President’s Message – March, 2020

Andrew Emile “Punky” Kure, Jr.    Part 2

By Elaine Henson

During WWII Punky was a student at New Hanover High School.  The war was much on his mind and he wanted to drop out of school and join the Marine Corps.  It took ardent pleading with his parents but, they finally consented. It was 1944, and he was 17 years old.  He did his basic training at Paris Island, S.C., and Advanced Infantry and Demolition training at Camp Lejeune, N.C. (his favorite). Then he was on to San Diego, California for Anti-Aircraft training.

Punky in his lifeguarding days, 1944, with the Kure Pier in the background.

By 1945, he was stationed on the light cruiser ship, USS Birmingham, in Okinawa, Japan.  On May 7th, the Birmingham, with 38 marines among the 900 sailors on board, was hit by a suicide plane.  Two of the marines and forty-five sailors were killed with 5 missing. Punky suffered a knee injury that would affect him for the rest of his life. After that the Birmingham went to Pearl Harbor for repairs.

Three and a half months later, they were enroute back to Okinawa, when they received word of a cease fire.  After that they sailed to Australia where the lady folks met the ship with open arms to the delight of the war weary men on board.

Then it was back to the states, first to San Francisco and then San Diego.  From there he went home for 30 days leave before a three month stay at the hospital in Camp Lejeune and treatment for his leg injuries before being discharged. Coming home he went back to NHHS graduating in 1946.

He was glad to be back at the beach with his family and friends.  One of those friends was Andy “Hose Nose” Canoutas.  Andy’s parents, George and Lola Canoutas, had the Plaza Grill and Bingo on the K Avenue corner where Jack Mackerels is now.

Punky and Andy got certified at the Red Cross to be lifeguards with Andy being the first one at Kure Beach. In later years, they also went diving together with air tanks and scuba gear on Civil War blockade runners bringing up artifacts.

About this time, Punky decided to take advantage of the G.I. Bill and take flying lessons.  His cousin, Hall Watters, who got his flight training in the Army Air Force during the war, was teaching at Pennington’s Flying Service at the airport then called Bluethanthal Field. Hall and his brother, Robert, were living with the Andrew Kures who were living on the highway which is now Fort Fisher Boulevard. The three cousins rode the Queen City bus to Pennington’s every day and back to the beach.  Punky received a commercial flying license in 1947, but his intention was to just fly for fun.

L-R, Ed Lewis, Bob Orr, Judson George and Punky  at The Carolina Beach Boardwalk photo booth.

Over the next few years he worked as a welder, fisherman, and a security guard at the Loran Station on River Road.  He always had a good time and, as a bachelor he “played the field” with the ladies.  He would take dates down to Fort Fisher and drive out on the Rocks over to Zeke’s Island for his own private parking space.  But his dating days would end in 1952, when he married Jean Ammenhauser in the Kure Memorial Lutheran barracks church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Society Notes – March, 2020

 

NEW SWEATSHIRTS NOW AVAILABLE  IN THE GIFT SHOP

Medium – X-Large $18.00
XX-Large $20.00

 

 

 

 

 

 


New Exhibit at
Fort Fisher State Historic Site

African Americans have been a part of the Fort Fisher story from the beginning: from the free and enslaved men who helped build the fortress, work the camps, and assist white Confederates in battle, to the U.S. Colored Troops who helped bring about the fall of Fort Fisher and the port it protected, and further to the live-fire anti-aircraft trainees stationed here during WWII.

Fort Fisher’s newest exhibit “From Slave to Soldier, Free a Man” the African American Experience at Fort Fisher, highlights African Americans’ role in Fort Fisher’s story. The exhibit is now open to the public in the Visitors Center. We invite you to take a look!

 

 


NEW BOOK!

Glory at Wilmington: The Battle of Forks Road
by Chris E. Fonvielle Jr.
82 pp., 6″ x 9″, paperback.
ISBN: 978-0-9984115-4-5
$16.95

Elements of Union and Confederate armies fought the Battle of Forks Road, February 20-21, 1865, for possession of Wilmington, North Carolina, the South’s main seaport and most important city. Southern soldiers, commanded by Maj. Gen. Robert F. Hoke, made one last stand in an effort to halt the Union army’s determined advance.

United States Colored Troops, commanded by Brig. Gen. Charles J. Paine, were the principal combatants for the Union in the Battle of Forks Road. The victors would control Wilmington, the Cape Fear River, and three railroads, all crucial to final military operations in North Carolina during the Civil War.


Society Notes

By Darlene Bright, History Center Director 

  • The History Center recorded 101 visitors in February. There were 45 people at the February meeting.
  • The History Center was used by the Got-Em-On Live Bait Club, the UDC, the Joseph Ryder Lewis, Jr. Civil War Park Committee, and the Carolina Beach Walk of Fame Committee.
  • Welcome to new members: John and Betsy Morris of Kure Beach, Mark and Lisa Troyer of Durham, NC, Micky Gonzales of Carolina Beach, Peter and Laurie Tollens of Wake Forest, Elsa Hergeth of Wilmington, Jim and Kelley Hargrave of Holton, Michigan, and William Catoe of Greenville, SC.
  • Apologies to ­­Ann Tinder, we overlooked thanking her for her contribution of cookies for the Reenactment.
  • Thanks to Jim Kohler for helping mail the newsletter and for filling in while Rebecca was out sick.

Walk the Sugar Loaf Line of Defense with Chris Fonvielle!

Dr. Chris Fonvielle

Saturday March 21   (2 pm – 4pm)

$10.00 donation requested.  Limited to 30 people
Call 910-458-0502 for reservations

We’re doing it again this year!  This is your chance to discover the Civil War ruins that stretch from Myrtle Grove Sound to the Cape Fear River along the northern edge of the Town of Carolina Beach.

The world’s expert on the Battles of Fort Fisher and the Fall of Wilmington, Dr. Chris Fonvielle, will lead the group across the peninsula and through the Carolina Beach State Park pointing out what remains today of a line of entrenchments built by the Confederates in the late days of 1864 to protect Wilmington from Union Forces when it became almost inevitable that they would eventually take Fort Fisher.

On January 19, 1865, the Federals attacked with two brigades of troops, including Colonel John W. Ames’ regiments of U.S. Colored Troops. Unable to break through, they launched an even bigger assault on February 11. U.S. Colored Troops played a major role in what became known as the battle of Sugar Loaf, although the Confederate defenses again proved to be too strong to overrun.

Unable to breach the Sugar Loaf defenses, the Federals transferred their operations to the west side of the Cape Fear River. They attacked and forced the abandonment of Fort Anderson, directly across the waterway from Sugar Loaf, on February 19, 1865.

The Confederate evacuation of Fort Anderson enabled the Union navy to advance further upriver and threaten Sugar Loaf from the rear. Consequently, General Hoke abandoned the Sugar Loaf defenses on February 19 and withdrew toward Wilmington. Union forces temporarily occupied Sugar Loaf before beginning their pursuit of the rapidly retreating Confederates. They captured Wilmington on February 22, 1865.