I swear I have half the navy from Louisville——————————————————————————-This group comes from GM2c Charles E Knopf, a Louisville native who enlisted following the outrage at Pearl Harbor in 1942. Going through advanced gunnery school, he eventually made his first expedition on the crew of the USS SAPELO as it made summer runs of oil and fuel between Argentina and the US. In August of 1942 he joined his long-term vessel as a deck gunner aboard the USS WINOOSKI AO-38. A fleet refueler, the WINOOSKI made many trips across the Atlantic to supply the British with much needed fuel supplies before taking part in the landings of Operation Torch. Knopf and the ship worked off the coast of Africa for a good while where he got plenty of target practice fighting off attacks by German fighters and dive bombers. That wasn’t the worst, however, as whole making a run off the coast of Casablanca they were hit dead center by a torpedo from U-173. Somehow, the explosion hit just between the two main fuel tanks and failed to rupture any of the explosive gas. After repairs they went on to supply allied ops in Africa and Italy, ending by overseeing fueling for coastal support ships at Operation Dragoon. With most of the European coast covered, they then transferred to the pacific where the need for fuelers was dire. Arriving in early 1945, they played an important role maintaining ships at Luzon, Borneo, and throughout the Philippines. Here Knopf joined the ranks of the navy men who got to shoot at both German and Japanese aircraft, as they came under kamikaze attacks almost everywhere they went. Luckily, the fueler was never hit, and Knopf got to go home in the fall of 1945 where he began a career at the old Falls City Brewery which still stands today.
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