WHITE STONE—John Bagby Pleasants, 92, of White Stone passed away January 29, 2020.
He was born in Richmond in his grandfather’s house on Monument Avenue near the Lee Memorial, the second son of a professional naval officer. As a child, he followed his father on his various assignments, living in Norfolk; Omaha; Long Beach, California, and American Samoa.
During World War II, his father was at sea in the Atlantic. They lived in Richmond and John attended Westhampton and then Thomas Jefferson High Schools, then Severn Preparatory School in Severna Park, Md., graduating in 1945.
He enlisted in the Navy in September of that year, thus technically serving in World War II, although combat had ended.
As an enlisted man, he was recommended from the fleet for an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. John was successful in the competitive examination and became a midshipman in June 1946. He found to his delight that his elder brother, Arthur, who had enlisted earlier, was a member of the same class. While at the Naval Academy, he played lacrosse on a National Championship team (1949) and sang second tenor in a poplar quartet, the “12-Fifties.”
Upon graduation in June 1950, John was assigned to an ex-battleship, USS Mississippi, which was employed as an experimental anti-aircraft gunnery ship operating out of Norfolk. After an automobile accident and a hospital stay in Portsmouth and then in Boston, he was assigned as chief engineer of a Landing Ship Tank (LST) based in Coronado, Calif.
The Korean War was in full swing, and his ship was deployed to the war zone, operating in and around Japan and Korea for nine months. John next volunteered for and was accepted at the Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) school, where he was trained as a diver and in the rendering of safe procedures of U.S. and foreign ordnance of all types, including nuclear weapons.
Upon graduation, John married Shirley Ann Mangini in April 1954. He then reported to USS Princeton based in Coronado as EOD officer and assistant first lieutenant. During this tour, he participated in the evacuation of the Chinese Nationalist forces from the Tachen Islands to Formosa. During this period, he twice disassembled live depth charges on the flight deck.
In 1956, John was sent to the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif. Upon completion of the General Line Curriculum, he was reassigned to the EOD School as head of the underwater ordnance section.
John was next assigned as operations officer on a destroyer, deploying to the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Shore duty in Pittsburg, Pa., followed, where he served as head of officer recruiting. John was then assigned as surface operations officer on the staff of Commander Cruiser-Destroyer Flotilla Eleven.
They made two nine-month deployments to the Far East during his tour, including operations off the coast of Vietnam in support of forces ashore. This was followed by assignment as force ordnance officer for Commander Naval Forces Japan (CNFJ) based in Yokosuka, Japan.
Here as well as being responsible for ordnance activities in the CNFJ area, John also acted as briefing officer for the staff. He also had a several weeks TAD assignment in Korea with the U.S. Special Forces. The Japanese tour was a three year accompanied tour, and Shirley, sons, John Jr. and Jeff lived in quarters in Yokohama.
John’s final duty station was at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I., where he served as security officer. While there, he also completed the War College curriculum and received a master’s in marine affairs (MMA) from the University of Rhode Island.
John retired from the Navy in July 1970, and accepted a position as assistant marine scientist at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science (VIMS) at Gloucester Point. During the next 18 years, he held several positions there, including director of buildings and grounds, director of vessel operations, senior marine scientist and executive assistant to the director.
John also taught occasional classes in marine affairs to graduate students as a member of the faculty of both the College of William and Mary and the University of Virginia. He retired from VIMS in 1988.
John moved to his current home in White Stone, overlooking the Rappahannock River in 1999.
John leaves behind his wife, Shirley, 65 years of wedded bliss; two excellent sons, John B. Pleasants Jr. of White Stone and Jeffrey Roland Pleasants and his lovely wife, Annette, of Virginia Beach; beautiful granddaughter, Sarah; perfect great grandson, Mason; and brother, Arthur Lee Pleasants III of Fairfax.
Services will be private.
Currie Funeral Home LLC of Kilmarnock handled the arrangements. This obituary was written by Mr. Pleasants.