HOLLYWOOD, Md. (February 28, 2019)—When Warren Wince, a Virginia native, came to Piney Point in 1940 to work on testing torpedoes for the U.S. Navy, there was just a fraction of the population there is now and there wasn't much need for weapons testing.
That would all change with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese in December of 1941.
"We weren't testing many torpedoes because the fleet didn't need them," Wince told The County Times just before his birthday on Feb. 27. "But boy did that change, we were testing 60 or 70 a day."
The torpedo testing facility in Piney Point was just one place the Navy would take him in his six years of service; he also served on a resupply ship for patrol/torpedo boats that harried the Japanese with slashing attacks in the Pacific Theater.
"I was lucky I wasn't in actual combat, " Wince, who turned 99 this week, said. "But we were there where it was happening."
Still it was dangerous duty.
He remembered one time in the South Pacific that he and his crew mates thought a ship in harbor had been torpedoed by the Japanese; they found out that the warm waters had heated the fuel in the tanks of the vessel and produced vapor that had no release as the vents had been closed.
The explosion was terrifying, he said. "That was my most frightening time in the war," Wince said.
In October of 1945, Wince was discharged and eventually returned to Piney Point to make a home; like so many others, the Navy had helped him choose his place to raise a family.
"I had married a local girl, Mildred and got a job on [Patuxent River Naval Air Station]," Wince said. "When I got back they treated us well; they accepted us."