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Last Rank
Chief Petty Officer
Last Primary NEC
BT-0000-Boiler Technician
Last Rating/NEC Group
Boiler Technician
Primary Unit
1947-1949, BT-0000, USS Lloyd Thomas (DD-764/DDE-764)
Service Years
1929 - 1949
BT-Boiler Technician
Five Hash Marks

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Steven Loomis (SaigonShipyard), IC3 to remember HUFFMAN, Fon, CPO.

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Contact Info
Home Town
Truro, Iowa,
Last Address
Fon Huffman was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

Date of Passing
Sep 04, 2008
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

WW II Honorable Discharge Pin US Navy Retired 20

 Unofficial Badges 

Order of the Shellback US Navy Honorable Discharge Order of the Golden Shellback Navy Chief Initiated

Order of the Golden Dragon Blue Star

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity

CPO Fon B. Huffman
last survivor Panay incident

Fon Birdell Huffman (August 19, 1913 - September 4, 2008) was a United States Navy veteran who was believed to be the last survivor of 1937 attack on the USS Panay gunboat, which became known as the Panay incident. The United States and Japan were not at war at the time of the attack. The sinking of the USS Panay marked the first act of aggression by the Japanese Empire against the United States prior to World War II.

He was later awarded $5,000 by the Japanese government for his wounds.

Early life 
Fon B. Huffman was born on August 19, 1913, in Truro, Iowa, to parents Washington Elmer and Ida Huffman. He was the youngest of six siblings.  Huffman enlisted in the U.S. Navy when he was just 16 years old with his father's signature.

Panay Incident 
Huffman was serving as a 24 year old boilerman in the U.S. Asiatic Fleet on board the Panay at the time of the attack on December 12, 1937. The fleet's mission was to patrol the Yangtze River to protect American interests as part of a treaty between the United States and the Nationalist government of China.  The Japanese attack and sinking of the Panay in the Yangtze was captured on camera by Universal news reporter, Norman Alley. Huffman gave his own lifejacket to Alley during the attack. There are several still photographs and film footage of Huffman throwing an improvised flotation device off the Panay.

Huffman served on naval destroyers in both the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean during World War II. He served the Navy for 20 years, transferring from active duty to the Reserve on June 16, 1949. He had held eight ratings, including that of chief boiler man at his retirement. 

Besides the Panay, he had served aboard the Navy ships Lexington, Augusta, Texas, Stack, Hawkins and Lloyd Thomas.  As a "tin can man" in the Atlantic Ocean, he saw destroyer convoy duty from America to Iceland, "and the Limeys (British navy) would take them from there on over." In the Pacific Ocean, he was at Guadalcanal.  He was in Bermuda on Dec. 7, 1941, when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He was on the destroyer USS Stack when the USS Wasp collided with it on March 17, 1942. He retired from the Navy as a chief petty officer in June 1949.

Personal life 
Huffman met his future wife, Lillian (Homberger) Schwarz, in Norfolk, Virginia, while on leave from the Navy. The couple were married in November 1945.[2] They had two daughters - Nancy, born in 1946, and Gayle, who was born in 1949.

The Huffman family moved to Golden Valley, Minnesota, following his retirement in 1949. They built their first home in the town. Huffman worked for the local school district before taking a position with the Soo Line Railroad, where he worked as a stationary engineer. He continued to work for the railroad for more than thirty years until his retirement.  Fon and Lillian Huffman moved to Summerville, Florida from Minnesota, in 1972 before settling permanently in Titusville, Florida. They continued to reside in Titusville until Lilian's death in 2006. Huffman moved to Sierra Vista, Arizona, several months after his wife's death to live with his oldest daughter, Nancy, and her husband. Just prior to his death, Huffman was interviewed about his wartime experience by filmmaker Nick T. Spark for the website

Fon Huffman died in his sleep in a nursing home in Sierra Vista, Arizona, on September 4, 2008, at the age of 95. He was survived by his daughters, Nancy (Steve) Ferguson of Sierra Vista, Arizona, and Gayle (Rusty) Pickus of Fairbanks, Alaska; and his grandchildren - James Pickus and Jeffrey Pickus.

Huffman was buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

NTWS profiles of USS Panay crew members include:
RM2 Charles S. ADAMS:
Ens. (LCdr.) Denis H. BIWERSE:
SK1 Charles Lee ENSMINGER:
LTjg (CDR) John W. GEIST:
FN1c John L. HODGE:
SN1/c Edgar W. G. HULSEBUS (KIA):
QMC (WO) John H. LANG:
Other Comments:

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 Enlisted/Officer Basic Training
  1929, Recruit Training (Great Lakes, IL)
 Duty Stations
HQ, RTC Great Lakes, IL (Company Commander/Staff)School Assignments - StaffUSS Texas (BB-35)USS Lexington (CV-2)
US NavyUSS Hawkins (DD-873)USS Lloyd Thomas (DD-764/DDE-764)
  1929-1929, HQ, RTC Great Lakes, IL (Company Commander/Staff)
  1929-1930, Water Tenders School
  1930-1932, BT-0000, USS Texas (BB-35)
  1932-1935, BT-0000, USS Lexington (CV-2)
  1935-1937, WT-0000, USS Panay (PR-5)
  1938-1940, BT-0000, USS Augusta (CL-31)
  1941-1943, BT-0000, Naval Sea Units
  1941-1943, BT-0000, USS Stack (DD-406)
  1943-1945, BT-0000, Naval Sea Units
  1945-1947, BT-0000, USS Hawkins (DD-873)
  1945-1949, BT-0000, Naval Sea Units
  1947-1949, BT-0000, USS Lloyd Thomas (DD-764/DDE-764)
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1937-1937 Sinking of the USS Panay (PR-5)1
  1937-1937 Sinking of the USS Panay (PR-5)
  1941-1945 World War II
  1942-1942 Central Pacific Campaign (1941-43)/Battle of the Coral Sea
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings
  1942-1942 World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)
  1942-1942 Guadalcanal Campaign (1942-42)/Cape Esperance (Second Savo)
  1942-1945 World War II
 Other News, Events and Photographs
  Last Panay Incident survivor dies at 95 (Sand Pebbles)
  A Japanese Attack Before Pearl Harbor
  Man in Sierra Vista is last living survivor of little-known pre-World War II attack on a U.S. ship
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