Santa Clarita World War II veteran dies

U.S. Navy veteran Carl Schena scans a book about the capture of the German U-Boat 505 on June 4th, 1944. Dan Watson/The Signal
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A Santa Clarita World War II veteran who helped capture a German U-Boat and Enigma Machine has died.

Carl Schena, 98, died on Nov. 24, two months after The Signal was able to catalogue his story and role in World War II.

Boatswain’s Mate Second Class Carl Schena was born Sept. 13, 1921, in Revere, Massachusetts, to Michael and Antonette Schena, a construction worker and homemaker, respectively.

Schena was one of 12 children (five brothers and six sisters), growing up in the midst of the Depression. However, as he put it: “It was a good life — it really was.”

Schena served from 1942 to 1945 in the U.S. Navy. On June 4, 1944, and on board the USS Jenks, he participated in the capture of U-505, the first time the Navy had captured an enemy vessel on the high seas since the War of 1812. 

On board the German vessel, along with the until-then-secretive U-Boat technology, was a German Enigma machine — the device that created the Nazis’ “uncrackable” code. The U-Boat and machine were both taken by Schena’s task group to Bermuda, where the United States began to uncover all the submarine’s and Enigma machine’s secrets.

“I think what we gave them assisted in the invasion of Europe,” Schena said back in September.

U.S. Navy veteran Carl Schena in uniform 1944. Dan Watson/The Signal

“One of my father’s most memorable moments was seeing the German submarine he helped capture in the Chicago Science Museum,” noted his son, Carl P. Schena. “School children gathered around him wanting to hear his story, and a tear came to his eye when he saw his name, along with his shipmates, on the commemorative wall.”

Carl added, “He was a proud veteran, loved his country dearly and truly personified ‘The Greatest Generation.’ I think his experience in the service served as his inspiration throughout his life. He constantly elevated his colleagues at Hughes, while pushing his two children, five grandchildren and six great-grandchildren to be the best they could be in their endeavors.”

“My father believed in commitment – to his country and his family,” Carl said. “He was married to my mother, Phyllis, for 75 years. We had a big celebration at a local restaurant this past Sept. 29, and we feel so blessed they reached this milestone.”

He added, “My father made friends wherever he went. He loved wearing his veterans hat, as inevitably strangers would come up to learn more about his service. He is truly a hero, and he will be missed.”

To view Carl Schena’s Veteran Profile, visit bit.ly/CarlSchena.

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