+17 Carry Faye Story of Grandfather

Story of Emmanuel (Lunny) Lundblad

by Carrie Faye
Lunnies Grand Daughter

Click on any picture for larger view.
Emanuel (Lunny) Lundblad, USN
1943 or 44
Lunny and Arnold Zeeman,
1943 or 44
Lunny and Carrie Faye
Grand Daughter
Nov 2002
Lunny- Promoted

Lunny & 2 Friends
1943 or 44
Lunny & 3 Friends,
1943 or 44

Subject: It's finally done
Date: Wed, 26 Feb 2003 19:33:38 -0700
From: "Carrie Faye"
To: "TIMOTHY FOX" TIMJFOX@msn.com, "John Brooks" jbrooks@allaboutloveland.com, "Cheryl" cherylkristies@aol.com, EmilyRuthL@aol.com, JaniceLundRNC@aol, "French, Janet {Main~Boulder}" JANET.FRENCH@roche.com, "Bob Ross RMCS, USN Ret" bobrsr@erols.com

Hello all,
Here is the final copy of my paper regarding (my) grandpa and his experiences during W.W.II.
Bob and John, thank you so much for all of your help researching the information. You are both my heroes!
I hope it didn't take too long to download.
Carrie Faye


What constitutes being a hero? What must one do to be considered a hero? In years past the person typically thought of as a hero was often a sports figure, or a celebrity of some kind. Fire fighters, police officers, and highly decorated war veterans were also typically seen as heroes. Even fictional characters fighting crime in comic books were considered more of a hero than the average citizen. Today there are more stories regarding the "back yard hero," such as the neighbor who saved the life of a young child. Even now, when speaking of war heroes, it is the man who died during battle that is noticed. Yet, what about the young man who fought valiantly by simply completing his job each and every day and not only survived the terrible scars of war, but also returned home to do great things? These men are also heroes.

A simple definition of a hero is "a person noted for feats of courage or nobility of purpose, esp. one who has risked or sacrificed his or her life" ("Hero"). With this definition in mind, my grandfather, Emmanuel Axel Lundblad, a World War II veteran, fits the description of a hero. However, there is much more to being a true hero than simply risking one's life. As Charles Dickens wrote in his novel, David Copperfield, "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show." As with David Copperfield, being the hero of one's own life can be shown through the telling of their story. The story of my Grandfather's experiences during the war, and his character thereafter give him the title of hero in my life, as well as in his own.

The sea was still that night, like a mirror without movement and as smooth as glass. The sailor could see his reflection in the water, but from the deck of the destroyer he couldn't get close enough to the ocean to clearly see his face. The stars were so bright; it was as if he could reach out his hand and pluck his dreams from the night sky, and the moon shone with a brilliance that gave the illusion of daylight. Emmanuel Axel Lundblad, "Lunny," as his shipmates had named him, was spending a moment on deck to clear his thoughts. He was a motor machinist onboard a destroyer in the United States Navy. The last few weeks onboard the USS Wadsworth had been filled with tension and excitement as the crew conducted training before heading to the Panama Canal. Like many of his shipmates, Lunny was eager to make use of the training he had received. Many men entering battle for the first time are young, athletic and eager. However, according to an article in a February issue of Newsweek, "Judging from history, their enthusiasm will last right up to the moment someone shoots back. If the shooting is intense, most will bravely do their duty, but more than a few will curl up into the fetal position or wet themselves. If they see as much combat as their grandfathers in World War II, they will over time, become jaded, ground down and unwilling" (Thomas).

Although they had only been at sea for 6 months, it seemed like years since Lunny had felt the sensation of land, a grounding that so many took for granted. He had boarded the Wadsworth on March 16, 1943, and had spent every day since wondering if he would ever feel the coolness of grass under his feet again. As he examined the moon, it seemed to drift in harmony with his thoughts. Clouds began to cover the light and his thoughts covered his mood. He missed home and the beautiful young lady he had recently met in Boston. He was a religious man and felt certain that God was watching over him, but he wasn't sure what the outcome of the war would be. All he could do was pray and wait to see what each new day had in store for him and the crew of the USS Wadsworth.

"On the last day of August 1943, Wadsworth cleared Espiritu Santo to hunt for the enemy submarine later identified as I-20 that had torpedoed and damaged the tanker W.S. Rheem about 10 miles north of Bougainville Strait" (Ships). They had been searching diligently for the submarine, but had yet to hear her pings on their radar. The following morning, Wadsworth radar picked up an underwater sound and dropped seven patterns of depth charges. Although no debris came to the surface, the Wadsworth reported that they had damaged the submarine. The I-20 never returned home and was reported missing as of October 10, 1943.

For the next two months the crew of the Wadsworth sailed with various task forces and escorted a convoy of supply ships to Kukum beach, Guadalcanal. For the most part their journey thus far had been a quiet one.

According to the ship's log, on September 30th the Wadsworth took part in a protective screen for a dozen troop transports:

The expeditionary forced arrived off the beach at Cape Torokina in the early morning darkness on 1 November. Then the Wadsworth led in the initial force, a group of minesweepers, into Empress Augusta Bay. At 0547, Wadsworth's 5-inch guns began to bark, and her shells destroyed enemy barges along the shoreline. For nearly two hours, the warship blasted targets behind the beaches, before she and sister ship Sigourny (DD-643) took a patrol station to protect the transports, which were landing troops. Suddenly, six enemy planes plunged out of the sun at the two destroyers, and the first of six bombs exploded only 25 yards to starboard of Wadsworth. Two other bombs burst within 500 yards of her beam, one to starboard and one to port. Then, a near-miss 20 feet from her port side sprayed the after section of the ship with fragments that killed two Wadsworth sailors and wounded nine others.

Lunny's time on the Wadsworth was cut short when he was called to join the crew of the USS Lowry in February of 1944. Lunny reported to the Lowry on July 23, 1944, and set out to war again. He prayed that God would spare his life and get him through another journey at sea. He had married the beautiful young lady from Boston while waiting to report to the Lowry. He had much to live for now. He made a deal with God; if his life was spared he would dedicate the rest of it to the ministry he so strongly believed in.

Contrary to the feelings he had before entering battle for the first time, he now knew the truth about combat and was not looking forward to its return. "A 1943 survey asked frontline troops how they felt about 'getting back into actual battle.' Less than one percent wanted to do it anytime soon" (Thomas). If Lunny had known what lay ahead for him onboard the USS Lowry, he may not have had the courage to carry on. His experiences onboard the Wadsworth were simply a preview of the horrors yet to come.

The Lowry headed into battle areas on December 19, 1944. The following day they experienced their first suicide bomber. The plane dove on a ship in their convoy, sinking it. Two other ships were hit but managed to survive the attack. The account of one sailor, Bob Pinnick, gives an intense description of the reality that hits a new warrior:
It was our first battle and we had heard but very little of the new suicide tactics the Japanese had taken up. We all thought when the planes went into their dives it was a dive bombing run and kept looking for them to pull out of their dives as we were really slinging hot lead at them. Their Squadron leader made the first dive on an LST and the others followed after, he hit, like a string of bees . . . It hit so hard it almost went through the bottom of that LST. It hit hard enough to sink it. Just as it hit someone shouted over the loudspeakers 'a suicide plane!' And then, horror struck me like nothing ever done before! I froze and couldn't move for almost a minute. I have never been so terribly scared in all my life. I know what it is to be so frightened your muscles paralyze and ache" (Pinnick).

In the next three months the crew would experience intense battle at every turn. In one particular battle, a Japanese suicide plane hit and sunk a United States Aircraft carrier. "Results; one Aircraft carrier sunk, all planes lost, 335 men killed and wounded against one Japanese pilot with a 500 lb. bomb! That ratio is quite favorable for the Japanese" (Pinnick). In most cases, the suicide air raids came with more than 100 planes at a time. Knowing that just one Japanese pilot could kill so many people made for intense fear during these raids.

On one particular night, the Lowry was saved from their biggest raid while they were on picket duty in Okinawa. Once again, the moon was bright enough to illuminate the sky as if it were daytime, and the sea was very calm. They had 50 Japanese bombers coming in on radar. The suicide planes went past them and only one tried to dive. Suddenly there were 100 additional planes coming in on radar. The captain ordered them to turn the ship around facing the approaching aircraft. Along the coast of Okinawa there was a smoke screen that had been laid earlier. Out of nowhere, a wind came up and blew the smoke screen over the top of the Lowry, hiding it from the approaching planes.

On January 23, 1945, the Lowry headed to Yokohama to continue raids. The sea was no longer quiet as it had been before. They found themselves, along with three other destroyers, on the outer edge of a hurricane that was brewing in the China Sea. During a telephone interview, Lunny described the experience of being on deck with walls of water all around him. The swells had grown to 40 feet and were crashing onto the ship. He could at times, "see the stars overhead like looking through a pin hole." The Captain of the Lowry gave the order to turn the ship out of the storm. The three remaining destroyers "headed toward the eye of the storm, broke in half and 380 men went down with each of them" (Pinnick). Once again, the Lowry was the only remaining ship, and her crew wondered how long it would be before they suffered destruction as well.

Sometimes the fear of not knowing what is going to happen can be the hardest emotional battle to win. By March of 1945 the crew of the Lowry had witnessed the destruction of ships all around them. They had spent the last 40 days straight in air raids, with the majority of their time being spent at general quarters just waiting for the planes. The USS Lowry had yet to be hit. At this point they had been in constant combat for over 90 days. "Army psychiatrists in World War II found that every man had an absolute limit of psychic endurance, at most about 60 days of continuous combat or an aggregate of 200 to 240 days" (Thomas). Unfortunately, the majority of the crew would not see home for another 7 months. Some of them would never see home again, and others would return home so emotionally damaged that life would never be the same. Each man must find their own way to fight fear and emotionally survive the experiences of War. The continuous state of being jumpy and on edge can cause a sort of madness. For the crew of the Lowry, the state of being on alert continuously and being the only ship left that had not been hit was difficult to take. Lunny was not without his own fears and memorized 28 books of the Bible during the war. His sunny disposition and outspoken faith was a comfort to many of his shipmates. One particular sailor would call out to Lunny, "what's the good word," and Lunny would respond with a quote of scripture to lift his shipmate's spirits. Bob Pinnick's journal entries make clear that finding some way to believe in something greater than oneself could be a tremendous comfort:
So many numerous times in this last operation have I escaped death by degrees and countless times I knew I was going to die, that I would never see the next sunset or sunrise, then through some miracle, I have survived unscratched. I have had men die within arm's length of me in battle and see men go completely mad through tremendous fright and shock. God has been good to me and there will be a feeling between the Lord and myself as long as I live (Pinnick).

Physical injuries resulting from combat can also change a person's life. Many war veterans return with injuries so extensive that life as they knew it will never be the same. For some of these soldiers, no matter what their injuries, the bitterness and rage is so intense that their lives fall apart. Lunny seemed to face every trial just as he did with his injuries, with a deep faith that no matter what he endured it would all work out just fine.

Lunny was awarded his Purple Heart for injuries he received while on the Lowry May 4, 1945. There was a storm in Okinawa and bombs were exploding everywhere. The crew of the USS Lowry was located on Picket Station number 2. Their responsibilities while on picket station duty were to watch the skies and intercept raids as they flew in, basically making themselves decoys for the suicide bombers. On this day, a Japanese suicide plane dove at the Lowry and another ship in their squadron. The plane began to smoke and it was clear to the pilot that he was going to miss the ship. He tried to correct and hit the ship with his left wing. The bomb he was carrying exploded and sent shrapnel flying into the Lowry and its crew. Lunny was standing on the starboard side when the plane began to smoke. Knowing that the plane's bomb would explode on that side of the ship if it hit, he had to get to the port side to avoid being hit with shrapnel. He had only seconds to do this, but there was a sailor blocking his path leaving him very little room to dive to the other side. As he was diving, the bomb went off and propelled him further onto the port side of the destroyer. His helmet was blown off and flew into the webbing on the ship. The force of the blast rolled him under the gun turret, which was normally only about 4 inches high. However, the gun was facing the opposite direction than it normally did, allowing room for his body to roll under it. He had to roll back out before he was crushed when the turret swung back around. He did this with seconds to spare. He collected his helmet from the webbing and turned around to see the gun captain and another sailor laying a body on the skirting. The sailor had been killed instantly and was missing half of his head. Lunny was hit with shrapnel in the leg, butt and arm. Many men were injured that day, but only two were killed. With each battle the Lowry somehow managed to escape serious harm, all the while watching ships around them sink into the cold, dark sea. It was as if some force kept the Lowry from doom. Those who survived them could not explain these experiences, but they were grateful nonetheless. Once again the Lowry had "cheated" death. Twenty-four days later, the other ships in their squadron would dub them "The Lucky Lowry."

It was May 28, 1945 when the Lowry left Okinawa with the USS Drexler for Picket Station number 15, according to Pinnick, "the worst picket station" the Navy had. Three hours after leaving for the picket station, they went to general quarters with "Boggies closing starboard bow." Four planes, two of which missed them, attacked them. Suddenly two planes dove on the Drexler and she took both hits. A huge explosion filled the sky with thick black smoke. The Drexler sank six minutes after being hit. The fourth plane dove on the Lowry and missed, exploding into the water nearby. "Out of 340 men we picked up 112 survivors. The Drexler was a 2200 ton destroyer like the Lowry. Two Jap bombers traded for her, a 10,000,000 dollar destroyer, and 228 men. All in six minutes!" (Kamikaze) Following this attack, the ship was thereafter known as "The Lucky Lowry."

The Lowry spent the next four months battling the Japanese and surviving Kamikaze attacks. Their nerves were shot and they all longed for home, but they had much to be proud about. Admiral Arleigh A. Burke once said:
Destroyermen have always been a proud people. They have been the elite. They have to be a proud people as they have been specially selected, for destroyer life is a rugged one. It takes physical stamina to stand up under the rigors of a tossing DD. It takes even more spiritual stamina to keep going with enthusiasm when you are tired and you feel that you, and your ship, are being used as a workhorse. It is true that many people take destroyers for granted and that is all the more reason why destroyer Captains can be proud of their accomplishments.

In September of 1945, the Japanese finally surrendered. The crew of the USS Lowry escorted the Battleship Missouri to Tokyo Bay for the Japanese surrender signing. Their experiences during World War II had certainly changed them all. Some would return home broken and bitter, while others would go on with a new will to live and survive.

Emmanuel Axel Lundblad was one of the latter and returned home to made good on his promise to God. He enrolled in a 3-year course at North Central Bible College for a degree in Theology, which took him 3 1/2 years to complete. Ten years later he went back and earned his Bachelors degree as they did not offer that program when he originally attended the University. Lunny was now referred to as Pastor Lundblad or Axel. In the years following the war he would go on to build a nursing home in Roseville, Minnesota. He named it the "Rose of Sharon" after the bride he had married in Boston. He also helped to build a church and touched the lives of countless people.

As he did during the war, Axel faces each day with a positive outlook. He is never without a smile on his face and continues to share "the good word" with anyone who will listen. He is truly a man that would literally give the shirt off of his back to anyone in need and has been known to do so. The number of people who have been touched in some way by this selfless, loving man is impossible to tell. Countless times in the lives of his own family, he has been an unfailing, incredible "rock." He has passed on the importance of honesty, integrity, and compassion for others, to generations of children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. The following passage from James Allen's, As a Man Thinketh, sweetly describes who Axel Lundblad is to those who meet him:
The strong calm man is always loved and revered. He is like a shade-giving tree in a thirsty land, or a sheltering rock in a storm. Who does not love a tranquil heart, a sweet-tempered, balanced life? It does not matter whether it rains or shines, or what changes come to those possessing these blessings, for they are always sweet, serene, and calm. That exquisite poise of character which we call serenity is the last lesson culture; it is the flowering of life, the fruitage of the soul. It is precious as wisdom, more to be desired than gold - yea, than even fine gold (17).

My grandfather is now in his eighties and suffers from Alzheimer's disease. This unforgiving disease continues to take his precious memories away from him, and in turn takes him farther from us. This man was once a booming minister who could speak of hell and his congregation could feel the fire licking at the back of their necks, smell the sulfur all around them and taste the brimstone on their tongues. Likewise, when he spoke of heaven we could almost feel the golden street beneath our feet and hear the chorus of angels singing us home. His presence was powerful, but he never caused anyone to feel inadequate or unworthy. His encouraging words and complete faith in the goodness of people could inspire even the most stubborn of us to reach for greater heights in life. As with his war experiences and every trial he endured throughout his life, Axel faces his Alzheimer's disease each day like the true hero he is.

Carrie Faye
English 122 LA
Professor Ort

Works Cited

Allen, James. As A Man Thinketh. 1902. Chicago: Lushena, 1999.

Burke, Arleigh A. "The MEN Who Man Destroyers". Dickens, Charles. David Copperfield. 1902.

"Hero." The American Heritage College Dictionary. 4th edition. 2001

Lundblad, Emmanuel. Telephone Interview. 13 Jan. 2003
---. Telephone interview. 21 Jan. 2003

Pinnick, Bob. "Kamikaze." 13 Jan. 2003.

Ship's Log. Wadsworth DD-516.

Thomas, Evan. "Fear At The Front." Newsweek 3 Feb. 2003: 35-40

Carrie Faye

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