A World War II Veteran, A Watch, and A Wish
After the resurrection of Jardur Watches, it was common for me to receive phone calls from sons and grandsons of those fighting soldiers and aviators who used to wear the old Jardur tool chronographs during WWII.
After the inquiries about the Jardur brand were satisfied, I then asked about the wearer of the watch and the stories that came with the warrior. The oral accounts of bravery and valor that were conveyed to me about these citizen soldiers unfolded like a Stephen Ambrose book and I was immediately sent to France, England, and to the South Pacific on a B-25 Mitchell, a PG1 Glider, or a Helldiver.
I treasure all of these stories.
On the 12th of April, 2014, instead of a phone call from a family member of a WWII veteran, I received a phone call from a WWII veteran himself. US Navy gunner, Julian Russo, called me this weekend and gave me his story.
1944-1945, IWO JIMA
To clear landing strips for the new B-29 “Superfortresses”, it was determined the U.S. needed to attack the tiny island of Iwo Jima in order to stop Japanese fighters from intercepting the B-29’s which could reach Japanese Home Islands. Initial carrier raids against Iwo Jima began in June 1944. Prior to the invasion, the 8-square-mile island would suffer the longest, most intensive shelling of any Pacific island during the war.
In addition to the air assaults on Iwo, the Marines requested 10 days of pre-invasion naval bombardment. Due to other operational commitments and the fact that a prolonged air assault had been waged on Iwo Jima, Navy planners authorized only three days of naval bombardment.
Julian Russo, a crew gunner on a SB2C Helldiver, provided this naval bombardment during the battle of Iwo Jima.
During our conversation, Julian explained to me that he loved his Jardur tool watch which he purchased in one of the U.S. Navy Ship Stores during the war. “It served me well over Iwo Jima! I just wish I still had it,” explained Julian, who is 87 years old and still married to his wife of 67 years in Islip, New York, 60 miles east of Manhattan. When asked what happened to the watch, Julian stated someone took it from a bathroom wash basin sometime after the war.
|Jardur Bezelmeter 960|
Through numerous jokes and anecdotes about his past and current life, it was obvious Julian was devastated over the loss of his watch. While he spoke about the watch, he sounded like a person reflecting on an old friend. Julian explained how much he enjoyed this Jardur watch and how he would love to find and wear another once again.
I think it would be nice to purchase and present Julian with another vintage Jardur tool watch, just like the one he wore over Mt. Suribachi, just prior to the battle of Iwo Jima. I think this gift to Julian would be the ultimate “Thank you for your service!” statement we all can do for him.
I will be making a trip to the Fort Lee, Virginia during the fall of 2014, and I will drive up to NYC to present the watch to Julian, if the amount is achieved. Once Julian arrives in NYC, I will present the watch along with a list of all those people and organizations who donated to this endeavor. If Julian cannot make it, I will then drive to Islip and present it at his doorstep.
My hope however is to conduct the presentation at 874 Broadway, NYC, in the MacIntyre building, where the Jardur Import/Aviation Company fist opened their doors in 1937.
We have two nice Jardur 200-S type straight time watches for Mr. Russo.
**********GOOD NEWS********GOOD NEWS***********GOOD NEWS***************
I received a letter today from Julian Russo, our WWII veteran, who wanted me to have a picture of the watch he desires. “So I can be on the lookout for it.”
This letter had an old brochure picture of the watch superimposed on it, which was a totally different watch than explained to me on the phone. This is GOOD NEWS! I have a friend who will part with his Jardur 200 series. The price for the watch has been met and all that have donated will be identified to Mr. Russo.
|Letter from Julian Russo|
|Jardur 200-S (Stainless)|
The watches are in and they are awesome! We have two watches to provide Julian, just in case one of the watches is not the one he wore during the war. We are waiting for a custom band from Howard Knight @ Rocking K Custom Leather out of Stevensville, Montana.
|Howard Knight at Rocking K Leather|
I’m in the process of setting up a space at the MacIntyre Building at 874 Broadway, NYC for a small presentation. If this falls through, I will then provide Mr. Russo with the watches at the local American Legion in East Islip, NY.
|The MacIntyre Building @ 874 Broadway, NYC|
The amount of support from family, friends, and our Facebook and Twitter followers has been overwhelming! I am looking forward to meeting Mr. Russo and seeing where it all began for Jardur!
Stay tuned for more information as the fall approaches.
Here are the watches:
|Jardur 200-S (one with 24 hour dial)|
Both watches are in great shape. One was shipped to The Last Wind-Up out of Bozeman, Montana for servicing and came out great.
President of Jardur Watches