Ramos witnessed aftermath of Hiroshima & Nagasaki while serving in US Navy 78 years ago
Congressman Brian Higgins on Tuesday honored World War II veteran Bob Ramos – just a week prior to his 101st birthday. The congressman presented the former U.S. Navy fireman first class officer with military service medals during a ceremony at the John Duke Center in Niagara Falls.
“World War II veterans experienced firsthand the cost of freedom, many not by choice. Those who returned home went on to provide for their families, participate in their communities, and live productive lives while carrying all they experienced during the war,” Higgins said. “Bob Ramos did just that. His stories serve as an important reminder of the sacrifices that were made to protect our freedom. We are eternally grateful for all he has given to our country and the Western New York community.”
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Robert Restaino added, "We are proud of all those who serve to protect our freedoms. Declining in number but especially significant are our WWII veterans, who served at a time of great peril to our nation. One of our own, Bob Ramos, answered the call to serve and defend our country. The City of Niagara Falls is proud of his service and contribution to the national war effort, and grateful that he continues to call Niagara Falls his home."
Born Aug. 23, 1921, Ramos grew up in Niagara Falls and attended Trott Vocational School, where he specialized in welding. After graduating, he began working at a Buffalo shipyard and built landing crafts to support the war effort. While working at the shipyard, Ramos was recruited to work on a secret project at Hooker Chemical. He later learned this effort was part of the atomic bombs creation during the Manhattan Project.
Congressman Brian Higgins offers remarks.
Ramos worked for Hooker Chemical until he was drafted into the Navy in March of 1944. He was sent aboard the USS Oklahoma City and achieved the rank of fireman first class, a title given to an engine/mechanical apprentice, while working in the boiler room. Ramos and his shipmates, stationed near Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were among the first to witness the aftermath of the bombings. Just weeks later, he was present at Tokyo Bay, where Japanese forces surrendered.
Serving on active duty for two years, Ramos earned the American Campaign Medal, Navy Occupation Medal, World War II Victory Medal, Navy Occupation Service Medal, Honorable Discharge Button and an Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
Following the war, Ramos returned to work at Hooker Chemical, where he continued to serve on atomic energy projects. In 1970, he was sent to Chicago to assist in the closure of the Three Mile Power Plant after its partial meltdown.
Before joining the Navy, Ramos married his wife, Margaret, and the two went on to have a daughter named Cynthia, as well as several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Sadly, Margaret passed away in 2014 after battling Alzheimer’s disease. Ramos said he looks back fondly on their memories together, and the care he was able to provide for her.
Now retired, Ramos spends much of his time baking and tending to his garden. He is also the chairman of the Niagara Falls Senior Council and regularly volunteers at the John Duke Senior Center – where he met Higgins during the annual summer picnic.
Ramos is one of approximately 240,000 World War II living veterans, according to 2021 data from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Ramos addresses the crowd.