110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
They watched the demise of two Japanese fighter planes, 15 miles apart
posted May 21, 2013 - 4:50:05pm
As World War II veterans Raymond Koontz and Francis Clifton were looking over a book detailing Koontz’s work with the Seabees in the South Pacific during the war, the two men realized they share a common memory of a particular night.
Koontz and Clifton, who struck up a friendship at The Cloisters Retirement Community in DeLand, realized they had both witnessed the gunning down of two Japanese warplanes within the span of a few minutes, on Sept. 21, 1942.
On that night, Clifton looked up into the night sky from Florida Island, where he was serving as a U.S. Navy pilot with the VP 23 Patrol Squadron.
Koontz viewed the fighter planes’ demise from about 15 miles away on Guadalcanal, where he had been stationed with the U.S. Navy Seabees 26th Battalion.
Seventy years later and thousands of miles removed, the men were able to share the experience again at The Cloisters, where Koontz moved recently from Tampa to be closer to his daughter. Clifton, a DeLand resident since 1954, has lived at the retirement community for several years.
Honor our veterans and those who lost their lives at war. Get a full listing of Memorial Day events, view Memorial Day salutes from local businesses, and more in the May 23-26 Weekend edition of The Beacon. To subscribe to The Beacon online, click here. For a list of newsstand locations, click here. To have the print edition mailed to your home twice a week, send your address via email to email@example.com.
The comments posted below are posted by readers, not by The Beacon staff. These comments express the views and opinions of the authors, and not the administrators, moderators or webmaster. The comments forum is governed by these rules. Please use the report abuse link if you find offensive comments.
Did you find this story interesting or informative? Subscribe to The West Volusia Beacon to read more stories by Barb Shepherd, along with others from our award-winning writers. Subscribe now!