A Tribute to the Late
Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., CHC, USN (Ret.)
By Chaplain (MAJOR) James F. Linzey, ARNG (Ret.)
A World War II hero, my father, Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., CHC, USN (Ret.), survived the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Coral Sea. He was a sailor then, but a chaplain later. During the Battle of Midway in World War II, my father was a 21 year old Seaman Second Class, stationed on the USS Yorktown. The USS Yorktown along with the USS Enterprise and the USS Hornet won this battle. Securing Midway Island was essential in winning the War on the Pacific front.
My father joined the US Navy to be in the Navy band. He played the clarinet. He was not interested in fighting in wars and had no idea what would await him. A young lad from McAllen, Texas, he was about to see the world. When he was assigned to the USS Yorktown, it was the state of the art aircraft carrier. Departing Pearl Harbor, their mission was to bomb the Marshall and Gilbert Islands and others islands as well where the Japanese had invaded. This was when they were ordered to Midway Island.
The aircraft carriers sailed within 200 miles northeast of Midway to protect Midway from the attack of the Japanese fleet. When the carriers sailed northwest toward their destination, an eerie sense a sense of despair filled the Yorktown. My father felt it and was consumed by this fear. On June 3, 1942, my father lay in his bunk in the dark. It was pitch black and silent. He asked God to remove this fear. After praying for a long time, the fear disappeared and he sensed relief and a deep abiding peace regardless of what might befall the Yorktown.
My mother, Dr. Verna Linzey, was back in San Diego and did not know anything about the impending battle or my father’s sense of fear and experience in prayer. But at the same time, about 5,000 miles away from my father, she felt a strong desperation to pray for my father. She did not know why. But she knelt in prayer by the side of their bed. It was between five and six o’clock in the evening California time. After praying for an hour, she, too, felt relief just as my father did that same hour. When my parents later compared notes, they realized they had united in prayer simultaneously.
Japan did not know that the United States had three aircraft carriers at Midway. Our torpedo planes began the attack on the Japanese aircraft carriers, but they had no cover. So the Japanese combat air patrol from above came down and shot all but two of our torpedo planes out of the sky.
At 10:24 AM on June 4, 1942 one of the most savage sea battles in naval history broke out for six minutes. Then it was all over. Japan had lost. Just when the Japanese Command had thought they had won, our dive bombers suddenly attacked and bombed the living daylights out of three Japanese aircraft carriers. They became blazing infernos as my father described it and we sank them. As my father recalls, Admiral Nimitz stated, “I want that last carrier.” So the USS Yorktown searched and found it—the Hiryu. The Yorktown found, bombed, and sank it.
There was only one problem. The Japanese aircraft were in the air and followed ours back to the Yorktown. The Yorktown subsequently was bombed three times and torpedoed twice. One of the bombs went down the stack and destroyed the engines. The Yorktown was dead in the water. This paved the way for the torpedo attack. All lights went out. As my father described it, the torpedo attacks caused a rumbling sound because the guts of the ship were being torn out. In the midst of this they did not understand what was happening. As my father recalled this experience, he could not forget lying on the deck as they prepared for the torpedo attack. When the torpedoes had made impact and exploded, the massive Yorktown was lifted up and dropped at a 27-degree list. This caused the water to come over the edge of the hangar deck. My father climbed to the top side. Looking over, he saw about 2,000 sailors bobbing up and down in the thick oily water. The top layer of oil in the water was about 7 inches deep and was getting into their hair, noses and mouths, causing many to become ill. Had there been a fire, they would have all burned to death. All sharks were scared off by the explosions. My father was known to have stated, “To lose your ship is to lose your home.”
The seamen were rescued by six destroyers. When they were rescued, about a half dozen sailors, led by my father, went to the stern of the destroyer, knelt down, and had unabashedly given thanks to God in prayer. This served to inspire my father to later become a Navy Chaplain. After serving as an enlisted man for seven years, my father became the first Active Duty Navy Chaplain in the Assemblies of God denomination, and the first in their chaplain corps to reach the rank of Captain. He also became the chaplain for the Yorktown (CV-5) Club.
Captain Stanford E. Linzey, Jr., was found to have a tumor in November 2009. In early January of 2010 he was operated on. One of his physicians informed me on January 10 that the cancer had spread and that it could not all be removed. He was to receive radiation after the wound had healed where the tumor was removed. But days later, infection had set in where the tumor was removed. Consequently, he could not receive radiation before the cancer had quickly spread and taken his life. On February 2, 2010, my father was given two days to live. However, I did not receive this message. But God gave me a sense of urgency regarding my father the nights of February 1 and February 2. On these two consecutive nights before my father had passed away, God woke me up both nights to pray that God would prepare my father’s spirit to meet God. On February 3, the day before he passed away, while crying over my father, I let my father know it was okay to let go and that he had taken good care our mother and his children, and that mother would be well taken care of. I’ll never forget the wink he gave me to let me know that, though he could not speak, he loved me and understood everything I had said. My father passed away at 7:30 in the morning on February 4, 2010 when the sun had shone into his window.
On the night of February 23, 2010, I had a dream of my father. My mother and I were outdoors and we saw him walking across our path. He looked much younger, as he did in his late 40s or early 50s. He was in a dark brown coat and tie and was walking and smiling at us from about 10 feet away. I was surprised to see him alive. I went to him, hugged him and told him I loved him. When I put my arm around, I immediately noticed that the large hole in his back where the tumor was removed was healed. And then I left while we were looking at each other.
The legacy of my father’s life was the impact he made with his teaching and ministry on the baptism with the Holy Spirit, of which I promised I would advance. The culmination of my father’s influence was participating on President George W. Bush’s stage when he delivered the invocation on August 28, 2005, behind the Seal of the President of the United States of America at Coronado Naval Air Station on North Island in San Diego before President Bush spoke for the 60th Anniversary of the Japanese Surrender in World War II. God led me there to photograph my father delivering the invocation, where I met President George W. Bush.
Dr. James F. Linzey is the president of the Military Bible Association, a retired Army chaplain with the rank of Major, and the producer of “The Holy Spirit Today with Dr. Verna Linzey” television programs.