lucky you - your browser doesnt play annoying midis

03/09/13 - NNHS Newsletter - Ralph Whitsett

Ralph Campbell Whitsett, Jr.
(13 Sept 1922 -  06 Mar 2013)

Dear Friends and Schoolmates,

   We have still another sad edition of the NNHS Newsletter today.  Ralph Whitsett, widower of   Jo Hicks Whitsett (June '42), passed away in Hampton on Wednesday, March 06, 2013, at the age of 90.

From the Daily Press - 03/09/13:

              Ralph C. Whitsett, Jr.



A true Marine to the end, Ralph Campbell Whitsett, Jr., age 90, was called to rest on Wednesday, March 6, 2013. He was born in Salem, VA on September 13, 1922, and was the only son of the late Ralph C. and Ruth C. Whitsett.

Ralph was truly proud to have served his country in the United States Marine Corps during WWII. He participated in the capture and defense of Guadalcanal, Tulagi, Cape Gloucester NB, and Peleliu Island (see his story online at Ralph Whitsett/Pacific).

Ralph worked many years at Newport News Shipyard and retired from Advex Corp. in 1985. He was a faithful member of Northampton Presbyterian Church for 50 years.

Ralph was also preceded in death by his wife of 38 years, Josephine H. Whitsett. He is survived by daughters, Kathleen Ward and husband, Percy of Poquoson, and Carole Donovan of Hampton; son, Charles S. Wilson and wife, Belinda of Hampton; three grandchildren; one great-grandchild; and lifetime friend, Frances Matherly of Christiansburg, VA.


Ralph Whitsett



The family will receive friends from 6:00 to 8:00 pm on Saturday, March 9, 2013 at Parklawn-Wood Funeral Home. A celebration of Ralph's life will be held on Sunday, March 10, at 3:00 pm, at Parklawn Memorial Park Mausoleum. Interment will follow at Parklawn Memorial Park.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Northampton Presbyterian Church. View and post condolences on our online guestbook at

Published in the Daily Press on March 9, 2013.
View Guest Book


Friday, March 08, 2013

Your dad had such an impressive life. He was courageous and kind. I have wonderful memories of summer visits to your home. I remember your dad taking us to the ocean where he taught me how to catch crabs! This is still one of my fondest childhood memories.
I wish I could be there on Saturday but I will be thinking of you and your family.
All My Best,

~ Ginny Layne, Potsdam, New York
Friday, March 08, 2013

We remember your dad as a sweet, loving uncle, brother of Ruth May, and we are grateful to have visited with him last year.

Love to you, Joan and Chris Layne
Friday, March 08, 2013 
Kathy and thoughts and prayers are with you all...God surely blessed him with a long life, and I am sure he loved you guys...Wish we could be there, but will keep you in our hearts. Wayne and Maxine Elder, Semper Fi

~ Wayne and Maxine Elder

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Dear Kathy and Percy,,, I was so sorry to hear of your Dad's passing.. My thoughts and prayers are with you as you carry on but I know your faith will get you through the sadness. If I were there in Virginia, I would be there for you!!! In Christ's love, Teresa Crandol Livengood

~ Teresa Crandol Livengood

Saturday, March 09, 2013

My Uncle Ralph; One fine day I dropped by to visit Ralph. Ralph was glad to see me and welcomed me with a strong hand shake and a big smile. He talked stoically about his life, his recent decline in health, his new prescriptions and various scheduled medical tests as though he was just trying to make his way through the complex world of modern medicine, weighing his own thoughts, never once complaining. We talked and laughed about how my mother, Ralph's sister, Ruth May, called him  "Waffay" because Ruth had a difficult time pronouncing the letter "r" and Ralph became "Waffay". When the War started Ralph never gave it a second thought about what he needed to do; join the Marines. Ralph talked openly and in some detail about his combat experiences, his return to civilian life and his loving family. I left in a similar manner to how I had arrived, a strong hand shake and a big smile, and my drive home was different, better. Thank you Ralph; Ted Layne will miss you very much.

~ Ted Layne

Saturday, March 09, 2013
  Kathy and Percy--and Family--"Good and Faithful servant"--We will all lift you up in prayer--I have such sweet memories-- Kathy; of us all camping, swimming at the pool, my many sleep-overs at "Aunt Jo's and Uncle Ralph's" house--"Uncle Ralph" teaching us new swimming strokes at the pool--just too many memories to count--I love you all--and I will surely miss Uncle Ralph--and Mom will miss his faithful visits to her as they would always reminisce. In Christ's Love --Susan and Aunt Kathryn

~ Susan Miller, Hampton, Virginia

Sunday, March 10, 2013


   Our deepest sympathies are extended to the Whitsett family and their friends at this difficult time.


As HBO revisits WWII in the Pacific, a Guadalcanal vet recalls the real war of attrition

March 29, 2010
|By By Hugh Lessig | 247-7821

HAMPTON — The bodies of dead Japanese soldiers cover the beach, stretching nearly as far as the eye can see.

The scene is from a recent episode of the HBO series "The Pacific." A follow-up to "Band of Brothers," which told stories of World War II in Europe, "The Pacific" focuses on the war against Japan. Recent episodes have highlighted the Battle of Guadalcanal.

Many people have watched it. Ralph Whitsett can still smell it.

The 87-year-old Hampton resident fought on Guadalcanal with the 1st Marine Division as part of a mortar crew. His memories, still sharp after more than 65 years, paint a vivid picture of that pivotal battle.

The Marines landed on Guadalcanal in 1942 and initially faced light resistance. But the Japanese mounted a furious bid to retake the island, which is strategically located along the approaches to Australia.

As the Japanese stormed forward and the Marines held fast and waited for relief, it became a battle of attrition.

"We had the utmost faith in America, that they would come in there," Whitsett said. "I've read we were there six months. It seemed like an eternity."

Ralph Whitsett of Hampton is a Marine veteran
who fought at Guadalcanal.

Image by Joe Fudge, Daily Press

Left on their own and running out of food, Whitsett and his comrades lived for a time on rice and powdered milk that the Japanese had abandoned. Black bugs had infested the rice, but the Marines improvised by combining ingredients.

"The black bugs would float on top of the milk," he said. "We'd take our spoon and skim the black bugs off and throw them on the ground and eat the rice."

That worked to a point.

"A few days later, we found out there were maggots in the rice," he said, smiling. "At least we got our protein."

To cook meals, he packed sand in an empty tin can and drenched it with gasoline. The makeshift stove would burn for at least 15 minutes.

Unlike their comrades now fighting in Afghanistan, these Marines didn't have unmanned drones or U-2 spy planes to scope out the enemy. They strung wire from palm tree to palm tree for communications hookups.

One night, Whitsett was on guard duty when he heard a man whistling. It was an American tune — the title escapes him — but the song saved the man's life. He had been checking the lines and Whitsett held his fire. "If he had snuck along the telephone lines, we would have shot him," he said. "You don't ask questions on a dark night."

Prior to landing, they climbed down rope nets into boats, being careful to unstrap their helmet chin straps and pack straps in case they fell in the water.

The HBO series missed that detail.

"I look at it very critically," Whitsett said.

But the scene of the dead Japanese on the beach — that hit home. Whitsett recalled sleeping close enough to the dead bodies to smell the rotting flesh.

Today, he can walk down his neighborhood and know right away if an animal has died nearby. It is a smell that people never forget.

"I was there," he said, recalling that beach scene. "I saw the same thing. They just came madly rushing at us. We killed them all, I guess."

The Marines got by with World War I-era bolt-action rifles and ate rations that had been on the shelf for years.

Meanwhile, Whitsett and his mortar crew lobbed 81-millimeter shells over the night-time battles to illuminate Japanese positions.

For a 20-year-old kid from Roanoke with no combat experience, Guadalcanal provided a lifetime of memories.

His adventures didn't end there. Whitsett later fought in the Battle of Peleliu, where he was wounded during the landing, receiving a Purple Heart. In between, he had some downtime in Australia and paid attention to a pretty girl named Shirley.

They might have gotten married, he said, but Whitsett had a practical streak.

Each Marine had a $1,000 life insurance policy and Whitsett knew he would return to battle.

"If I married her, I'd probably live with her a week or two at the most," he said. "If I got killed, she would get the thousand dollars, which was a lot of money back then. And my mother who raised me wouldn't get anything. I didn't marry her on that account."

Revisiting these old memories has its advantages. During an interview, Whitsett learned something by recounting one of his old questions — why the pubs in Australia always closed early.

"We'd go to the pubs and have our boilermaker — a shot of whiskey and a glass of beer — and we throw that down and go on leave," he said. "It just dawned on me right now, they probably closed early to keep us out! That's exactly the reason. I never thought of that."

More information online: To watch scenes from "The Pacific," including the one referred to by Ralph Whitsett, go to, click on "The Pacific."

•To see rare color footage from Guadalcanal, go to and search for "Guadalcanal: Marine's Home Movie."

•For more information on Guadalcanal and other Pacific battles, go to the Navy's history Web site,, and click on "WWII Pacific."

  Y'all take good care of each other!  TYPHOONS FOREVER! We'll Always Have Buckroe!

                          Love to all, Carol





Carol Buckley Harty
7020 Lure Court
Fayetteville, NC 28311-9309

The Last Post

"The Last Post" midi courtesy of - 03/26/06

Greg Olsen Paintings courtesy of – 01/27/05

Animated USMC Flag clip art courtesy of - 06/18/03

Blackwork Flowers Divider Line clip art courtesy of - 08/12/04

Purple Heart image courtesy of Joe Madagan ('57) of FL - 06/04/04
Thanks, Joe!

Back to NNHS Newsletters - 2013

Return to NNHS Class of 1965