BRANCH OF SERVICE:
1946 - 1948
Petty Officer 3rd Class
SUMMARY OF SERVICE:
WWII Veteran Lester C. Bly’s engraved brick is one of hundreds in the Veteran’s Memorial Park near Sioux Falls, SD. Enlisted from 1946-1948, he was promoted as Petty Officer 3rd Class, working as a Navy Surveyor for the 103rd SeaBees, stationed at Guam and Pearl Harbor toward the end of the war. The sailors surveyed and helped restore local roads and bridges. They built airstrips, new housing and cleaned up destruction from the bombings. Les is the father of Cindy (Bly) Bahe, writer for Stone Group Architects.
The oldest Bly brother, Jean, was the first to enlist in the military. He died while serving in the Marines during WWII. The other four Bly brothers also enlisted in the military - Les in the Navy, Ray in the Army, and Bernie and Richard in the Air Force - all serving during and after the war. “My mother, a single parent, and Gold Star Mother, temporarily moved from Garretson, SD, to Chicago to assist the military and earn income. She worked as one of Rosie the Riveters, assembling aluminum for airplane wings,” said Bly. “My aunt and uncle helped keep the farm running back home.”
“The little boy in the photo with us is Chuckie, an orphan. He hung around us on the base in Guam, and we were like his big brothers. I never knew what happened to him after we moved back to the states,” he said.
When they weren’t working, they caught and rode Japanese Calvary horses for entertainment. Without tack available, they constructed makeshift bridles and rode bareback. What they didn’t know at the time was Japanese soldiers were watching them ride around. The enemy soldiers were hiding out in caves, unaware that Japan had surrendered, and the war was over.