Heroes On Deck: World War II On Lake Michigan
Captain Dave Truitt, WWII veteran Herb Sohn and restoration specialist Jonathan Toby Mack visit the Museum & Library in a panel discussion about the ingenious training program that changed the course of the war in the Pacific and the making of this original documentary.
During World War II, just off Chicago’s shoreline, the U.S. Navy trained over 15,000 carrier pilots on two makeshift “flattops,” both former, coal-fired, side-wheel passenger steamers.
Not every pilot landed successfully on the pitching decks of the USS Wolverine and USS Sable and many aircraft went to the Lake bottom.
Using rare footage of U.S. Navy operations off Chicago's shoreline, interviews, and computer-generated re-creations, Heroes on Deck tells the story of the recovery of those rare warbirds and the ingenious training program that changed the course of the war in the Pacific.
CAPT. DAVE TRUITT attended the University of Chicago Law School and practiced law in Hyde Park. He was instrumental in the founding of Olive-Harvey College on the city's southeast side, and served for nearly 14 years as the president of the Friends of the Chicago Public Library, where he worked to increase library services in Chicago's low-income communities and establish free, public-use computers in all public libraries. He was twice appointed to the White House Conference on Libraries and Information Services.
During his lengthy career, Truitt has served on innumerable community, library, educational, mental health, cultural, and nautical organizations, including as chairman of the USS Midway Memorial Committee for the Navy League; as founding chairman of the Chicago Marine Heritage Society; and in many capacities with the United States Coast Guard Auxiliary, including as a Flotilla Commander. He is a Coast Guard-licensed Ship Master.
Truitt currently serves and supports the Great Lakes Naval Museum, the Museum of Science and Industry, the Pritzker Military Museum & Library, Chicago Marine Heritage Society, and the Christmas Tree Ship. The Christmas Tree Ship is Chicago's largest all-volunteer organization providing social services, food, and spiritual support to thousands of inner city children every year.
HERB SOHN enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1945 at just 17 years old and served as a radio technician and stationed at Navy Pier during WWII. He served in the Navy for two years and two years in the U.S. Marine Corps to 1948, achieving the rank of Sergeant. It was during his wartime experience that he decided to become a physician. Sohn attended the University of Virginia to earn his undergraduate degree and then later returned to Chicago to attend the Chicago Medical School. He now works as a urologist at Weiss Memorial Hospital. Besides his clinical work at Weiss, he also served as former Vice Chairman of the Board of Trustees for Rosalind Franklin University and is former President of the American Association of Clinical Urologists. Sohn has remained very active in politics, too, running for Congress and Mayor of Chicago in the 1980s.
TOBY MACK is co-chair of the Chicago Navy Memorial Foundation and President and CEO of Associated Equipment Distributors. He attended Penn State University and entered active duty in the U.S. Navy in 1966. He was deployed with the Seventh Fleet in Vietnam from 1967 to 1968.