Minden resident John (Jack) Delaney had three loves during his lifetime: serving in the Navy for 20 years, being on the USS Missouri during the Korean War, and his wife of 55 years, Marjorie.
Delaney, 87, quietly died Monday on the eighth anniversary of his wife’s death.
The Watervliet, N.Y., native moved to Minden 34 years ago.
He returned from his second Pearl Harbor trip with Honor Flight Nevada on Dec. 10.
During his career in the Navy, the retired chief petty officer first sailed on the USS Missouri, a battleship dubbed the Big Mo, during the last year of the Korean War. He also served three tours during the Vietnam War.
“I came aboard June 1952, and then we headed for WESTPAC (Western Pacific),” he recalled during his first Pearl Harbor trip with Honor Flight in February 2020. “We left Norfolk, stopped in Hawaii (after transiting the Panama Canal to the Pacific Ocean) and then to Japan. We left there to bombard Korea.”
Delaney said the Missouri was “blowing holes” in Korea.
As it turns out the big guns aboard the battleship were made in his hometown at the arsenal. During the time the battleship sailed along the coast, he said it was extremely cold. He didn’t know how the soldiers and Marines who were fighting on the Korean peninsula endured the frigid weather.
While at Pearl Harbor in 2020 and most recently on Dec. 8, he and several other veterans received a special tour of the Big Mo that included the captain’s quarters and VIP stateroom, the berths and operations. On his final visit, Delaney and another sailor received a small, but significant gift.
“He had a very elaborate tour this time … right down to the berthing bunk,” said Jon Yuspa, executive director and founder of Honor Flight Nevada. “He and (Robert) Schwarz each received Nelson nuts from the 1940s that held down the teak planks.”
Yuspa said they were told, “This is from your ship.”
Delaney had also served on four other ships during his two-decade military career including the aircraft carriers the USS Lexington and USS Oriskany. Before he retired in 1971, Delaney visited the Missouri and two more times as a member of the USS Missouri Memorial and American Battleship associations.
“I made a trip up to Seattle (Bremerton) to say goodbye,” Delaney said.
Glenna Smith, public affairs officer for the Veterans Affairs Sierra Nevada Health Care System in Reno, has known Delaney for years. She greeted him and the other veterans when they arrived in Reno one week ago. She had a photograph taken with Delaney.
“He was so dedicated to Honor Flight, and he was at every event,” Smith said. “He always had a smile on his face.”
According to Smith, Delaney was very proud of his military service and could still fit into his dress blues uniform.
“He looked very sharp,” she said.
Smith considered Delaney a very witty man, but he also had a serious side.
“Jack was very dedicated to his wife of 55 years,” she added.
Marjorie Delaney, a commissioned officer who attained the rank of lieutenant during an eight-year career, also served in the U.S. Navy during World War II at Guam, Saipan and Japan. The Delaneys were on an Honor Flight in 2013.
Smith said Delaney would also help a fellow veteran in need or drive the one-hour trip from Minden to the Reno-Tahoe International Airport to greet an Honor Flight.
Full Honors and internment will be at Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley at a date to be determined.
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