Arrive at Pearl Harbor. We make our first liberty in Honolulu with its souvenir shops, its tattoo artists, its gaudy Waikiki Beach, its spectacular Pali and its beautiful weather. Two and a half weeks of this for us, punctuated by a brief training cruise.
All pollywogs and that means most of us, are mustered and King Neptune takes over the ship. With his trusty shellbacks he initiates us into his realm and we become members of the Ancient Order of the Deep. Now we know what third degree means. The ceremony gives some of us a pain in the er neck!
We arrive at Guadalcanal. More important to us, we receive mail. Tetere Point, where were anchored, is hot and dusty and so is all of Guadalcanal. The island is humming with activity, hundreds of vehicles dash along its gravel roads and the natives look friendly and stupid, but are harder to outsmart than a horse trader. During our stay in the Solomons area, a bloody battleground a couple of years ago, we take aboard Marine Major General Roy S. Geiger and his Third Amphibious Corps Staff. The ship is packed now and berthing space is at a premium.
This Easter Sunday we help write history. At 0115 we go to battle stations for two hours. Attacking enemy aircraft are shot down nearby, by our carrier based planes. Then there is a lull and the pre-invasion barrage begins. Big, medium and little ships open up with all they have, pouring a hail of death on the beaches which the Marines and Soldiers will occupy. It is continuous, lethal and concentrated, the heaviest barrage the world has seen. For us, it is like sitting in a theatre gallery and watching a remote stage below. As H-Hour-0830, passes, we watch amphibious forces leave their ships, drop into small boats which make their way over the coral reefs and clamber ashore. By 1800, 50,000 marines and soldiers are ashore, and the invasion is going well.
First big raid [200 planes] and our fighter directors get credit for forty five enemy planes destroyed. After the first days we settle into a routine, regular work interrupted by intermittent calls to General Quarters. We sleep when possible because sleepless nights are the rule. Air raids are so frequent that we become almost immune to their anxieties.
We move to Ie Shima, 10 miles north of Okinawa, to direct the invasion of that island. It is Okinawa all over again, on a smaller scale. For this drive, Ernie Pyle is aboard our ship. In the morning we have a heavy air raid and our gunners get their first official splash.
About 0800 General Quarters sounds and our guns begin firing
simultaneously. Its another suicide plane. This one, knocked
off its course by the firing of many guns, misses us by only feet.
It makes a beautiful splash.
While we are at G. Q., a plane bursts around the hill on Ie
Shima and is off our starboard bow almost before we know it. As
our guns open fire it launches a torpedo and veers away. Simultaneously
another plane slips in aft and starts a tin fish towards our fantail.
Captain Woods however, swings the ship around the anchor chain and
both torpedoes slide past. Within seconds, still another plane,
coming in low over the water, points for our starboard beam. Our
guns go into action. The kamikaze plane almost scrapes our superstructure
as she clears us, only to crash into the Dutch merchant ship Tjisadane,
anchored off our port quarter. We get official credit for our second
plane downed and our faith in the Panamints luck is renewed.
Were relieved at Ie Shima and return to Okinawa, to stand
by while Admiral Reifsnider shifts his flag temporarily to the U.S.S.
Biscayne for two minor operations, the assaults on Aguni Shima and
The Japs signed the surrender terms aboard the U.S.S. Missouri
in Tokyo Bay. Shortly after we get it by radio. We crossed the dateline
again losing a day. So we have only six hours of V-J Day, giving
the newspapermen aboard something to write about.
Ships Company and a few guests witness the formal assumption
of control by Admiral Fletcher as he receives aboard the Japanese
Vice Admiral Kanji Ugaki Commandant of the Ominato Naval Guard District
and issues orders for our occupation. The Japs look somewhat shabby
in dress and the famous toothy grin of the Japs is not in evidence.
Theyre pretty grim. In about 50 minutes it is all over and
the Japs leave, guarded by burly Marines.
We leave for Adak, after 11 days in Japan. We couldnt
go ashore, health conditions too bad. But we saw something of the
place and of the people. Outstanding impressions, dirty shacks,
apathetic people, numerous children.