And His Band Played On

December 03, 2003
Santa Paula High School

Ed Roina

By Jannette Jauregui Special to theSanta Paula TimesThe tunes played by the Santa Paula High School band have become a familiar sound to the community that can often hear the echo of the music during high school football games and city parades. For over forty years, the band has been under the direction of Ed Roina who did more than study music throughout his time in high school and college. He served the United States during World War II as a member of the Navy’s band and was stationed aboard one of the most well known war vessels, the U.S.S. Enterprise, during a revolutionary decade for music best known as the ‘Big Band’ era.Edward Roina was born on November 27, 1922 in Greenwich, Connecticut to Joseph and Thea Roina. Though his family consisted of several professionals including doctors, attorneys, dentists, a priest and an uncle who sang with the Metropolitan Opera, Ed had an early interest in theater, music and art, performing in school plays and musicals. His music teacher who encouraged him to learn to arrange music as well as perform influenced him. While in high school, Ed played various instruments as a member of the jazz and concert bands, provided vocals for some of the arrangements and also served as the arranger. The high school band was given the honor to perform with the Metropolitan Opera Company chorus. Ed was also given the opportunity to play as an extra for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo production of Scheherazade. In 1938, Ed was given the opportunity to broaden his art experiences and go to New York to take a course in model sketching. In the spring of 1940, Ed graduated from Greenwich High School.Soon after graduation, Ed heard of a two-year scholarship the United States Navy School of Music was offering with an additional four-year enlistment into the Navy. That summer, Ed traveled to the academy in Washington D.C. and auditioned for the scholarship. Approximately two weeks later, Ed was notified of his acceptance and became a member of the U.S. Navy in the fall of 1940 with the rank of Musician 3rd Class.In November 1941, as the war in Europe became a greater threat to the United States, Ed was given orders to disembark on the U.S.S. Lassen, an ammunition ship headed to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. While on their way, Ed was notified that upon their arrival, he was to report to his new assignment aboard the U.S.S. Arizona.Also in route to Hawaii, the crew on the U.S.S. Enterprise noticed a destroyer escort ship that broke down and needed assistance and notified Navy officials in Pearl Harbor that their arrival, scheduled for December 6, was going to be delayed a few days.On December 7, while still in route to Oahu, the crews aboard the U.S.S. Lassen and the U.S.S. Enterprise were notified of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and the news of the many battleships destroyed and sunk including the U.S.S. Arizona, which entombed 1,177 men after it sank.Within three days of the attack, the Lassen and the Enterprise docked in Pearl Harbor and Ed and the other military personnel spent their time in Oahu cleaning up the ruins left behind by the Japanese. Ed was given new orders to join the 24-member band aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, which was going to travel throughout the South Pacific during what had become World War II. The Navy was later notified that the Japanese were expecting the arrival of the Enterprise and had planned to bomb it first. Because the Enterprise’s arrival was delayed, the Navy placed a cargo ship in the dock to be repaired until the Enterprise arrived. The cargo ship was the first to be bombed by the Japanese.
On April 18, 1942, after assisting and carrying United States troops in the Gilbert and Marshall Islands Raid, the Wake Island Raid and the Marcus Island Raid, the Enterprise provided coverage in the Doolittle Tokyo Raid. It was the first mission of its kind against the Japanese after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In June, they assisted in the Battle Of Midway and were hit, but were able to patch up the damage using metal plates until they could get to a friendly port for more effective reconstruction. They went on to the Battle Of Solomon Islands where 15 Japanese ships were sunk and 17 Japanese planes destroyed. The Enterprise also provided coverage and was an escort through Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima.The Enterprise was hit and damaged during several battles, but never sunk. On one occasion, a Japanese Kamikaze, a plane whose pilot was assigned to a suicide mission to destroy enemy ships, crashed into sea near the Enterprise. The pilot was not killed and was instead taken as a prisoner.Throughout the war, Ed, who played the bass, and the “Big E” (the nickname given to the Enterprise) band performed across the South Pacific. They rehearsed below decks and often played by ear because they didn’t have the sheet music to all of the songs. When the ship was docked for R&R (rest and relaxation) for the service personnel, the “Big E” band played at nightclubs and for the wounded soldiers in military hospitals. When the Enterprise came under attack, the band members were assigned other duties to perform during the battle. Ed often found himself in charge of pharmaceutical duties or as a ship fitter, corpsman, and dental assistant or assisting with communications. Three years after joining the “Big E” band, Ed returned to the United States and was transferred to pre-flight school in Athens, Georgia before being sent to San Pedro, California to the Separation Center in 1946.In May 1946, after meeting her in Long Beach while still stationed in San Pedro, Ed married Barbara Marshall. The couple moved to Ed’s hometown of Greenwich, Connecticut. Ed had planned to attend Yale University, but due to inadequate housing, Ed and Barbara once again packed their belongings and moved back to Barbara’s hometown of Santa Paula, where they would raise their family.In September 1946, Ed enrolled in Ventura College where he graduated in 1948 and immediately enrolled in the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he graduated in 1951 with a Liberal Arts Degree with a major in music and a minor in art. That fall, Ed was offered part time jobs at Briggs School in Santa Paula and in the Santa Paula Elementary School District as an instrumental/vocal teacher. In 1954, Ed accepted a full-time position in the Santa Paula Elementary School District, leaving Briggs school. In 1960, after the retirement of the music teacher, Ed accepted the part-time position at Santa Paula High School as well as at Isbell Middle School. In 1963, Ed left Isbell and began working full-time at Santa Paula High School as a music and art teacher where he retired in 1983. After one year of retirement, Ed went back to work throughout the county as a substitute teacher, helping to develop several music programs, including that of Saint Bonaventure High School where he worked from 1986-1990. In the fall of 1990, Ed returned to Santa Paula High School where he continues to lead the band.In 2002, Ed and Barbara traveled to Oahu, Hawaii for Ed’s 80th birthday, to pay their respects at the U.S.S. Arizona memorial as well as the other memorials displayed at Pearl Harbor. The soldiers who were left to forever stand guard over their battleship, the U.S.S. Arizona, were to be Ed’s shipmates. But like it did for many American lives, the bombing of Pearl Harbor played a significant role in Ed’s life as well as for all those aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise who, at the time, knew nothing of what that broken down escort ship would end up doing for them.

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