Kenneth W. Flisher, MM3c


Kenneth W.Flisher

Kenneth W.Flisher

Kenneth Flisher reported to the Boston while the ship was reprovisioning in the lagoon at Eniwetok (Marshall Islands).  While Ken missed some of the earlier engagements of the Pacific Campaign (including the March 1944 Crossing of the Equator Shellback Initiation), he jumped right into the hot seat as the Boston was embroiled in the long Philippines Campaign(s).  Less than two weeks on the ship, he experienced the bombing of the Canberra and Houston, and Boston’s harrowing role in the towing of the Houston out of a hot war zone.  Two months after that, he was in Typhoon Cobra, and we all know what that meant.

Ken remained aboard after the Surrender – throughout the Occupation Duty. He served on the skeleton crew after the ship reached Bremerton WA in Feb 1946, mustering off on May 14, 1946.

His picture was sent in by his son, Ken Jr.,  His son tells us that his father recently passed away on December 29, 2014.  He was married for 68 years and had 4 children, 9 grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.


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A Sailor’s Prayer


Laurie Wasilewski sent me this:

sailorprayerShe came across this while perusing the ShipMates’ collection of BeanPots during the reunion (Portland) in 2008.  Somehow or other, we were chatting about the Great Typhoon, and how terrifying it must have been for our dads and their shipmates those rough days in December 1944.  Later on, this appeared in my inbox.  Thanks, Laurie.

I have also heard from George Pitts’ daughter.  Readers of Baked Beans books will recognize George as one of the guys who provided great accounts of Life Aboard the Ship, as well as detailed diary entries spanning his entire service aboard the Boston.  Sue tells me that both her parents are struggling with a series of complex medical issues.  C’mon George  –  weather this typhoon as well.


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The Easter Bunny


We have seen that Thanksgiving and Christmas were celebrated on the Boston with great feasts.  Apparently, the Easter Bunny never made it out onto the ship  –  it was way too far to hop!

Readers of Volume 2 of Baked Beans will remember that Julian Goldstein talked a bit about what it was like to be one of the handful of Jews on board.  I don’t have any way of knowing if there were sailors aboard who were neither Christian or Jewish.  I do know, however that this weekend marks both Passover and Easter.  For our friends and readers who observe either (or both)  –  may you have a chance to reflect and enjoy these days, days in which family and friends are so important.


I’m hoping that I’m done talking about people dying this month, but I would be really remiss to not mention my father, William Kelly, S1c, who died on this day 10 years ago.


The seeds of four books about the Boston and this website sprouted that day.



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Another Sad Loss


I received an email yesterday from Joe Farkas, telling me his dad, John Farkas, has passed away.

John FarkasJohn “Joey” Farkas, age 89, of South River, passed away peacefully on Saturday March 21, 2015, at Village on High Ridge, Lake Worth, Florida.  Born in Nicholson Township, Pennsylvania he had resided in South River his entire live until moving to Boynton Beach Florida in 2013.  Mr. Farkas was a “plank owner” on the USS Boston (CA-69) and proudly served his country during WW II in the U.S. Navy from 1943 through 1946 where he received the American Theater Medal, European Theater Medal, Asiatic Pacific Medal with 9 Stars, and the Philippine Liberation Medal with 2 Stars. After his discharge from the Navy in 1946 he remained in the Naval Reserve and was called up for service during the Korean Conflict. He was employed by the United States Department of Defense until his retirement in 1983.  (obituary submitted by Joseph Farkas.)

A year and a half ago, I flew to Florida to meet John.  I was working on both Volume 2 and 3 of Baked Beans at the time, and his son Joe reached out to me.  His dad had some stories to tell about the Boston.  John and his wonderful wife Theresa welcomed me into their home.  His son Joe was there as well.  John Farkas was a big ol’ teddy bear – and I instantly felt like I was visiting an uncle that I hadn’t seen in many years.  He told me some great stories  –   and if you haven’t read the Baked Beans books  –  well, you ought to . . .  The most poignant for me was when he spoke of the Big Typhoon  –  he actually broke out in a sweat and he told me he still had nightmares about it.  I can’t tell you how awesome it was to meet John, to hear tales of my dad’s ship (my father never told us anything.).  I can’t tell you how sad I am that we lost John Farkas.

John Farkas and Steve, in John's house, June 2013

John Farkas and Steve, in John’s house, June 2013


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mom, dad and yens


Been an unusual month for me.  I’ve been recovering from knee surgery, and have been at home (not working).  I figured that after a couple of weeks, I’d have free time before I go back to work, and I could spend time writing, including doing some entries to this blog.  Best laid plans . . . .   Bill and I lost our mom just recently, and any “free time” I thought I would have went straight out the window as we attend to the almost infinite number of details that revolve around the funeral, estate, etc etc etc.

My mother and father got married the day he was discharged from active duty in the Navy.  He left Japan in the first of three waves of Boston sailors going home (from Occupation Duty) – Nov. 6, 1945.  More than a month later, he had worked his way across the Pacific, taken a train across the country, and eventually reported to the Navy Station in Baltimore, MD.  My mother had done the bold and audacious  –  unthinkable at the time  –  left her home in small-town southern Massachusetts, defied her father’s wishes, hopped on a train in nearby Worcester, MA and traveled alone to Baltimore to meet and elope with my father.

Part of the difficult task of dealing with a parent’s death, is all of a sudden you have to deal with her personal effects and plow through all the documents (financial and otherwise) she kept.  So, in my mother’s “strongbox”  (a fishing tackle box . . . . ) Bill found an age-yellowed envelope marked “Japanese Yens” In it were four paper yens: a 5, a 10, and two 50’s.  I have no idea what 10 yens was worth in 1945 Japan  –  I suspect not much.  But they are the only tangible evidence we have of his participation in a little known or talked about aspect of the Pacific War – Occupation Duty.

The Boston was one of a handful of warships that stayed behind after the Signing of the Surrender to demilitarize Japan – to capture and destroy all remaining weapons (most notably the destruction of suicide subs and speedboats – hidden in elaborate caves and tunnels all up and down the coast of Japan.)

I was surprised when Bill turned over the envelope to me.  Four pieces of paper from 70 years ago, reminding me of the incredible sacrifice that my dad and all his fellow sailors aboard the USS Boston and ALL the other navy vessels made and endured in their island-by-island conquest. It was a combat journey that led them from Pearl Harbor to the Tokyo Harbor over the course of 1 year and 10 months, with lots of blood, sweat and tears in between.





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