Veterans Day, My Dad and his Ship. USS TN BB43


I never knew until now what my Dad and those who served on this battle wagon actually endured. He was on the ship when this occurred.

The footage made me cry.

He didn’t talk that much about what happened on the Tennessee but he did tell me once that he had just been relieved one night from the guns when only minutes later the TN was attacked and the ship mate and friend who had replaced him and those who replaced others died where they were at moments prior. I don’t know during which battle this took place. I think most for what ever reason kept what they experienced to themselves. I do know his ears rung all of his life after the war. He said he’d place cotton or whatever the navy gave them to put in their ears but during a battle they would come out.

He was nick named “Smokey” because of how he tanned.

He said he never saw his own Father cry until the day the Tennessee returned home here (location ?) briefly and he saw the gigantic holes in the ship and then my Dad coming off the ship. He was the youngest of 5 brothers (all served) but was the only one who served in the Navy.

My Dad died on June 21, 2001 just three weeks before his 77th birthday.

On this Veterans Day I Thank All Who Have Served. But especially My Dad.

Antonio Rudolph Valerio

He is very much missed.

Dad_Antonio Valerio_Tony_Copyright




During her four year tour through the Pacific from Pearl Harbor to Victory Over Japan, the USS Tennessee compiled one of the most impressive war records of any ship in modern naval history. She suffered significant damage at Pearl Harbor, fired the largest number of shells of any ship in combat in the entire history of the United States Navy, participated in 13 major operations and was awarded 10 battle stars, she suffered damage in three operations but remained in the battle, her accuracy of fire helped defeat a Japanese naval fleet and save the Leyte landing beachhead, and after the failure of battleship fire support at Tarawa her crew developed the US Navy fire support landing doctrine that made possible the advance of United States forces through the Central Pacific without prohibitive loss of life. From the disaster at Pearl Harbor to island hopping through the Pacific and occupation of mainland Japan the U.S.S. Tennessee steamed an unbelievable total 170,073 miles.


On 13 October 1945 Vice Admiral Jesse B. Oldendorf announced to the crew that he had recommended the USS Tennessee for a Unit Citation which would be the equivalent to the Silver Star or Legion of Merit awarded to individuals. This is one of only two Navy Unit Citations awarded to a Battleship for actions during World War II. The citation was signed by Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal on 5 April 1946.

All personnel attached to the Tennessee and actually present and serving during the period of 31 January 1944 through 21 June 1945 in the Pacific, or any part thereof, earned a Navy Unit Commendation. The commendation awarded USS Tennessee reads as follows.

U.S.S. Tennessee (BB-43) Navy Unit Commendation The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in commending

The United States Ship Tennessee for service as follows:

“For outstanding heroism in action against enemy
Japanese forces during the period from January 31,
1944, to June 21, 1945. Conducting extensive bom-
bardments with devastating accuracy throughout thir-
teen major operations, the U.S.S. TENNESSEE method-
ically reduced enemy defenses prior to the time of
landings, provided a tremendous amount of concen-
trated fire directly covering amphibious assaults, and
furnished controlled fire supporting the movement of
troops ashore after the invasions, making possible the
advance of our forces through the Central Pacific with-
out prohibitive loss of life. Withstanding repeated
blows from enemy shore batteries, bombs, torpedoes
and Kamikaze planes, her courageous crew skillfully
effected emergency repairs which kept her in action
during extended periods of tension, strain and extreme
peril. In the historic Battle of Surigao Straits she con-
tributed materially to the destruction of a powerful
portion of the Japanese Fleet, including at least two
battleships. The TENNESSEE’s splendid record of
achievements, from the Aleutians to the Ryukyus, re-
flects the superb teamwork and gallantry of her valiant
officers and men and is in keeping with the highest
traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

All personnel attached to and serving on board the
U.S.S. TENNESSEE during the above period are hereby
authorized to wear the NAVY UNIT COMMENDATION Ribbon.

( And I have my Dads Ribbons )



Tennessee also was awarded 10 Service stars.



Filed under News, Politics

9 responses to “Veterans Day, My Dad and his Ship. USS TN BB43

  1. Pingback: Six On Sunday, Version 25

  2. My Grandfather served on the Tennessee from 43-45. He was also onboard when the plane hit her. I remember him telling the story and saying that they never found the sailor who was the bugler. Thanks.

  3. My dad was on the USS Tennessee from 43-45. He was in the Fire Control and was from Springfield, OHIO. His name was Roland Ballentine and he passed away at age 54 from heart failure. He contracted rheumatic fever in the war and damaged his heart valves. He left behind 3 sons and a wife. wh

  4. April
    Your message seems like it was going to be continued but left off with, wh…
    I’ll look up you Dad’s name. I’ve got my Dad’s ship book. All went through a terrible hell that for the most part seemed to keep it to themselves.

  5. My 94 Y/O dad (Seaman 1/C Chuck King) is looking for any shipmates who served on BB-43 in WWII. E-mail his son Russ at for more information.

  6. Bobby Cox

    My Uncle Samuel Cox served on the Tennessee from 1943-1945 he was a gunner on turret #2 when a kamikaze hit in the morning at the battle of Okinawa. He was a split second away from death. A piece of shrapnel hit his head at the hair line. He was injured but the next man wasn’t so lucky

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s