Navy veteran Arthur Grabiner, 97, honored for liberating Filipinos in WW II

The young Navy officer in 1945. Photos courtesy of Grabiner family

In commemoration of the Day of Valor (Araw ng Kagitingan),  decorated World War II U.S. Navy veteran Arthur Grabiner was honored at the Philippine Consulate for his service, sacrifice and valor in liberating the Filipino people from the Japanese military.

The April 5 recognition ceremony was led by Consul General Senen Mangalile at Sentro Rizal of  the Philippine Center on Fifth Avenue. The ceremony honoring  Grabiner, a lifelong New Yorker,  coincides with the commemoration of the Fall of Bataan in the Philippines.

Grabiner, as a teenager, participated in the Invasion of Lingayan Gulf in Northern Luzon in the Philippines and the Battle of Okinawa.  He served in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Laurens APA153 in the Pacific Theater during WW II.

Among his numerous military honors, he was awarded one of his WW II Asiatic Pacific Medal Battle Stars plus the Philippine Liberation Ribbon 1 Star and Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for his participation in the Invasion of Lingayan Gulf in Northern Luzon.  

Grabiner, 97, described a deadly attack by a Japanese kamikaze suicide aircraft on his U.S. Navy Task Unit in Philippine waters.

Grabiner at 97. He is inducted in 2019 into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

“Following stops on South Pacific islands including New Guinea and New Caledonia, our crew aboard the USS Laurens set sail for the Invasion of Lingayen Gulf in northern Luzon in the Philippines.  Late in the afternoon of January 12, 1945, the Laurens joined a convoy of ships comprising Task Unit 79.14.6 underway to the Philippines.  At approximately 8:30am the following day, January 13, 1945, a Japanese kamikaze suicide aircraft attacked our task unit missing the amphibious command ship Mount Olympus AGC-8 and striking the USS Zeilin APA3, a sister attack transport ship, dead ahead of the Laurens.  The right wing of the Japanese aircraft struck cargo loading equipment next to the Zeilin’s number 6 cargo hatch.  The kamikaze plane’s fuselage crashed into the starboard side of the Zeilin’s housetop.  Weapons carried by the aircraft exploded and started several fires on the ship.  Topside damage to the Zeilin was extensive.  The superstructure deck was destroyed, deck framing was damaged and several staterooms were destroyed.  The suicide aircraft’s engine pierced the ship’s deck, the outboard bulkhead landed in a landing craft carried by the Zeilin.  Seven crew members on the Zeilin, our sister ship in our task unit, were killed, three crew members were declared missing (presumably dead) and 30 crew members were wounded.”

In 2019, he was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

Interviewed two years ago by the Jewish news site, he described how he was looking forward to his 100th birthday.

He said, “I’m excitedly anticipating my 100th birthday. I’ll be surrounded by family including my children, grandchildren, perhaps great-grandchildren by then, friends and fellow WW II veterans. No one will tell me I can’t have a second slice of birthday cake… hey, it’s my 100th birthday celebration.”

He is a longtime resident of Flushing in Queens.

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