John Abplanalp said he has survived several near-death experiences in his 95 years of living, but on his birthday, Abplanalp has a wish for our divided country.
The veteran said he didn’t want any gifts. “Except maybe a glass of cabernet sauvignon. If it’s red, it’s good!”
He’ll say almost anything to make others laugh and it’s remarkable to see that sense of humor, especially from someone who’s seen such dark things.
“The whole length of the ship was full of bags of dead sailors,” Abplanalp said.
He served in the Navy during WWII on the famed USS Ticonderoga. “That’s the big T, Ticonderoga, CV-14,” the “greatest ship in the world,” he said.
Hundreds of sailors did not survive their time on that ship but Abplanalp did. He survived two kamikaze attacks, a typhoon, multiple fires and some flooding. He knows he’s lucky and said he has “no complaints.”
Abplanalp married the love of his life, Evelyn. They were married for more than 75 years and enjoyed many glasses of cabernet sauvignon together. They even raised three children.
“Two girls, one boy,” he said. “Pride of my life. The cornerstone of my life. They take care of Papa.”
One of his special moments from being a veteran was his honor fight trip. “Getting off the plane from Washington, the honor flight, the people were all clapping. I remember that… so I was proud.”
So, on his 95th birthday, John decided he may want one gift after all. He wants you to listen to his story and learn, find humor in hard times and remember that we’re all Americans so we’re supposed all be on the same team.
“Be nice to your neighbor, that’s about all. If you’re nice…it’s a token you get the same response back,” he said.
Abplanalp was recently honored with a short video where he shares his stories from his time serving.
One of his children, Cindy Gould, has worked for Fort Myers Broadcasting Company, WINK’s parent company, for more than 20 years.