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Cadet Stanley Willner
circa 1940

Stanley Willner & Kermit Haber
West Point, 1992

West Point Speech

Thank you Kermit. Fellow combat Merchant Mariners and guests. Thank you for inviting me to speak to you today.

It has been a half century since my capture and imprisonment by the Germans and the Japanese for over three years. Many of the details have faded with time, but the experience remains unforgettable.

My story begins by way of a Senatorial appointment to the U.S. Maritime Commission following graduation from high school in 1938. After serving as a deck cadet, I received my mates license and a commission in the U.S. Naval Reserve.

When war broke out, I was on a ship in Portugal. Upon my return to the states, I went on the M.S. Sawokla as third mate. The Sawokla was an Army transport, operated by American Export Lines.

While in New York I reported to Navy Headquarters and was told to remain on the Sawokla because it was loading war supplies which were urgently needed in the Persian Gulf.

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1999, Stanley Willner. All rights reserved.