Navy veteran Peter Xanthos of East River Road (pictured at center) recently hosted visitors, including his shipmate from World War II, Walter Frey.
Frey, his daughter Sharon Estes and son-in-law John Estes from California visited Xanthos on a sightseeing tour, which included a trip to the Buffalo Naval Serviceman's Park. They also had a meeting at Town Hall with Grand Island Supervisor Mary Cooke.
Xanthos and Frey served as shipmates on the U.S.S. Bingham (pictured at far right) as members of the U.S. Navy Amphibious Forces, which served 18 months in the Pacific Theater in WWII. The ship was part of the effort to land troops and supplies on the beach at Saipan and Okinawa, the costliest battle in killed and wounded in the Pacific war.
Xanthos said that the men endured two or three air raids a day.
"We had kamikaze air raids every day while unloading," Xanthos said.
After the Japanese surrender, Xanthos and Frey were assigned to the "Magic Carpet Task Force" bringing military personnel back home to the U.S.
They were also part of the freeing of Allied prisoners of war held captive for more than three years.
"We transferred them from a hospital ship and took them to the Philippines" for flights back to their home country, Xanthos said. The POWs were American, British, Australian and Dutch soldiers captured shortly after the Pearl Harbor attack.