John J. Wiest - A Hero's Story

When visiting John, he would share great stories with us about World War II and his famous secret cheeseburger recipes from years ago when he and his wife owned a couple restaurants in the Williamstown area.
John J. Wiest lived in Williamstown, PA. He served in U.S. Navy in the Pacific Theater. John's ship, the USS Vincennes was attacked by the Japanese and was sunk by 85 shell hits and 3 torpedoes.  John was among 10 men at his battle station passage - only 2 survived.  John was shot in the leg, neck, and back.  Wiest recalls, "I could hardly breathe or swallow because my windpipe was half shut." 

John had to crawl over the many dead sailors to get to a life vest.  A fellow sailor hanging onto John's vest did not survive as they both were pulled under water by the sinking ship's water vacuum.  John was severely bleeding from his bullet wounds and in danger of losing his leg. The blood from all the wounded attracted sharks as they were all floating in warm shark invested waters off the coast of Okinawa. They were not sure if they were going to be rescued or even survive.

A reliable Navy life jacket and a determination to breathe kept Wiest afloat until he was pulled into a life raft.  He was immediately taken onto a destroyer where his throat had to be cut to open an airway.   

A book about John's story given to Dave by John's friend and late author Annabelle Coleman.

John faced a long recovery.  In his later years, he still felt the pains of his wounds but was proud that he served his country to protect our freedom.

John's heroic story of sacrifice for our freedom is historic.  We admire, salute, and will remember him.  We're proud and honored to have been in his presence and to have called him our friend.
 "Medals and Citations"

- Purple Heart
- Pacific Theater Ribbon with Four Stars
- European Theater Ribbon
- Good Conduct Medal
- American Theater Medal
- World War II Victory Medal
- Philippine Liberation Medal
- Defense Ribbon with One Star

On New Year's Eve 2011, The Lucky Afternoon Band honored John by sharing his story and playing "God Bless the USA" at the New Berlin Legion.  The veterans rushed on stage to meet John and shake his hand after the ceremony. 

In his eighties, John would still come out and kick up the dance floor with Lucky Afternoon....

John pictured with author the late Annabelle Coleman

Always a great sense of humor with a smile

God Bless you John
You were a good man, husband, and father.

Fly High Hero!!