"Bert Stolier was stranded in the placid waters of the Pacific Ocean for three days and three nights in December 1942 after his ship, the U.S.S. Northampton, was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine during the Battle of Tassafaronga. With no food, no water, and little hope, all Stolier could do is reminisce about his family and home in New Orleans and sing every song he could remember. Then, Stolier said, a miracle happened. "The tide pushed me between two islands and I saw a ship," he said. "As I got a little closer, I saw, with apologies to my future wife, the most beautiful sight of my life." What Stolier saw that cold December morning was the Stars and Stripes flying on the deck of an American ship. Unable to move, Stolier cried out "Any of you sailors want to give a marine a hand?" A few minutes later, Stolier was rescued... Stolier, now in his 90s, served in the Marine Corps during the Pacific theatre and fought in battles such as Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, [Tarawa] and Iwo Jima. (Excerpts from the Sea Coast Echo)
When I asked Mr. Stolier about the Battle of Tarawa (a three day battle on a scrap of land hardly half a mile square, with over 9,000 American and Japanese casualties), he said to me, "It wasn't a battle. You can't call something that horrible a battle.... But it had to be done." Mr. Stolier is a truly remarkable man. At 97 years of age now, he spends his time at the WWII Museum in New Orleans sharing his incredible stories.