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Reetz, Russell

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Russell Reetz was born on 7 October 1916 in St. Paul, Minnesota, and graduated from high school there in 1934. After holding several jobs in the following years, including one at a German-language St. Paul newspaper, Die Volkszeitung, in 1940 Russell joined the Naval Reserve. In January 1941 Russell's unit was activated and posted to the destroyer USS Ward (DD-139, later re-designated 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. Russell remained on the Ward until mid-1943; during this time the ship participated in numerous Pacific island invasions. In July 1943 Russell was transferred to the Boat Pool at Noumea, New Caledonia, and in November of that year to shore duty at a supply depot off the island of Bougainville. In November 1944 Russell was transferred back the US and assigned to Treasure Island, by Oakland, California. He was discharged in September 1945. During the war Russell was married (January 1943, wife Loretta). After his discharge, Russell completed technical training in the refrigeration field, and held several jobs in this field during the 1950s and 1960s. He subsequently worked more than 10 years at the Minnesota Waste Water Treatment Plant, retiring in 1981. In November 2000 he joined underwater explorer Robert Ballard in Hawaii on a search for the Japanese mini submarine sunk by the Ward in December 1941. At the time of this interview (September 2001) Russell and Loretta Reetz lived in St. Paul. Russell passed away in November 2004.


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Russell Reetz - Transcript.pdf (787 kB)
PDF Transcript of Interview with Russell Reetz