91-Year-Old Sailor Graduates Boot Camp

Story Number: NNS130614-19Release Date: 6/14/2013 11:43:00 PM
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By Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- World War II veteran and Battle of Midway survivor, Mr. Joe Sanes, Wilmette, Ill., became an honorary graduate of Recruit Training Command (RTC) here at Naval Station Great Lakes, more than 70 years after enlisting in the Navy, June 14.

Sanes enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 14, 1941, and attended boot camp at Great Lakes. However, after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, four weeks into boot camp, Sanes was immediately assigned to the destroyer USS Hammann (DD 412). He never graduated.

During the Pass-In-Review (PIR) recruit graduation ceremony, Capt. John Dye, commanding officer of RTC, recognized Sanes' service, presented him with an honorary graduation certificate and designated him an honor graduate of the PIR.

"When we say the Sailor's Creed, when we say the words 'I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and democracy around the world,' we are talking about men like Mr. Joe Sanes," said Dye to the new Sailors their friends and family members.

During the ceremony, nine divisions comprised of 701 Sailors, or 702 including Sanes, graduated from RTC, the Navy's only boot camp. The ceremony was attended by more than 1,500 friends and family, including Libby Sanes, Joe's wife of 65 years.

"After 72 years, I am proud and happy to be a part of this graduation," said Joe. "The Sailors today are better looking than the Sailors of my time. I was impressed with what I saw today. I am sure the graduations back in 1941 wouldn't have been anywhere close to this."

Joe was aboard Hammann during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Hammann helped rescue more than 500 Sailors from the crippled USS Lexington (CV 2). On June 6, 1942 during the battle of Midway, Hammann was assisting USS Yorktown (CV 5) recovery after the carrier had been damaged during the battle. While participating in a defensive screen of Yorktown, Hammann was struck by a torpedo from a Japanese submarine and sank in less than four minutes. Seventy-nine enlisted crew members died along with 10 of the 14 officers.

"My battle station was on the port side, I saw the torpedoes coming at the ship. I was in water up to my ankles by the time I got to the deck," said Joe. "Most of the casualties came when the Hammann exploded underwater after she sank. I was lucky. The survivors are not the heroes. The real heroes are the ones who never came back."

Joe also took part in the Solomon Islands Campaign, the Aleutian Islands Campaign, and the Mariana Islands Campaign, before receiving an honorable discharge on Nov. 14, 1947.

"The first thing the Navy Taught me was discipline," said Joe. "It's very important in battle. Everyone has to be coordinated; everyone has to do their job. Without discipline there will be failure."

Sanes participates in speaking engagements throughout the country educating the public, ensuring the legacy of Naval heritage, and honoring his fallen shipmates.

RTC is overseen by Naval Service Training Command (NSTC), commanded by Rear Admiral Dee L. Mewbourne. RTC trains more than 35,000 volunteers annually, transforming civilians into basically trained Sailors.

Learn more at http://bootcamp.navy.mil or find us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/NavyRecruitTrainingCommand/.

For more news from Naval Service Training Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/greatlakes/.

6/24/2013 1:47:00 PM
My son was a graduate of GTC PIR on June 14th. It was an honor to have Mr. Sanes, a member of the "Greatest Generation" as a fellow graduate! Gary

6/23/2013 2:24:00 AM
My son graduated that day, and I was at the ceremony where Mr. Joe Sanes received a standing ovation. Congratuations Mr. Sanes! Thank you for your service!

6/18/2013 3:00:00 PM
Congrats to Joe and thanks for his Service I graduated GLNTC Sept.1948 I arrived via troop train from Fargo Building Boston 20 July 48. Our company started 8 weeks RT reduced to 6 weeks. It was quite an experience to go through RT Returned to SS Com.5 times diesel schs After RT ordered to COM6FLTLANT, USS Sicily CVE118, 1949 NS Bermuda, 1950 COMRESFLTLANT Green Cove Springs Fla. 1952 COMINLANT, Charleston. Discharged 18 July 57 as Engineman 1st. Sorry I did not do 20. Best years of my life

6/18/2013 10:18:00 AM
Joe, thank you for your service sir!! Congratulations for an honor long overdo!! God bless you!!

6/17/2013 8:30:00 PM
Proud to have served in the best Navy in the world.

6/17/2013 4:54:00 PM
God Bless Joe Sanes. He is the embodiment of patriotism and a hero. God Bless all sailors everywhere, past and present. I graduated NTC Orlando in 1971 and back then there was NTC Orlando, NTC San Diego and NTC Great Lakes. I'm was saddened by the loss of the still new NTC Orlando. Now I am saddened even more from learning that NTC San Diego is no longer. May the good Lord keep NTC Great Lakes. And may you all have the wind at your backs and a star to guide you. Fair winds and following seas.

6/17/2013 12:53:00 PM
I am thankful for his, my father, my father in law's service. There is no honor too high for they have earned it and they did it without complaint.

6/17/2013 11:59:00 AM
Good on you Shipmate!! Godspeed and Following seas..... Ken Beck ENC (SW) - US Navy Retired 1974 -1995

6/16/2013 1:01:00 PM
Wow, what a remarkable story!Anchors Away Sailor and, Congratulationds,outstanding job!

6/16/2013 12:21:00 AM
It's sailors like Mr.Sanes that give us the tradition that defines the Navy S.M. Harney SKC USN (ret)

6/15/2013 8:44:00 PM
Thank you Mr Sanes for your courageous service and for continuing to educate others about Naval heritage. Several men from our family have served with the Navy. Congratulations on your graduation. You truly are a hero.

6/15/2013 6:26:00 PM
What a great story, as an air force Veteran, I love to hear a story like this, it is great that we always honor our veterans. And as a proud father of a recent Navy Boot Camp graduate it assures me that my son is in great hands.

6/15/2013 6:14:00 PM
Mr. Joe Sanes, Sir thank you for your service and congratulations on 65 years of marriage.

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World War II Navy veteran and Battle of Midway survivor Joe Sanes, left, becomes an honorary boot camp graduate and receives a command coin from Capt. John Dye, commanding officer of Recruit Training Command.
130614-N-IK959-597 GREAT LAKES, Ill. (June 14, 2013) World War II Navy veteran and Battle of Midway survivor Joe Sanes, left, becomes an honorary boot camp graduate and receives a command coin from Capt. John Dye, commanding officer of Recruit Training Command, in the USS Midway Ceremonial Drill Hall at Recruit Training Command. Sanes, who enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 14, 1941, never completed boot camp at Great Lakes because of the Pearl Harbor attack and America's entrance into the war. Sanes, along with other recruits, was immediately assigned orders. Sanes was ordered to the USS Hammann (DD 412). Dye recognized and presented Sanes with his graduation certificate at the weekly pass-in-review graduation. (U.S. Navy photo by Scott A. Thornbloom/Released)
June 14, 2013
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