Brookline War Memorial
Joseph H. Conway

Corporal Joseph H. Conway
United States Marine Corps - (1942-1945)

Cpl Joseph H. Conway

The USS Bunker Hill (CV/CVA/CVS-17, AVT-9) was one of twenty-four Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy. The ship was commissioned in May 1943, and served in several campaigns in the Pacific Theater of Operations, earning eleven battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation.

On May 11, 1945, off the coast of Okinawa, the ship was crippled by Japanese kamikaze attacks, suffering the loss of 346 men killed, 43 missing, and 264 wounded. The USS Bunker Hill was one of the most heavily damaged carriers of the war.

Marine Corporal Joseph H. Conway, of 1504 Chelton Avenue, a member of the original crew since the date of the ship's commissioning, manned an anti-aircraft gun. Corporal Conway was at his station when the ship was attacked. The following article is reprinted from the Pittsburgh Press, dated June 28, 1945.

United States Marine Corps (1775-present)

Brookline Marine On Carrier Only Survivor Of Gun Crew

Marine Corporal Joseph Conway, "plank-owner" on the Bunker Hill, was the only man in his gun crew to escape death when two Jap suicide planes smashed into the giant carrier.

Corporal Conway, 23, a "plank-owner" because he has been with the Bunker Hill since her commissioning, was one of at least eleven district men aboard the carrier, flagship for the famed Task Force 58. Presently, two of the eleven are listed as missing.

The Marine, son of Mr. and Mrs. William Conway, of 1504 Chelton Avenue, Brookline, is now in San Diego, California, waiting for the furlough which will permit him to go to Tennessee to marry the girl he met when he was a prep student there.

USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)

Knocked Down

"I was the only man in my gun crew, maybe even on my side of the ship, that wasn't killed or badly hurt when they hit us," the Corporal wrote his brother Jim.

He said he was knocked down, and when he scrambled to his feet he found himself in a welter of death and destruction.

"I ran to my locker and that steel locker was melted right down. We had to use blow torches to cut the lockers open."

In Marines Three Years

Corporal Conway enlisted in the Marines three years ago.

Another Brookline man on the Bunker Hill, Seaman Paul Kestler, 18, of 1700 Creedmoor Avenue, is reported missing in action. He has two brothers in service, Corporal Edward and Private Albert Kestler.

USS Bunker Hill (CV-17)    USS Bunker Hill (Cv-17)
The USS Bunker Hill on May 11, 1945 after being struck by two Japanese kamikaze planes.

Corporal Joseph Hirsch Conway, son of William and Mary Conway, and brother of Daniel (Grant), James and Mary of 1504 Chelton Avenue, survived the Bunker Hill tragedy uninjured. Seaman Paul Kestler, whose family lived a mere two blocks away on Creedmoor Avenue, was not so fortunate. Seaman Kestler was reported as Killed In Action a week after the above Pittsburgh Press article was published, on July 5, 1945.

Other district natives aboard the Bunker Hill on May 11, 1945 included: Seaman Harvey Toms (KIA) of Mount Washington, Commander Joseph Frauenheim (Wounded) and Petty Officer Peter Chergotis of East Liberty, Seaman John Stevenson of Greenfield, Seaman James Seifert (Wounded) of Castle Shannon, Lieutenant Andrew Miklausen and Petty Officer Jacob Guzelle of Imperial, Seaman G. F. Weisner of Coraopolis, Petty Officer Charles Costello of Jeanette and Petty Officer Joseph Corea of Butler.

Joseph and Jane Ella Conway - July 1945

After thirty months of service in the Pacific Theatre of Operations, Corporal Joseph H. Conway made it home to marry his sweetheart from Tennessee. The following picture appeared in the Chattanooga Daily Times on July 11, 1945, along with an article announcing the marriage of Corporal Joseph Hirsch Conway to Miss Jane Ella Alverson the day before.

Joseph Hirsh Conway, born August 6, 1922, passed away on March 26, 1986. His beloved Jane joined him on January 26, 1987. Both were sixty-three years old at the time and they rest together in the Mount Olivet Cemetery in East Ridge, Tennessee.

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Brookline Veteran's Park - April 26, 2014.

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