Historical book chronicles local World War II veterans

Life in the United States changed on one Sunday in December 1941.

At 2:31 p.m. Eastern time on CBS radio, newscaster John Daly interrupted programming to announce a catastrophic attack near Oahu … “We interrupt this program to bring you this special announcement. “The Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, by air, President Roosevelt has just announced. The attack also was made on all naval and military activities on the principal island of Oahu.”

When news broke that planes from a Japanese carrier group had bombed part of the Hawaiian island of Oahu and the U.S. Navy’s fleet at Pearl Harbor, Nellie Nelson, who formerly lived in Sacramento in the early 1940s with her two toddlers, leaned closer to her radio to listen to the ominous news of the attack.

“I was stunned, you bet,” said Nelson.


America swung into action, and those with Nevada ties during and after the war joined the fight.

From lowering the ramps of landing ships at Normandy on June 6, 1944, to crawling on the snow on their bellies and enduring extremely harsh weather during the Battle of the Bulge, to providing medical care on a remote island in the Pacific, Nevadans showed  intrepidness and bravery when facing the enemy. POWs, survivors of the Nazi concentration camps and veterans told in detail where they were and what they did.

“Legacies of the Silver State: Nevada Goes to the War” is a compilation of 71 stories of courage and service of men and women who served aboard the battleships USS Arizona and USS Nevada or stormed the beach at Normandy. A section deals with Holocaust survivors and their separate fight for life, freedom and respect.

Many of Nevada’s World War II veterans called the Silver State home in one way or another.

Retired Nevada newspaper editor Steve Ranson spearheaded the project, and fellow journalists Kenneth Beaton and David C. Henley contributed articles they have written. Many of Ranson’s articles come from World War II veterans who flew on Honor Flights to Washington, D.C. and one flight that traveled to Pearl Harbor in February 2020.

Henley, a veteran newspaperman who reported for several Los Angeles newspapers and formerly owned a newspaper in Nevada, also wrote “Battleship Nevada: The Epic Story of the Ship that Wouldn’t Sink.”

All proceeds from this limited edition go to Honor Flight Nevada so more veterans may see our military memorials and museums in Washington, D.C. Go to Facebook to order. For questions, email

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