LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – On December 7, 1941, John Miniclier was stationed at a naval facility on Midway island — a remote island in the North Pacific.
“When we were there, they had bombed Pearl Harbor. On the way back to Japan two carriers came by Midway and shelled Midway,” the 100-year-old WWII veteran said.
John Miniclier was 20 years old when Japanese bombers attacked the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor — an attack that included Midway Island.
“When that happened, everything changed. So, we went out and into our sandpit and moved into the quarters underneath the sand of it mounted it over ourselves,” Meneclier said.
Six months later, on June 4, 1942, the Battle of Midway took place between American and Japanese forces.
“I don’t think we were too scared when it first — on the first date that it happened. I think we got a little more concerned when the battle of Midway on 4 June. We were more concerned because there were theoretically more ships coming in,” he said.
On the day the battle began, he was atop a tower on the lookout for enemy planes.
“That day, by that time we had put up a wooden tower right next to the power plant and there was room for two of us up there,” he said. “There was about 38 of ‘em so they came on a line straight from towards us and they dropped the bombs kind of a string that went right across where we were at.”
John Minicler’s service went on for 35 years with the Marine Corps until 1977 when he retired as a colonel. Throughout his career and by his side, his wife Peggy Miniclier — a veteran of the Marine Corps who he met at a bowling alley while both were stationed in Quantico, Virginia in 1945.
“The girls were bowling in one alley and the guys were over in another alley and I kind of teased them a little bit. So, my wife said, ‘You think you’re so smart. I’ll bounce this bowling ball off your head’”
They’ve been married now for 75 years. While holding his wife’s hand in their Mount Dora home, John Miniclier said it’s been a delightful and fulfilling life together with four children, 11 grandchildren and 11 great-grandchildren.
“We were very lucky. We’ve always been happy with each other,” he said.
But, like any marriage, Peggy Miniclier noted there were some rough patches along the way.
“No. There were times we didn’t like each other,” she said, as both looked at each other and laughed.
“Whatever the boss says I say: ‘Yes ma’am,’” John Miniclier said.