacific and the Philippines. He traveled to Alaska upon joining the Ninth Fleet. He described some of his responsibilities as catching the hot shells and throwing them out.

One of Raney’s most memorable experiences while serving was when his ship got hit by a suicide airplane. “We got hit in Okinawa, which was the last island taken before going into Japan and everything,” said Raney.

While trying to take Okinawa, Raney’s ship was in a convoy. “They made their landing and sent us out around the island to make sure no submarines were coming in. We were on submarine protection,” said Raney

The Japanese then flew down in a squadron of around 200 airplanes, all of which were suicide planes. “None of the Japanese planes expected to come back,” said Raney.

Raney’s ship of seven men managed to miss all of those planes, so they pulled out and went to replace a sinking ship that had been hit. After that, they took a look outside and spotted about seven planes on top of them. “They came in one at a time. One missed us and he left a green streak off his wing on our deck. Another plane went straight through the smoke stacks. The plane that did hit, hit the top which controls all the big guns on the ship,” said Raney.

The fun times Raney had while serving took place when they came back to the United States for repairs. “We had a little rest at that time, maybe a week or two,” said Raney.

Raney also recounted a time when his ship went through a typhoon. “Going through a typhoon, you’re lucky. I was thinking ‘I just hope we can make it’,” said Raney.

He remembers looking up and seeing a high wave coming at the ship. “The bow would go partially through most of the wave,” said Raney.

Raney also recalls the surrendering of Japan. “They made it a big thing of putting the flag up,” said Raney.

Raney described what Veterans Day means to him, “Well it means to me that there is a few of us that are still alive to still enjoy it.”

How does he think Veterans Day should be celebrated?  Raney said “I think that the way they do it now, they couldn’t do it any better. There’s usually a town march and things, so I think we do the best we can.”

Raney resides in the Kansas Veterans’ Home, where he has been for two years. He has two daughters. He said he would love to go back to visit the Philippines and South Pacific, where he was stationed.

Morgan Givney is a freshman with an undecided major. You may e-mail her at morgan.givney@sckans.edu.