By JANIE SOUTHARD
ST. MARYS — Former news- paper boy and Minster native
Charlie Heinl was a strong swimmer in the summer of 1943.
In August that year Heinl, now a resident of Maria Stein, decided
to see how long he could swim without stopping and spent two
hours doing nonstop laps. “I had a lot of confidence in
my swimming and I believe the endurance test I gave myself helped
to save me when my ship, The Gambier Bay, was sunk,” Heinl
recalled in “A Military Memoir of World War II,”
a compilation of stories of Auglaize County’s veterans
as told to Katy Gilbert of St. Marys.
A year in production the book recounts the Big War from the
perspective of local men and women who left the farm fields
for the battlefields.
“Most veterans I interviewed had never been out of Auglaize
County until they left to serve their country. Most were be-tween
17 and 21 years old. Many are still haunted by their days in
battle,” Gilbert told The Daily Standard Thurs-day afternoon.
Gilbert has been interested in history for many years and serves
as a trustee and newletter editor for the Auglaize County Historical
Society. She’s also written for The Daily Standard and
other area newspapers.
In the chapter “Heinl Survives Shark-Infested waters,”
Heinl, now 77, recalls how The Gambier Bay was attacked and
sunk by the largest battleship in the world, Japan’s Yamato
in October 1944.
As the ship began to sink 849 people aboard the Gambier went
into the ocean near the Philippines and for 45 hours battled
thirst, eight-foot waves, exhaustion and sharks.
Survivors numbered 727 and Heinl remembers gratefully the bowl
of tomato soup he was given after rescue by PC623 (Patrol Craft).
The book, a project to commemorate the Ohio Bicentennial in
Auglaize County by historical societies in Minster, New Bremen,
New Knoxville, Cridersville, Uniopolis, and the Auglaize County
Historical Society with museums in St. Marys and Wapakoneta,
was received from Globus Printing and Packaging in Minster just
The 120-page, softbound book covers a wide range of war experiences,
photos, maps and statistical information. The full-color cover
was designed by St. Marys artist Mary Coons.
Cost of the book is $10 and available through each of the historical
societies. Book signings are scheduled for Sunday from 1 to
2:45 p.m. at the Daniel Mooney Museum in St. Marys; Monday from
6 to 7:30 p.m. at the New Knoxville Library; Dec. 14 from 1
to 4 p.m. at the New Bremen Historical Museum; and Monday from
6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Francis J. Stallo Memorial Library in
“I truly enjoyed listening to these veterans’ stories.
I was always amazed at how young these people were when they
went to war. And, 60 years later they tell their stories so
humbly. The book has been my pleasure,” said Gilbert who
plans to begin a second volume next year.