PALM HARBOR, Fla. — Cmdr. David H. Turner, MSC, USN, RET. (90), one of the Greatest of the Greatest Generation, fought his last battle and went to be with his Maker on Dec. 1, 2012.
He was born to George L. and Frances Turner in Mount Vernon, on March 2, 1922. From seaman apprentice to commander his military experiences and accomplishments demonstrated endurance through times of war and promotion through the ranks.
Turner left home and high school to enlist in the Navy on July 6, 1940. He completed his first training at Hospital Corps School in Portsmouth, Va. He then was assigned to C-Medical Company of the 3rd Marine Brigade which joined the First Marine Division in September 1942 on Guadalcanal, seeing fierce action. After a brief period in Melbourne, Australia, for retraining, he was assigned to the First Marine Regiment. Christmas Day 1943, found the Regiment ordered to stop a Japanese attempt to build an airstrip on Cape Glouster, Soloman Islands, which they did in 48 hours.
Turner’s next assignment was in Norfolk, Va., for training as an Independent Duty Pharmacist Mate. He was then ordered to the USS Webber, which was assigned as a picket ship off Okinawa to protect troops as they secured the Island. Through many frequent Kamikaze attacks the Weber fortunately remained unscathed. In August 1945, two Atomic Bombs were dropped during the Webers’ journey to Japan. Turner was asked to go ashore on Nagasaki by a Navy doctor four days after the second bomb drop. During a 12-hour period, young Turner witnessed horrific devastation including a school sheltering badly scarred survivors. The team treated the victims as best they could. The Atomic Energy Commission monitored Turner due to his exposure. The VA subsequently granted him disability benefits for physical harm associated with radiation exposure as well as other service connected disabilities.
In 1946, Turner scored high on the qualifying exam for Medical Service Corps as one of 22 enlistees commissioned as ensign. He was referred to as a Mustang (1940 enlistees who served until the end of WWII). His 34-year Naval career spanned from WWII through Vietnam, and he retired as a commander in 1974. His numerous medal awards include two Presidential Unit Citations, China Service Medal, American Defense Medal, Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal with five stars, WWII Victory Medal, National Defense Medal, Philippine Liberation Medal, and service medals for Korea and Vietnam, two foreign decorations: the 50th Anniversary Guadalcanal Landing Medal from the Solomon Islands and the Korean War Service Medal on that war’s 50th anniversary.
After residing in Arlington, Va., until 1989, he and his wife Kay moved to Highland Lakes in Palm Harbor, Fla., where they became very active in this community. Turner’s H/L volunteer involvement included: 18 years organizing the Veterans Day Ceremony; Pontoon Boat Captain on Lake Tarpon; president of the Men’s Club for four years; Starter-Ranger; Neighborhood Watch; organizer of the Jam Lakers. His most loved activity was performing in H/L Little Theater as a cast member for many years.
David volunteered in numerous capacities in Pinellas County including serving as a Poll Worker for National and State Elections; Sheriff’s Advisory Board; Clearwater City Players. In addition, he volunteered at MacDill AFB PharmaCare for over 15 years. He was always the first to give generously and the last to receive. He was a devoted husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather. Above all his priorities were God, family, country. Cmdr. Turner was preceded in death by his parents, George and Frances; a sister, Martha Turner Walker; and his first wife, Harriet Eileen Cockrell Turner (daughter of John and Mona Cockrell).
He is survived by his wife, Kay of Palm Harbor Fla.; his son, David Jr. of Escondido, Calif.; daughter, Katherine of Bonners Ferry, Idaho; son, Daniel of Ellensburg, Wash.; five grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Anchors aweigh, commander. ... Fair winds and following seas, Sempfer Fi.
Submitted by Dave Turner Jr. and Kate Turner.Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.