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William J. Tucker Jr., World War II Navy veteran; Jan. 10, 1927 -- June 8, 2012

William J. Tucker Jr., a Navy veteran of World War II and retired construction worker, died Friday in Hospice Buffalo, Cheektowaga, after a long illness. He was 85.

Born in Buffalo, Mr. Tucker attended Seneca Vocational High School but left before graduating to join the Navy at the age of 17. When Mr. Tucker returned home, he earned his GED.

He then worked as a construction worker and spent more than 20 years employed at Niagara Machine & Tool Works. Mr. Tucker, an avid baseball fan, lived in Buffalo most of his life before moving to Cheektowaga to be closer to family.

During the war, Mr. Tucker was assigned to the USS Freestone (APA-167) and served 18 months aboard the ship, mainly in the Pacific Theater. He was assigned to operate a LCVP -- landing craft, vehicle and personnel -- a 36-foot vessel that carried 1,500 troops.

In 1945, Mr. Tucker and the USS Freestone were the first to arrive in Nagasaki, Japan, after the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on the city.

Survivors include his wife of 55 years, the former Grace Vitale; a son, William; and a daughter, Judith Ann Lobuzzetta.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 9:30 a.m. Monday in Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church, 180 George Urban Blvd., Cheektowaga.

[harris]