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Ethier, Orville

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Orville Ethier was born 1 October 1921 in St. Paul, Minnesota. After high school he enlisted in the Naval Reserve. In January 1941 Orv's unit was activated and posted to the destroyer USS Ward (DD-139/APD-16); the ship was stationed at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and was the vessel which fired the first shot against the Japanese on 7 December 1941, sinking a two-man submarine outside the harbor in the early morning hours before the main Japanese attack. Orv remained on the Ward until she was sunk in December 1944 while in the Philippines; during these three years the ship participated in numerous Pacific island invasions. Home in St. Paul on leave in January 1945, Orv married Pat Cavanaugh, who was then serving as a US Navy WAVE in San Diego. Orv's final duty station was Mayport Naval Air Station, Florida, where he remained until he was discharged in October 1945 as Machinists Mate 1st Class. In May 1945, while stationed at Mayport, Orv learned his brother, Lloyd, also serving with the US Navy, had been killed in action off Okinawa. Lloyd was one of almost 400 sailors that perished when Japanese kamikaze aircraft struck his ship, the USS Bunker Hill. Following his wartime service, Orv then re-joined the Naval Reserve and was called to serve during the Korean War, spending part of 1950-51 on a destroyer. After discharge in 1945, Orv worked several years as a pipe fitter before taking a position as an inspector with the City of St. Paul, a job he held until his retirement. He was active for many years with the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association, a national veterans organization, and a USS Ward veterans group, the First Shot Naval Veterans. At the time of this interview Orv and Pat Ethier lived in St. Paul.


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Orville Ethier - Transcript.pdf (1011 kB)
PDF Transcript of Interview with Orv Ethier