slc4- metzle14 Labor of Love
Marvin E. Metzler
Fresno, CA.

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Fresnan Charts Accurate Course
Through WWII Naval Battles
by Karl M. Kidder, The "Fresno Bee"
April 13, 1966

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Despite the fact Marvin E. Metzler went through at least 5 major sea battles in World War II, there were many others involving ships, planes and men of the sea service he had only heard about.

Hearing about them was not enough. Metzler wanted to know every little detail---the number of men and ships involved; what happened to the vessels, both of the United States and her allies, and Japan; the exact location of the fracas, and its outcome.

He soon learned that, no matter how well intentioned a historian may be, he often is not accurate. Reading three accounts of the same engagements often led to three differing versions.

Metzler was looking for the correct version when he started his own research several years ago. This has led to what Metzler believes is the most authentic chart and map of the many battles fought at sea and near the islands of the Pacific.

Metzler already was a "veteran" of naval service when World War II erupted with the attack on Pearl Harbor. He had left the Fresno Technical High School in July of 1937 to become a sailor, and was aboard the old USS Salt Lake City headed for Pearl when the attack came.

Quite naturally, his chart begins with the incidents of Dec. 7, 1941. It lists the casualties of men and ships suffered in blow, then moves on through the engagements near Java, the Coral Sea, Guadalcanal and on to later campaigns - Tarawa, Iwo Jima, the Philippines.

He has painstakingly researched the names of the ships, their commanding officers, fleet leaders and their aircraft support. Many of the facts he remembers from having been in the thick of things. Some supporting evidence he has obtained from a brother, Lawrence, who also was in many of the battles as a sailor.

Metzler's compendium shows the opposing naval strength of the Japanese navy, giving the names of ships and commanding officers, as it stood on Dec. 7, 1841. Then he follows each through the war and shows, on a detailed map, where each met its fate.

"I had a tough time finding out where the different fleets, or units of fleets started from before each engagement, and where they went afterwards," he said, "But I found out, and their routes are shown on my map."

It is natural, perhaps, that the USS Salt Lake City's whereabouts are adequately chronicled in the Fresnan's work. He was aboard her when her big guns were trained on Wotje in the Marshalls to begin the first bombardment of an enemy shoreline in the war.

"We watched a Japanese torpedo sail directly under our steel bottom then hit and sink the Wasp," he remembers.

"From her decks we saw the death blows dealt to the Hornet and the O'Brien. We watched the North Carolina take a torpedo, then helped get her ashore."

"Thirty ships were sunk in the battle of Iron Bottom Bay off Guadalcanal in 1942 - half of them ours and the other half theirs. This was before the tides of the sea war turned and our side began to take the upper hand."

The exact locations of the graves of the 36 vessels are pinpointed on his map, and so are the last resting places of the men of war involved in the Savo Island Battles.

It is no coincidence that Metsler's map is a masterful bit of draftsmanship. He currently is the chief draftsman for Fresno district headquarters of the State Division of Highways. All day he drafts plans for highway development, then at night he puts the finishing touches on his map at home.

He never really learned drafting, he says. "I just grew up with it." He left the Navy 20 years ago to make a home for his childhood sweetheart, Venita Wilson, who became his wife. But, obviously, the navy still holds a warm place in his heart. So does the old Salt Lake City.

He felt tears in his eyes the day the old battle scarred cruiser finally was sunk off San Diego by units of the navy.

"She went through the atom bomb tests off Bikini, and was radioactive, so she was sunk," he says.

The Salt Lake City's final resting place is not shown on Metzler's map.

The original of this chart was done in India Ink on linen [Copyright 1966 M. E. Metzler]. It took Marvin Metzler 3 years to research and draft the same. The original is 40" x 38". President George Bush, General McCain, many Admirals, Historical Archives, and Annapolis have copies.

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Marvin E. Metzler's WWII Sea Battle Chart
used in ship reunions
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Former Navy Lt. Marvin E. Metzler, 75, (1995) began distributing his historical chart of WWII Sea Battles throughout the Pacific Ocean area to groups of veterans for reunions. "It's a complete history of the U. S. in WWII."

Metzler's 30 by 32 inch chart gives the dates and places of numerous battles. It also depicts the grave sites of an estimated 600 ships, US, allied and enemy, which sank during the fighting.

"I haven't had any complaints about accuracy," Metzler said, except for one Japanese man who some time ago complained that the sun Japanese flag, on the chart, didn't have enough rays. He said he corrected that and also made minor corrections of battle sites around Okinawa.

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Article Index
Contributed by Marvin E. Metzler

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