Freedom Fighters: Quentin Koecher - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Quentin Koecher

Quentin Koecher. (Source: KLTV) Quentin Koecher. (Source: KLTV)

At the age of 96, Quentin Koecher looks back at almost a century of experiences, including his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and his service in World War II.

When Koecher received an appointment over stiff competition, it wasn't the Navy that interested him, it was the top notch free education.

Koecher didn't know at the time that his Navy time would extend into wartime. However upon graduation in February of 1941, Koecher was assigned to the Ellet, and in December of that year, the U.S. declared war on Japan after that country's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor. 

"The ship was assigned to a task force covering the North African invasion," said Koecher.

Koecher's role in the Nov. 4, 1942 invasion was plotting his ship's gunfire against the enemy as a "fire control officer."

After the successful North African invasion, Koecher's ship was sent back to Maine for repairs.

"The second assignment was a semi-secret course in installing radar," recalled Koecher.

Since radar was relatively new at that time, the race was on to maximize its use. After completing the radar course, Koecher was assigned to the U.S.S. Cleveland just in time for the invasion of Guadalcanal.

Once again Koecher served as the ships fire control officer.

"We were so undermanned in comparison to the Japanese," said Koecher.

In spite of Japanese superior numbers of men and equipment, American forces prevailed.

"Of course we had the Marines ashore and the ships of our Navy were assigned off shore to protect the invasion," recalled Koecher.

The victory at Guadalcanal began a series of successful Pacific island invasions on the route to Japan. After the Guadalcanal invasion, Koecher was sent to Grand Prairie, Texas for flight training.

Koecher retired as a Lieutenant Commander in 1946. He operated a flight school for a number of years, and continued flying until 1994. When he was honored as a "Master Pilot" by the FAA for his 50-years of flying "without incident." 

Although Quentin Koecher didn't make a career of the service, he credits his naval education with other successes in his life.

"The years I put in the Navy was nothing in comparison to the education that i got," said Koecher. 

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