How One High School Junior Honored the Memory of a WWII Vet

And all for neither a grade nor extra credit

Today, San Marino High School junior Jinze Wu gave an absolutely outstanding, college-professor like ten-minute slide show presentation to the students enrolled in my first period Honors US History class. Dozens and dozens of prep hours she must have put into this work.

Jinze’s presentation was entitled The Battle off Samar and it was dedicated to Bob DeSpain.

Bob DeSpain was a survivor of the World War II Battle off Samar. This battle was the centermost action of the Battle of Leyte Gulf — one of the largest naval battles in history — and it took place in the Phillipine Sea off Samar Island in the Philippines on October 25, 1944.

Bob DeSpain spent several days in the the water after his ship, the USS Hoel, was sunk by Japanese forces during the battle.

Bob DeSpain before being shipped off shortly after the start of World War II

Jinze got to know Bob over the course of the past few years while she was volunteering aboard the Battleship USS Iowa (berthed in San Pedro).

The Battleship USS Iowa

Bob, who also served as a volunteer aboard the Iowa, recently passed away at age 93. Jinze came to view Bob as a dear shipmate and friend.

Bob DeSpain recently

For nearly two years, I’ve been hearing Jinze talk about Bob. His story has no doubt made quite an impression on this young lady and in class today she not only did a wonderful job of describing the Battle of Samar, she also did a wonderful job of telling Bob’s harrowing survival story. Talk about paying respects.

The best part of this story . . . Jinze didn’t do this for a grade or any kind of extra credit, and I certainly didn’t ask her to do it. She did it for one reason only - to pay tribute to Bob’s memory.

And this from someone who isn’t even a student in my class but serves as my T.A. Furthermore, she all but begged me to give her the needed ten-minute time-slot.

I’m so glad I did.

Bob’s ship was the USS Hoel. Click here to watch a great 1:26:46 video about The Men of the USS Hoel