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USS San Francisco Memorial Foundation
C/O Art Curtis
P.O. Box 318063
San Francisco, CA 94131-8063
Art Curtis: usssanfrancisco@sbcglobal.net


Capt Vincent J Colan

Capt. Vincent J. Colan, USNR
(June 13, 1914 - August 15, 2007)
Capt.Vincent J. Colan

U.S. Veteran Capt. Vincent J. Colan, USN (Ret), 93, of Hendersonville, died Wednesday, August 15, 2007 at Pardee Hospital. A native of Astoria, Long Island, New York, he moved to Hendersonville in 1971.

He was the son of the late Nunzio Colantropo and Vincenza Camuti. He was also preceded in death by his sisters Mary and Carmela, and one brother Dominic. Vince graduated from Georgetown University and retired from the US Navy and Naval Reserve with the rank of Captain after 40 years of service.

Vince enlisted in the Navy on his 18th birthday and served aboard the USS San Francisco, the flagship for Rear Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, Commander Cruiser Division Seven. In February 1943 he was promoted to Ensign. On January 5, 1945, while bombarding Chi Chi Jima, (prior to the invasion of Iwo Jima), the ship struck a mine, flooding the forward compartments and storage holds. As damage control officer, he directed rescue and damage control measures which kept the ship afloat for a safe return to Saipan. For this, he earned the Silver Star. He was also awarded eight battle stars on his Asia-Pacific theatre ribbon.

Vince was highly active in the Republican Party and founded the Republican Menís Club in 1989. He also founded the Pearl Harbor Day Commemorative Committee, was a substitute teacher, former board member and President of the Hendersonville Little Theatre and the Congregational Chairman of Pinecrest Presbyterian Church for a number of years

He is survived by his wife, Jane Stubbs Colan, one daughter, Susan White of Virginia Beach, Va; one son, Peter Colan and wife Sheri of Granger, Ind; two grand daughters, Heather Batson and husband Tim of Mishawaka, Ind, and Sarah Colan of Bloomington, Ind; one brother, Antonio Colantropo; and numerous nieces and nephews.

The Capt. Vincent J. Colan, Story Below

Captain Colan
Captain Vincent Colan San Francisco's Japantown Peace Plaza. 

Captain Colan, USS San Francisco CA-38 veteran, 1936-1939, C Division

Photos by John Garvey, Historian

Capt. Colan
Captain Vincent Colan  in front of model of Osaka Castle at San Francisco's Japantown
USS San Francisco CA-38 Reunion.  September 2004 in Sacramento, CA.

Capt.Colan and John Garvey Left:  John Garvey, historian
Right: Captain Vincent Colan USS San Francisco CA-38 veteran, 1936-1939, C Division

at Marines Memorial Club in San Francisco during the CA-38 Reunion in Sacramento


End of War photo

Pearl Harbor Contest Rules

Essay Competition Flyer


August 15. 2005 12:25PM

End of World War II
Colan recalls receiving Silver Star
Lt.Colan and Men

Lt. Vincent Colan, second from right, stands on the deck of the USS David W. Taylor anchored in Buckner Bay, Okinawa, on Aug. 10, 1945, just days before victory in Japan was declared. (Courtesy: US Navy Archives.)



For retired Navy Cpt. Vincent Colan, it is not V-J Day that he remembers regarding the end of World War II, but the final few days before the official Japanese surrender.

At 10 a.m. on Aug. 10, 1945, the 31-year-old was awarded the Silver Star medal on board the USS David W. Taylor for his efforts to keep that ship from sinking in January 1945 when it struck a mine while at sea.

Later that afternoon, Navy Lt. j.g (lieutenant junior grade) Colan was promoted to full lieutenant. At 5 p.m., while the naval destroyer was anchored in Buckner Bay, Colan said word spread over Okinawa that Japan had offered to surrender.

"The reaction on the island was beyond description," Colan said. "Half the fleet was anchored in Buckner Bay preparing for the invasion of Japan. When news reached the troops manning all types of artillery, practically all guns began firing into the sky. If you can imagine how a July 4th fireworks display by cities such as New York, Chicago Washington D.C., and others all put together would look like, that was the scene on Okinawa that day."

However, that military celebration took a deadly turn.

"Crews on ships in the harbor were unaware of the surrender offer and thought it was another Japanese air raid," Colan said. "Tugboats and other small craft spread a blanket of fog over the entire fleet that was at battle stations to conceal it from being seen from the air. When the gunfire ceased hours later, more than a dozen American soldiers on the island had been killed."

Two days later, news of the impending Japanese surrender also had a role in another loss of life for Colan's brothers in arms on another ship anchored 500 yards away.

"While aboard the USS Pennsylvania, we learned that an unknown plane had entered the harbor with its landing lights on," he said. "Apparently, everyone thought it was a friendly plane since Japan had offered to surrender on Aug. 10 ... Instead of landing on an airfield, it circled the harbor and dropped a torpedo at the Pennsylvania. As a result, 19 quartermasters that were berthed in the steering engine room lost their lives."

When victory in Japan was officially declared on Aug. 15, 1945, Colan said the response was nowhere near as excited as before.

"The news was received in a much subdued manner, treated as an anti-climax following the wild and hysterical reaction that occurred on Aug. 12," he said. "We had already celebrated it."

-- Jonathan Rich

Newspaper Article



Captain Colan


In his efforts to rehabilitate the reputation of one of the Navy's top pre-World War II admirals, retired Capt. Vince Colan of Hendersonville is taking the fight to Washington.

Colan, 90, is suing the Department of Defense to release documents pertaining to Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, who was demoted following the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.

Kimmel, the four-star admiral in charge of the Pacific Fleet, was blamed for the disastrous Dec. 7, 1941, attack that left 21 ships sunk or damaged and 2,403 Americans dead.

Colan, a 42-year Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean War, joined Kimmel's son Edward "Ned" Kimmel and grandson Manning Kimmel IV in a lawsuit filed Sept. 8.

The plaintiffs are seeking documents relating to the Defense Department's decision not to posthumously restore Kimmel to his highest rank, despite a 2000 call by Congress to do so.

In a defense appropriations act for 2001, Congress found that Kimmel had an "unassailable record" prior to the attack and that he was "not provided necessary and critical intelligence that was available that foretold of war with Japan and that would have alerted (him) to prepare for the attack."

"I've decided to do everything I can to restore decency and justice and honor to Admiral Kimmel," Colan said.

A self-described "pro-Navy" crusader who still dons dress blues for special occasions, Colan got to know Kimmel aboard the cruiser U.S.S. San Francisco.

From 1938 to 1939, Colan served as an enlisted man on the signal bridge giving and receiving Morse code with a high-powered light.

Rather than stay in the plotting room, Kimmel was usually leaning over his shoulder as he received messages, Colan recalled.

"He wasn't a guy to sit around and wait. He wanted to know what was going on. So I liked the admiral," he said.

Met admiral's son

In 1988, when he learned of efforts to restore Kimmel's four-star rank, Colan joined the cause.

He began speaking around the country on behalf of the admiral and met Ned Kimmel, a Navy veteran and former attorney.

Ned, 83, of Wilmington, Del., said he and Colan began working closely together. After the Department of Defense turned down the request by Congress, they were heartbroken.

"I said to Vince, 'This is terrible.' Well Vince is a self-starter so he gets into an automobile and goes over to the Department of Defense and raises a little hell."

In 2002, after Colan's visit to Washington, the two made a request under the Freedom of Information Act for documents regarding the defense decision.

The Department of Defense denied to release the documents, citing the protection of deliberative materials, and in September the men sued.

After a 30-day extension lawyers for the U.S. Attorney General's office responded to the case this month, rejecting it categorically without addressing individual points, Ned Kimmel said.

Ned Kimmel says the men are waiting for advice from their attorney about whether and how they should proceed.

Colan, though, does not anticipate letting the issue drop.

"We'll take the next step," he said. "Whatever it is."

Burgess can be reached at 694-7860 or by e-mail at

Newspaper Article

August 20. 2006 10:44PM

Retired officer to picket at the White House
Jonathan Rich
Times-News Staff Writer
Captain Colan

Captain Vince Colan, USN retired, salutes the flag during a Pearl Harbor Commemorative Ceremony on Dec. 7, 2005. (Michael Justus / Times-News FILE)



A local retired Navy officer is preparing to picket the White House to restore the reputations of two fellow World War II servicemen.

Four-star Navy Adm. Husband Kimmel and three-star Army Lt. Gen. Walter Short lost those ranks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,403 Americans.

In 2000, Congress found that both military commanders who survived the sneak attack were not provided with critical intelligence information they needed to know about the assault. The congressional ruling also left the issue of restoring their ranks to the Pentagon's Personnel Policy Division, which ultimately decided against the posthumous promotions.

Retired Capt. Vince Colan, who served with Kimmel aboard the USS San Francisco, has repeatedly petitioned for the government to rectify that mistake.

On Aug. 28 and 29, Colan and four members of the Kimmel family will march along the south section of the White House to get the attention of President George Bush about the situation.

"Our feeling is that the president is a compassionate man and once he is fully aware of the indecency and injustice that the families have gone through, he will want to write an executive order for the promotions," Colan said.

Colan contends that while other high-ranking military men were considered equally to blame for the tragedy, Kimmel and Short were made scapegoats for the attack.

After the Defense Department declined to promote both officers, in 2004 Colan joined Kimmel's family in a lawsuit to release information pertaining to that decision.

Colan's repeated Freedom of Information Act requests ultimately resulted in the release of 56 pages of highly edited documents. Those military papers, however, offered little clarity on why Kimmel and Short remain listed on retired military lists as a two-star rear admiral and a two-star major general. Earlier this month, the 92-year-old Hendersonville resident obtained the proper protest permit to take the issue to Washington for a peaceful demonstration next week.

"It is our hope that as a result of this picket, the President will right the grievous wrongs done to the last two victims of Pearl Harbor by honoring the request of Congress that they be promoted to the highest ranks they held during World War II," he said.



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