July 18, 2015

My mom had four brothers. The youngest died this morning.

Uncle Russ moved to Florida when I was a child, so I haven't seen much of him over the years. When I learned how sick he was, we started a pattern of weekly phone calls. Of his many life experiences, what he wanted to talk about was his short time in the Navy.

He had followed the example of two of his brothers into the United States Navy and he served on two ships in the post-Korea era: The LST-983 (the USS Middlesex County) and the APA-38 (the USS Chilton).

The Middlesex was an LST, that is “Landing Ship – Tank.” Think of D-Day: The flat-bottom boat drives into the beach, the front ramp falls down and the soldiers run forward. That is a familiar D-Day image. Those are LSIs, “Landing Ship – Infantry.” Now think much bigger. Instead of delivering soldiers, an LST delivers tanks to the beach.

Uncle Russ served aboard the Middlesex years after D-Day but he was proud that his ship had crossed the English Channel ten times during that invasion. The battle damage had been repaired to a condition good as new. We decided that that must have been so for reasons of morale.

His job was “Engineering Officer.” That means he was the one to make sure that the ship functioned, no matter what. The ship had two 900 horsepower diesels, three 100 Kw generators, hydraulic systems, plumbing systems and mechanical systems. Even if you have bad weather and bad luck, even as the enemy does what it can to inflict damage, Uncle Russ was to make sure that the cargo of vehicles got ashore and into the fight.

And that is what we talked about.

He served aboard a second ship, the 500-foot Chilton. Our amphibious assault doctrine changed in the '60s to the use of tractors (LVTs) that would float and then crawl right onto the beach, and helicopters, and now even hovercraft. Uncle Russ served on the previous technology – the APA designation means “attack transport.”

An APA is an ocean-going troop transport. It carries a full battalion of Marines and it carries a fleet of LSIs to shuttle them ashore. It then stands off the beachhead ready to evacuate casualties and prisoners.

Both the Middlesex and the Chilton had 20mm and 40mm guns for close defense, but only the Chilton had five-inch guns, and it had two of them. These guns could fire a 54 pound shell at 2,600 feet per second, and it could fire 15 rounds per minute.

Uncle Russ was the “Naval Gunnery Liaison Officer” aboard the Chilton. His job was to put the five-inch shells as close as possible to our Marines ashore to give them the best protection from the enemy, but without hitting our Marines. Every job in the military is a life-and-death job.

The Chilton had served in the Pacific Theater during WWII and it put the 3rd Battalion of the 6th Marines ashore during the 1958 Lebanon Crisis. And we talked about that, too.

Uncle Russ had two older brothers who served in our Navy. Robert's plane was lost over the north Pacific late in WWII. Richard was also a naval aviator. He died seven years ago. So now, the three sailor-brothers are reunited.




  A native of Stark County, Ohio, Russell C. Janson passed away July 18, 2015 in Tampa, FL

He is survived by his loving wife, Barbara R., daughters Cyndi R., Mary L. and sons Rex A. and Rick L. and siblings Raymond K. Janson and Rheda L. Walton.

He served his country as an officer in the U.S. Navy. While residing in Canton, he was an elder at Calvary Presbyterian Church and was a scoutmaster for the Boy Scouts of America during World War II.

A longtime resident of Tampa, he served as president of the Traveler’s Aid Society serving Hillsborough County, managed a Little League baseball team and was a past member of the board of directors of the Police Athletic League of Tampa Inc.






The family of Russell Janson thanks the 29 Patriot Guard Riders who traveled through thunderstorms and stood in the heat & humidity for a sailor they never met.