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At 17, Fran Yearly enlisted in the Navy. In the following three years he would serve on three destroyers; sail 75,000 miles; visit 29 ports of call from Casablanca to Pearl Harbor and sail on nearly every ocean and sea in the world. His ship was in the front line of attack on D-Day and the invasion of the Philippines and was struck by German torpedoes and Japanese kamikaze planes.
He received an honorable discharge in February 1946, six weeks before his 21st birthday.