Living History

A look at one World War II Sailor's commitment of service to the Navy

Sailors, friends and family in Syracuse, New York, held an appreciation ceremony March 9 to honor retired Master Chief Draftsman Peter J. Soler.

At 87-years-old, Soler has lived through both World War II and the Korean War. He witnessed heavy combat action while at sea and even survived the sinking of his first ship.

Soler enlisted in the Navy Sept. 14, 1943 and was soon assigned to the destroyer USS Lansdale (DD4 26). He was part of a successful defense against German bombers off the coast of Algeria April 11-12, 1944, and survived when Lansdale was sunk eight days later by another wave of German Junker and Heinkel bombers.

Soler also survived two kamikaze attacks near Okinawa when he was aboard the destroyer minelayer USS Robert H. Smith (DM 23). The ship earned five battle stars for its service in World War II and played a key role in sweeping mines from the East China Sea following the Japanese surrender. It also was awarded a unit commendation from the president during Soler's tenure for "operating in dangerous waters protected by enemy mines and numerous suicide craft" and providing "effective cover for ... minesweeper groups against hostile attack by air, surface, submarine and shore fire," according to the citation.

Soler earned the rank of master chief petty officer in 1978 and retired from the Navy July 17, 1985, on his 60th birthday. Today, he resides in Cicero, N.Y., and mentors members of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps program, the Navy League and local Sailors.

Comments (7)

  1. Shmoo
    Rich Romano February 20, 2014

    Thank you Master Chief for you service and dedication to this country. I was 18 years old, in 1972 and was drafted but elected to enlist in the Navy instead. And my father, a veteran of the Navy during WWII on a DE, told me that I would not regret it. He was right. Your comment abut high school kids is right. They don't know what they want. The service is a terrific place to build character and class that will stay with them the rest of their lives. Thank you.

  2. Shmoo
    LTJG David Waln, NSCC September 24, 2013

    I am the Commanding Officer Of the Gunslinger Squadron of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps. I am so happy to see the recognition of the Naval Sea Cadets in this video. I hope to see much more involvement in this youth program and this is a great way to get the information out there that we do exist. I am sure Master Chief Draftsman Peter J. Soler was very proud of the performance of the Naval Sea Cadets during the ceremony. As I have been told many times and as I have passed on as well the Naval Sea Cadet Program is the best is the best youth program out there and it is also known by those of us that knows about us and what we stand for that we are the Navy's best kept secret that we want to tell everyone about.

  3. Shmoo
    John Jackson May 9, 2013

    Thank you Master Chief Soler for your service and example. Great ceremony and video.

  4. Shmoo
    Richard Finn USN May 5, 2013

    It is an honor to listen to your memories of your time in the Navy. After all you have been through may GOD grant you many more days on this fair planet. Thank you for your outstanding service

  5. Shmoo
    IC1 David C. Allen, USN(Ret) May 6, 2013

    Master Chief, Bravo Zulu. Just saw the piece they did about your service both during your career and what you are doing today. I was born in Syracuse and live in Eastwood and on the south side on W. Newell St. I graduated from Onondaga Valley Academy and joined the Navy and served on 2 destroyers, 2 carriers, 2 minesweepers and an amphibous assult cargo ship. I am a member of Fleet Reserve Association and try to help our NJROTC programs here in the Anderson, SC area. I returned home in June 2002 to help care for my mother and lived in Lakeport. I was a Fire Policeman on the Brigdgeport Volunteer Fire Dept. and we covered the eastern part of Cicero. I left in 2007 and now reside in Anderson, SC. My family owned a farm that was located next to where Chandler Automotive is today. My Great Grandmother was a Chandler. Their farm was right across the street where the golf course is today. Prof. David C. Allen IC1 US Navy (Retired)

  6. Shmoo
    Brian Davis May 5, 2013

    Phenomenal article and video. Extremely well done, thank you for sharing this. Very Respectfully Brian Davis ABFCS (AW/SW) Retired

  7. Shmoo
    Tom Blackshear May 1, 2013

    Great video - I'm certain those Sea Cadets have benefited from the mentorship of the Master Chief! Sea Cadets are the future, and more Sailors should become involved with us - www.seacadets.org Volunteer!

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