First Class Petty Officer Francis W. Preston, a 102-year-old U.S. Navy veteran, served in the Pacific during World War II. Fran shares his journey from sailing the war-torn seas to becoming a soul seeker.
Domenick Lasorsa is the grateful son of a navy veteran with a heart to serve others, to give back. Domenick shares about support for military veterans and their families in this short, upbeat, informative video.
*Please note correction: My husband worked for Habitat for two years, not five.
Francis W Preston entered the U.S. Navy on February 3rd 1943, served in the Pacific during WWII, and completed his time in the military on February 5th,1 946. After about six months of training, Fran was assigned to the USS LST-128 (Landing Ship for Tanks). Laid out in Evansville, IN, commissioned on 11 October 1943, and assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater, the 328 foot USS LST-128 sailed down the Ohio and Mississippi River, through the Gulf of Mexico and the Panama Canal, into the Pacific.
Fran’s job as a diesel engine maintenance mechanic, (Motor Machinist Mate – MOMM C/1), aboard the USS LST-128 kept him below deck in the engine room, working on the main engines that propelled the ship. “This was the same type of engine used in trains at the time,” Fran shared. The USS LST-128 participated in four campaigns and earned four battle stars for its service in WWII:
- Occupation of Kwajalein and Majuro — 31 January to 8 February 1944
- Capture and occupation of Saipan — 15 June to 28 July 1944
- Capture and occupation of southern — Palau Islands, 6 September to 14 October 1944
- Capture and occupation of Tinian — 24 to 28 July 1944
“After its capture by U.S.-led Allied forces in 1944, the island [Tinian] was converted into a major U.S. military air base, equipped with what were then the world’s longest runways. In August 1945 two U.S. bombers based at Tinian dropped atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.” — Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia. “Tinian.” Encyclopedia Britannica, May 31, 2017. https://www.britannica.com/place/Tinian.
Before the 328 foot USS LST-128 hit the shore, the crew dropped a reeled anchor from the rear. The ship pulled onto the beach, the bow opened, and large tanks with armored soldiers emerged and charged ashore to battle. The crew then reeled the ship back out into the waters toward the anchor.
“I was only afraid during the first of the four invasions when I heard the gunfire. I didn’t know what to expect.”
“Obey your superiors. Do the best you can. You can do it if you put your heart and mind to it.” Fran counsels our active duty military.
“I don’t like the idea of war, of people going to shoot somebody else. But if it’s necessary to defend our country or to defend people who can’t defend themselves, I’d do it again. I love our nation.”
After Fran’s military service, he became a meat cutter. His first wife died, he remarried and divorced.
“I was an active member in the Catholic Church, doing the best I could. But there was something missing, and I was searching.” Fran recalled. “Once in a while, I’d listen to other Christian services on radio and television. I said, ‘there’s something I have to find out. Those people seem happier than we are in our church.’ I got saved watching an Assembly of God church service on television. The preacher said I could kneel right there and pray to become born again and that is what I did. I accepted the Lord into my heart, and became a Christian.”
“But there’s more! I’ve got to find it.” Fran said. So he visited other churches.
“The Christians at the new church I went to seemed happy with what they were doing. But I wanted to reach people [outside the church]. But how? One of my friends had the same problem I did—finding God but not hearing much about Him in the churches we attended.”
Fran and his friend had heard about Victory Chapel, a young pioneer church, then meeting in a little storefront building by the Little Peach convenience store in Yarmouth, Cape Cod. They decided to try it.
The pastor at Victory Chapel, Pastor Paul Stevens, invited people to come and give their heart to the Lord at the end of every service. Fran began attending Church services at Victory Chapel and went on their outreaches to share the Gospel message with others. “This is what I like. “Fran said. “Pastor Stephens was a great preacher. He and I got along really well.”
“This is my church. I’m going to stay here.” Fran said in 1984.
“What does Jesus mean to you, Fran?” I said.
“Jesus is everything to me! And the Bible. The more you read the Bible, the more you learn about Jesus. Both the old and New Testament. Many things Jesus said He answered from the old testament. The more I read the Bible, the more I love it.”
I found Fran with head bent over his Bible when I showed up unannounced to visit him mid-afternoon last week.
“Jesus taught me how to live, how to love, and how to talk to people. I used to be shy. Jesus offers you a new life. Other religions take some things from the Bible and leave some out—there’s one mediator between God and man. Confess your sins to Him. Don’t look back.”
“Having Jesus in my heart means He’s there whenever I need Him. I know I’m going to Heaven.”
“I try to be a good example to my children. I keep praying for them—Five children, ten grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren.”
No worries there, Fran. You’re a wonderful example to your family and to us all.
I asked Fran how we, as a country, can better serve our veterans
“I think all our needs are being met. I couldn’t ask for anything more as far as I’m concerned,” he said.
Fran’s been twice widowed. In the last year, he battled a collapsed lung which landed him in the hospital. A few months later, he battled COVID and won. But at 102 years-old Fran doesn’t miss a beat: He still attends church faithfully, greets all cheerfully by name, and is always eager to share what he’s thankful for and about his faith.
“I love my life. The lord has been very good to me. I’m thankful.” He says.
Thank you for your service to our country and for your faithfulness to Jesus, Fran.
Scroll for Resources Below
Humbled, honored, blessed to share my testimony on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website. Click HERE to read mt testimony: A Mail Carrier’s Mistake Saved Her from Suicide
PURE GOLD: “A disciplined life is born of effort, not excuses.” — Pastor and author Michael Duncan
Think not yourself a Christian if you hate the righteousness God loves and love the sin He hates. — Pastor and author Michael Duncan Click to catch the conversation with Pastor Duncan—master of the one-line sermon in my prior post HERE.
NEW BOOK RELEASE featuring three of my poems along with poems from seven other writers. Creative Writing Journal: Faith Inspired Writing Prompts & Hope-Filled Poetry introduces several forms of poetry with explanations, examples of each, followed by four to six questions inspired by each featured poem’s style and message, journal writing prompts, and more. Resource list included. A great choice for writers, homeschool students, personal devotion time. Available on Amazon in TWO cover choices.
*UPCOMING: A series of interviews featuring law enforcement officers from around the country coming soon!
https://tattooitonyourheart.com/category/interviews/interviews-with-our-military/Click HERE for excerpts from and links to my interviews featuring U.S. military service members.
Programs for Military Veterans and their Families
Paralyzed Veterans of America https://pva.org
Purple Heart Homes https://purplehearthomesusa.org
Travis Manion https://www.travismanion.org
Wounded Warrior Project https://www.woundedwarriorproject.org
Disabled American Veterans https://www.dav.org
Student Veterans of America https://studentveterans.org
Veterans of Foreign Wars https://www.vfw.org
Habitat for Humanity Veterans Build https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/near-you/veterans-build
Habitat for Humanity Repair Corps Program https://www.habitat.org/volunteer/near-you/veterans-build/home-depot-repair-corps-program
National League of Cities https://www.nlc.org/about/programs/
Operation Heal our patriots (A Ministry of Samaritan’s Purse International) https://www.samaritanspurse.org/what-we-do/about-operation-heal-our-patriots/
Samaritan’s Purse Team Patriot https://www.samaritanspurse.org/our-ministry/team-patriot/
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Click HERE to read my testimony: A Mail Carrier’s Mistake Saved Her from Suicide on the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website.
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