On June 8, 2002 the former crew members of the Charles R. Ware DD-865 assembled in Athens, TN for the dedication of the Charles R. Ware Memorial. Below is the text from the memorial:.
To honor the memory of Lieutenant Charles Rollins Ware, the former officers and crewmen of the destroyer USS Charles R. Ware (DD-865) dedicate this plaque in salute to a fallen hero and one of the U.S. Navy's finest officers. During the Battle of Midway, in June 1942, Lt. Ware selflessly sacrificed his life to help defeat a formidable Japanese fleet. For his gallantry, Lieutenant Ware was awarded the Navy Cross, with this citation: "For extraordinary heroism and courageous devotion to duty while piloting an airplane of a Scouting Squadron in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Battle of Midway during the period of June 4 - 6, 1942. Participating in a devastating assault against a Japanese invasion fleet, Lieutenant Ware, with fortitude and resolute devotion to duty, pressed home his attacks in the face of a formidable barrage of anti-aircraft fire and fierce fighter opposition. His gallant perseverance and disregard for his own personal safety were important contributing factors to the success achieved by our forces and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service."
Born March 11, 1911 in Knoxville, TN, Lt. Ware joined the Navy in 1929 from Athens, TN, where his mother was living at the time at 328 Ohio St. In 1934, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, MD, and served at sea on various ships until 1940 when he entered flight training. On earning his wings as a naval aviator, Lt. Ware was assigned first aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CV-6). In January 1941, he was transferred to Scouting Squadron 5, aboard the carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5). In early 1942, Lt. Ware was reassigned to Scouting Squadron 6 aboard the Enterprise and it was from her deck that he flew into naval history when the Battle of Midway erupted on June 4.
Lt. Ware and his section of six Douglas SBD-2/3 "Dauntless" dive bombers joined other planes from the USS Enterprise and the USS Yorktown in pressing home a fierce attack on three Japanese carriers, while fighting a large number of Japanese "Zero" fighter planes that protected the enemy fleet. When a second wave of Japanese planes appeared from a fourth enemy carrier, Lt. Ware attacked them without hesitation, even though his section's fuel and ammunition were running low. The possibility of the aviators returning to their carriers diminished with every passing second but Lt. Ware continued the attack until the last moment.
Only two members of Lt. Ware's group survived - plucked from the sea by a destroyer. The others, including Lt. Ware and his air-gunner, ARM 1/c William H. Stambaugh, USN, of Paintsville, Johnson County, KY, vanished into the vastness of the Pacific Ocean. Stambaugh, like all aircrewmen who fought at Midway, has been enshrined in the Combat Aircrew Roll of Honor, located at the Midway Exhibit at Patriots Point Museum, Charleston, SC.
In Lt. Ware's honor, the USS Charles R. Ware, a Gearing class destroyer, was launched at Bethlehem Steel Shipyard, Staten Island, NY, April 12, 1945, by Arva Zena Ware, his mother, and was placed in commission July 21. For the next 29 years, DD-865 served the U.S. Navy well around the world, including in the waters off Vietnam in 1967. After serving for a time as a Naval Reserve training ship, the Ware was decommissioned November 30, 1974 in Galveston, TX. On November 15, 1981, the ship was used as a target and was sunk in 3000 fathoms in the Atlantic Ocean, 400 miles northeast of Puerto Rico.
May she and her namesake, Lt. Charles Rollins Ware, forever rest in Honored Peace.
The Under Secretary of the Navy, the Honorable Susan Livingstone, was the guest speaker, along with Congressman Jimmy Duncan and Congressman Ed Bryant. In the photo at right, Ms. Livingstone is with Willard Ware, brother of Charles. Ms. Livingstone's remarks were entitled "Freedom is not Free" and can be read by clicking here. This was a very emotional day for everyone and it concluded with a fly-over by the Blue Dolphins, who flew their FA-18 squadron in missing man formation, in honor of Charles R. Ware. When the planes flew over the ceremony, there were no dry eyes in the park.
All crew members were then treated to a good old fashioned Southern BBQ, compliments of the City of Athens. The Under Secretary spent some personal time with the former crew members and a lasting relationship was formed at this lunch; and Ms. Livingstone was presented a framed print of the memorial from Bob Erlandson and Frank Biondo.
The Charles R. Ware Memorial is located in beautiful Veterans Memorial Park in Athens, Tennessee. The Park is also home to the Veterans Walkway that is paved with bricks inscribed with the names of veterans. Beside the Charles R. Ware Memorial is a special section set aside for former crew members of DD-865. If you would like information on placing a brick in the walkway send an e-mail to the City of Athens Commemorative Brick Program. The McMinn County Living Heritage Museum has established a permanent display to honor the Charles R. Ware DD-865 andis located only a short distance from the park, in downtown Athens. It is a professionally staffed and award winning museum. If you would be interested in donating or loaning items to the museum display, please visit their website.
And finally, this is Veterans Park, home of the Charles R. Ware Memorial. Located just 4 miles off Exit 49 on Interstate 75. This park has become a must see site in East Tennessee.
© City of Athens, TN. All rights reserved