Category Archives: Pacific Front

D. Peter McIntyre ’52

MacIntyre '52

D. Peter McIntyre '52

(1932–    )

“OOPS!”
—Adolf, Benito, & Hideki

A MicroRetrospective of “The Last Good War” & Familial Sequelæ
by D. Peter McIntyre ’52

I was an eight-year-old sitting alone in the living room of my four-person immediate family’s first-floor apartment in Eastchester, NY and listening to our tabletop radio on 7 December 1941. Suddenly, John Daly’s resonant voice interrupted regular programming to announce that armed forces of the Empire of Japan had attacked the U.S. Navy base at Pearl Harbor early that Sunday morning. (“Pearl Harbor? Where’s that?”)

Days later the Big Brother squawk-box (containing hidden microphone & speaker) hanging high on the front wall in Miss Charlotte E. Matzka’s Third Grade classroom ordered us all to pour out into the corridor. Only the hall speakers’ wiring was patched into the principal’s office radio, which resembled our model at home. We pupils and teachers stood listening in real time as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt nasally addressed a Joint Session of Congress about “a date which will live in infamy.”

Hitler and Mussolini declared war on the USA shortly thereafter, pitting us and our allies, “the United Nations”, against the three Axis powers. (After the War the antifascist nations yielded this title to the newborn successor to the footling and toothless League of Nations.) My older relatives quickly joined various U.S. Armed Forces serving across the Homeland and in the European and China-Burma-India Theatres of War. Some had near-death experiences, although most eventually came home and transitioned into civilian life as Veterans. But not all.

My father, future PA Parent Douglas L. McIntyre (1901-1994), a teenager during the Great War (World War I, “The War to End All Wars”), was annoyed at being too young to enlist. During the great influenza pandemic his Mt. Vernon, NY high school was turned into an emergency hospital. He volunteered to carry cadavers on a litter down the stairs to an improvised morgue in the basement. As a matter of fairness, the other volunteer and he swapped ends on successive trips, because gravity made dead feet kick the lower guy in the kidneys. And we complain today about lower back pain! By 1941, Douglas was the 40-year-old night commissary superintendent for the New York branch of the Horn & Hardart Automat restaurant chain and wanted to see action this time around.

He joined the Army Air Corps and graduated from Officers Candidate School as a Second Lieutenant. Then he was assigned to run mess halls on bases across various Southwestern States. His applying work simplification and labor-saving techniques reduced Roster KP lists by as much as 80%. Before that, bombardiers had wrecked their sensitive hands in hot water and couldn’t go back to work for three days. Grateful Airmen “promoted” lumber and paint and donated their skilled labor and free time to spruce up the hall. A cartoonist poster-painted illustrations. A photographer printed enlargements of his local mountain shots, reminiscent of the work of Ansel Adams. Morale improved.

Noting that the guys routinely loaded their mess kits with more food than they needed, Lt. McIntyre asked them to take only what they planned to eat and stood beside the garbage barrel giving each wastrel The Evil Eye. Later, an anonymous note in the Suggestions Box read, “The Lieutenant should inspect his garbage before he serves it.” Eventually Douglas was promoted to First Lieutenant and then Captain, ending the War at Bolling Field outside D.C. as Chief, Food Services Division, Headquarters, First Continental Air Forces.

Whoever said that “Family is everything” probably didn’t get euchred out of $4,500 in a business deal by a female relative, as my parents did. One day when she was very old, this lightfingered lady commanded her investments manager, “Move X dollars from my account in Bank ‘A’ into Bank ‘B’.” One of her younger brothers drily observed, “She has finally achieved the ultimate in larceny: she is stealing from herself!”

By contrast, my belovèd Aunty Florrie (Mrs. Florence Mary Caygill McIntyre), a native of England who gave me pointers about playing the piano by ear, headed the family branch which continues to give me Clan McIntyre’s happiest memories from childhood. Aunty Florrie and five of her six kids (whom she had raised as a single mother headquartered near Philadelphia after her husband divorced her to marry a younger woman) were irrepressibly congenial, optimistic, and encouraging. They regarded relatives—even distant ones—as cherished best friends whose company they preferred, given a choice. With seemingly effortless grace, they meticulously carried out the demanding, day-to-day work of nurturing friendships: remembering other people’s interests, likes, and dislikes; tactfully thinking ahead to avoid stepping on emotional sore toes; passing along news of shared interests; and warmly supporting the other person’s pet projects.

One daughter, Isobel, served in the WAVEs and married a Navy man. Florrie’s elder son, Captain Donald K. (an M.D. who interned at Hartford while treating hundreds burned in the terrible circus big top fire which spawned flame-retardant laws for all future canvas tents), and her younger son, 2nd Lieutenant Alan G. (a ticket agent for railroads), became soldiers in the U.S. Army. The “G” stands for Graeme (rhymes with “frame”), a family name on his mother’s side.

Aunty Florrie was the first year’s prizewinning correspondent for THE FAMILY BULLETIN, a 5.5” x 8.5” newsletter I founded, published, and reproduced for up to 40 subscribers on a gelatin-filled Hektograph pan duplicator and later an Old Ditto successor between Fourth and Sixth Grades (1943-45). At Alan’s suggestion, I ran a directory of the APO and FPO addresses of relatives and family friends in the Armed Services to complement his ad requesting “letters, and lots of them.” He wrote, “ …. You’ve no idea how much a letter can mean to a guy when he comes in from four hours of drilling, exercising and running the obstacle course in the afternoon. It helps a lot — just the way the USO says it does. Cause when you listen for your name and it isn’t called, you get a mighty blue feeling.”

At intervals starting when I was seven years old, Alan wrote me newsy and thought-provoking letters. The first missive (postmarked January, 1939 from Theta Xi House at State College, a.k.a. Penn State) addressed my interests in carnivorous animals and plants. It also celebrated the farsighted California rancher who single-handedly saved the chinchilla from extinction and got rich in the process.

In the first of two letters from Infantry Officers Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia in 1943, Alan wrote, “How is school coming along? Right now you’re taking the subjects that are more important any day than those you will take in college. One of the first things they give to the officer candidates when they arrive here … is a simple test in 8th Grade arithmetic, spelling, grammar, and geography. And you would be surprised at how many men had trouble with it. Out of our class of 200 — almost half of them flunked the test. And because of it, unless they prove that they possess outstanding qualities of leadership, they will be busted out of here in the fifth week [of the 13-week course]. In other words, they’re half licked before they start, all because they couldn’t do decimals, fractions and stuff like that there, as Fibber would say. [Alan refers to the star of the weekly A.M. radio comedy serial titled “Fibber McGee and Molly”, notorious for crashing sound effects when Fibber’s wife, Molly, opened his closet door, and an avalanche of clutter fell out.] … I passed the test, by the way. This place is really rugged. West Point has nothing on this….”

Although an avid fan of American jazz who might understandably have devoted his 10-day leave (after graduating and being commissioned on 3 August 1943) to haunting jazz clubs in Philly or New York, Alan invested that precious respite in visiting my mother, sister, me, and other kin.

On the Home Front, Joe Fitzgerald, the amiable maintenance man for our group of apartment buildings, tilled and prepped a plot of land for us to plant and tend as our family’s Victory Garden. After patient watering and weeding, it supplied our table with fresh veggies. Good thing, because we had to deal with red and blue ration stamps to buy meat, sugar, & other groceries.

Although the U.S. domestic gasoline supply was adequate, the federal government’s arbitrary curtailing of fuel was intended to make natural rubber tires last longer. The Japanese war machine conquered the Dutch East Indies, cutting off the United Nations’ supply of latex. Western chemists’ early attempts to invent satisfactory synthetic rubber were disappointing. We kids had to take off our street shoes while playing sports in the elementary school’s auditorium-gym because their synthetic rubber soles left black marks on the floor. Buffing the blemishes off was labor- & time-intensive and, therefore, costly.

Our pediatrician made house calls. As an essential worker, he merited a Gasoline Ration sticker with a reverse cut of the sans-serif, boldface letter “C” on the driver’s wind vane of his car. (Ask one of my fellow dotards what a wind vane was, and did.) This label got him a bigger allotment of gas at the filling station than a mere peasant could demand with the “A“ Mileage Ration sticker. Ration Book #4 carried a picture of a young woman with the patriotic injunction, “KEEP The Home Front Pledge. Pay no more than Ceiling Prices. Pay your points in full.” (Prices and wages were controlled by a new Washington bureaucracy.)

A counselor at my day camp had prominent scar tissue on one shoulder from entry and exit bullet wounds inflicted by a Nazi spy in our neighborhood when the counselor helped police corner the Fifth Columnist. Too close to home for comfort! A German submarine landed eight men in civilian garb on a nearby New Jersey beach to mingle with the local population and sabotage targets of opportunity. All eight were caught quickly, tried, convicted as spies (if captured in uniform, they would have been protected by various Geneva Conventions as Prisoners Of War), and executed.

Middle-aged domestic codgers were left in Home Front jobs after tens of millions of able-bodied men volunteered for (or were drafted into) the U.S. Armed Forces. A typical troll customarily replied to customers’ complaints about the lousy goods or service he provided by snarling, “Doncha know there’s a WAR on?” out of one side of his mouth, as if that justified his arrant snottifications.

My mother, sister, and I got through until VE- Day (Victory in Europe) and VJ-Day (Victory over Japan) without running out of salt print butter, although once we were down to an eighth of a pound.

The powerful dairy lobby rammed through Congress a law forbidding makers of barfy old margarine to color it yellow, like butter. (Surf the ’Net to find the emetic ingredients the French Academy dithered for 30 years to include in early XIXth Century versions of this nauseating spread, intended to put fat into the diets of citizens too poor to buy butter.) I once saw a neighbor’s malleable, clear plastic pouch of pus-white margarine with a separate dot of coloring gel glistering like a navel jewel in the middle. The customer had to punch the dot, rupturing its thin inner membrane, and then knead the mass interminably to distribute the yellow tint evenly throughout.

Once, another first cousin, Lt. j.g. Ted Stouffer, had become a Navy fighter pilot, Aunty Myrt only had to feed herself and Uncle Peeko. So she used her leftover red ration stamps to buy roasts, which she mailed to us from Narberth, PA by Special Delivery. Myrt was a generous and hospitable darling, but her wrapping skills were imperfect. One day our bemused NY Letter Carrier handed my mother a package of fresh beef with paper and string trailing down the corridor. Aunty Myrt happily devoted many hours to volunteering as a Gray Lady in a seersucker uniform at a military hospital, trundling a book-filled lending-library wagon through the wards, encouraging patients, and writing letters home for them.

Ted had a couple of close calls. Before he soloed in a two-cockpit training plane, crewmen lashed a 200# sandbag into the seat behind him to approximate an instructor’s weight. As Ted dove alone, G Forces caused the bag to unship and wrap around the joystick, which was in tandem with his stick in front. It took all the muscle on his 6’ 3” frame to pull out before crashing. Danny Hodges, the son of family friends, wasn’t so lucky. He was killed in a plane crash during a training flight.

Another day one of Ted’s fellow pilots was fooling indoors with a side arm, supposedly unloaded. But it went off. An unsuspected bullet in the chamber grazed Ted’s scalp. A Family Bulletin article for March-April, 1945 quoted Ted’s letter home. “‘Remember what I told you the other day about licking the skipper, Lt. Commander Murphy, in a [practice] dogfight? And how my chest deflated when I found he wasn’t playing anymore [because of sudden mechanical trouble]? Well, my chest is out again. This time I really did lick the skipper. In fact, three times in a row! It doesn’t mean a thing, but it is nice to outmaneuver a man with three DFCs (Distinguished Flying Crosses). What’s more important is that he told me that I am going to be his wing man!’ (ED NOTE: A wing man flies along beside the skipper on missions and is his fighter escort. It takes an excellent flyer to be a wing man, and we are sure that Ted is doing a swell job.)”

With an interest-free, $20 loan from my parents, I bought a sturdy wooden wagon with removable sides and ends. This permitted me to tour our neighborhood collecting scrap metal for bullets, recyclable newspaper bundles, and #10 cans filled with stove grease for nitroglycerine. Then I sold them for pocket change. These coins (plus earnings from my weekend shoe-shining business @ 5¢/pair) enabled me to pay off the loan and to buy War Stamps from our teacher every Friday and paste them into a booklet. When full, each booklet could be swapped for an $18.50 Series “E” War Bond redeemable years later for $25. Unless, of course, the Axis powers won, which came closer to happening than anybody wants to remember.

Among a neighbor’s discarded books hauled home one day on the bed of my wagon, I found a green, hardbound Latin grammar from the early 1880s. I wanted desperately to learn that ancient tongue. But the book was incomprehensible to me: clots of boldface Latin words strung together by tissues of meaningless English gibberish. The Greek tragedy of my early education is that I couldn’t think of a single trustworthy adult with whom to share this passionate curiosity and downright physical yearning. Our upstairs neighbor was the Dean of City College of New York, but it never occurred to me to ask him to teach me this venerable and fecund language, or at least to triage me to a tutor.

In Fifth Grade during WW II, my gray-haired and statuesque teacher (whom I admired and loved) got us kids to move her big desk from the front of the room to the rear. This permitted her to put the peek on what we were stashing in our open-fronted desks, and whether we were passing notes. She habitually carried on a rambling monologue to us all, complaining that the only two men she had loved (her father and her husband) had died and left her defenseless in a hostile world. She used us as listening machines, or unpaid psychoanalysts.

I didn’t learn until decades later that, when a woman complains, she wants a man to identify with her feelings and to validate them. The last thing she wants him to do is to offer practical advice to solve the underlying problem.

Our teacher worked herself into a screaming rage one day and yanked me out of my seat and slapped and punched my 10-year-old body in front of our entire class after insulting my wartime Captain father’s “pots and pans”. The trigger was my respectful, helpful suggestion that she take courses on the side — this in response to her stream-of-consciousness complaint to the class in general about not having a graduate degree, which she identified as being her key to a better-paying high school job. I probably wasn’t the only pupil to wonder, “How important are we mere Fifth Graders to her?” As I silently walked toward the Principal’s office for guidance, she sent big kids thundering down the corridor to carry me back horizontally like a log to our classroom. (The Principal, himself, routinely sneaked up behind us kids as we chatted innocently in line waiting for the bus, grabbed a boy by the hair, pulled his head back, and endlessly slapped the boy’s face from behind in front of everybody.) My teacher’s second verbal and physical assault followed. After the Principal’s conference with my mother three days later, I was put back into the same classroom with the same teacher (who had tenure) and spent 5th through 8th Grades with the same kids amid our burning memories of my humiliation. This unresolved, open-ended atrocity destroyed me for life as a student in a classroom setting.

Abused kids pay MICROSCOPIC attention.

Abused kids NEVER forget.

Read the full story.

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Filed under In Uniform, Pacific Front, The Home Front

Walter J.P. Curley ’40

Curley '40

Walter J.P. Curley '40

(1922–    )
Marine Corps, First Lieutenant

Five autobiographical stories written by Walter J.P. Curley:

1. Black Sand
2. Lieutenant Curley Lunches with Chiang Kai-shek and Madame Chiang
3. Fifth Marine Division Lands on Iwo Jima
4. Iwo Jima: Flushing the Japanese Out of Caves
5. Preparations for the Japanese Surrender in Northern China as Aide-de-Camp to Gen. Arthur Worton

1. Black Sand
At 0430 on February 19 we pulled on our dungarees, piled into the mess for steak and eggs, and went topside to watch the preliminary bombardment of our target. The noise of it filled the ship. There was no talk; everyone had his own thoughts. A scene of force, of power, of vast preparation unfolded. We were awestruck and deafened by the ceaseless explosions and intense drama: dive bombers, strafing, pounding naval gunfire, planes firing rockets, rocket-support ships, and ships, ships, ships—as far as we could see.

Bombing of the beach areas let-up, and at 0930 our first assault waves began, heading in landing craft towards the southwest shore of Iwo Jima. At 1030 my boat team went over the side and down the rope netting to our landing craft. We circled the rendezvous area for an hour, and hit the beach at noon. No insignia of rank was worn by any officers or noncoms. We knew the enemy habitually tried to kill any leaders first. I had three squads; I put Platoon Sergeant Brande in charge of the first two squads, I took the other, plus Caraciola as runner. The landing craft ran up onto the beach at full speed. I jumped off the ramp sideways and fell hard on the wet sand.

We spread out and ran twenty-five yards inland. I knew the point of advance where we were to meet the rest of the command post group on our right flank. After our first short advance, we flattened out on the sand. I looked to see where my other squads were before trying to move forward. The beach was being raked by Japanese sniper and mortar fire. Three sniper shots missed my face and threw sand on my head; another creased the left side of my helmet. I jumped into an existing foxhole, landing on a dead, mangled Japanese soldier. There was no time to be nauseated.

I sent Caraciolo to Brande, pointing out our next point of advance. We moved forward another fifty yards, choking on the smoke, dust, and stench of death. The whispery, momentary shoosh preceding detonation of mortar shells, the crackling automatic-rifle fire, the shouting and screaming and growling machines made the world unreal. There were howls of pain and of fear.

Only yards further on, we came to the designated meeting place with Captain Detchon and his team, the mission being to set up the command post. I sent a squad to the edge of Airfield No. 1, another to the right flank, and the third to the left, while the deputy battalion commander, Major Ayrault, and Detchon reconnoitered the chosen position. I had planned on being further in, but heavy fire forced us to stay put: there was no choice. A runner came from the squad on the edge of the airstrip to tell me of casualties in the company. It wrenched my gut. I pulled that squad back to begin digging in, still virtually on the beach.

At 1600 we received a major mortar barrage, and just lay in shell holes, listening, praying, and cursing. The snipers, deadly and invisible, never stopped. When dark came we got into our newly dug foxholes. During the first night hellish mortar and machine-gun fire came at us from Mount Suribachi, five hundred yards off our left flank, the highest point on the island. While digging my foxhole I got hit in the foot by a shard of shrapnel. It pierced the shoe leather, only bruising my ankle. I was exhausted but sleepless. I could hear comrades being slaughtered by the storm of lead and iron. Yells of anguish and fury.

The situation remained bad the next day. We continued to be pinned down on the beach, but started to improve our positions by digging deeper. I sent two squads to hunt snipers in the late morning. The Japanese threw a major bombardment at our position; casualties were heavy. I was dug in immediately in front of some of our tanks and an ammunition dump that the enemy was trying to knock out. They blasted the tanks and finally got the dump. I could not leave my hole because of a sniper in a wrecked plane twenty yards away. I lay waiting for the next shell. We could not move; our landing group was being decimated in the open by mortars and artillery. The mostly invisible enemy was contesting every inch of ground.

The second night the Japs let loose another sustained mortar and artillery bombardment. Shells landed constantly ten yards or less from our foxholes. Elliott Detchon, in a hole near me, shouted into the din and asked if I was as scared as he was. I replied that I was praying like a goddamn saint. A voice from another hole—I thought it was Zimmerman—yelled that he did not know any fucking prayers.

Were we merely expendable creatures? Are we humans? Are we alive or am I dead and in hell? Where are we? I felt profound hatred, and a need to satisfy it. How? When? The war had become a personal affair.

The enemy shelling stopped at 0200 and ours started: naval gunfire, light artillery, planes strafing and shooting rockets—a ceaseless, deafening cacophony of explosion. The Japanese shelled and strafed our landing barges and nearby ships. I saw two of our planes shot down into the sea near us. Evacuation of the wounded to hospital ships had already started. I got some sleep that night.

On February 21 our company continued to be pinned down on the beach; we tried to build the C.P. and improve our own holes. The job of digging out the dead around us had begun. We set up a peripheral defense around the position and waited again. A report came from Intelligence that two prisoners were being brought in: my real job had just started. I took a detail of men and constructed a temporary POW stockade. There was word of more casualties in our company. Terrible news. We waited for the prisoners, who never arrived. That evening we were pounded by another bombardment, and soaked by a bone-chilling rain.

The next day we received the first prisoners: a corporal, wounded in both legs, and prisoner no. 2, burned by a flame-thrower—both in hideous condition. D-2 came to interrogate them. I talked to the prisoners about their wounds and their personal feelings, not successfully. There were more shells and sniper fire that night.

Prisoners no. 1 and 2 were evacuated to hospital ships. On the morning of the fifth day we received Prisoner no. 3, who had slight shrapnel wounds. I talked to him briefly; he was PFC Gunta Murasaka. Another of our planes was shot down, and we got our first air raid. Prisoner no. 4 arrived in the late afternoon—an old sailor who had not eaten in ten days and had had no water for three days. I could not figure out what a sailor was doing there. He was very sick and could not speak. We evacuated him immediately, but he died later.

The area around Airfield No. l being fairly well cleared out, we moved forward to set up a permanent POW stockade in the new location. It had three large pens, two guard pillboxes, and my “sandbag” office. The signal company gave me a field telephone.

On February 24, at around 1000 hours, as we continued to improve the new stockade, a Jap sniper in an abandoned pillbox almost got me—an extremely close call. Three hand grenades dumped into his cement box by a flanking unit eliminated the problem. Prisoner no. 5 was brought in at noon. He also was too feeble to speak and was evacuated immediately. I had some chats with Murasaka, an easygoing sort who looked much older than his thirty-nine years. He had three children, had been a truck driver, lived in Kyushu, and was fed up with the war. He made a cigarette holder for me out of a piece of wood from an ammo box. Murasaka asked me about my tattoo. He thought I had gotten it in China because of the snake and skull. He wondered how long American tattoos last. Another air raid that night kept us hunkered down.

By the end of the first week we had reinforced the stockade. I had more long talks with Murasaka. A Jap sniper dressed in Marine dungarees was killed in our area by some motor transport men. D-2 asked Murasaka if he could talk some of his buddies out of the caves in the hills north of us. He agreed to try.

The stench from the piles of Marine and Jap dead was sickening. Murasaka spoke over the loudspeaker to the ones who were holed up. The only answers were hand grenades and machine-gun fire. We retired to the stockade. The Navy planes, naval gunfire, and our Twenty-eighth Regiment then blasted the hill and later captured it. As a reward for helping us, I had our company barber (and bazooka man) cut Murasaka’s hair.

Prisoner no. #6 had gangrene in his arm and leg. We evacuated him after D-2 had questioned him. POW #7 was too wounded to talk and was also evacuated immediately. The Seabees had landed and were working on Airstrip No. 1.

The enemy, just north and west, unleashed a new and tremendous artillery bombardment. They seemed to prefer nighttime. They hit another ammunition dump close by; we were being rocked by our own detonated shells, plus theirs. My teeth chattered all night. In the new area, I was sharing a double foxhole with Tech Sergeant Volpe from our M.P. company headquarters. The hole held two giant oil drums, four feet underground and reinforced with sand bags; the Japanese had vacated it only two days before. I was sure that Volpe had battle fatigue/shell shock: he jumped at any sound and looked haunted. There were others, in my own platoon, whom I was worried about on that score.

Five more POWs were brought in—Koreans attached to a Japanese labor battalion, who had functioned as unarmed workers. They were pleased to be our prisoners and out of the jurisdiction of Nippon, they said. All were young, healthy and cooperative. Several of our Fifth Division doctors came to examine and interview them about the diseases and sickness on the island. The Koreans were willing to tell us anything of importance. I put them to work around the stockade, building and securing the area. The Japanese and Koreans were kept in different pens. One afternoon, while interrogating the Koreans, I had a happy surprise visit from my Yale roomie Al Hilton, who was with a Third Division signal company located 700 yards from us. He asked me if I had heard from Shirley Temple. One of the prisoners from Seoul said Al and I looked like brothers.

My right arm was hurting like hell at night, only when I lay flat. I could not figure out why.

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William D. Cochran ’41

Cochran '41

William D. Cochran '41

(1923–    )
Navy, Lieutenant Junior Grade

These two chapters, part of a longer document originally printed in a U.S. Navy publication, are used with permission of the author.

Chapter 10: CHEWING GUM

So here I was sitting on the catapult doing my two-hour stretch, ready to go if any radar contact showed up, the whole fleet headed south, no more attacks on Japan scheduled. I’d warm my engine, running it for a minute or two every 20 minutes, but otherwise just sat in the cockpit, hoping against hope that, with the worsening weather, no retaliation bombing would be tried. As the fleet headed south a light snow began, mixed in with the rain, and the wind picked up enough to cause the carrier’s bow to throw heavy spray over the Hellcat as I sat there with my hood shut. After “the Doty affair” all of us were suddenly aware there were priorities admirals fell back on, and I wasn’t sure how those factored in to my immediate future. I was so nervous that maybe I’d have to go up into the night I’d taken three or four packs of gum to chew to assuage that nervousness a little, and busily chewed. My shift was midnight to two. At about one o’clock a sudden banging on my wing alerted me to open my hood. “They’ve got something,” the sailor yelled, “turn on your radio.” Turning it on, the CIC told me they had a bogey at 80 miles out and that I was to get out there and investigate. I started the motor, all warmed up, and the launch officer, red wand in his hand, gave me the signal to go to full power. Putting on full power and checking that everything was running well I put my head back against the rubber head stop behind me and then, flicking my running lights, signaled I was ready to go. Waiting until the Sara’s bow had dropped down a bit and then had begun to rise – so I’d be launched on the upswing – the catapult shot me off into the rain, wet snow and night. Chewing gum vigorously I flipped my wheels up, shut my hood I’d temporarily opened, and shut my cowl flaps. That wonderful Pratt and Whitney 2200 horsepower engine, roaring so loudly through its short exhaust ports I could hear nothing but that roar, up I went to “Angels 2O” as I’d been ordered, breaking out of the storm clouds at above 15,OOO feet, finding a moon shining on the clouds below.

Reporting in at Angels 20 I cut way back on the power and could now hear CIC talking. They gave me a heading of 310 degrees but as I started turning to that heading I realized with alarm I now had an engine surge. It had an up and down rhythm to it, which didn’t show on my tachometer where one would expect to see such variation. Chewing vigorously I called in asking for a minute so I could “check out my engine.” CIC’s voice was impatient as I went back into a circling turn. Now undergerding all my thoughts was, “Christ, if I have to jump I’m as dead a duck as Doty.” As I listened especially intently to the surge it suddenly went away, to my great relief, so I reported I was turning to the heading of 310 once again. As I swung around to that heading suddenly the engine started again! I was just going to call in again when I realized that the surging noise seemed due to my chewing gum so vigorously. I was rocking my helmet headphones on my ears, each chew causing a changing engine sound!! (Ah, what a valiant aviator!)

Off I went at 310 degrees for about 80 miles at high speed, my radar searching for anything ahead. I flipped on my guns and fired a brief burst to be sure they were working. Out there 80 miles I saw nothing worrisome on my radar indicating any hostile aircraft, though there was a large storm cloud rising to almost 20,000 feet. Maybe that’s what the carrier’s radar was seeing. (Radar reportedly was originally developed by a Britisher named Watson Watt to try to locate thunderstorms.) After circling around out there and probing in and out of that cloud, reporting I could see nothing worrisome, I was told to return. Immediately I cut back on my power and leaned out my engine as far as possible, watching for that cylinder head temperature rise, the sign of too much leaning. I wanted every bit of gas I could hang on to for now I was hoping I just might have enough gas to stay up until dawn!! I called in to see if there was an engineer specialist who might tell me how I might save gas, what engine settings to use. Soon a voice from CIC came on the air saying, “no way, you’ll have to land tonight.” As I let down slowly from 20,000, heading toward the fleet which I could see on my radar as I got closer, I chewed gum again with renewed vigor, figuring well at least they were going to try to take me aboard. That was something. But I’d have to try to land at night on the Sara in a light snow, something none of us had done or even talked about doing. (“How would you do it?” was the usual question we’d ask each other, especially when one or the other of us had had or heard of an emergency and we’d contemplate how we might respond ourselves.) I still worried that “that admiral” who had crossed Doty off his list might have a similar response to my problem. Anyway, no one countermanded any questions I had as l dropped down and began circling the huge fleet.

Settling in at about 200 feet over the ocean, directed by our CIC who could see me easily on their radar, I was vectored toward the Sara which I soon, could separate out on my radar screen, her blip bigger and more easily visible compared to the support ships around her. Since we’d done dozens of night landings there was the usual routine to follow, so I started in. Each time, taking the compass heading of the Sara as she went up wind, we’d come by her going up wind also. Just as we’d pass her over a bright flash of light would be seen, a narrow beamed searchlight aimed straight up over her island. Seeing that we’d set our timer going and, flying pretty much at the same speed always, we’d know what time interval to take before starting our patterned left turns to come around and land. Coming over the Sara at about 200 feet I saw no light in the rain and light snow so circled around and, calling to be sure that the narrow beam light was indeed on. This pass I came over her at 175 feet and this time did see a dull light. Told that there was about 40 knots of wind over the deck I went a few seconds farther ahead before starting the standard turn, 90 degrees to the left in a 30 degree bank. Quickly timed I turned again 90 degrees more, now heading downwind, going in the opposite direction of the Sara. The carrier had a narrow beamed radar next to the LSO which measured our plane’s distance out from the carrier. I heard the voice, “1200 yards” and knew that was exactly the distance I wanted, so began another 90 degree turn left, and very quickly began a slower turn in the carrier’s own direction, starting to chase it, so to speak, as it sped upwind. Already having my wheels and flaps down as I’d turned at the l200 yard mark I turned on all my navigation lights including the three fuselage lights the LSO would need to determine my speed, direction and height. The radio altimeter was bouncing up and down a bit since the waves were tall enough to give readings of a 30 foot difference from the wave tops to their trough. I was trying to be at 80 to l00 feet above the ocean. During all this time I could see nothing out in the dark except the glow of my wing tip navigation lights reflecting in the few snowflakes and light rain, my left wing’s red light much more obvious as I was constantly looking out that side, turning slowly left, desperate to see something of the carrier. Where was the LSO with his specially lit up suit!? In the cockpit the only light was the red glow of my instrument panel and little radar screen, both dimmed as far as I dared. Slowing down to about 90 knots I began to “hang on my prop,” nose up in a landing mode, with lots of power, my wheels and flaps down, flicking my eyes to my altimeter, wanting to keep my height steady, looking out for something of the carrier. Every time I’d put my head slightly out of the cockpit to see more directly ahead, rain and snowflakes would hit my goggles. I’d quickly duck back in. As seconds seeming like minutes ticked by I began to smell the diesel fuel of the Sara’s engines, meaning that I must be coming right up behind her. In previous night landings, having been able to see the darkened carrier when this close by, I’d never thought much about this smell which we’d always encounter as we approached from downwind toward the landing deck, but now there it was, and it increased my nervousness. Was I coming right at her island superstructure, was I so low I was going to run into her stem? I didn’t know. (It could be said I was making an olfactory approach, not a visual one!) Very soon, added in, I also began feeling the rough turbulent air caused by the Sara’s big island superstructure as it cut through the air, something we’d all noted in all our landings but now noted with increased angst by me, no sight of anything.

Most everyone who has ever had a sudden emergency experience often remembers everything seemed to slow down when recounting what was happening, especially when thinking back on it. Those seconds dragged out. More turbulence, my plane bounced around more, a stronger smell of diesel fuel was about to cause me to give up this pass, add full power, give myself a “wave off,” climb to 200 feet and go around again. But always in the back of my mind was the issue of how long would our captain, over seen by those damn admirals of power, let the Sara head into the wind, probably slowly moving out to the edge of the encircling protective ships. Unlike Doty I still had plenty of gas and presumably could go round and round trying to land. I don’t remember being fatalistic but I do remember, I can still almost re-create it, I was on hyper alert, leaning forward in my shoulder harness, intent, as ready as I could be for quick action, chewing gum with vigor! Then, popping right out of the dark, the rain, the light snow, was the LSO, his special suit and paddles glowing, already standing with his paddles in the “cut sign,” meaning go ahead and land. (He told me later on that he could hear me coming closer and closer but could see nothing until I popped out of the rain and snow, almost in perfect position!) Just at first for me he seemed to be standing, in that light rain and snow, suspended in the air, no visible carrier or flight deck. I noted was already positioned closer, more right beside him than usual, not seeing him slightly out in front when I’d usually receive the signal to land. All that detail meant I was already on top of the flight deck which in a flash of looking I did see off to the side with its hooded lights glowing. With the speed of a modern computer I remember reviewing my height above the deck, my position re the center of the flight deck, the fact that I was already further along up the deck than usual, the knowledge that there was a good 40 knots of wind over the deck slowing my forward motion so it was less likely I’d land on the planes parked forward, the fact that it was “pure luck” that I’d gotten to such an enviable position, that the admirals might cancel any more attempts, that I’d had more than enough of fear and anticipation, that even if the golden rule was “if you don’t see the cut given don’t take it, you’re too far up the flight deck,” all these accumulated “facts,” quickly jelled. I took the cut!!

The strong wind over the deck did slow my forward landing speed and I caught the #3 or 4 wire (out of 6), quickly coming to a stop, slewing slightly to the starboard side, the carrier rolling some in the storm. Slewing, I briefly thought, “now I’m going over the side” but I came to a stop just under a very visible 5-inch antiaircraft gun barrel. The captain had turned all the lights on. Red, my plane captain, slithering over an inch of wet snow to greet me, jumped up on my left wing exclaiming. “Jesus Christ, Cochran, I never thought I’d see you again!” yelling over the idling engine. I started to agree when I was struck with the most violent shakes I’ve ever had, or seen someone else have. I couldn’t talk, undo my shoulder harness, detach my radio cable. Red quickly realized I was freaked out and even chuckling a bit over my shaking, helped me climb out of the cockpit, escorted me across the snowy flight deck and down to the ready room, the deck crew securing the plane. Here, as I shucked my Mae West, he offered me a cigarette to smoke, thinking that might calm me down. I couldn’t even hold it in my trembling lips or shaking hand, dropping it on the deck again and again. Finally he said, “may be you ought to see the doc.” I nodded and Art Hill, our flight surgeon (actually an ophthalmologist in civilian life) came and reviewed my troubles. He took me down to his stateroom where he plied me with liquor, of which he seemed to have a plentiful supply, talking to me about what I was experiencing, telling me I just had too much stored adrenaline in me from the stress. Two hours of this and I finally calmed down and went to bed about 5 am.

Retrospectively I’d guess this flight was the culmination of a focused effort of many, many scientists, engineers, meteorologists and pilots, working over many years, all of them having some input into such a culminating adventure, and a successful landing. Just telling this story each time I can feel that tension return!

Chapter 11: CHAOS–EXCITEMENT–FEAR–SADNESS

This chapter is an account of my one “combat flights,” combining – at least for me – inexperience, aircraft based radar equipment that still was too primitive, and chaos, among other things. Of my friends since, both soldiers and pilots, who actually saw action during the Second World War (and I saw only this battle) some of us have a sad story or two to tell; for some, a big battle, for some, brief fight or unhappy incident, for some, where comrades (shipmates here) were killed or injured. Certainly, as navy pilots, we hardly ever had the prolonged tension recounted by some of my foot soldier friends, fearing an ever present, ever threatening fatality day after day when on the front line. We pilots had no foxhole sleeping, endured no terrible cold or heat or constant wet, had no days of only canned food. We did have our occasional flashes of terror. To me this story of the first huge concentrated kamikaze attack, within sight of Iwo Jima, was one of confusion, excitement, apprehension, even brief fear. Only at the end did I realize the true impact of the battle the Saratoga was going through since I was at a distance, seeing it all from the air. Perhaps this brief naval battle wasn’t widely reported in the press, then or since, because it turned out badly and it was the marines struggling to get a foothold on Iwo that deserved all the press. Only the revisionists among us discuss these episodes

Two days after the Tokyo carrier attack we were off Iwo Jima, arriving the second day of the Marine landings. Iwo Jima, about 800 miles south of Tokyo, was needed as an emergency landing base for the B-29s in trouble after their attacks on Japan, such flights now beginning from Tinian and Saipan. We navy pilots little suspected that the impending battle over Iwo Jima would be so vicious and prolonged, featuring the now famous flag raising on Mt. Suribachi.

For this Iwo attack we were originally stationed about 10 miles from the northern edge of the island and we seemed rather alone on the job, the other carriers either at a distance or off Okinawa. Our first assignment, late in the afternoon, was to bomb the west shore of Iwo Jima where the Japanese were allegedly stacking supplies, landed by submarine at night. With two 500 lb. bombs plus my 150- gallon belly tank I was third off the catapult and quickly joined up with Reinhardt and Charlie Horne, Hurley joining up on me. We circled a short time just north of Iwo awaiting the rest of our air fighter group to join up before we all approached the west shore, Iwo Jima easily visible about two miles south. Just above us was a dense cloud cover at about 3500 feet. My most memorable sight of that short time was of our battleships off the east coast of Iwo, maybe six miles out, firing their 16 inch shells aimed just above the shore of the eastside, hoping to drive out the Japanese dug in there as the marines tried to get a foothold. Landing ships were visible on the east beach but all one could see of our battleship’s shelling was the explosions just above and beyond the beach. What intrigued me most was that I could see, glowing dull red, the l6 inch shells as they sped from the battleships at high velocity in almost a flat trajectory to the upper beach.

Before we’d been joined by not more than two other four plane divisions we were told by CIC to “drop your bombs and proceed north, bogeys are coming down from Japan.” We all dropped our bombs as much over the west beach as we could judge, but at 3000 feet instead of in a dive on the beach. Subsequently it turned out that about 16 of us Hellcats had gotten launched when the first kamikaze dove onto the fore deck of the Sara, crashing between the two catapults, killing the launch officer, and stopping any further launches. (We were told later that this kamikaze – the name means “Divine Wind” – had wisely flown close to the water at the Sara’s stern and then risen up just enough to crash on the fore deck. All our ship’s five inch AA guns had a hard time depressing their aim so low, below the horizon.) Those of us airborne, not informed of these kamikaze planes hitting the Sara, did gather from CIC that these “bogeys” were Japanese and they were taking real advantage of the thick cloud cover at 3500 feet, hiding in it as they came south, thus hidden from the many day fighters from other carriers who’d been sent out to intercept them. Flying up into the cloud layer, going on instruments, I turned on my radar. I’d now fitted my radarscope with a one foot long black tubular boot we carried “just in case” we needed it to see the tiny screen in the daylight. I did my best to make out any little blimps, putting my face tight against the boot each time to keep out the daylight. (As anyone knows it’s hard to quickly accommodate going from daylight to dark.) I’d occasionally see as many as two or three blips on my screen at one time but at the next sweep of the radar they’d be gone. Simultaneously we all were trying to get the Sara’s CIC operators to give us a heading behind one of these bogeys. It quickly became apparent that in all our practicing off Oahu the past, C-I-C had at most only dealt with but two of us at a time, and one bogey! Now there were a dozen of us, and there were many bogeys, 40 or more! It was probably chaos. (By the end of this kamikaze attack only one was shot down by two of us pilots, that by a visual nonradar approach. Many were shot down by our AA firepower.) I quickly gave up trying to get any directive from CIC and began just hoping I’d get a blip to stay on my screen for a sweep or two, meaning the plane ahead and I were flying more or less in the same direction. Finally, after some 20 minutes, I did get such a blip to stay on my screen and, charging my guns, as quickly as possible I closed in. Out of the fog of the cloud materialized not a zero (at least that’s what I’d assumed all these bogeys were by then) but a friendly torpedo bomber, a TBM, maybe one of ours launched earlier than our fighter group, probably also using his radar to find an enemy plane if he could. I quickly broke away.

Another ten minutes and we were told by CIC to stop cloud searching and to take up stations five miles out from the Sara, each division taking a 90 degree quadrant out from the carrier. Picking up the big blip of the Sara on my scope and aiming for it, dropping out of the clouds and circling just over the water, I spied the unmistakable silhouette of the Saratoga with her distinctive wide funnel panel, steaming south, but was stunned to see her fore deck burning furiously, heavy smoke trailing aft. It was my first recognition she’d been hit by at least one kamikaze. Even as I watched, her five inch AA guns began intermittently firing into the clouds, her two escort destroyers and the U.S.S. Alaska firing likewise as they ran protection. Somehow I couldn’t believe these kamikazes were getting through, wisely hiding from all of us fighters in that fortuitous (for them) cloud cover. Rendezvousing on Reinhardt the four of us slowly circled about 300 feet over the water 5–6 miles out as directed. It wasn’t long before we saw all the Sara’s guns firing, as well as those of her escorts and then, this I could hardly believe, there were visible at one time five burning kamikaze planes either falling out of the cloud layer or burning on the water, all near the Sara!! In that final concentrated attack we ourselves saw one zero get through, striking the carrier at the water line on her starboard side, exploding. We were helpless. It all was happening so fast! These kamikazes did have in that dense cloud the perfect hiding place from us pilots until the last seconds. Though the radar controlled 5-inch antiaircraft guns all the ships had (each shell equipped with proximity fuses set to go off if metal was nearby) could aim and fire at them while still in the clouds, all by radar, some were occasionally getting through.

After another ten minutes the Sara’s CIC began announcing, “All planes, ‘Salvo, we’re going on ‘salvo’.” I wasn’t absolutely sure what that meant (coded words were listed in the plotting boards we all carried under our instrument panels) but it sounded ominous and we’d better stay away. Reinhardt, whose radio was working only sporadically, asked them to repeat the message. Hearing the repeat – or maybe not hearing it – he left our orbit and adding throttle, began flying straight at the Sara, all of us now tailing him, all four of us at not more than 50 feet off the water. We dutifully held our usual division formation behind and beside him, all yelling at him over our radios, “Bill, they said ‘salvo’.” Flying at high speed we quickly began closing the five-mile gap. Reinhardt, we could see him looking down at his plotting board, continued straight at the carrier. It was obvious to the rest of us that this announcement probably meant that their radar had been knocked out and they now were going to have to shoot by visual means only, having no more radar working. All our Hellcats did have, turned on, that faithful IFF – identification, friend or foe – and that device had prevented us up to now from being shot at by all those friendly radar controlled AA guns of the Sara, the Alaska and our two accompanying destroyers. Now the Sara was going to shoot visually. As we flew directly at her side (we had been circling off her starboard quarter) we began to see the winking of her five inch guns armed with what we’d just seen, the killing ability of those proximity fuses, aimed directly at us, as they began firing. There is that dreadful flying rule among us who flew fighters that you are to follow your division leader at all times unless ordered otherwise, and here we were going directly into 5 inch fire. We three others, giving up trying to get Reinhardt’s attention, were now, almost feeling it was our fate, flying right into our own gunfire. I dropped back almost behind Reinhardt’s plane and Hurley did likewise tailing me, Charlie Horne doing likewise on Reinhardt’s other wing. Our “hope” was that the proximity fuses on the 5 inch shells, designed we’d just seen to pick up metal nearby before exploding (the first of the “smart bombs”) would hit Reinhardt out front and then maybe we three would be able to get out of there, our leader gone! The gunners on the 5 inch guns told me later that they figured we were Hellcats by our silhouettes but “we were ordered to fire,” so they did. Suddenly, not 50 yards in front of Reinhardt, a shell, hitting the water, exploded, sending up a geyser. One second Reinhardt was leading us, the next there was only Horne, Jim and I, Reinhardt having done the fastest Immelman turn I’ve ever seen and was heading back away from the Sara. We did likewise! Without those proximity shells I’m sure the Sara would have been sunk that afternoon there were so many kamikazes after her. She was the last living emblem of the old carriers.

Just after sunset, orbiting in our sector once again, we could see there was now much less smoke billowing from the Sara’s fore and mid-deck. She announced that there was a possibility they could take us back aboard but it would not be for an hour or more. We all had again put our engines in their most gas saving mode, leaning out our carburetors and slowing our speed. Though smoke continued to pour from her fore deck the Sara also seemed to have picked up speed and now, with a substantial sized bow wave, was moving pretty fast, heading south. We continued orbiting, stacked loosely in our usual division formation. I’d set myself in my usual position, just off Reinhardt’s right wing at about his altitude, Horne and Hurley flying formation slightly behind and below us, Hurley looking up and to our left, Charlie the opposite, thus those two looking up at and beyond us into the sky as Bill and I scanned the horizons. Suddenly Hurley announced, “Bogey above,” and quickly looking overhead there was a plane visible above the scattered clouds, already crossing our path only 500 feet above and moving quickly to the side. I waited a few seconds to see if Reinhardt was going to respond but, as previously, his radio still wasn’t working well. Feeling that as a section leader I had some independence though Bill was “our leader,” going on full rich mixture settings and jamming on full power, I turned up and shot up after the plane. Hurley didn’t follow me but joined up on Reinhardt, feeling we should wait for Reinhardt I guess. My guns already charged, within seconds I was flying right behind that bogey less than 50 yards back. He was flying serenely along, no evasive tactics, a fading pink glow of the sunset on the broken clouds just beneath us. Not having had time to make out any markings on this plane and hardly it’s shape, except to realize it was fighter size as it had zipped overhead and beyond me when I first looked up, I had a moment’s hesitation. Should I wait for Reinhardt? Who gets first shot in a situation like this? We’d never discussed such a scenario. Looking at the silhouette from straight behind, could he be a friendly? Could he be an SBD, one of our workhorse divebombers that were mostly phased out by now? I hadn’t seen any SBDs on the accompanying carriers when we’d bombed Tokyo just three days before. In tail-on silhouette this bogey’s wings were attached to the fuselage just at its bottom – as all Zeros were and all SBDs, whereas all our Grumman made planes had their wings attached to the fuselage close to, but not at, their bottom. He was carrying no bomb. As I mulled these questions over, and concurrently thought this guy has no idea I’m sitting back here ready to shoot him down, within seconds up came Charlie Horne beside me. Looking briefly over at me he began firing, all guns blazing. That settled it! I too began firing. I knew Charlie’d had, as Hurley, a better, maybe even the best view, looking up at and then following the bogey. (Maybe Hurley deserved first shot, he’d seen the plane first.) With our combined eight 50 caliber machine guns and four 20 mm cannons firing at him point blank the kamikaze’s plane literally began flaking off pieces as we fired, broken pieces flying past us as the plane flipped over and, diving steeply, crashed into the water, no smoke or burning gasoline. I hope he died quickly. Thinking back I continue to wonder why I’d hesitated, was it “unfair” to shoot someone so unsuspecting, was hesitancy of killing someone for the first time a sign I was really not the gung ho pilot we all felt we were!? And it eventually turned out this partial “kill” would be my only one after all those months and months and months of training! I never talked to Charlie Horne again. Later that night he’d landed on the Enterprise along with Reinhardt and Hurley, those three worried they didn’t have enough gas to await the possibility the Sara could take us back. Charlie and Reinhardt then elected to stay on the Enterprise, Hurley joining us later while we were back at Oahu. Charlie’d told Jim he and Reinhardt had a bet who’d shoot down the first zero, and he wasn’t going to pass up that chance!

We four then returned to our starboard station off the Sara’s quarter as the darkness deepened further. Circling we’d hear updated increasingly optimistic reports we might get taken back aboard, the Sara continuing south as fast as possible. An announcement eventually came that she could, but only after perhaps another hour or so of clearing up the middle part of the flight deck. Now totally dark more and more of us airborne began getting too low on gas to hold out and, turning west, landed on the Enterprise or other nearby carriers. Reinhardt, Horne and finally even Hurley left me announcing they too were low on gas. With an increasingly small band of fighters, we remaining pilots circled, watching our fuel gauges. I was tense, I’m sure we all were, as we circled, were some of us going to be able to hold out and get back to the Sara?

Totally dark, flying just under the now broken cloud layer, suddenly about 2 miles north, an explosion and fire on the water lit up the night. What was that?? In the glow of the fire I soon could make out a small carrier, burning furiously. Then a sudden huge explosion burst up into the night like fireworks and that carrier – I’d all flown over to watch and was now less than a mile away – still moving, slowly rolled on her side and went down, all lit up by the burning fuel on the water. We later learned she was the U.S.S Bismarck Sea, a jeep carrier, a CV-E, and had been hit by the last of the kamikazes. We later learned that one of our Sara air group’s torpedo bombers was “responsible.” He’d landed on her and, as his plane, wings folded, was being put below on the elevator to the hangar deck, the kamikaze wisely dove down into the elevator opening. Instructed to dive thus into the hangar deck area, his plane hit some gas lines etc. as it crashed and started a roaring fire. The following huge explosion was the magazine of the carrier blowing up. We learned later that it had been Carey who’d just landed, one of our more popular torpedo bomber pilots on the Sara. Along with his two crew he’d had to jump over the side of the Bismarck Sea as she blew up, but Carey never resurfaced from that long jump, just his crew. All that time that last of the kamikazes had been hiding somewhere unbeknownst to any of us!

Perhaps a half hour later the three of us remaining airborne were called to land on the Sara. That part was pretty routine except, as each of us landed, our planes lurched to the starboard and we all blew our left front tire. The carrier still had about a 10 degree right list from the damage done at the water line by one of those kamikazes, probably the one we’d seen diving into the hull. (The LSO and our CIC did not warn us of this list as carrier landings should always be made with wings level with the horizon. If we’d tried to compensate for this list our planes might have drifted to starboard as we landed and we might have gone over the side.) So ended very prematurely my first tour, barely one week into active combat, one spooky night in the air, two bombs dropped and a small part of one kamikaze in my gun sights.

I think that this kamikaze attack was the most furious, at least by far the most concentrated, of the war, well over 40 Japanese planes involved in that one wave coming down from Japan. And these kamikazes were mostly after the Sara, the last of the old war horses, “The Queen of the Sea.” There were subsequent kamikaze attacks on the huge fleet off Okinawa before the war was finally ended, and much damage was done, but those kamikazes dove on many different ships. Certainly by February of ’45 the Japanese were feeling more and more threatened by the increasingly effective B-29 raids and the navy and marine’s slow island hopping advance, culminating most recently in our carrier attack just two days before on their mainland. The Japanese were mad and feeling threatened. And these kamikazes were effective!!

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Peter W. Roome ’44

Roome '44

Peter W. Roome '44

(1925–    )
Navy, Seaman First Class

World War II’s Impact on My Life

A brief summary of my experiences started with PA ’44 Plan A Section. I went into the Navy as a seaman, and after basic training and fire control instruction I joined a newly commissioned ship, the USS Flint CL97. It supplied a vast amount of firepower against enemy aircraft. The ship was awarded four battle stars starting with the battle of Luzon and ending with the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa during relentless kamikaze attacks.

In August 1946, I was recommended for Officer’s Candidate School. The bomb was dropped August 6, 1946, two days after I left the ship.

My experience prepared me for anything and everything in my life thereafter. I’ve tried to make the best efforts in achievements in my various jobs—to never let distractions keep me from my goals. And I value every minute of every precious day I’m alive. I saw too much tragedy.

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James McE. Brown ’43

Brown '43

James McE. Brown '43

(1926–    )
Navy, Radioman Third Class

Early Warning

It’s 1946, so WWII is over. I’m in the U.S. Navy, a Radioman 3rd Class on the USS Cape Johnson AP 172, a troop ship bringing troops home from the Pacific islands of Saipan and Ulithi.

Our ship is about 1,000 miles north of Honolulu headed for Portland, Oregon.

Standing on the upper deck looking out over the ocean I see a large number of small waves headed south. These waves are several feet apart and about one foot high.

I found our Navigation Officer and asked him, “Do these waves mean anything special?” He replied, “Yes, indeed they are the beginning of a tsunami.” He then explained that a tsunami is a giant wave usually caused by an oceanic earthquake—which can cause enormous damage if it hits land.

The navigator was right. On April 6, 1946, a 50-foot tsunami hit Hawaii and killed over 20 persons.

Did my Andover education have any effect on this sighting? It did, indeed, as I was taught that if you found something interesting and did not understand it, don’t just forget it. Go find out about it.

Hence my question to the navigator.

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F. Frederick Jordan Jr. ’43

Jordan '43

F. Frederick Jordan Jr. '43

(1925–    )
Marine Corps, Private First Class

The Last Battle

The skies of the South Pacific are so clear that you can read a book by the light of the moon. The waters are equally transparent. Around the island of Guadalcanal, they are so pristine that the ocean bottom is clearly visible. The view should have been beautiful. But, the ocean sands were covered with old ships. Some were turned upside down, others lay grotesquely on their sides, all piled atop one another. They were landing craft and supply ships that had never quite made it to the land during the 1943 battle for Guadalcanal. We called that part of the ocean, “Iron Bottom Bay”. It was ghostly.

Our LST (Landing Ship Tank) was packed with marines from the battle-weary 5th Regiment of the 1st Marine Division. The faces were very, very young. Almost all of us were silent as we clung to the railings and looked, in a unison of awe, at the surrealism in the waters beneath our ship. Was it a harbinger of things to come?

We had conducted a training exercise on Guadalcanal and the time had come for us to return briefly to our home base on the nearby island of Pavuvu. After replenishing our supplies there, we again boarded the LST and headed for our target. Our backpacks contained everything we owned. We were going to take a long trip and invade an island. We didn’t know where, we just knew the code name of our objective: Yellow Beach Two. We knew that it would be a bit different this time. As usual, our first objective was to seize the airport so that our planes could control the sky. But this time there would be no long sandy beach. We were to land at the base of a cliff that we would have to scale in order to take that critical piece of land called the Yonton Airstrip.

As we sailed to the northwest, crossing meridian after meridian, and then into the sea of the Rising Sun, we were entertained by the dulcet voice of Tokyo Rose, broadcast from Japan on the ship’s radio. She was damned good. She called us “The Butchers of Guadalcanal.” She told us that the name of the island we were going to hit was, “Okinawa,” and that we’d probably take the island. But she also predicted that the 1st Marine Division would be wiped out in the process and what was left of the Division after the conclusion of the battle “….would be so few that we could all be sent back to the United States in a “Higgins Boat” (an early, small wooden landing boat) and be mustered in a telephone booth in San Francisco.”

Interspersed with her dialogue, Tokyo Rose played all the hit songs that were being offered on radios across America. We spent our days playing cards on deck as the ship’s radio played everything that Tokyo Rose offered. She was our conduit to the life we had left behind. I’ll always remember one late afternoon when she played, “Sentimental Journey.” The orange sun was sinking into the endless ocean and it seemed there was a far away look in the eye of almost every face.

Later that night, one of the eternal riddles of war was indelibly upon us. A marine was murdered as he slept. The next night, another marine met the same destiny. On the third night we caught the killer, a strange former boxer from New Jersey. War does such weird things to people.

I can’t remember the date we crossed the Equator, but I will forever remember the first land we saw. It was a coral atoll called Ulithi, and it has the world’s most beautiful natural harbor—a humongous coral reef with an opening at the apex of a perfect coral circle that assured the easy detection of any submarine that might attempt to enter the harbor. The waters within that circle were packed with ships, seemingly from every nation in the free world. Together, these ships comprised the largest armada the world has ever known, even surpassing that of the “D-Day” invasion at Normandy. Every one of us now knew the might of the force of which we were a part.

Ulithi also provided an opportunity for all ships to trade their movies with other ships. Whether it was at sea or on a home base island, nothing nourished the morale of the American fighting man more than an American movie.

From Ulithi, the enormous armada sailed as a unit. With our radios still tuned to Tokyo Rose we learned more about where we were going and what we could expect. Okinawa, according to our Japanese informer, was about 100 miles south of the Japanese mainland. Tokyo Rose concluded that particular broadcast with a special message to the men of the 1st Marine Division. She reiterated that our code name for the beach upon which we would land was, “Yellow Beach Two,” and that none of us would leave it alive.

A couple of evenings later, we were assembled one platoon at a time in an area under the main deck. President Franklin Roosevelt had recorded a message for, the men of the 1st Marine Division. He told us that once again our country was calling upon us and that our destination, Okinawa, was very close to the Japanese homeland. He assured us that everyone in America was praying for us. His words and the sound of his voice were a mighty morale boost.

Meanwhile, there was a new order from Division Command. Once on land, if we should see or be bitten by a snake, we were to kill it and bring it back so that the medics could find an antidote for the venom. Very little was known about indigenous snakes, so they became one more enemy to fear when we were digging in.

For several weeks, I had been receiving treatment for a fungus infection on my hands that was called jungle rot. That final evening before the battle, the bandages on my hands were removed. There had been no improvement. The hands were then covered with a new ointment and re-bandaged.

In the morning it would be our D-Day. But for the first time, it wouldn’t be called D-Day. It would be called Love Day. It was April 1, 1945—April Fool’s Day and also Easter Sunday.

It was very early in the morning when we boarded the steel landing craft that spewed out of the belly of our LST. One of our guys had written a parody of Cole Porter’s current Broadway hit “Don’t Fence Me In” and we were singing it as we headed for our objective. “Oh let me ride with the tide about 40 miles outside. Don’t send me in. Let me land in the sand with the nurses and the band. Don’t send me in.” But, then the conversations got serious. Somebody said, “Look at us. I bet there’s nobody in this boat that’s more than 19 years old.” Another guy responded, “Yeah, nobody else would be dumb enough to do this.” And then someone said, “Nuts, we’re all in this for the same reason—money! How could you beat $50 bucks a month.”

In other landings the Japs, knowing we would be coming, had practiced long hours dropping mortar shells on places in the water where they knew we would have to pass. This time, no mortars were fired at us.

Eleven waves of Marines landed before us. It was weird—Tokyo Rose had been wrong. It was an easy, almost unopposed landing. We got to the top of that cliff in a hurry. Not a single shot was fired. We were safely on the beach near the village of Hagushi and nobody was shooting at us. We couldn’t figure it out. The only one for whom it was not a mystery was Japanese General Mitsuru Ushijima, who from the highland to the west was watching the landing through a powerful telescope. It had been his idea to let us make our landing unopposed because even though our casualties would be substantial, the casualties among his defenders would be worse—probably the loss of every man. He much preferred saving those lives for the ambushes his troops could perpetrate on us later from well-protected surprise traps of his choosing. His plan was a good one.

The Japanese soldiers and their leaders were a breed quite apart from their countrymen. They had lied to the native populations of the islands that they had seized. In gory detail, the Japs had dramatized to the islanders the inhuman torture that Americans routinely performed on natives. In the Japanese version, we took all their belongings, raped the women, and then tortured and murdered all civilians. Concurrent with our invasion of Okinawa, newsreel cameras were capturing terrible images from Saipan of masses of women and mothers with their children jumping off the cliffs to their deaths rather than face the torture of American invaders.

Now, on that Yonton airstrip, tragedy was to play itself out again. As night darkened the land, the Japanese gathered at gunpoint hoards of native families and interspersed them throughout their artillery positions. Then, they pulled their troops back and fired their artillery at us. Their artillery men then joined the retreat. Our return fire, unbeknownst to us, decimated the unprotected natives exactly the way the Japanese had planned it. On that battlefield in the early morning light we saw devastation beyond comprehension. None of us have ever been able to erase from memory the look in the eyes of bleeding little children standing beside their dead or half alive, blood-soaked and dismembered mothers and fathers.

As my regiment moved out in pursuit of the Japanese, I was one of those who was left behind to find and protect the natives. A civilian safe house was immediately assembled, presumably by Seabees, whose work and valor under fire had always been incredible. I immediately became part of a detail put together to get as many civilians as possible into the safety and care of those in the stockade who would provide the medical aid, the food, the lodging, and the caring that was so vitally needed. By the end of the second day, many of the natives no longer feared us, but there was still trouble all around.

While the main body of our regiment pursued the “Nips” to the west across the island, those of us who were left behind worked night and day to locate, win over and provide for every civilian. Meanwhile, kamikazes were arriving regularly in the evening. They chose the last shimmering of the day’s light to find the best ship for their death dives. On land, we did our damndest to intercept them. In the evenings, we gathered on a cliff, pointed our rifles to the sky and fired at the pilots as they passed over the relative safety of the island. Because their planes were so old we called them, “Washing Machine Charlies.” When they made a turn we could see the pilot’s faces very clearly. They were so young. What we dreaded to see and hear was the arrival of a whole squadron of kamikazes, followed by the flames and explosions that came from our support ships clustered in the harbor and our fighting ships farther out to sea. As the fires from exploding ships and airplanes lit up the night, the men who manned those ships had no way to protect themselves, no place to hide.

Damaged allied ships numbered 324, and 28 more would be sunk. During the battle, 4,907 sailors would be killed and 4,874 would be wounded. In the air, American losses would be 768 planes, while the Japanese would lose 7,830 planes during the same period.

With our armada taking a beating, for the first time we could understand why so many of the aircraft carriers for the Okinawa invasion were from Great Britain. American carriers had wooden decks. The British had steel decks and were impervious to the fires caused by the kamikazes. The large number of carriers was necessitated by the need to have a safe place to garage our combat planes at night. In the initial stages, there was no place anywhere to land a plane on the island and expect to get airborne again. On April 7 the Navy would have a chance to fight back by sinking the Yamato—the world’s largest battleship, four destroyers, and a light cruiser that had all just left Japan. They were destroyed by a fleet of 300 naval aircraft.

Every morning I would lead a detail that would go searching for civilians who were hiding fearfully in the myriad of caves that had been chiseled into the island to provide protection for Japanese soldiers during the massive air strikes and naval bombardments that had preceded our landing. After our landing, the caves had been abandoned by the Japanese and immediately repopulated by frightened native Okinawans. Soon we were receiving tremendous assistance from our stockade full of new friends. In particular, I was guided by information given to us by five former Geisha girls who had been deported to the islands because they were too old. They had tattoos on their hands, good heads on their shoulders, hatred in their hearts for the soldiers of Japan and an ability to communicate via my short form Japanese-American dictionary.

Each day, we were joined by several natives who would go out with us and lead us to new caves. One morning, one of those natives was a very young and very pretty girl. We had liberated a lot of people from their caves that morning and were headed back to the stockade when my girl guide pulled on my arm and pointed to a hill on our left. She didn’t convey how deep into the hills she wanted to go and the rain was getting harder. I said no. She cried. I said yes. About 10 minutes into the hills, there was an opening to yet another cave. She ran to it and I—always fearful that there was a ‘Nip’ inside—stopped short with my rifle at the ready. Almost immediately my guide came out with a bundle in her arms. There was a baby in the bundle. I could barely see. There were too many tears in my eyes. The young mother walked right beside me all the way back with her baby in her arms and a smile that never left her face. When we returned to the stockade with the baby we were greeted with cheers and I got a hug from all five of the geishas before we went out for our next search. The word spread. I could now move easily among the natives with lots of help. The stockade was a happy place. They knew we were friends, not executioners.

Two weeks later, the time came for me to rejoin my regiment. Rejoining your outfit on a moving battlefield is no simple matter. Seldom are there any roads and there are never any signs. Your best guide is the sound of explosions ahead of you and the only companions you can be sure of are animals. It breaks your heart to see horses, cows and dogs on a battlefield, but they have no choice. They seem to cling to you as a last hope because they have lost all of their human friends. Their homes have been destroyed, and the land has been altered and dirtied with the objects of war. The birds have moved out and you can’t help any of them. There are tears in your eyes and you are glad there is no one there to see you. I went through the war without really crying, except once. It was when I got a letter from my mother telling me that my dog had died.

The magazine on my rifle was filled with bullets, but there was no shell in the chamber. I had been reading about a pitcher for the Chicago White Sox named, Monte Stratton, who, during the off-season, had lost part of his leg by shooting himself in a hunting accident. I wasn’t going to let that happen to me. It figured to be a long hike.

About three hours into my walk I saw a rare sight—an old farm building that was still standing. I walked up to it, put my hand briefly on the doorknob and then stopped, thinking that was not the way John Wayne would do it. So, I kicked the door in and got the visual shock of my life. Sitting on the floor with his back against the wall was a middle-aged civilian wearing very old clothes. He was slowly reaching for a rifle that was propped on the wall beside him, as though he didn’t want to disturb me. I did the only thing I could think of. I said, “Hello,” closed the door and ran away, wondering how I could ever explain this to my fellow marines.

An hour later I caught up with my outfit. We had been lucky so far. Casualties had been light. We had swung to the west and pretty well cleaned out our targets, but we were also getting close to a monster—a stone fortress called Shuri Castle. It had innumerable deeply recessed twenty-foot high gates that led upward in concentric circles of huge high-walled courtyards to the top of a steep hill that for centuries had cradled the home of the King of the Ryukyu Islands. It had survived the incursions of the Ming Dynasty, the Shoguns, and the Samurai. This stronghold was indeed formidable—even the tombs had been booby-trapped. Meanwhile, the weather was getting very cold and we weren’t dressed for it. Worst of all, a monsoon was heading our way.

Early that night, as we re-grouped in a good defensive position, a lone Japanese soldier ran right into our encampment. I only heard two shots, which was extraordinary on our part, as the intruder’s purpose was to get a lot of us shooting at each other.

The next night, our corpsman called me aside. He removed one of the bandages from my hand. He didn’t like what he saw. He pointed me to a trail that led to a field hospital that was about half a mile away. The hospital was a rectangle approximately twenty feet wide and forty feet long and it was dug about ten feet into the earth. One entered via a dirt staircase.

The roof of the hospital was a huge piece of canvas with a large red cross painted on it. I arrived at the hospital almost concurrently with an artillery shell. It landed so close to me that I was in the concussion area, where the blast goes up before it spreads out. My right eardrum was blown out. Every time I got up I fell down. I had no equilibrium. It didn’t feel as though I was falling down. It felt as though the ground was coming up and hitting me. I had to re-learn how to stand up. Those of us on the ground had to get the nurses, doctors, and patients out from under the collapsed canvas. I don’t know how many we got out, but it was a lot. I remember a marine who was lying on the ground in agony. Napalm from one of the shells was burning into his heel. Days later I learned that all I had to do to alleviate his pain was to pick up a handful of dirt, mix it with some water from my canteen and slap the mud on his foot. But, I didn’t know that at the time. That burning foot and the sight of a wounded nurse who wouldn’t cry were the last things I could remember. We were still under one hell of a barrage.

I have no memory of being evacuated or leaving Okinawa, but a couple of days later I woke up about 1,500 miles away in Fleet Hospital, #103, on the island of Guam, in the Marianas, wrapped in a lot of bandages. Waking up was a very difficult experience. You don’t know anyone around you. You don’t know how you got there and you don’t know where “there” is. You look for your legs. They are there, but you don’t have the strength to move them and then everything goes blank and you dream about the hospital scene in Gone With the Wind, where they don’t have any morphine, and you think about Walt Whitman’s poem, “Oh come lovely and soothing death, undulate ‘round the world, serenely arriving, arriving, in the day, in the night, to all, to each, sooner or later, delicate death.”

But you are one of the lucky ones. You will have a tomorrow. My news would now be coming from wounded marines who were being flown in from the battlefield.

They came to the hospital with every wound imaginable. My strongest memory is of seven sailors from one of the navy ships that had been taking a pounding from the kamikazes. They had tried to make the whole thing go away by getting a little drunk, but they didn’t choose their drink well. They tried the only thing they had access to—torpedo juice. Now all seven of them were walking the hospital corridors every morning in a perfect line with the arm of the trailing man on the shoulder of the sailor immediately in front. They were all blind, and I would never know if their sight was ever restored.

General Ushijima’s plan was working very well. Japanese machine guns were on every ridge of what was called the Machinato Line. Hidden behind the machine guns were deadly mortar batteries on the reverse slope, well hidden from view.

Admiral Chester Nimitz was so concerned by the slow progress that he came ashore and told General Buckner, “I’m losing a ship and a half each day. So, if this line isn’t moving within five days, we’ll get someone in here to move it so we can all get out from under those stupid air attacks.”

In late April, the Machinato Line, was finally split open and we reached Ushijima’s last line of defense—the Shuri Line. Two army divisions were assigned to the eastern side of the line and the 1st and 5th Marine divisions were assigned to the western side. In the foulest weather conditions one could imagine—ice cold monsoon winds of 40 mph and mud so thick it would pull off your boot. Toward the end of May, Ushijima—by now very short of men, food, and supplies—was preparing a last stand at the heart of the Shuri Line, Shuri Castle. It was Japan’s last and most formidable defensive stand.

On the 26th of May, the USS Mississippi sailed around the southern tip of Okinawa and into the South China Sea. It then headed north until it had Shuri Castle squarely in its gun sights. For three days, the mighty Mississippi pounded the ancient stronghold with everything it had.

On May 29th, Company A of the 1st Battalion of the 5th Marine Division was ordered to take Shuri Castle, even though the monsoon was blowing with winds so strong you could hardly stand up. But before nightfall, our flag was flying over Shuri Castle, and the powerful Shuri Line was nothing but a memory. The soldiers of Japan and the citizens of Okinawa were devastated by the loss of their spiritual home. Today, there are a lot of Americans who are deservedly proud of our country for rebuilding every stone and feature of that castle exactly as it had been for nine centuries.

The Japanese retreat to the north with 30,000 men was a remarkable accomplishment. In the black of night with monsoon winds of 40 mph, Japan was able to move 30,000 men into the last defensive line on the Kiyan Peninsula, but now they also knew they could not save the island. By the end of May, everything had fallen apart for Ushijima and he fled to a cave by the sea.

On June 13, 4,000 Japanese sailors—including Admiral Minoru Oto—would commit suicide in the tunnels they had dug by hand before our landing. The admiral killed himself by plunging a knife into his abdomen. The enlisted men all killed themselves by pulling the pin on a hand grenade as they cradled it on their stomachs, and buried themselves forever in the grave of their own making.

On June 18, 1945, our commanding general, Simon Buckner, was killed by Japanese artillery fire. On June 19, Brigadier General Claudius Easley was killed by machine gun fire. On June 20, elements of the Army’s 7th infantry division reached Ushijima’s cave. The Japanese Commander spread a white sheet on a ledge overlooking the sea and knelt on it. He plunged a knife into his belly while an aide bared his sword and cut off the head of his leader. Other Japanese soldiers and commanders were committing suicide by the thousands.

On the 21st of June, the Japanese surrendered Okinawa. It had been by far the bloodiest battle of the Pacific and is considered by many to be one of the bloodiest battles ever fought.

The complete surrender of Japan was called for in the Potsdam Declaration of July 26, 1945 and was ignored by the Japanese. In response, President Truman ordered that the nuclear weapon, “Little Boy,” be dropped on Hiroshima on Monday, August 6. When Japan still refused to surrender, a second bomb, “Fat Man,” was detonated over Nagasaki on August 9.

This time, three of Emperor Hirohito’s advisors still wanted to continue fighting and three wanted to surrender. In an unprecedented step, the Emperor was asked his opinion. He said he wanted peace. Japan officially surrendered on August 15. The signing of the surrender would occur on the battleship USS Missouri on September 2, 1945, formally ending World War II. In surrender, with General Douglas MacArthur in command, the Japanese people would make the greatest and smoothest transition to peace that the world had ever seen.

Just prior to the official surrender, several of us were moved from the fleet hospital [in Guam] to a hospital ship called the Comfort. On the dock, before we sailed, we were serenaded by a group of very young school children. These are the words of the song they were singing, “Sam, Sam, my dear old Uncle Sam, won’t you please come back to Guam.” It made us feel so good about America, for we knew how badly the people of Guam had been treated by the Japanese when their island had been overrun right after Pearl Harbor. We sailed directly to San Francisco and I was immediately transferred to the Naval Hospital in Klammath Falls, Oregon, where it was hoped that newer treatments and colder weather would help in my recovery.

By late November, I was a lot better, but still not cured. The doctors felt that the much colder winter climate of my home state of Connecticut would be my quickest cure. They would be right. Even my fingernails would grow back. On the day of my discharge, November 30, 1945, the doctors told me that with all the other problems, they had inadvertently neglected to fix my blown-out eardrum. They said that they could fix it, but it would delay my discharge for two days. I couldn’t wait that long. Foolishly, I declined their offer and headed for home.

Four months later I found myself in a college dorm at Yale University with three roommates—all from Andover Class of 1943. Their names were Sy Brockway, Dick Finnegan, and Nelson Taintor. My three pals had served in the Army. Sy was the only one who had made it through the war unscathed. Dick, a paratrooper, had been shot in the buttocks shortly after he bailed out over Holland. Nick, whose outfit had been captured in the Battle of the Bulge, had nearly starved to death in the freezing cold of a German prison camp. His stomach would bother him the rest of his life.

In our senior year, the Veteran’s Administration would run a routine check on our injuries. Dick Finnegan kind of spoke for all of us when he answered the question, “What does your injury prevent you from doing that you were able to do before?” Dick’s reply was, “It makes it very difficult for me to sit through a double-feature.” And so it was that we were beginning to leave the war to the history books.

Today, I spend a lot of time watching baseball and football games on television. Every time they play our national anthem or “God Bless America” and the singer rewrites the melody and even some of the words, it bothers me. But, every once in a while, they don’t have a special guest and they play Kate Smith’s old recording of “God Bless America,” and everything seems okay again. I think about Andover then and the young student, Samuel Francis Smith, who, in February of 1833, rewrote the lyrics to “God Save the King,” and came up with, “My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrims pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

I think of our campus war memorial, the sound of those beautiful new bells, and the young men and women who hear them today. I also think of an older generation of Andover guys, some of whom have their names on that tower, who must have a pretty good feeling when they hear those eternal bells ringing again, and I remember with a smile of the heart a time when, on occasion, one of us would acknowledge the ringing of the bells by pointing to the sky and announcing that “Quasimoto is back in his tower.”

There is also another tower that I think about. On the southern shores of Okinawa, very near, “Yellow Beach II,” the government of Okinawa has built a memorial tower and named it “The Cornerstone of Peace.” Chiseled into the marble of that tower are one quarter million of the known names, military and civilian, of those who died in the last battle of World War II.

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Arthur M. Sherrill Jr. ’43

Sherrill '43

Arthur M. Sherrill Jr. '43

(1926–    )
Navy, Ensign

I came to Andover by train from Canada—one of the smallest and youngest members of the class, resplendent in my blue blazer and knickers! In my years there I was not a class leader or athlete in any sense of the word, but interaction with faculty and my peers prepared me for success with the Navy V-12 program where one is cast in with students from all over the country, all walks of life and many coming for officer training from fleet combat units. I then progressed to Naval ROTC at Harvard, graduated, and commissioned as a 20-year-old Ensign, shipped pretty quickly via Amphib Training at Coronado, California, to Pearl Harbor, and then on to Japan, where I took part in decommissioning LST-626 in Yokohama. I was then volunteered to proceed to Tsingtao in northern China, where I was part of a small Navy group first involved with planning to move the Pacific Fleet Headquarters from Shanghai to Tsingtao. When the threats from the Communist armies increased, this plan was scrapped, and I became a member of the Chinese Advisory Group to the Chinese Nationalist Navy, where my duties were of a semi-diplomatic, political nature.

After close to six months, many of us were replaced by young Naval Academy graduates, and I returned to Boston for release from active duty.

Looking back, Andover prepared me for Harvard and Navy, which in turn—particularly the China experience—prepared me for life!

If only more of us could have the experience of living abroad with other cultures we would become more tolerant of other ways of doing things and would stay away from useless wars.

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