Marion and Alexander “Al” Mouklas in 2012 file photo.

Marion and Alexander “Al” Mouklas in 2012 file photo.

Due to a fall, Mouklas needed to spend a few weeks at a local care center for therapy.

Mouklas opened his home to the Herald Dec. 14, after his return. Mouklas mentioned Pearl Harbor Day and wove the tale of a young sailor who volunteered to serve his country 76 years ago. Suddenly the past was present in the Mouklas' home.

"I quit high school," said Mouklas, explaining his decision to enlist in the Navy two weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor. "I sold everything I had."

Mouklas, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, was born to Greek immigrants who fled Turkey to escape civil unrest. Mouklas' father refused to go to war against his fellow Greeks, and the family sailed across the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. Enroute to Italy, Mouklas' elder brother was born.

Mouklas said his mother died when he was 13. His father felt unable to care for his children, and Mouklas was raised by a local German couple.

However, at 18, Mouklas was on "his own" and joined the Navy in December 1941.

After training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center in Illinois, Mouklas and fellow recruits went to Norfolk, Va., and then to San Juan, Puerto Rico. There Mouklas went aboard a destroyer, USS Winslow.

"It (Winslow) was a nice ship," Mouklas reflected. The Winslow convoyed troops to Ireland and Great Britain.

Just before D-Day in June 1944, Mouklas was off the coast of Dover, England, yet the Winslow was ordered to return to New York to "pick up" more troops.

"I never saw any action," Mouklas said, referring to the famous landing at Normandy.

After the war's end in 1945, Mouklas returned to Boston.

"I went home to Ohio," Mouklas said. However, Mouklas said the snow was too deep for his liking.

"I packed up my gear and went to California," Mouklas said with a smile. He had already earned his general educational development (GED) and was "ready to go."

Mouklas lived in California for about nine months but longed for the sea.

He reenlisted in San Diego aboard an LST and served for four years until he was transferred to another destroyer that made two trips to Korea.

After being at sea for over 12 years, Mouklas requested shore duty and was posted as a gunnery instructor at the Naval ROTC in Philadelphia.

There he met his wife, Marion Shivers, a North Wildwood native, through her brother-in-law who was the chief custodian at the school.

After marrying Marion, Mouklas served aboard the aircraft carrier, USS Shangri-La, and toured China, Japan, and the Philippines.

"My son was born when I was in the Philippines," said Mouklas. He did not see his son Lorie until he was 6 months old.

Mouklas also reconnected with relatives in Athens, Greece, and visited them.

"Athens is a beautiful city," Mouklas previously remarked.

After 20 years of service, Mouklas retired as a Gunner's Mate, 1st class. Mouklas returned to North Wildwood and helped Marion add on to their home after the 1962 Nor'easter.

Mouklas worked a variety of jobs: at an office supply on Park Boulevard in Wildwood, a linen factory at the County Airport, and later as a courier for the city.

Mouklas was also heavily involved in local life, including as chaplain for the Friends of the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and as a deacon at the First Baptist Church of Anglesea.

In his 90s, Mouklas loves North Wildwood, his adopted hometown. Known by many, Mouklas has left an indelible mark on his community.

The orphan who volunteered during the dark days of World War II saw the world and put down roots on the island he is proud to call home.

To contact Rachel Rogish, email rrogish@cmcherald.com.