On December 7th 1941 at approximately 7:55 A.M. at Pearl Harbor Hawaii the US Naval Fleet, US Marine Corps barracks as well as US Army Air corps planes were attacked by Imperial Japanese Naval forces. The result was that America was now at war in Europe and Africa against Germany and in the South Pacific against the Japanese.
At that same time and place an 18 year old Kenosha sailor, Stanley N. Valentine, was aboard the USS Whitney (AD-4) a destroyer repair ship and witnessed the attack at Pearl Harbor. Stanley Valentine had quit Bradford High School at age 17 to join the Navy. Valentine was born in Racine in 1923 the son of Danish immigrant parents, his father Magnus was a fisherman and mother Ruth a homemaker with brothers Leo and Richard and a sister Kathryn. They moved to Kenosha and lived on Kenosha’s north side. Valentine spent much of his young life playing around Kenosha’s harbor area with his “River Rat” friend, Eugene Malsack.
Valentine witnessed firsthand the devastation at Pearl Harbor and had worked on a burial crew laying coffins of American Sailors, Marines and Airmen in long “trench” graves for many days after the attack. Valentine volunteered for the Submarine Service and finished WWII on a submarine in 1947 when he was Honorably Discharged.
Home from WWII and the Navy, in Kenosha Valentine married his wife Grace Pahl Valentine on February 26, 1949. They had met on a ship, not a Navy Ship but a passenger ship going to Europe. They did not really know one another before the cruise but as chances were, they were both from Kenosha. They had 3 children and 2 grandchildren.
Stanley N. Valentine joined the US Naval Reserve in Kenosha after his discharge from the Navy in 1947 and was reactivated for the Korean Conflict serving on the USS Nereus (AS-18) a submarine repair ship in 1950 - 1952.
Valentine worked for Nash Motors, American Motors and finally Chrysler as a machine maintenance man for 33 years. After retirement is when Valentine really became interested in Veteran’s Affairs. He belonged to several Veterans groups and other organizations.
An idea becomes a plan
Valentine, who never forgot his duty in the US Navy during WWII and Korea, and the men and lives that were lost during the attack on Pearl Harbor, had an idea in the back of his head to somehow memorialize those lost at Pearl Harbor. In the late 1990’s the City of Kenosha was proposing to re-build Navy Park. Valentine met with city officials and parks committee members with his plan for a “Pearl Harbor Memorial.” The city planners developed a plan which included his memorial, at this site at 52nd Street and 6th Avenue, overlooking the entrance to Kenosha’s harbor for the memorial. When construction started, Valentine spent many hours at Navy Park watching construction and when he saw construction plans changing, immediately took action, sometimes ending up in the mayor’s office to get assurance that the memorial and park would be constructed as per the city’s plan. While Valentine was busy with the park and memorial construction he asked his Kenosha Navy Club Ship-40 Shipmate Tom Fredericksen to find information of those from Wisconsin who died as a direct result of the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941. Valentine’s plan for the memorial would be a staff of an anchor constructed of 4 inch by 8 inch bricks each inscribed with the name, branch of service and hometown of those from Wisconsin killed at Pearl Harbor. Valentine, Fredericksen and a close friend of theirs, Paul Shockley also a Navy Club Ship 40 member and also a submariner, took the CD with the information of the 50 men from Wisconsin killed at Pearl Harbor to a company that made memorial bricks and had the bricks produced and transported to the Kenosha Parks Dept. Valentine and Fredericksen then went about getting sponsors for the bricks to cover the cost of producing the bricks. On the date of the park dedication, each of the 52 bricks in the memorial anchor, owned by a sponsor and each sponsor was given a “Certificate of Ownership” to the brick(s). The certificates were produced by Fredericksen.
Navy Chief Paul Shockley said “He wasn’t a showy type of person. He was the kind of guy who supported things. Stan was always right in the middle of it. He had a powerful reasoned voice. He was a good friend and a good man.” Shockley said it was Valentines idea and drive that led to the mast of flags and memorial that now mark Navy Park. “This was big to him. He was the spark to get the flags and bricks for the Wisconsin men who died at Pearl Harbor. He suggested how to go about it and pretty much handled the whole thing.”
On September 2, 2000, 65 years to the day after the official signing of the peace with Japan, the Pearl Harbor Memorial at now: ”Navy Memorial Park”, was dedicated. Fox tv6 Milwaukee sent Bob Moore, their reporter, and a cameraman to the dedication. Fox 6 produced a very moving video for their news cast that evening with the voice of Stan Valentine describing the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941 and showing film footage of the attack. At the dedication ceremony, Moore asked Fredericksen why he had gotten involved with the memorial project. Fredericksen said ” My Father was a WWII Veteran, serving with SeaBee’s in the South Pacific. Stan was a good friend of mine, the kind of friend that that you will do anything for. Stan asked me, so I helped. This is Stan’s tribute for Kenosha and to the 50 men from Wisconsin who died as a direct result of the surprise attack on the Naval Fleet and other services serving at Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941.”
Stanley N. Valentine
Stanley N. Valentine has a long history with the US Navy including many ship and “boats” (submarines). A family man who helped to coach little league and pony league baseball, coached basketball for kids, was active in his church, had been appointed to many positions within the veterans community, had served as Commander of the Navy Club Ship-40 in Kenosha and had served as a “Commissioner” on them Governor Tommy Thompson’s USS Wisconsin re-commissioning commission.
On September 2, 1945 (VJ Day) Valentine was honored to be on a ship in Tokyo Bay when the unconditional surrender of Japan was signed.
Stanley N. Valentine retired from the US Navy with the rank of Chief Petty Officer and rate of Engineman, Submarine qualified.
Sadly Stanley N. Valentine passed away August 24, 2002 at age 78.
Author: Thomas Fredericksen