War Memoirs of George Francis Stehney
USS Hornet (CV-8)
Prologue - An Ill-Fated Generation
These are my memories, to the best of my recollection, of those perilous war time years,
that affected more than twenty million young Americans, and their loved ones of my generation.
They had put their lives, hopes and dreams on "hold" during a global war from the years l939
to 1945. Previously, we young Americans were a part of the generation that was subject to
economic deprivation for ten years during the Great Depression of the Thirties.
We had just weathered a lack of career opportunities and then we were threatened by,
and face to face with, a major war in our lifetimes. A war that would become all too real
for a period of six years.
Now with the encouragement and creative help of my wife, Muriel, of twenty-three years,
and for the possible historic enrichment of our seven children, fifteen grandchildren and
four great-grandchildren, I am depicting the steps taken by our leaders in the United States
that thrust our nation overnight into another European war which quickly became a global
world war and that war's impact on my life for four years, as I in turn, became an active
participant in that war.
My wartime experiences are factual and related to the best of my recollection.
You will be amused by the humor, you will be impressed by the courage of our fighting navy
men and you will be saddened by the futility of a concept devoted to world destruction.
A waste of lives, property and the proper channeling of man's efforts to better our world.
As one general said, "WAR IS HELL!"
United States Steps Toward Global War, Step One July 26, 1940: U.S. Embargo
President Roosevelt asks for and gets from Congress an embargo on shipments of steel and oil
to Japan. Feeling vulnerable, on September 27, 1940, Japan became a member of a Tripartite
Pact with Germany and Italy, pledging mutual support.
Step Two - September 1940: Peace Time Draft
Congress passes a first peace time Selective Service Act drafting males eighteen years and
older for one year of army training. (note: many men volunteered early to get their "one year"
of training behind them).
Step Three - September 1940: U.S. Aid To England
President Roosevelt trades fifty "overage" destroyers to England (COMBAT GERMAN U BOATS.)
In return the United States was granted "title" to some islands that now would be under
Step Four - October 1940: "A Promise"
President Roosevelt's third term campaign speech to United States voters.
"I'll say it again and again. Your boys will never be sent to foreign wars."
(Note he was re-elected by an overwhelming margin.)
Step Five - January 1941: Lend Lease Bill
Congressional Bill HR 1776 authorized President Roosevelt to sell or lease (Lend Lease Bill)
military equipment to any Anti-Axis country.
Step Six - August 1941: Draft Extended
Congress, by virtue of a plurality of one vote, modified the Selective Service Act.
The original requirement of one year of service and "out" was changed to an open-end term,
with no closure date. The draft would remain in force. All service personnel, army, navy,
and air corps, would be "frozen" in place.
My Steps Toward a Global War
Step One - June 1941: Anticipation of a War
By now, convinced that President Roosevelt's and Congressional actions would thrust the
United States into a shooting war, and soon I, with this in mind, enlisted in the Navy.
Well part way, that is. The paper work and physical completed, all but the "swearing in."
That part to be completed when our country enters in the war as an active ally of England.
Then I would return to be inducted into the U.S. Navy.
Step Two - December 1941: Entry Into the War
"A date which will live in infamy." President Roosevelt's apt statement announcing to our
country of a Japanese "surprise" bombing of Pearl Harbor on a Sunday morning, December 7, 1941.
Many Americans remembered our nation's involvement in the last European War just twenty-four
years earlier labeled as "A war to end all wars." They, therefore, counseled neutrality and
strongly recommended isolationism for the United States. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor
during negotiations in Washington, D.C. to preserve the peace killed isolationism!
Note: "the day of infamy" Whose? Japan or Roosevelt ? Or both?
One week later, I made a final trip to the Navy Recruiting Office.
There, on December 15, 1941, I became a sailor in the United States Navy for the duration!
I left home the next morning at 0600 hours arrived at the gates of the Great Lakes Naval
Training Base at 0800 hours. There I learned my first lesson. In the navy you hurry up and wait.
I TRADED MY FREEDOM FOR A UNIFORM FOR THE DURATION.
A Sailor at Great Lakes, Illinois -- Day One
My first day as an enlisted man happened as follows: Where? At the U.S. Naval Training Station
at Great Lakes, Illinois. Once inside the gates, we recruits sat as we were.
We just sat from 0800 hours until 2000 hours. Finally, we were issued our first meal,
a heart warming cold sandwich. Then the navy gave each of we "recruits" a hammock and a blanket.
These issues were ours to wallow in luxury for the rest of that night until 0500 hours.
(Reveille - our first but not our last). Sailors, lash up your hammock to the ceiling
hooks--fasten seven feet above the deck, cover yourself with the new issue blanket which is
reeking from being encased in moth balls for years. After you are in the hammock,
be very careful not to make one wrong move or you will part company and very abruptly
with the hammock. No ventilation in the barracks, remember winter time is rough on fresh air.
By the next morning when I arose, my kidneys were paralyzed!
I TRADED MY BED AT HOME FOR NAVY ISSUE BEDDING LASHED WAY ABOVE THE DECK.
Navy Training at Great Lakes, Ilinois
Three weeks of training? Liberty - No. Inoculations - Yes. Hundreds of recruits lined
up -- nude -- one shot in each arm plus an inoculation. That night -- eighty men in the
barracks asleep in the hammocks -- Yes, lashed seven feet above the decks.
Over sixty become very ill. It is early morning - 0300 hours.
We less than twenty able-bodied seamen were given a night-long task of mercy!
Remove those sick bodies from the hammocks and lower them to the decks.
Note (sick bodies are safer lying on a deck).
My first breakfast at the mess hall. As I entered the building, wondering what culinary
delights I would find on my tin tray, the din (not dinner) was instant and overpowering.
I lost my appetite and I immediately departed the mess hall.
I TRADED MY THREE HOME COOKED MEALS FOR NAVY CHOW - FOR THE DURATION.
An Overnight at Home
After three weeks at Great Lakes rumors indicated that we were going to be shipped out and soon.
What options are available to visit home in Chicago before shipping out? Just two .
(One) Get an overnight pass or (two) maybe go over the fence. We opted for two.
A Chicago buddy of mine and I went over the fence - AWOL. In the process if climbing the fence,
a young sailor, on guard duty, heard us and commanded "Halt, or I will shoot!"
We did not halt - (A new recruit would not be trusted with bullets).
How did we return to the base? No problem. Early the next morning, over the fence again.
A war time wedding -- courtesy of the navy. The navy chaplain gave me his blessings and the
navy gave me a seven-day pass. Peg and I had been engaged for over six months.
To marry or not to marry? At this time that was the question. I was leaving for God knows
to where and for how long? The war could last for years (it did). So, I left the base
as a single man, Peg and I exchanged vows in Chicago, traveled to Hot Springs, Arkansas,
and I returned to the base at Great Lakes, a married man. A short honeymoon, but not to worry,
the Gods would grant me a longer honeymoon out at sea in the Pacific Ocean with
thirty-five hundred sailors aboard ship to accompany me.
My former company had shipped out of Great Lakes during my absence.
I was reassigned to the next outgoing group of recruits leaving the base for the East Coast.
Good-bye Great Lakes -- Hello Pier 92, New York City
My new company and I were "shipped out" destination -- Pier 92, New York City to a
receiving ship for further assignment to the fleet. There again, "hurry up and wait" prevailed.
The company left the base and we were waiting at the train depot at 0800 hours before the
train arrived at 1500 hours. It was 1600 hours when the company boarded the train,
destination New York City, New York. No food aboard the train.
(Note: Wars are won or lost on the merit of logistics. We all felt that the war was lost.)
It would be a twenty-four hour fast for us before reaching New York City.
At the first whistle stop, I took action to remedy this no food situation.
I leaped off the train, bought all the food I could carry and returned to the train.
As I was distributing the food to my starving fellow travelers, a Chief Petty officer,
who was responsible for the deliverance of our bodies to Pier 92, stated to me that I had
made a serious infraction of navy regulations when I left the train without his permission.
He said I could be subject to further discipline. Needless to state,
the chief was one who remained "foodless."
First Day at Pier 92
Pier 92 New York City was at that time located on the Atlantic Ocean waterfront.
Upon our arrival, we recruits were assigned to berths aboard the U.S.S. Camden,
originally a German vessel active during World War I. The Camden was captured
by the U.S. Navy while on the high seas and remained in port as part of the U.S. Navy.
My first morning muster (roll call) was useful to the Navy for assigning the unwary
underemployed sailor to working parties.
A Chilling Experience
That morning I was one of the unwary under-employed . I was assigned and so were the other
unwary under-employed sailors, special duty to labor in the New York City area.
We boarded a bus, a great feeling, we were free, sightseeing in New York City.
That great feeling ended at a site on the Atlantic Ocean where we boarded an open small boat.
The temperature that morning was near zero. In fact it was so cold, the wind-whipped
salt spray froze on our pea coats on contact. While on the island, we sailors (work party)
were given cold sandwiches at noon. As a precautionary measure and for our benefit,
the island also remained unheated. (i.e. NO FIRES). We were loading live ammo from the
island onto waiting cargo vessels. I very wisely resolved to forego this work party in the
I had a plan to better my life. The next morning during muster, I "fell out" before the
morning ammunition work party was called. I then immediately reported to the payroll
office for duty. I secured an official looking piece of paper to carry with me,
visible in my hand. Therefore to any and all navy observers , I am not an under-employed sailor.
I am a sailor busily engaged in important navy work. This charade saved me from
"work parties" during my stay at Pier 92.
Liberty at Pier 92
My first liberty at New York City -- All sailors did agree on one thing,
New York City was a great liberty city! The Navy believes that all work and no play
(no liberty) makes a sailor think of going AWOL. Halfway into my second week at Pier 92,
a twelve-hour pass came to be mine, courtesy of the commander of Pier 92.
I put on my dress blues, shined my shoes and in the company of several new friends (sailors)
we shoved off to liberty in New York City.
Going back, just prior to our exit from Pier 92, via Navy scuttlebutt
(drinking fountain small talk) we heard that a passenger liner, the French owned Normandie
moored at Pier 88 was on fire. Scuttlebutt was that a workman welding steel gun turrets
to the ship's deck, inadvertently ignited kapok life jackets stored near by.
Fire at Pier 88
As we exited Pier 92, we noticed that nearby Pier 88 was a scene of frantic activity,
by what appeared to be "Keystone Cops" acting in a waterfront comedy.
A major seven hundred foot long ocean liner was engulfed by smoke and flames,
while moored at Pier 88.
All the Clowns
The big picture. There in front of our unbelieving eyes, a ship on fire, all the clowns,
the New York City fire department, the Navy fire fighters, and the Pier fire fighters,
each with their own hoses, at ready, to be attached onto the one lone fire plug available
for service. The big question was, "Who had jurisdiction over that lone fire plug?"
Unbelievably, we saw each group of these clowns, and each in turn, connect their hose to the
lone fire plug, then spray water on the "burning ship" only to stop,
when another department of competing clowns, would remove the hose from the fire plug
that was functioning and replace it with their hose. Once again the burning ship
would be sprayed with water. We sailors, after a while, becoming tired of this display
of devotion to duty, left the scene.
The Normandie Saga
When we returned from liberty that night in New York City at 0200 hours, we noticed
that the French ship Normandie was no longer on fire. But, at the same time,
to our amazement, we noticed that the ship now had a severe list to starboard of almost
45 degrees. Possibly as a result of taking on so much water to put out the flames.
As we stood transfixed by the sight, the great ship turned over and sank in the harbor
(a disastrous blow to the Allies and a balm to the Axis). Two years later,
the ship Normandie "restored" was finally transporting troops to England -- once
again proving the old adage "Better late than never."
A Night To Remember
Our liberty that night was a night to remember. Every thing was available and free-food, drink, entertainment including theatre tickets to we freedom fighters. Fighting for freedom in our world. (once again that is).
The people of New York City made us feel welcome and they showed it. (Note: Later, in our navy career, we discovered that this welcome was not always true in other eastern coastal cities). But back to our night on the town. Many good things happened that night but accidents do happen, also.
A Trip To the Brig
Somehow, during our early night sight-seeing, I inadvertently sprained my right ankle which was further aggravated and stiffened while viewing a ballet performance, complimentary tickets of course. The cool draft of air at floor level in the theatre was not good for a sprained ankle. So, after the performance it was back to Pier 92. I was unable to walk without the help of my two sailor friends, one arm of mine over the supporting shoulders of each sailor. We three returning sailors entered Pier 92, my arms over the shoulders of my liberty buddies. The night duty section chief took one look at me, and without hesitation or a word, ordered me to the brig for drunks. My conversation, when I was allowed to talk, convinced the chief that it was my ankle, not my brain, that was numb and not functional. I was transferred from the brig to the sick bay for some treatment?
A Sick Bay Story
At that hour, the sick bay was darkened for slumber. I crawled onto a vacant top bunk and quickly fell asleep. But not for long!
The bunks were very narrow, attached to upright stanchions, side by side in pairs, spaced just six inches apart. During the night, I instantly became awakened and alerted to an unknown danger. I heard choking, gurgling sounds coming from the bunk next to mine. The sick bay room was dark, I couldn't see. Suddenly I felt a hand over my face. Now fully awake, quickly I eased out from under the hand resting on my face and lowered my feet to the deck. I turned to look at the area I had just exited. A man's body was propped up in the bunk next to mine. The body moved to an upright position! The body spoke to
me. "Was I very bad?" My panic subsided when I realized that the body was a navy- recruit in sick bay like myself. Then he (the body) explained that he was subject to epileptic seizures. I helped him down from his bunk and guided him to a nearby washroom where he showered to remove spittle and perspiration from his body. The war was over for him, his concern was that he would receive a medical discharge. A sudden thought-How do you start an epileptic seizure? But the Navy acted before I could formulate a plan!
Orders To Duty -- VF 8 Air Group
My orders to sea duty came through at Pier 92. I was assigned to Fighting Squadron Eight. I was to travel to Norfolk, Virginia, and while there, board the Aircraft Carrier Hornet and join VF8 Squadron operating aboard the carrier.
Day One -- Aboard The Hornet
I became on of the thirty-five hundred men manning the carrier Hornet from which ninety plus warplanes, of three categories (FIGHTER, TORPEDO, SCOUT BOMBERS) operated from the hanger deck and the flight decks.
Mount Three Incident -- At Sea
My first gun watch at sea aboard the Hornet was 2000 to 2400 hours (8:00 PM TO MIDNIGHT). I was assigned to Mount three gun placement, a battery of four "one point one" anti-aircraft guns. (Note: In the Pacific Ocean Mount three would be my battle station while in the war zone, usually under condition two). That meant I was on the guns four hours, then off four hours around the clock, for seven days a week. Every eighth day was a full day off-unfortunately there were no eight day weeks available in the Pacific Ocean!
Back to the 2000-2400 hour watch. The night was pitch black. Not being familiar with the Hornet, I made what could have been a fatal mistake! My search for mount three began at the bow of the ship - that was mount one site. There I was told that mount three was mid-ship i.e. PORT SIDE. Now in the dark, at sea, I had to make my way from the bow of the ship to mid-ship, a distance longer than a football field in length. I was also directed to use the port side catwalk hanging directly over the ocean. It was so dark at sea, I could not see my hand in front of my face. Feeling my way in the dark, at a sharp turn in the catwalk I almost stepped off the catwalk. My leg was dangling over the side of the ship, fifty feet above the water! It was at that point I very wisely decided to get on my hands and knees and CRAWL the rest of the way to mount three, a matter of two hundred feet. A little late, but safe. (Note: Mount three is starboard side just AFT of the ship's island - DUMMY!)
Memories Of Norfolk, Virginia
Oh yes, I have memories of liberty at Norfolk, Virginia! Looking back on Norfolk, Virginia after all these fifty-six years and recalling my war time experiences while there, is to once again recall and reiterate an all sailors statement (U.S. Navy, that is) 'NORFOLK, VIRGINIA IS S_ _ _ CITY, U.S.A."
A Gift Adrift
I also remember a very poignant personal experience in Norfolk, Virginia while on liberty in Norfolk. I purchased a small gift for my wife, Peg, (we were just married on January l0, 1942), a silver momento. After receiving payment in cash, the sales clerk offered to wrap and mail the momento to my home in Chicago, Illinois. The momento was to be a keepsake from me to Peg, a last contact, before leaving the states to enter the shooting war in the Pacific. THE MOMENTO WAS NEVER RECEIVED BY PEG.
Visit Aboard USS America
Muriel and I visited Norfolk, Virginia fifty years later. The signs were gone - A real treat.
While at Norfolk, our close friend Jules Grant made arrangements through a naval officer for
Muriel and I to board a modern day carrier, the USS America. The ship was longer and
wider than the Hornet and was operated by a crew of over five thousand personnel.
Via the Panama Canal
The Hornet is now at the Panama Canal, traveling east. Yes, east from the Atlantic Ocean to enter the Pacific Ocean. I stayed topside, (flight deck) and visually experienced the daylong ride through the canal's locks and Gatum Lake. The locks were just one foot wider than the sides of the ship. The ship's flight deck extended over the mechanical donkeys. One donkey operating from each side of the cement walk, pulling the ship through the locks. The Hornet eased into the Pacific Ocean late on the same day. (Note- I had a choice - repair below decks to work as requested by the chief petty officer in charge of the supply office or not miss this once in a lifetime opportunity to see the Panama Canal, courtesy of the U.S. Navy.)
Incident off San Diego
Squadron Eight planes were practicing takeoffs and landings on the flight deck of the Hornet. My duty station at that time was, yes, gun-mount three, just aft of the ship's island. During landing operations, suddenly a plane landing was in trouble. The tail hook of the plane that was landing on the flight deck, missed the arresting cables, causing the plane to crash into the ship's island, starboard side. The plane burst into flames. Flaming gasoline from the crash site was dripping down the gun crew's escape ladder to the hanger deck below. Mount three gun crew, myself included, scrambled down the escape ladder to evade the flaming gasoline that was dripping down on our heads from the flight deck. The fire was quickly DOUSED - no serious casualties. Duty aboard a carrier is dangerous! Planes were taking off and landing continuously. My duty station WAS very close to the plane's flight path.
At San Francisco Bay
The Hornet's next stop, going north along the Pacific Ocean coast was Alameda, California, just across the bay from San Francisco, California. At the air station, sixteen B-25 twin-engine army bombers were hoisted onto the flight deck of the Hornet. The bombers were positioned to fly off the flight deck. One lead plane WAS POSITIONED forward on the flight deck, THEN seven rows of two planes side by side and FINALLY, one lone plane at the stern. The lone plane at the stern seemed to be in a precarious position with the tail hanging over the stern of the flight deck. Each plane was securely lashed to the flight deck by guy ropes also attached to the wings and to the tail of the plane.
UNDER THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE
The following morning the Hornet with its B25 cargo passed under the Golden Gate Bridge
on its way out to sea-course taken westerly, (The Hornet's normal complement of navy
planes were stacked on the hanger deck.) Destination Pearl Harbor. At Pearl Harbor
the Hornet was joined by the aircraft carrier Enterprise.
Tokyo Bombed April 18, 1942
As our fleet turned into the setting sun, the Hornet's loud speakers erupted, addressing the ship's personnel. "Now hear this. Captain Marc Mitscher speaking. The purpose and the targets of the B25 bombers aboard the Hornet, is to conduct a daring (bombing) raid on Japan, concentrating particularly on Tokyo!" Well, we sailors were electrified-Bomb Tokyo! Incredible-what a payback for the attack on Pearl Harbor and what is astonishing, by new U.S. recruits, and all within five months of Pearl Harbor!
The trip westward was uneventful until April 18 when our force was sighted by Jap patrol craft. Our escorting cruiser guns quickly blew the craft out of the water.
The Launch Of B-25 Bombers
A decision was made to launch the air strike at once. Fifteen B-25 bombers took off for Japan without incident in the teeth of howling, gale force winds, accompanied by high waves. The Hornet was bucking up and down, bow down stern up, stern down, bow up-which greatly affected the last plane lashed to the rear of the flight deck. This plane's restraining guy ropes were being unfastened from the flight deck, and were hand-held by sailors while the plane's motors were revving up before takeoff to Tokyo. A particularly heavy lurch of the ship upended the bow of the plane, pulling one sailor, holding onto a guy rope, into one of the spinning propellers, severing his right arm at the shoulder with such great force that the injured sailor was thrown several feet across the flight deck.
The plane was able to recover and fly off the deck of the Hornet. The sailor was operated on by the ship's surgeons and lived. THE DURATION OF THE WAR WAS APRIL 8, 1942 FOR THE SAILOR.
The Aircraft Carrier Hornet CV-8
Oh yes, the carrier Hornet was home to thirty-five hundred men, possessing an eight hundred foot long flight deck and ninety feet wide amid ships. Just below the flight deck was the hanger deck used for servicing and storing the planes before being transferred up to the flight deck by one of three elevators. Ship's officers living quarters and dining ward room were located forward between the hanger deck and flight deck. Just below the hanger deck, the enlisted men shared their sleeping quarters, with the mess hall and galley, head (toilet), shower stalls, the ship's offices, machine shops, etc. and the "gedunk stand," (ice cream stand). The enlisted men's living space was so limited that they could at any time of the day, or night, reach out in any direction and their hand could touch another sailor. (So much for privacy)! I personally never slept in my bunk below decks. Instead, I slept on the steel hanger deck or the wooden flight deck or in the cargo net slung under the bow of the flight deck thirty feet or so above the waves of the ocean.
We enlisted men were served lamb one day a week, without fail, (actually Australian mutton) gray green in color and with an odor to match. Most of us were on a once a week "sans dinner" diet. That was lamb day: a day of leisure for the mess cooks!
Japanese Code Broken
Unknown to the Japanese, their secret code had been broken - a tremendous feat accomplished by United States cryptologists . Japan's secret plans for conquest in the Pacific Ocean area were now available to and for interpretation by Washington, D.C. (Looking back to the year 1941, the Japanese codes could have been broken, and their plans for attacking Pearl Harbor known by Roosevelt prior to December 7, 1941.)
Destination Midway Island
The carriers Hornet and Enterprise departed Pearl Harbor on May 28, 1942 destination - Midway Island. The carrier Yorktown remained in Pearl Harbor for repairs for damage sustained in the battle of Coral Sea in May, and on June 2, joined forces with the Hornet and Enterprise carriers.
The Battle Plan -- Midway Island
On June 3, 1942 Captain Marc Mitcher, aboard the Hornet, announced over the ship's loud speakers to the crew, that a Japanese force of approximately one hundred and eighteen ships were to attack Midway Island on the morrow (including eight carriers and eleven battleships.) We, our entire Pacific U.S. Fleet, were to attack the Jap force! Well, my friend, Vere Stockwell, and I were on the flight deck when we heard our Captain outlining the proposed battle plan. I, then out of curiosity, counted our battle force: three aircraft carriers, two fully operational, one, the Yorktown partially operational, five cruisers and nineteen destroyers. Twenty-seven ships to attack an enemy fleet of over one hundred ships! Vere, then made a very profound statement regarding our immediate future. "This is our last day on earth, the Japs have been fighting for years. We are new recruits with no real training. Besides we are all fouled up." My reply to Vere was "Don't worry, I am sure the Japs are just as fouled up as we are."
The Hornet's torpedo squadron Eight, consisting of fifteen torpedo planes led by Lt. Commander John C. Waldron was the initial U.S. force to locate the Japanese Fleet. Waldron without U.S. fighter coverage began his attack. Scores of Jap Zero fighter planes intercepted his attack and one by one the TBD were shot down. Of the forty-five pilots and crewmen in Torpedo Squadron Eight only one man survived, Ensign George Gay. The Enterprise's fourteen torpedo planes made their attack, shortly thereafter and only four planes survived to return to their ship. Concurrently, the Yorktown's twelve torpedo planes made their attack on the Jap carriers and only two planes survived. These torpedo attacks by air were disastrous, all made at low level and without fighter escort. Of the forty-one planes involved only six survived.
The Jap zero fighter planes were by now all concentrated at sea level. Therefore, the U.S. scout bomber planes were free to dive down on the Jap carriers, sinking four, the first three in the space of fifteen minutes. The Jap invasion fleet now without adequate air protection began a retreat to Japan. THE DURATION OF THE WAR WAS JUNE 4, 1942 FOR THE CREWS OF THE THIRTY-SIX TORPEDO PLANES, EXCEPT ONE ENSIGN GEORGE GAY.
Carrier Yorktown Sunk
From my position on Mount three, I could see the Yorktown under attack by Jap planes. The Yorktown hit by bombs, burst into flames, lost power, and while under tow by a cruiser, the Yorktown was struck by torpedoes fired by a Jap submarine, and shortly thereafter went down to the bottom of the ocean. THE DURATION OF THE WAR WAS JUNE 4, 1942 FOR OVER THREE HUNDRED SAILORS ABOARD THE YORKTOWN. During a lull in hostilities, I received permission to leave the gun Mount three and used the head (TOILET) located under the flight deck, portside of the ship. While re-crossing the flight deck to return to Mount three, my battle station, I noticed a fighter plane was landing across my return path. At that point, I heard the sounds of fifty- caliber machine guns fire. I immediately hit the deck, froze in a prone position, looked up and realized that one of our Navy fighter planes, equipped with six fifty caliber machine guns set in the wings of the plane, had crashed on the flight deck. The pilot, who was wounded in the battle, had inadvertently fallen against the unlocked mechanism that activated the guns, spraying fifty caliber bullets, killing and wounding sailors stationed on the flight deck and gun mounts - Yes, Mount three had casualties.
THE DURATION OF THE WAR WAS JUNE 4, 1942 FOR FIFTEEN SAILORS ABOARD THE HORNET.
Jap Fleet Retreats
The Hornet and Enterprise planes pursued the retreating Jap fleet for two days, sinking and damaging two cruisers and one battleship. Three days later the Hornet docked at Pearl Harbor. Liberty for all hands at Honolulu.
Hornet At Pearl Harbor -- I Witness the Day of Infamy
While the Hornet was docked at Pearl Harbor I took the opportunity to board several of the U.S. battleships resting on the bottom of the harbor waters. These were the ships that were bombed and torpedoed by the Jap planes on Roosevelt's "Day of Infamy" December 7, 1941 early on a Sunday morning. Above decks, the ship's superstructures were a mass of twisted steel. Below decks was a scene of massive destruction, sailors lockers blown apart, clothing and other personal effects were strewn about, similar carnage was inflicted on all eight battleships lying sunk in Pearl Harbor. I was convinced, right then and there, that the era of the battleships controlling the seas was over and final. THE DURATION OF THE WAR WAS DECEMBER 7, 1941 FOR OVER TWENTY THREE HUNDRED SAILORS AT PEARL HARBOR.
Liberty In Honolulu
While in port - ship was in port - very, very seldom.
While in port - yours every fourth day.
By rating - the higher the rating - the longer the number of hours,
For third class petty officer - Liberty hours l200 to l700
(I was a third class petty officer - Liberty FIVE HOURS
Liberty call sounded aboard the Hornet - Cheers from the men. Sailors line up for liberty inspection. (Woe to the offending rascal that did not pass inspection. Your liberty was delayed by his verbal "dressing down" and abrupt dismissal).
Shoes shined, while hat at proper angle, all thirteen fly buttons on trousers properly buttoned. (No cheating - leaving some unbuttoned in case of an emergency).
Finally, when all is well we are off to liberty.
Board the liberty boat - ship to shore.
Board liberty bus to Honolulu.
Disembark the liberty bus at Forte Street Honolulu.
Anatomy Of Liberty - Honolulu
We sailors are now in Honolulu - walking down Forte Street. Every radio is blaring through open doors and open windows. We hear Bing Crosby crooning, "My Mama done told me, When I was in knee pants. My Mama done told me a woman is two faced." Yes, the blues in the night. Now hurry to the nearest open bar - order a drink and quickly order three more at one time of the same.
Not caring for the pleasures of drinking, I repair to a parlor serving ice cream, order a sundae or a banana split- sightseeing, swim at Waikiki Beach guarded by barb wire installed to repel a Japanese invasion of the island and visit the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. "Whoops" it is now 1530 hours time to return to the ship. You line up in front of the YMCA building and board a liberty bus for transportation to the liberty boats that transport sailors across the bay to our ship.
Liberty Is Over
Now for a scene taken directly from Dante's Inferno! Picture hundreds and hundreds of very drunk and very wild sailors all lined up in single file waiting to board a liberty bus. Some big changes in the sailor's apparel - the well kept white uniforms are no longer well kept or white, the white hats are mostly missing and some sailors are no longer wearing their well shined black shoes. Practically all sailors are missing some part of their clothing that was ripped off while "enjoying " their liberty in Honolulu. Staggering sailors carrying
half-filled bottles of liquor are drunkenly bumping into each other, being the start of many a brawl in the lines to board the busses. Those with dried blood on their clothing had their ranks swell to now include those with fresh blood seeping on their clothing as a result of these brawls.
Picture scores of shore patrol police with clubs at ready eyeing these volatile sailors. The ones that become too wild and aggressive are quickly subdued by a ready club. The sailor drops to the ground with blood seeping from the impacted area. Don't worry, his shipmates will pick him up and carry him aboard the bus. Is the carnage over? Hell no! The bus becomes the new arena for new fights and are to be continued on the liberty boat returning to the ship in the harbor. Some more enterprising drunken sailors would liven up the trip to the ship by falling overboard before reaching the ship. It was the sad duty of the non-drunks to use grappling hooks to fish these fallen sailors out of the water. Finally, at ships side those that can navigate walked up the gang plank and those that can't are carried up the gang plank. All sailors that were in liberty that day are aboard the ship again. Liberty is over, possibly but not probably, for we will have liberty four days hence, that is, if the ship is still in port.
Late in the month of July 1942, the Hornet hoisted anchor and headed south past Waikiki Beach, home of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, and out to sea passing the last landmark of the island, Diamond Head Mountain.
Midway Aftermath - Loss Of VT8 Squadron
Mail call aboard the Hornet while moored at Pearl Harbor was our first since leaving the states. A letter from home from my brother, Andrew, a University of Chicago June graduate. Andrew wrote that he was thinking, and very seriously, I gathered, of enlisting in the Navy V5 Program. The Navy V5 Program is the source of new pilots for the fleet's aircraft carriers.
My letter in return, keeping in mind, that any news regarding the Battle of Midway would not pass the censors, pointed out to Andrew, that what he was proposing to do, reminded me of the children's story of "The Ten Little Indian Boys" ; at the end of the tenth verse there were none! He, my brother, did not enlist in the Navy V5 Program. He did, however, as a student of nuclear physics devote the next four years to acquiring a PhD, and aided in the development of the atom bomb in a lab located below the stands of the University of Chicago stadium.
A Tale of Mail -- Dear John Letter
ACT ONE -LOCATION ABOARD THE HORNET
CAST - A SAILOR NAMED FLOYD
SETTING - MOUNT THREE, AFT OF STARBOARD ISLAND
Before I relate this story about sailor Floyd's war time romances, a romance of long distance that is, I should set the scene.
Mount Three Operations
Mount three was on a site aboard ship located aft of the island situated just a few feet below the starboard side of the flight deck. On that site a four-barrel anti-aircraft gun was fastened to the steel deck. Also on Mount three, each of the four gun barrels were loaded, by a sailor, with a clip containing nine shells, each shell fourteen inches long in length and two inches in diameter. The gun crew consisted of seven men - three sailors and four fleet marines. Two of the gun crew manually operated the gun vertically and horizontally from the pointer and trainer seats. Four of the gun crew fed the clips of shells directly onto a cradle which fed the shells, one by one, automatically into the firing chambers of the guns.
The gun captain, usually a non-com marine, wore headphones for communicating with the control room to direct and coordinate defensive gunfire to sectors as directed. Mount three was manned twenty-four hours a day every day while at sea by two gun crews. Each gun crew was on duty twelve hours a day - four hours on and four hours off the gun. Floyd's gun crew was together twelve hours every day, allowing plenty of time to converse and exchange plans for the future, some were of a personal nature.
The Story Line
Floyd admitted to having two girlfriends, both were in the States. One girlfriend lived in St. Louis, Missouri and the second girlfriend lived in Norfolk, Virginia. Floyd was engaged, by a promise, sealed by an engagement ring, to marry the girl in St. Louis, Missouri. After the Battle of Midway, our ship docked at Pearl Harbor, where we had our first mail call on the Hornet since leaving the States. At Pearl Harbor we also had our first liberty call and we were granted permission to leave the ship and take our liberty in Honolulu. Ordinarily Floyd would spend his liberty in the company of his shipmates. Now he would seem to prefer to go on his own. After several weeks in the port of Pearl Harbor, the Hornet departed, destination Coral Sea and the Guadalcanal Island area. Once at sea, the Mount three gun crew resumed condition two, manning the anti-aircraft guns twelve hours a day. While at sea, Floyd seemed quiet and pensive, not his usual uncaring happy self. Finally after about a week at sea Floyd could no longer contain his feelings. He blurted out that while we were in Pearl Harbor he was the recipient of a "Dear John Letter" written by his girlfriend from St. Louis. When I questioned him for the details, he said nothing more but just handed me the letter. I am quoting verbatim, short but to the point- very cryptic!
The Dear John Letter
I am writing you to tell you of my marriage to Staff Sergeant Sellers.
It is too late for you to do anything about it, for I am writing to you after the honeymoon.
I am sending the engagement ring to your mother. Please do likewise with mine.
Wanda (Staff Sergeant) Sellers
I expressed my regrets to Floyd, particularly since she showed no loyalty to the Navy
when she married an Army boy.
Floyd's Second Chance
Several days later I queried Floyd about the status of his girlfriend living in Norfolk, Virginia, which incidentally was close to a Marine base in Quantico, Virginia. There was that possibility that she just might marry a marine, because we were going to be in the Pacific for the duration. Floyd reacted, stating that he had already taken care of that possibility by buying an engagement ring while in Honolulu and sent that ring with a proposal of marriage to his girlfriend in Norfolk, Virginia. So Floyd is engaged again. Epilogue - when Fighting Squadron Eight returned to the states months later, Floyd took his thirty-day leave and married the girl in Norfolk. All's well that ends well. Incidentally, his bride stayed in Norfolk and did not accompany Floyd on his return to the West Coast.
Several weeks later the Hornet crossed the equator and began its patrol off Guadalcanal Island. The U. S. Marine's target date to invade Guadalcanal Island was August l, 1942. The Marines were charged with the task of taking and holding the airstrip the Japanese were building on the island. Taking was easy, holding was long and difficult. The Japanese were determined to hold the airstrip and came down the slot with their warships and troop ships. Sea battles raged throughout all of August and September. A series of U.S. losses occurred at sea. Shortly after, the Hornet joined the aircraft carriers, the Lexington and the Wasp. The latter a new arrival from duty in the Atlantic, and the Lexington, had been damaged by a series of Japanese air attacks and had left the area for repairs.
Incident During a Shower
Some days later I was showering below decks when general quarters sounded aboard
the Hornet, (general quarters is an alert that the ship is under attack).
I was all soaped up when suddenly the water was cut off. In response to the call to
general quarters, "All hands man your battle stations on the double", I ran up the ladder
to the flight deck wrapped in nothing more than a towel and took my position at mount three.
There before my eyes was the Wasp burning! Later, I learned that the Jap submarine
torpedo had found its mark in the Wasp.
A U.S. Destroyer Incident
While I was at the gun mount, I saw a torpedo wake coming directly at the Hornet.
While my eyes were riveted on the torpedo, one of our escorting destroyers deliberately
raced between the torpedo and the Hornet, ran into the torpedo which exploded on its bow.
The force of the explosion lifted the destroyer's bow out of the water and reversed the
destroyer's direction by 180 degrees. The bow of the destroyer was completely demolished.
Some weeks later I saw the same destroyer docked at Noumea, New Caledonia harbor with
steel plates welded to the destroyer's star bow. THE DURATION OF THE WAR WAS SEPTEMBER l4, 1942
FOR OVER FOUR HUNDRED SAILORS ABOARD THE CARRIER WASP AND THE DESTROYER O'BRIEN!
Hornet All Alone
The carriers Saratoga and the Enterprise were still in port,
both under repairs for damages incurred, during the battles at Guadalcanal in August 1942,
to stop the Japanese from landing reinforcements on Guadalcanal.
Once again, the Hornet was the only operational carrier in the Pacific Ocean.
A week after the carrier Wasp was sunk, the recently arrived in the Pacific Ocean
Guadalcanal area, battleship North Carolina was attacked and damaged by a torpedo
launched from a Jap submarine, but the battleship stayed operational and functional.
A Marine "Ski" Story
Location - At sea aboard the Hornet
Cast - A Polish Marine Private
Act - One
Before I relate this marine "ski" story, a short explanation of life in the navy would be an aid to the reader's comprehension.
All major ships in the U.S. Navy are staffed by a corps of Fleet Marines. During times of "non-war" the marines are the ship's police force. During times of war they also man the guns.
- All personnel attached to the U.S. Fleet of Polish ancestry were simply addressed as "Ski," a procedure of long standing to avoid the problems of spelling and pronunciation.
Now, the Hornet had been out to sea for over ninety consecutive days. The ship was refueled by tankers while at sea, but food, clothing and other necessities, including toilet paper, were not replenished. In fact, a toilet paper rationing order was posted in the enlisted men's heads, (toilets) forbidding sailors to use more than three sheets per day and included a detailed description of how to use your daily allotment.
One of the members of our mount three gun crew was an over six foot, broad shouldered marine, that is a Polish marine. Of course the marine's name was "Ski." Ski was very proud to be a member of the U.S. Marine Corp. SKI also was very proud of the very new issue he was wearing - a new marine coverall,, gray green in color with an insignia across the left chest, "U.S. MARINES." SKI wore his new marine coverall every day but wearing means getting soiled. (How to wash this precious garment?) One evening, oh but I am getting ahead of my story. Marines are more inclined to taking orders rather than doing their own thinking. SKI proudly announced to the members of the gun crew that he was resourceful and also smarter than he was credited for; he had a novel idea!
He would that very night, while on duty on mount three, lash a length of rope long enough that when lashed to his marine coveralls, would reach the ocean waters when dropped overboard. Of course, the other end of the rope was tied to the gun mount, securely, that is. That night, he lowered the coveralls over the side of the ship until the coveralls were immersed in the ocean water. Presto, the next morning, strictly by the action of the water, the coveralls would be retrieved spotless, and after, by the action of the sun, would be dried and ready for immediate donning! A novel idea SKI could cope with but not with the mischief of the Gods! During that fateful night the ship experienced a submarine alert. Following standard procedures, the ship did speed up to 35 knots and DID take evasive turning action.
Early the next morning just after securing from daily general quarters, at sunrise, our gun crew was assembled on mount three, SKI included. The big moment was on hand, bring in the laundry. SKI , with a triumphant smile on his face, leaned over the side of the ship, fifty feet over the sea, hauled on the rope, hand over hand to retrieve his new gray green marine coverall from his "ocean size washing machine." Hand over hand, fifty feet of rope, SKI'S prize garment would soon appear. The marine coveralls, now perfectly washed clean would be his to wear. The sun would do his bidding and be his dryer. A cogitative triumph to be relished and his intellectuality to be displayed before the wondrous eyes of the now humble gun crew. At last, there it is, hanging over the ship's cable railing. What is that thing hanging from the end of the rope? Sea Weed? No! The sea is too deep for seaweed. All eyes are focused on a gray green colored rag - a six inch long piece of rag that is. It can't be - but it is! It is the remnants of SKI'S new coveralls. The coveralls were ripped to shreds during the night by the churning action of the ocean waters created by the ship's high-speed evasion tactics. Remember the submarine scare? To this day, I can picture the dumb look, the dropped jaw and the one long and pitiful sound that came out of SKI'S open mouth, a long and deep "OOOOOOH; full of woe.
The Carrier Enterprise Returns
The Carrier Enterprise joined the Hornet and North Carolina. Finally by October 26, 1942 the U.S. Pacific fleet was represented by twenty-four warships, consisting of two aircraft carriers, two new battleships, six cruisers and fourteen destroyers. It was on that date that the U.S. fleet was ordered to attack a Jap force of forty-four ships, consisting of four carriers, four battleships, twelve cruisers and twenty-four destroyers.
The Battle Of Santa Cruz
The Japanese concentrated their attacks on the Hornet. (The word around the Pacific Ocean
was that the Hornet would be the number one target in retaliation for the Hornet's
part in the Doolittle raid on Japan on April 18, 1942).
The Hornet was attacked by sixty-five Jap planes. In that attack, two torpedoes exploded under the stern of the ship leaving the Hornet dead in the water at 0930 hours. The force of the explosion was enough to propel the stern of the ship out of the water, as each torpedo made contact, causing the ship to lurch up and down; jarring the sailors off of their feet. Now dead in the water, the ship was under attack by the Jap planes until near nightfall.
Six bombs (five hundred pounds each) and two Jap aircraft crashed on the flight deck and focsle of the Hornet. Several one hundred pound anti-personal bombs exploded on the flight deck killing many of the anti-aircraft gunners and flight crew and ripping holes in the flight deck. Three armor piercing bombs (five hundred pounds) pierced the decks and exploded in the bowels of the ship (one bomb did not explode and was defused by a very brave ordinance chief). One of the two suicide planes hit the island of the ship, killing Lt. Quackenbush, the ship's supply officer. The second suicide plane dove through the focsle (bow of the ship) into and onto the hanger deck. The burned body of the pilot was so small, we at first look, thought it was a woman's body.
Several attempts made during the day to tow the disabled Hornet were met by repeated air attacks making the possibility of towing futile.
Near dusk the order to abandon ship was given. I could not locate my Mae West life jacket!
So, sans life jacket, I went below decks to my locker to remove items that I could carry with me. A picture of my wife of 9 months and sixteen days, my diary written during lulls in battle (a mix up in the dark as I grabbed the wrong book), my wallet and other small items that I cannot remember). Then, as an afterthought, as we were near the equator, the delights of ice cream to be obtained (no waiting in line this time) at the Gedunk stand, (navy talk for ice cream bar). So in the dark (all power was knocked out by the bombs), I went from compartment to compartment (maybe as much as three hundred feet) sloshing in the water that seeped into these compartments. I helped myself to the ice cream. (I was alone) About a quart, went up the ladder to the hangar deck, sat down, and ate the ice cream (Great). Now overboard!
Overboard -- Goodbye To The Hornet
I said goodbye to the Hornet, my navy home for over nine months and jumped overboard. A leap of possibly ten feet down from the hangar deck to the weather deck of a destroyer close by. I had to time my leap to synchronize with the bobbing and swaying of the destroyer. It required perfect timing on my part to avoid missing the destroyer deck or worse, being crushed between the two ships. I landed on the deck of the destroyer feet first and somersaulted twice to cushion the impact of the fall.
Aboard the destroyer were other sailors from the Hornet, who were rescued from the ocean. These sailors either went below decks or stayed topside. The sailors topside on the destroyer were given weapons (30 calibers) to shoot at the attacking Jap planes. Nightfall brought relief, no more Jap planes. I slept on the weather deck of the destroyer despite the tribulating effects of an all night driving rainfall.
Camp Dumbia - New Caledonia
The destroyer docked at New Caledonia Harbor. Scores of French ships were in the harbor. Most which were sunk and resting on the bottom of the harbor - results of a civil war between the Free French and the Vichy French. The advent of U.S. troops entry into New Caledonia gave the Free French an immediate victory. Once on the island of New Caledonia, we Air Group Eight survivors of the sinking of the Hornet were taken inland to "Dumbia" the name of a rest and relaxation (R & R camp)? Live in tents, a one-horse trough for bathing and, yes, for drinking water. Also, find a convenient log for the head (toilet). At the rest camp we were issued tents to be erected by the occupants as shelter. Each survivor was issued two blankets, one cot and the occupant of each tent was issued
a bucket. We were instructed to erect the tents before nightfall. Vere Stockwell (remember him) my companion on the flight deck of the Hornet on that fateful day, June 4, 1942, predicting our demise. We had just heard the captain announce that our twenty-seven ships were ordered to attack those one hundred and eighteen Jap ships off the island of Midway. He, Vere Stockwell, also abandoned the sinking Hornet. (How, I never did ask). Vere and I set up a tent and settled in for the night.
The very next day, navy hierarchy arrived in the form of a newly promoted to the rate of chief petty officer in Scout Bomber Eight Squadron. This voice of authority and command, told us our tent was erected in his area and the turf Scout Bomber Eight area. Therefore vacate the tent! I told him in no uncertain terms to shove off! Miffed by my abrupt and uncooperative attitude including my not being impressed by his newly acquired rank (obviously his first attempt to use his new rank) returned with a gold braided officer (and a gentleman) who ordered Vere and I to vacate the tent. I said, "Yes, Sir!"
October 25, 1942 Incident Aboard The Hornet
Oh yes, that reminded me, some days before on October 25, 1942 while the Hornet was still viable and on top of the ocean, I had a verbal disagreement with some gold braided officer attached to the Hornet. Not only were these gold braids attached to the Hornet, but more to the point, they were attached to the easy life aboard. Private staterooms, they never had to clean their clothing, they never had to wash, meals were served by Filipino waiters on tables covered with white tablecloths, and which were furnished with set ups of real SILVER and tall goblets of cold ice choked water in beautifully appointed, quiet and spacious dining rooms. Snacks were made available at all hours, and no waiting for ice cream at the Gedunk stand. The officers just pull rank and were served first taking scant notice of the enlisted men patiently waiting in long lines for service. These gold braid officers would never have it so good again upon their return to civilian life, "after the Duration."
In Guadacanal waters the Hornet was in condition two - four hours on the gun, four hours off the gun, seven days a week. We mount three gunners had very little time left to attend to personal needs like eating, sleeping, laundry, personal hygiene and also other normal daily duties assigned by VF8 Squadron.
On October 25, 1942 the mess cooks were at it again, cooking up a good meal for the enlisted men. A sure sign that we would be engaged in battle with the Japs, and soon. One of the gold braided deck officers, as I was securing from one of my four hour watches on the guns, stopped me and ordered me to immediately start removing the asphalt linoleum from the deck in officers' quarters. (The enlisted men's quarters had no linoleum).
A Burning Problem and a Record Lost
Now aboard the Hornet, it is strictly verboten for an enlisted man to enter officer's quarters. I flatly refused, telling this officer that if he felt so strongly that the linoleum would threaten his life by possibly burning, that the safety of the officer's quarters was an officer problem and perhaps he should remove the linoleum.
On the Report
He, the officer, put me on the "report." I was to appear for a hearing and judgement by a board staffed by gold braid officers. Meanwhile as you were, continue your duties. The next day, the day of the hearing, the ship was sunk! No hearing, no judgement and no records. My possible court martial went down with the Hornet!
Dumbia Evictions -- On Land And Water
Back to New Caledonia and the tent. Vere Stockwell and I were evicted. But first we had to prepare the tent for occupancy by the chief. A full bucket of water, on hand, was poured over the ground inside the tent. Next the main tent poles were cut in two pieces, and last, the supporting guy ropes were severed. We secured another tent and set it up in VF8 squadron territory.
At Dumbia rest camp the only facilities offering a source of water for drinking and bathing was a cement horse trough used by the French natives' horses traveling on a road adjacent to the trough. Several of we sailors decided it was o.k. for water to drink but not for bathing. We decided to use a nearby stream. The idea was great in theory, but bad in practice. The stream was also occupied (unseen) by hordes of leeches and these leeches did what they did best, attached themselves to our bodies and sucked our blood. We hurriedly vacated the stream, removed the leeches, never to return to the stream. Our ablutions in the future were confined to waiting in line at the horse trough.
Horse Trough Hours
So every morning, scores of naked officers, during officer hours, would wait in line by the road at the horse trough, would shave and then wash their bodies while the French New Caledonians would drive by taking in the scene. (I could not help but speculate sans clothing and gold braid how our leaders could distinguish between (a) an officer and a gentleman and (b) a boorish enlisted man, but I am sure they could because they were our leaders).
Two Blankets and an Army Jacket
The days were hot and sunny but the nights were very, very cold. My two blankets were not warming me to the point where I could sleep comfortably. My trousseau consisted of a short sleeved blue dungaree, one pair of socks (newly purchased in Noumea, New Caledonia for $2.00 U.S. money and one pair of shoes). I reasoned that if I had an army jacket life would be beautiful. The next day I visited a nearby U.S. Army camp. There by the goodness of an army staff sergeant's heart, he proceeded to give me a jacket and said it was an "extra" and now it was mine. Great joy! It was almost dusk when I returned to Dumbia and my tent. I would now, at night, wear my army jacket and cover myself with my two blankets. A warming thought but not to be. The Gods intervened to make me suffer. My two blankets were gone! That night wearing my jacket, I on my cot shivered through sporadic naps. The very next morning I went through the camp, entering the tents searching for blankets. My method used was fairly fair, any cot in the tent that had more than the two blankets originally issued to each sailor, I took one until I had five blankets.
Aussie-New Zealand Troops
The island of New Caledonia also harbored Australian and New Zealand troops just recently arrived from duty on the Greek island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean. These troops were the survivors of an attack by an overwhelming superior German force including corps of paratroops and tanks. The Australian and New Zealand troops were temporarily based at our camp, Dumbia, on their way to Australia. There they would join forces stationed in Australia to fight the Japs who were poised to invade Australia.
Our contacts with the Australian and New Zealand troops were friendly and fruitful. One evening these below the equator new friends invited several of us, U.S. sailors, to share their mess (dinner). The highlight of the evening, after trading war experiences, the Australian army sergeant proudly offered us fruit for dessert, a real and rare treat, explaining that it was stolen from the Yankee officer's mess.
Night Time Musters
The days were warm and the nights were cold in New Caledonia. Periodically, during these cold nights we were called to muster (roll call). Get out of your warm cot, put on your shoes, and whatever else, stand in formation, answer "here" when your name is called. Then after a period of time, secure from muster, return to your tent, half-awake and chilled. After several weeks of life at "Dumbia," orders came from Washington, D.C. that Scout Bomber Eight personnel were to secure from camp and return to the states. Great news - happy days ahead for SB8. Fighting Squadron Eight, my squadron was to remain until further orders. Now the only tents occupied in the camp were ours, VF8 Squadron. Vere left for the states and now I had sole occupancy of the tent. Some nights later, I believe it was around 0300 hours, VF8 Squadron was called to muster. I awoke, but decided that it was too cold and not too necessary for me to answer roll call. I resumed my slumbers.
That morning I awoke. The sun was shining high in the sky. The camp was very quiet- No usual morning activity. I exited the tent. The squadron tents were in place but not a soul in camp. I was alone! The squadron moved out at night. I was in full charge of the camp. I packed my meager gear and walked inland several miles down the road. There I reported into another navy camp and was assigned to quarters- a private tent on top of a hill at the outer perimeter of the camp. My life at the new camp was pleasant and restful. My days were devoted to eating three meals each day, walking to a nearby creek. (No leeches), swimming and bathing in a natural sun heated rock bottom basin of water and sleeping all night, no rude awakenings for roll call. But it all ended one day after two weeks of this good duty.
Reunited With VF8
The skipper (commander) of VF8 arrived at the camp to claim his lost sheep, I mean sailor. While on our way back to join our squadron, now operating from a Jeep carrier, the U.S.S. Nassau, the skipper explained that the VF8 air group departed that night from Dumbia in a hurry to board a carrier and participated in a sea battle that raged for days in the Coral Sea and Solomon Sea. So I missed the battle, but, welcomed back to my VF8 squadron. Aboard the Nassau Jeep carrier, my new sleeping quarters consisted of a cot setup, of all places, at the bottom of the elevator shaft. The elevator took the planes from the hangar deck, up twenty feet, to the flight deck. At the warning sound of a horn the elevator would ride up and down. Up did not bother me but down meant I had to be alert and lie flat on the cot to avoid being pressed down by the descending elevator. The next day I went to the engineering officer and was assigned to quarters that were better - (i.e. not in the elevator shaft).
Kaiser Built Jeep Carriers
A word about the Kaiser designed, mass-produced Jeep Carriers. The carrier originally was designed as a cargo vessel. But it was converted to an aircraft carrier to fill a great and immediate need for mobile air power to stop the Jap advance toward Australia in 1942. (The Jap air fleet greatly outnumbered the U.S. air fleet). The Jeep carrier capacity was about thirty fighter planes with less than five hundred personnel aboard. Speed was a little less than eighteen knots and the ship's hull was so thin that sitting below decks with your back against the side, you could feel the steel flexing in and out in concert with the pressure of the waves. I was convinced that one direct hit by one five-inch shell would blow the ship out of the water. (In other words, a "sitting duck" for Jap warships).
Orders: Return To the States
After two months or so of duty aboard the Nassau, Squadron VF8 received orders to return
to the states -WOW! Great, great joy was ours! The next day we disembarked the fighting ship,
the Nassau, and boarded the U.S.S. Copahee, a jeep carrier for transportation to San Diego, California, U.S.A.
Thirty plus days, as a passenger, traveling by sea from Noumea, New Caledonia to San Diego,
California (roughly eight thousand miles) living the Good life aboard the U.S.S. Copahee,
enjoying three meals a day, a library available to select and read good books, sitting on the focsle and the fantail (decks) and BEST of all, no duty and with a sign on my bunk "Do not disturb occupant."
A Tailor Incident
One incident occurred when I entered the states. I needed dress blues (a sailor's cool weather uniform). I lost my trousseau when the Hornet was sunk. No problem, I purchased the one and only dress blues available on the carrier from the ship's stores. Now a problem arose! I had a twenty-seven inch waist and weighed one hundred fifty pounds. The dress blues available were extra large. I needed a tailor. I went to the ship's tailor and asked for his expertise to fit the dress blues to my frame. His answer was negative and rude. So I took the oversized uniform to San Diego and was concerned that a navy inspection would not permit me to wear it on leave to Chicago.
San Diego Zoo
VF8 Squadron entered San Diego and guess what? We sailors were quartered in the San Diego Zoo with the rest of the wild animals - very apropos! By the end of one month, we sailors were adjudged ready for civilized living and given a thirty-day leave. Originally, the leave was to include a five day travel time of extra leave but when the approval came through only the 30 day leave was listed, omitting the five day travel time. (Toil and trouble were mine to be endured, spawned by the omission).
A Family Wedding
One week later, during a family gathering in Chicago, my brother, Andrew, a graduate student from University of Chicago, made an announcement after dinner that he and his fiance, Virginia Allen, had made plans to become man and wife. The wedding was planned to take place in Chicago during my leave period, so that I could take part in the ceremony. I was pleased and stated my willingness to be included in the wedding party. However, when I learned of the date of the ceremony I was shocked! To comply with my official leave, approved by Washington, D.C. Bureau of Navy Personnel, I would be reporting for duty with CASU6 located at Alameda, California on the day of my brother's wedding to Virginia Allen. (I am only one person. I am not able to be in Chicago, Illinois and Alameda, California at the same time).
No Response From Bureau Of Personnel
My request for a five-day extension of leave mailed to the Bureau of Personnel in Washington, D.C. received no response. Like Caesar of Rome at the Rubicon, I made a decision to keep quiet, keep your commitment to attend the wedding. Keep alert and leave Chicago for CASU6 at Alameda, California just before the navy shore patrol would be knocking on my door to escort me to the brig at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.
I'll never forget the morning I reported for duty with CASU6 at Alameda, California five days over leave. I was confined to the base day times to work in CASU6 payroll office and night time to the brig - no liberty!
Old Navy Friends
However, all was not bad- the sailors in charge of my day time assignment were my old friends from the carrier Yorktown, sunk June 4, 1942 in the Battle of Midway Island. After a pleasant reunion and exchange of stories, I was content with my new station. I worked every day for the first six consecutive days from early morning to late at night (I did not care for life in the brig). The chief in charge of the office, "Chief Cuzzens" in appreciation of my working long hours suggested that I take the next day "off," leave the base on liberty and have an R & R "on the beach." I refused the suggestion and said I would work the next day as usual, citing workload and deadlines.
The chief, having years of experience in the navy, knew that any time a sailor, any sailor, and certainly every sailor, who would volunteer to work when the alternative was liberty on the beach, had a personal or MENTAL problem. He questioned why I would prefer to work and what do I do after I leave the office at night. My answer as to what was, I report to the brig! Being incredulous, he, the chief, stated since you arrived,
"You work long hours in the office during the day,"
"You did not leave the base at night,"
"How did you manage to get in trouble and what did you do on the base? You can't be in the brig."
A Little Late
My answer was, "Chief, I am because I reported a little late from my leave. The Chief was concerned so he offered to help me. He had years of experience in the navy and many solid contacts going a long way back. I explained that since I enlisted in the navy, one week after the start of the war, I had only one leave and that occurred after the Hornet was sunk. Due to a misunderstanding with Bureau Personnel in Washington, D.C. regarding my request for an extension of leave, of five day's travel time, as originally promised, I arrived at CASU6 absent over leave. At that point Chief Cuzzens feeling relief and compassion, said, "I suppose you were a few hours over leave." My answer was, "Chief, it was a little more than a few hours." Feeling uneasy, he asked me, "How much more?" A bomb exploded when my answer was, "Five days more."
The Chief had a long standing friendship with the skipper of CASU6, Lt. Commander Sunderman, going way back to duty on the Yangtze River patrol in China. The chief said he would plead my case with the skipper prior to my going to Lt. Commander Sunderman's "Captains Mass" held once a month. Chief Cuzzens was shocked but he did arrange for my appearance at Captain's Mass.
The Benefit Of Misevaluation
The hearing consisted of a series of predetermined questions and answers designed to give me
the benefit of a misevaluation on both sides, as to the non-action on the part of Bureau
Personnel, Washington, D.C. neglecting to answer my request for a five day extension of leave.
"All's well that ends well." I am a free man- and lucky to be so."
Records Purged Again
The yeoman personnel clerk removed the captain's mass papers from my file concerning my five day AWOL. So now for a second time I dodged the "Silver bullet," my navy career is without a BLEMISH).
A Momentous Day -- April 18
Peg would be arriving from Chicago aboard the SP&UP Rail Line. I will be at the Oakland, California railroad station to meet her at 1500 hours.
On this date Doolittle planes bombed Japan.
The commandant of the l2th Naval District in his wisdom decided that
The Japs would very likely retaliate for the April 18th bombing of Japan by
Doolittle planes and attack the Alameda Naval Air Station on April 18. (the rudiments of logistics eluded him, )
He, therefore, would restrict all naval personnel to their respective duty stations. (This would enable the Japs to locate their enemy targets en masse).
Now I had a problem, Peg was arriving at a city that was strange to her. I was restricted to the base. No way to communicate with Peg. Was I worried? Yes- What a twist of fate! Early in the war I had a small part in placing Doolittle and his B25 bombers in a position within range of Japan, to fly "sixty seconds over Tokyo."
Finally, with Chief Cuzzens intervention, the skipper arranged for me to be the first man out of the base at 1500 hours. My navy experiences taught me, although nothing was certain in civilian life, it was more so in the navy. Fortunately, Peg and I had made a second choice of time and place for our reunion. We would meet, if I was not at the station, at the Oakland Hotel, where I had the foresight to make reservations for the night. Our second choice became the key to our reunion during these uncertain war times. The next day we rented an apartment in Berkely, California not far from the University of California in Berkely. Liberty for me was three nights out of four but with the help of sailor standbys for me, I, as a married man, returned to the apartment from the base, every night. For transportation to and from the base it was no problem, hitchhiking on Telegraph Avenue to the base and on the base again hitchhiking back to Berkely. The good life was mine again.
CASU Six - Duties
At the base office the navy travel reimbursement department was mine to create, control and administer. Liberty every night, every other week, just report into the office with the night crew, secure early. So in effect, I had in some respects, every other week off from work.
But wait! Life evidently was too good and not for me. Dark clouds were gathering in the bay area over my head. The vital to defense war workers in the area, imported from the south of the United States, to build Kaiser ships, were unhappy. These war workers took their serious problem to that same commandant of the Twelfth Naval District, who in April 1943, restricted the sailors to their bases. The war workers serious problem was with the sailors. There were too many sailors in the area, who were on liberty and were crowding the fun spots and transportation. That made the vital to defense workers very unhappy and they and their unhappiness had to be reckoned with. The l2th naval commander was just the man who could control and knew how to control this serious situation that erupted in the bay area. It was easier and more political to curtail the liberty of the sailors. Those dark clouds from up above the bay area in the twelfth naval district discharged a single bolt of lightning.
An Alnav was issued by the Twelfth Naval District Commander to all shore-based sailors that read: "All hands, now hear this, There will be no liberty for you sailors except for one night out of four effective immediately." (note changed from liberty three nights out of four.) I was one of the "four" sections granted liberty that night. I left the base in a quandry, what to do? Peg would be alone in our apartment in Berkely for three nights out of four. The proposal was upsetting to contemplate. All right be positive! On the way home from the base, I stopped at a photographer's shop and there I had a copy made of my I.D. (liberty card) front side and back side. Great, now I an a free man, leave and enter the Naval Air Station base at will and on my own terms. Another truism in life, when life is good it can only change unexpectedly for worse or worser and it did not take long to change.
TWO EVENTS WOULD OCCUR TO THREATEN MY FUTURE.
A LT. FISHEL INCIDENT
One afternoon I exited the base on liberty, earlier than normal, (I had my duplicate I.D. card). The next morning, using my duplicate I.D. card, I returned to the base, entered the office and I noticed, with some apprehension that my original I.D. card was placed on the roll of my typewriter on my desk. Lt. Fishel, my immediate senior officer, approached me and very casually remarked that my liberty card was visually noticeable all that afternoon and in through late evening. All that while many attempts were made to contact me through the base's loud speaker system. His, Lt. Fishel's concern was, he knew I could not exit the base without the use of my liberty card. His concern grew with time, and with no response to his paging. Lt. Fishel pressed me for an explanation of my whereabouts during the time I was being paged. My immediate answer was "Lt. Fishel, I was in the chapel on base saying my prayers. Unfortunately, I was not aware of his concern for me, because the chapel is not wired to the paging system!" End of questions on Lt. Fishel's part except months later while we were socializing, Lt. Fishel and I, the question would arise,
- F.B.I. AND DUPLICATING GOVERNMENT MATERIAL
Several weeks after securing my duplicate I.D. card from the photographer's studio and while exiting the base gate and riding in the back seat of a pick up ride; I noticed that the marines at the base gate were unusually careful in "eyeballing" the liberty I.D. cards presented by the driver and his front seat passenger. My turn, I flashed my I.D. liberty card, (the duplicate). The marine on guard tried to focus on my card but before he was able to do so, I told the driver to drive on! The marine started to voice his objections to our departure, but we were out of the base, so the incident was closed except when I queried the driver about the marine's actions at the gate. The driver explained that the marine guard was looking for duplicate I.D. cards which could be detected by their lack of sharpness in color and in detail. The driver had also mentioned that the duplicate cards were made by a local photographer.
Local News Story
Well, that evening, the local paper carried a feature story that a local photo shop was raided by the F.B.I. The charge was copying and reproducing government material. The agents also were, to my dismay, engaged in the process of developing a list of the sailors' names, etc. that used the photo shop's facilities. Now why were the government agents interested in the names of the sailors who patronized that photo shop? I was greatly concerned! Could it be an omen of bad tidings? That my ship of the good life was floundering in a sudden storm? What to do? I had an I.D. card that was almost as good as the original; that is under normal scrutiny. But, I knew the scrutiny would be more than normal when I entered the base the following morning. All right, be bold, be positive! Next morning I entered the base gates exactly at 0759 hours. I flashed the card to the marine at the gate stating, in a hurried manner, that I was due for morning muster at 0800 hours and picked up speed to avoid further scrutiny and ignoring the marine's reactions.
Happy With Two I.D. Cards
O.K. I am in. Now what do I do? I have two I.D. cards available, an original and a duplicate. After some consideration, I felt very good about the situation. Tomorrow I will be receiving my original card from the captain's office to use for liberty. I will then keep the original card for my use and submit the duplicate card for the captain's office use. That way I have an original card for my permanent liberty card. That switch of events was a blessing- the captain's office was happy and I was happy. By the way, remember the local photo shop that was raided by the F.B.I. and made my duplicate card? Well, I never heard from either, nor did I contact them. My motto is "Let sleeping dogs lie."
Mrs. Mansfield Story
Just before Christmas 1943 while residing at our Berkely, California apartment, Peg received a telephone call from her uncle in Chicago that her mother had died that morning. It seems that her mother entered a local hospital, ostensibly to have a minor corrective operation. The operation was successful and Mrs. Claffey was scheduled to leave the hospital. Peg's father made a telephone call to his wife to make arrangements to take her home. Upon his arrival at the hospital, he was told that his wife had just died!
Peg and I immediately left for Chicago. After the funeral, I returned to Berkely, California alone. I closed up the apartment and moved back into the base until I noticed an ad in the Alameda paper offering a room for rent at an affordable price of $4.00 per week. That ad would be my ticket to life on shore.
I answered the ad in person. A Mrs. Mansfield, an elderly widow of a sea captain, would accept me as a roomer, but with a provision. First, she would have me meet her young roomer, "Stevie," also a sailor. Mrs. Mansfield was concerned that I, a sailor of twenty-eight years of age, could be an improper influence on "Stevie" and possibly corrupt his morals by my association with the dear, young and innocent boy.
I was anxious to move out of the air base with its noise-filled, sailor-filled barracks as soon as possible. I knew that renting and moving in was predicated on approval by this dear, young innocent sailor boy. So, I suggested to Mrs. Mansfield that we have an immediate meeting with "Stevie". Mrs. Mansfield told me that "Stevie" was resting in his room, but she would try knocking on his door. Then, in my presence, she very gently knocked several times, with no response from "Stevie". She tried knocking again using a sweet tone and soft tone saying, "Stevie," "Stevie", but with no response. By now Mrs. Mansfield became concerned, so she opened the door half way. Then all the way. Yes, "Stevie" was in his room and quite a sight! There he was lying on the bed fully clothed and also with his shoes on, and muddy with the mud smeared all over the bedspread. He was lying flat on his back with his arms falling over either side of the twin bed.
Mrs. Mansfield exclaimed, "Poor Stevie he must be sick." "Mrs. Mansfield," I said, "Stevie is not sick. Stevie is drunk, but I will take the room anyway."
So now I had a room on the beach in the town of Alameda, California four dollars a week.
"Stevie" had entered the navy originally as a V7 officer candidate. Near the end of the ninety days of training to be an officer and assignment to duty as a "Ninety Day Wonder," "Stevie" opted out of the program. He reentered the navy as an apprentice seaman. His objective was to delay being shipped out to sea. Some months later he was assigned to duty aboard a floating drydock. Several drunken episodes of his efforts, while securing provisions for the drydock, were given publicity in the local newspaper. (One example comes to mind, "Stevie" requistioned a life boat from navy stores but lost it on land somewhere along the route taken between taverns he visited). "Stevie" finally went to sea aboard the drydock.
Mrs. Mansfield, a self-proclaimed Protestant teetotler in her late seventies or so, would have a lapse of memory in that respect. "Stevie" had a talent for locating hard liquor which was hard to come by during those war days. One evening at home, we, "Stevie", Mrs. Mansfield and I, were sitting together in front of the fireplace, sipping liquor from our glasses in front of us. Mrs. Mansfield would quickly down her drink and if "Stevie" and I were not observing, she would reach across the table and take our glass and down that drink.
One Saturday morning, shortly after "Stevie" was seaborne, I awoke to find Mrs. Mansfield on the floor of her bedroom. The medics pronounced her dead.
It was not long after that I moved back into the naval base, to stay there until I was transferred to NAS Alameda for discharge from the navy.
The Very Same Tailor
Two years to the very day that the Hornet was sunk at Santa Cruz, the Jeep carrier,
USS Copahee, was sunk at Leyte Gulf by Jap battleships.
The Jap shells blew the carrier right out of the water. The tailor aboard the U.S. Copahee,
who refused my request to alter my oversized blue uniform, was one of the survivors of the ship.
Now there he was! This very same tailor in front of me on the other side of the counter
(or fence as the saying goes), asking that I, as was my duty, to file for him and pay him
the money due him by the navy for costs he incurred, that was ordered by the navy for
travel to N.A.S., Alameda, California.
I could not believe my eyes! There he was, this tailor right in front of me. The very man who two years ago curtly ordered me out of his shop!
A Reprisal In Kind
Instead of filing the tailor's claim and making a prompt and full payment as I always did without an exception, I did the unthinkable! At that time and place, I was struck by an overwhelming urge for exacting the proverbial "eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." I prepared his claim to be paid by Washington, D.C. under separate cover. I mailed his travel orders and his claim papers to two different sections of the Washington, D.C. offices. I knew full well that my counterparts in Washington, D.C. would not process the claim for reimbursement. The travel orders and the claim papers would never be matched up! (Never the twain shall meet). The Washington bureaucrats would wait for the other half (of the travel orders or the claim) to be delivered to their desk).
A week later the Copahee tailor and I were eyeball to eyeball in my office.
When questioned the tailor admitted to being the tailor aboard the Copahee in 1943
and in the vicinity of New Caledonia. "Did he recognize me?" Well, he did not.
Well I was on the carrier Hornet when it was sunk in October 1942.
Also, I was a passenger aboard the U.S.S. Copahee early in 1943 when VF8 squadron
was returning to the states. When I entered his tailor shop, I had with me a set of dress blues
which were much too large for me. I needed those dress blues to wear on my leave home
when I entered the States. Yes, now he remembered me and also rudely refusing to alter
my uniform and summarily dismissing me. I, then informed the tailor that his claim and
his travel orders were mailed to Washington, D.C. I also assured him that his claim would
never be processed. I ended the conversation by directing him to leave my office and
never come back! (In the years that I was in charge of travel reimbursement at Alameda,
California, he was the only sailor that was not treated courteously, efficiently and with respect.)
How did I find that piece of paper that made me an ex-sailor; a happy civilian eager to return home after four years to my new family and the first day of my new life?
A Federal Tax Return
A new executive officer reported in to CASU6 for duty after being overseas three years. Upon his return to the states, he was required by law to file federal and possibly state tax returns for those years, 1942 to 1943. I was his tax man. He offered to pay for my tax service but was refused by me. I explained that we were all in this war together and if it was in my power to help another sailor, I would! CASU6 's new executive office stated that he would reciprocate saying, "If I can be of any help, see me." The war ended August 15, 1945. If I can be of any help as promised by our new executive officer levered me to be the first enlisted man in CASU6 to be transferred to shore base Alameda Naval Air Station for final discharge and exit from the navy.
But after four years of service in the navy I should have learned in Bureaucracy No. 101 at Great Lakes Naval Training Station that nothing is easy or simple in the navy, not enlisting in, nor exiting out of the navy!
An Impromptu Tale
Now, I am an enlisted man anxiously waiting to be discharged by the navy at the Naval Air Station in Alameda, California. I am now, for the first time in my naval service, considered ship's company and not as a transient attached to the Naval Air Service. On my first day as "ship's company" sailor, I was ordered to report to the office of the executive officer. He, the executive officer, had read my personal activity file and his concern was that I did not qualify for early discharge under the established point system rules. The numbers, according to my file, indicated that I was "short" of qualifying at the present time for separation from the navy. Well, now what do I say? What can I say to this officer who had raised a "sticky point," and at this sitting, we were really two strangers evaluating each other, with a problem on hand.
I was stunned! The implications were devastating! All right say something. I thought to myself. Then I softly bleated, "It's my wife, Sir." Then my mind went blank! At this point the statement was lacking fabric. Fortunately, the officer felt sympathetic and gave me my cue by asking, "What is the problem with your wife?" After a pause, (I remembered that Peg was pregnant while we were residing in Berkely, California but she had returned to stay in Chicago in December). At the present time, September 1945, Peg and baby Kenneth were in Chicago. "The problem, Sir, is that my wife is pregnant and if I am not separated from the service almost at once it will be too late for my wife to travel in her state from California to Illinois. Also the executive officer at CASU6 had approved my request for early discharge under the same circumstances and caused my transfer to N.A.S. Alameda for that purpose. I received my discharge from the navy the next day!
THE DURATION OF THE WAR FOR ME WAS SEPTEMBER 15, 1945.
I left Oakland, California on September 16, 1945 flying home aboard a United Airlines propeller plane at a cost of one hundred dollars and arrived at Midway Airport ten hours later. My wife of three years, nine months and six days met me at the airport. Note (The war permitted Peg and I to be together from April 18th to December 18th, nine months). Now we were united until death do us part. On the way home, via automobile, I removed my navy uniform blouse, which I always disliked, because the only way to remove it from my body was by pulling it off over my head. I promptly discarded it. One happy civilian home to stay with my wife and family.
A Post War Incident
One incident of changes in life style to come. Before the war I played thirty-six holes of golf every Saturday and Sunday. As a single man I would return from the golf course, tired and hot. I would shower, rest by lying down for a while and then eat the meal my mother would prepare and serve to me. Now today, the first Saturday as a civilian, married that is, I took my clubs and played thirty-six holes of golf as always in the years up to 1942. I arrived home as before, hot, tired and thinking shower, short nap and then eat the dinner prepared for me by my new loving wife.
My wife? I was met at the front steps of our apartment by a female that I had never seen before. This person looked like my wife, Peg, mostly, but somehow the radiant smile was lacking. This person's face and body language portrayed impatience, anger and the voice was threatening. "You take this baby buggy and walk, now! I am tired of pushing this buggy. This baby will not sleep and if this baby does not sleep, the world will come to an end." I answered but to no avail. "The baby is not sleepy, because when I am sleepy, I always fall asleep, at once." I looked at this stranger confronting me. I dropped my golf clubs and left pushing the buggy and baby -just around the corner. I parked the buggy on the sidewalk, sat down on the curb placed my head cupped in my hands, my elbows on my bended knees and like I said, "When I am sleepy I go to sleep immediately and I did! By the way, did I ever play golf, thirty-six holes every Saturday and Sunday, again? Not once - not ever!
Epilogue To World War II 1941-1945
AS A PREWAR CIVILIAN
YOU ARE FREE TO MAKE CHOICES
Where to live, what to eat, what to wear.
To select your friends among peers.
To further your education.
To plan and pursue long term goals.
To be gainfully employed in the mode of work of your choosing.
To make decisions and act on them.
To wake up each morning and follow your plan for the day.
To have a right to say "No."
AS A WAR TIME SAILOR
YOU HAVE THE FREEDOM OF TAKING ORDERS AS TO:
Where to live, what to eat, what to wear.
Select friends provided by the navy.
An education provided by the navy manual.
Making no plans other than short term, day to day.
eing offered a navy system of step promotions in a restricted field.
Acting on all decisions and time of action.
Follow the navy plan for the day.
The utter waste of the best years of a lifetime involved in a process devoted to the destruction of life and property.
AND FOR THIS I LOST MY LIBERTY!
PHILOSOPHY LEARNED AT SEA
I could not but realize, if all the man-hours and money that was devoted to destruction was utilized to help mankind, what a great good world we could all be a part of.