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MONTGOMERY COUNTY WORLD WAR II HERO PASSES

Paul Shealy, 98 passed away early Tuesday morning at his Montgomery home. Paul was born in 1922 and a veteran of World War II. Paul was a teenager, 17  on August 20, 1940, when he joined the US Navy. In February of the following year, he was assigned to the USS Canopus which was at Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines on December 7, 1941.  The ship had been damaged by the daily bombings and Paul and his crew worked around the clock to keep it seaworthy.  On December 29, 1941, a 500-pound bomb armor-piercing bomb went through the ship’s decks and exploded on the propeller shaft killing 6 sailors.  Then on January 21, 1942, a fragment bomb went off injuring 16 more sailors Paul and his crew disguised the ship as a damaged, bombed-out ship, listing in the water by day and working at night to make repairs.  They assisted in launching small boats to attack the Japanese for the next several months. On the morning of April 9, 1942, the ship was scuttled and Paul and the remaining Naval personnel on Bataan were taken to Corregidor for duty in the 4th Batallion Reserve, of the 4th Marine Regiment, the defenders of Corregidors beaches.  They doused their Navy whites in coffee to blend in with the trees. The group bivouacked on Geary Trail in Government Ravine for almost a month before being called upon for the last counter-attack.  Paul and a group of 500 sailors moved into Malinta Tunnel in preparation for the final counterattack against the advancing Japanese. On April 6, 1942, Paul was captured and held with the Corregidor garrison on an old seaplane ramp for almost 3-weeks enduring starvation. He was then moved to Manila and the old Bilibid Prison and shortly after moved to one of the three hell-hole Cabanatuam POW Camps north of Luzon. From there the Japanese prison ship, Nagato Maru, took Paul and 1500 POWs to Moji, Japan.  For three weeks they were held below deck for the voyage no food and basically swimming in their own waste as Paul had said, “it hurts to breathe.” They were taken to a prison camp in the Osaka Regional Prison Camp. Paul had said he was not a prisoner of war for the next 3-years but was a guest of the Emporer. He said they were not allowed to go to the bathroom or talk. If they attempted to escape the punishment was extremely harsh.  “if one would escape, they would shoot ten”. Their diet was rice and worms. Even after all this Paul said he never held a grudge on the Japanese, in fact, he said he made deep friendships with many of them.  Paul retired after 30-years with the Navy as a Lieutenant Commander. When Operation Desert Storm came around in the 90’s Paul asked to serve again. The military’s response that he was too old and to go home.  Paul said he never lost faith that he would go home. Paul said in a recent interview that these days he focuses on giving smiles to everyone he meets. “If you see someone without a smile, give em yours.” Several years ago  Paul went with the group, Montgomery County Lone Star Honor Flight. The group of students, faculty, and parents of Montgomery ISD started the program in 1996 by hosting World War II Veterans for breakfast on Veterans Day. Not wanting the World War II Veterans to go unrecognized funds were raised by the group and the community to pay Continental Airlines $90,000 tab to transport the Montgomery County World War II Veterans and their sponsors to Washington D.C, to see the World War II Memorial on a one day 22-hour trip. Funds were raised and in 2008 2-flights were made. Another in 2009. There were five flights in total.  Rest In Peace Hero-You Will Not Be Forgotten. The family will receive friends on Friday, August 7, 2020, from 5-7 p.m. Funeral services will be Saturday, August 8, 2020, at 2:00 p.m. at Metcalf Funeral Directors. Paul will be laid to rest with Military Honors at Houston National Cemetery at a later date.

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