The History of The USS Pakana - History

The History of The USS Pakana - History

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(AT-108: dp. 1,675, 1. 205'; b. 38'6", dr. 15'4", s. 16.5 k.;
cpl. 85; a. 1 3", 2 40mm.; cl. Abnaki)

Pakana (AT-108) was laid down 1 October 1942 by United Engineering Co., Alameda, Calif., Launched 3 March 1943 sponsored by Miss Louise Mary Shipp, commissioned 17 December 1943, Lt. William E. White in command, and Reclassified (ATF-108) on 15 May 1944.

After shakedown, Pakana conducted numerous towing assignments up and down the West Coast and carried out familiarization training for her crew. On 8 March 1944 she departed San Pedro, Calif., and sailed for Pearl Harbor with a tow and in company with two YW's. Enroute she spent many hours at General Quarters due to frequent submarine contacts.

Several weeks were spent at Pearl providing services for fleet units, towing targets and performing salvage operations. On 28 April Pakana sailed for Majuro accompanied by Saunter (AM-295) and Molala (ATF-106) with three fuel barges in tow. She arrived Majuro ] 1 May, whereupon she returned to Pearl. On 9 June, while proceeding to Kwajalein with a tow her tow wire parted in heavy weather. Pakana subsequent~y retrieved the tow and completed her voyage. Through June and most of July she carried out salvage operations at Kwajalein and Eniwetok, removing beached craft from the landing areas.

Upon completion of salvage operations, she was given towing assignments to Guam, back to Eniwetok, to Saipan and to Guam again, where she became engaged in additional salvage work.

From Guam, Pakana sailed 1 October for the Palau Islands encountering a typhoon enroute, which tore lose her tow. Again Pakana was forced to ride out heavy weather and watch-dog her charge until she could re-rig her wire. She arrived Ulithi 6 October, dropped the tow and headed for Pearl via Guam, to undergo alterations.

On completion of scheduled alterations, Pakana, with Deliverer (ARS-23), began salvage operations on a LST at Maui, on 25 January 1945, completing the job on 3 February. She was then assigned convoy duty through 25 March, ending up nt Okinawa on the 30th.

Okinawa proved to be hazardous as Pakana spent several days extracting LST's from the beaches while under Japanese aerial attacks. On the 6th she was called to piek up survivors of B'~sh (DD-529), sunk by Japanese planes, and to assist Wesson (DE-184), which was flooding from battle damage.

Next came salvage assignments at Kerama Retto and Hagushi. On 22 April Pakana picked up survivors of SS Canada Victory and the next day had three crewmen wounded during a strafing attack in which one of her lookouts, manning a 40mm. gun, brought down the plane. A short time later the ship's gunners bagged another plane.

On 9 May, Pakana assisted New Mexico (BB-40) in fighting fires resulting from bomb hits and then went alongside SS Bucknell Victory to supply power to the stricken vessel, remaining with her until the 18th.

Pakana'~ divers engaged in underwater operations to remove obstructions at the Hagushi anchorage in Okinawa on 1 June and later on 8 June she was directed to rendezvous with Muneee (AI`F-107), to assist her in towing the bow of Pittsburgh (CA-72), which broke off in a typhoon, to Guam. They arrived on the 20th and by the 22nd, Pakana was enroute to Leyte.

Pakana underwent repairs at Leyte, leaving 20 August. She subsequently provided services and salvage assistance at Saipan, Okinawa, Kagoshima, Sasebo, and Nago Wan.

From 20-25 January 1946' Pakana was in Tokyo in conjunetion with salvage operations following a recent typhoon. She departed on the 25th for Guam, arriving on the 30th for installation of LORAN equipment. On 20 February she began a series of shuttle runs between Saipan and Guam with various tows.

On 26 April Pakana sailed for Pearl Harbor, with tow, arriving on the 26th. She returned to San Diego and operated locally until October 1947 when she was assigned to the Pacific Reserve Fleet. She was retained for temporary duty by Service Force, Pacific Fleet until 9 December 1941, when she was ordered to San Diego for inactivation. Pakana was placed out of commission in reserve 30 April 1948 and berthed at San Diego. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 1 July 1963 transferred to the Maritime Administration, and l&id up at guisun Bay, Calif.

On 17 May 1966 she was reinstated and assigned to the Bureau of Mines for use in Alaska, where sho remains into 1970.

Pakana earned one battle star for service in World War II.

"Rescue Ships"

During World War II, large numbers of ships were constructed and put into service. Naval vessels came in many sizes and shapes, with each type performing important roles as evidenced during the Okinawa invasion. This page references but a few of the many small vessels in use by 1945. These smaller ships were often called the "Little ships". Some of these ships were known just by their hull number. Like many others in the US Navy, these "Little Ships" had big hearts and brave crews.

Below, those ships coming to the aid of the mortally wounded USS BUSH are recalled. After the USS BUSH sank at radar picket station #1, six different "Little Ships" plucked BUSH sailors from the sea. The sky was overcast, enemy planes were still in the area, and many of the BUSH survivors would be in the water for more than 9 hours. It was a dangerous task for both rescuer and those hoping to be rescued.

In addition to those ships actually picking up BUSH personnel, three destroyers from other radar picket stations came to the aid of the USS BUSH. One of them, the USS COLHOUN (DD 801) was also lost as she provided protection to the badly damaged BUSH.

Finally, four ships transporting BUSH survivors back to the States are also noted. Of the 13 ships referenced here, Japanese suicide planes and suicide boats sank one and damaged five others. Such statistics are indicative of the danger facing the fleet during the battle for Okinawa, and in particular the risks to those ships on radar picket duty.

The LCS(L)'s - Landing Craft Support (Large)
These ships were designed for a crew of 65 enlisted men and 6 officers. Built on the same hull as an LCI (Landing Craft Infantry), these ships were armed with two twin 40MM guns, four 20MM guns, 10 MK7 rocket launchers, and typically either a 3-inch gun or single 40MM gun on the bow. Their primary mission was to provide fire support as LCI's or other landing craft put troops ashore. At Okinawa, LCS(L)'s were often assigned to work with a destroyer along the radar picket line. There were 130 LCS(L)'s built during World War II, with many seeing their first action at Iwo Jima or Okinawa. These commissioned ships had no names, just unique numbers. These ships, less than 160 feet in length, were sometimes referred to as the "Mighty Midgets" or the "Mighty Mites".

The four LCS(L)'s participating in the rescue of BUSH sailors were the 24, 37, 40 and 64. The LCS(L)'s looked pretty similar. As one veteran commented, "If you've seen one, you have seen them all!"

LCS(L) 64
The LCS(L) 64 was on station with the USS BUSH when the destroyer BUSH was first struck. The 64 tied up to the BUSH to provide assistance and take off wounded. However, attacking Japanese planes required the 64 to break away before any assistance could be rendered. A bearing taken by the LCS 64 just before clearing BUSH would prove invaluable in finding BUSH sailors later that evening. Returning after dark, the 64 became the first ship to actually recover survivors. The first survivors were picked up at about 2025 (8:25 PM) on April 6, 1945, while the bulk of the men rescued by the 64 weren't found for another 2 hours. The LCS(L) 64 retrieved 89 enlisted men and 6 officers. That's a bunch of sailors considering an LCS(L)'s ship's compliment consisted of 71 sailors.

Photo thanks to:

The National Association of USS LCS(L)'s 1-130 and Leonard D Nelson

The LCS(L)'s 64 is pictured with the LCS(L)'s 86 and 87. While the LCS 64 was recovering USS BUSH sailors in the in final hours of April 6, 1945, The LCS 87 was removing the last of the USS COLHOUN officers and crew just before the COLHOUN was abandoned.

The National Association of USS LCS(L)'s 1-130

The LCS(L) 40, pictured above, arrived in the search area from radar picket station #3. Her April 6 deck logs note she left station #3 at 1810 hours. By 2245 she was in station #1 and commencing to pick up survivors, a task she continued until 0145 hours on April 7. The LCS(L) 40 rescued 55 men, plus two dead, all from the USS BUSH.

The National Association of USS LCS(L)'s 1-130

The LCS(L) 24 (above) arrived in the search area from radar picket station #4, following the destroyer BENNETT. Earlier in the day, she had recovered a Japanese aviator still alive after his plane had crashed in the water. The LCS(24) arrived in station #1 at 2237 hours and began her search for survivors. By 0056 on April 7, she had recovered 42 sailors from the USS BUSH. Ordered to retire with the survivors she had at that time, the 24's skipper (Lt. William Russell) was reluctant to leave as he felt there might be more men still alive in the water. He elected to make another search of the area and at 0153 discovered two officers adrift in the water. One of the two did not have a life jacket, and was being held up by the other. The 24 continued their search until 0330. She retired with 44 survivors of the USS BUSH and one Japanese pilot (who had been hidden in an empty 20 MM locker for his own protection).

The LCS(L) 37 being decommissioned
in late 1945 or early 1946

The LCS(L) 37 had arrived in the search area from radar picket station #3 at 2125 hours. The 37 would remain in the search area all night, until 0920 the next morning. The LCS(L) 37 rescued two BUSH sailors during the night, and recovered 7 bodies, the last body being recovered at 0825. Twenty days later, the 37 was damaged by a Japanese suicide boat and forced to the Philippines for repair. Fortunately, none of the 37's crew were seriously hurt by the suicide boat.

The PAKANA was an ocean going tug. Such Fleet Tugs were especially useful during an amphibious operation. The PAKANA's job was to get the Landing craft off the beach as soon as their troops or supplies landed, thus making space for more landing craft. Landing craft didn't always have the best of current conditions for leaving the beach, so tugs like the PAKANA were ordered to provide the extra pulling power. It has been said the PAKANA was designed to generate enough power to tow a battleship at 3 knots in calm seas. She was 205 feet long, with a crew of about 100. Armament is thought to have included one 3-inch open mount gun, two single barrel 40MM guns, two single barrel 20MM guns, and two depth charge racks.
At Okinawa, the PAKANA found herself helping with salvage and rescue of ships damaged along the radar picket line. On April 6, 1945, she had anchored near Sunabe Beach, Okinawa after some early morning salvage work involving miscellaneous small landing craft. At 1828 that evening, she was dispatched to assist the USS BUSH and USS COLHOUN. By 2310, the PAKANA's deck log notes she was "maneuvering and picking up survivors in accordance with verbal orders of USS CASSIN YOUNG (DD 793)". At 0040 on April 7, 1945, her motor whaleboats were placed in the water to facilitate rescues. By 0215 the PAKANA had recovered 34 USS BUSH sailors, though three of these men were pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

PCER 855
"PCER" means Patrol Craft Escort Rescue, a title to which the PCER 855 lived up. Commissioned November 1, 1944, the battle for Okinawa was her first action. Just under 185 feet in length, this ship carried 110 sailors. She had one 3-inch gun, two 40MM anti-aircraft guns, six 20MM guns, two depth charge racks, and 3 K-guns (300 lb. depth charges that could be fired away from the ship with this device).
On April 6, 1945, the PCER 855 was dispatched at 1823 to assist the USS BUSH. The site of the BUSH sinking was 51 miles away when the orders to assist were received. After arriving in the search area, the 855 would remain there all night. At 0146 her deck log notes she stopped to pick up a group of survivors. By 0205 hours she had recovered 17 BUSH sailors clinging to two rafts. Three of these men were wounded, one being a stretcher case with burns to his hands and face. The PCER 855 would spend 82 days on the Okinawa picket line. Several years after World War II, this ship would be christened the USS REXBURG.

The Destroyers - All of the Fletcher Class, like the USS BUSH

The COLHOUN was assigned to radar picket station #2 on April 6, 1945. When the USS BUSH call for help was received, the USS COLHOUN sped to picket station #1. Bringing her guns to bear on the enemy, she placed herself between the attacking planes and the damaged BUSH. BUSH was dead in the water, and could only fire her two forward twin 40MM's and some of her 20MM's anti-aircraft guns). COLHOUN downed three of the attacking planes. It was not long before COLHOUN was struck. Though power was retained, emergency steering was necessary. COLHOUN splashed two more attackers, and was struck by a second bomb carrying suicide plane. The second strike broke COLHOUN's keel and opened up a 20' by 4' hole below the waterline. Still COLHOUN battled back, splashing another attacker before a third suicide plane struck. The fourth, and last kamikaze to strike COLHOUN crashed into the bridge. Most of her crew was taken off by a nearby LCS(L), but the damage was great. Later that evening, just before midnight, she was completely abandoned and sunk by gunfire from the USS CASSIN YOUNG. Thirty-two of COLHOUN's crew perished in the attack, and two more died later from injuries. An additional 21 men were wounded.

The CASSIN YOUNG had been on radar picket station #3 when the heavy raids began. CASSIN YOUNG helped direct and protect some of the Little Ships assisting BUSH and COLHOUN. She performed well along the picket line. Six days after the BUSH and COLHOUN sinking, DD-793 was under heavy attack when a kamikaze exploded 50 feet from the ship, crashing high into her foremast. The blast killed one man, and injured one other. On July 29, 1945, she was struck amidships on the starboard side by a suicide plane that killing 22 of her sailors and injuring 45 others. She recovered, and survived. CASSIN YOUNG received the Navy Unit Commendation for her fine efforts on the radar picket line at Okinawa.

Today, the USS CASSIN YOUNG is a living museum. She can be seen and toured at the Boston National Historical Park, Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston, Massachusetts.

The BENNETT was on station at radar picket station #4. She survived attacks on April 6th without casualty. After the BUSH was struck, she too operated in radar picket station #1 providing assistance with the COLHOUN and BUSH rescue efforts. The next morning, at 0750 she was struck by a suicide plane killing three of her crew and wounding 18 others. Here engine room was badly damaged and all electrical power was knocked out. She retired to Kerama Retto under her own power. After emergency repairs in Saipan, she returned to the States for further repair work lasting into August 1945.

Were you, or someone you know, aboard one of the above ships when the BUSH and COLHOUN were lost? If so, we would appreciate hearing from you!

World War II Pacific operations Edit

Quapaw steamed for San Francisco after shakedown out of San Pedro and San Diego, California, through 16 June. She departed San Francisco 21 June 1944, en route to the Admiralty Islands. After calling at Honolulu, where she delivered an Army barge, a dump scow, and a derrick, she steamed 12 July via the Ellice Islands and Milne Bay, New Guinea, arriving Manus, Admiralty Islands 14 August.

Following several harbor tow assignments, she departed 17 August with a deck cargo of 7,500 bbls. of aviation gasoline and 49 motor torpedo boat engines, and with a gasoline barge in tow. These she delivered to Mios Woendi Lagoon, whence she steamed to Maffin Bay where she received orders to stand by in preparation for the landings on Morotai Island.

With a convoy of liberty ships, minesweepers, and landing craft, together with screening destroyers, Quapaw entered Morotai Harbor the morning of 16 September 1944. She remained through 1 October, primarily engaged in retracting LSTs from the beach of Pitoe Bay.

Supporting Leyte Gulf operations Edit

From 20 October 1944 through 1 January 1945, Quapaw was operating in San Pedro Bay in support of the Leyte operation. Her assignments entailed salvage, firefighting, and towing operations.

On 6 December 1944, Quapaw stood by Liberty ship SS Antoine Saugrain after that ship had been torpedoed the previous day. [1]

Landings were made at Lingayen 9 January 1945 and Quapaw was assigned patrol of both attack areas to render all necessary assistance. She retracted landing ships, made repairs and conducted towing operations until 21 February. She then steamed to Mindoro. She departed Mangarin Bay 26 February as a unit of Admiral W. M. Fechteler's task group TG 78.2, en route to Puerto Princesa, Palawan, for initial assaults against that island. En route, Quapaw took LCI-683 in tow when the latter was unable to maintain convoy speed. The landing forces went ashore 28 February and Quapaw retracted landing craft from the beaches east of Puerto Princesa and in the vicinity of the city jetty. She returned to Mangarin Bay, 5 March.

From 8 through 25 March Quapaw participated in salvage and demolition work, and assisted in clearing harbor wreckage, with intervening repair and tow missions at Zamboanga, Mindanao, Philippines. Further salvage, tow, and repair missions preceded overhaul at Hollandia, New Guinea, commencing 29 May. The tug departed 25 June for Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, from where she steamed 6 July with one section of a battleship drydock in tow for Samar, Philippines. With the end of hostilities she continued towing services between various ports of the Philippines, with frequent service to Manus and back through 28 April 1946.

Return to Stateside Edit

Quapaw departed Subic Bay for the United States 16 June 1946, arriving San Francisco, California. 14 July. After overhaul at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, the tug continued coastal and trans-Pacific towing operations until 21 December 1947.

She was placed in an inactive status at San Francisco until 30 April 1948 when she was placed out of commission, in reserve.

Korean War Edit

Quapaw recommissioned 5 December 1950 at Alameda, California., Lt. Fleming M. Christian in command. After refresher training out of San Diego through January 1951, she steamed via Bremerton, Washington, with a barracks ship in tow for Pearl Harbor. Arriving 14 February 1951, she commenced operations under Commander Service Force, Pacific.

The fleet tug provided services at Inchon, Korea 30 April – 17 July 1951, and at Wonsan 19 July – 3 August. Towing services at Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan were interrupted by patrol duty at Wonsan, Korea 26 October – 20 November 1952, and by operation in the areas of Cho Do and Taechong Do, Korea 17 January – 14 February 1953. Quapaw also conducted patrols in Korean waters in March and April 1953.

Vietnam War and beyond Edit

As of 1970, Quapaw continued to provide services to the Fleet out of her homeport of Pearl Harbor. Annual WestPac deployments were interspersed with assignments throughout mid-Pacific areas, as well as by occasional duty as search and rescue vessel out of Adak, Alaska.

During the 1980s until her decommissioning in 1985, Quapaw was home ported at the Port Hueneme Naval CBC in Port Hueneme, California providing salvage, rescue and towing services.

Some post-Vietnam operations/achievements included:

Towing of the USS New Jersey (BB-62) from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to Long Beach Naval Shipyard prior to her final recommissioning in 1982.

Provided tow escort and support for the towing of USS Missouri (BB-63) from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard to Long Beach Naval Shipyard prior to her final recommissioning in 1984.

Towing of the USS Nautilus (SSN-571) from Mare Island Naval Shipyard to the Panama Canal where the Nautilus was picked up by another tug to be brought to Groton, CT in 1984–85. This set a record for the longest open-ocean tow of a submarine. [ citation needed ]

USS Quapaw was the first US Navy afloat command to have a female Executive Officer (LTJG Susan Cowan). 1985. [ citation needed ]

Following Congressional approval in 1996 for transfer to the Northeast Wisconsin Railroad Transportation Commission, she was handed over on 29 December 1997 to the Ontonagon County Economic Development Corporation on behalf of the Escanaba and Lake Superior Railroad, along with five other obsolete sister tugs. [2] They were intended for a new trans-Lake Superior freightcar barge service between Ontonagon and Thunder Bay, Ontario, [3] though it has been suggested that the company sought the tug's four General Motors engines (24 in all) to use in their locomotives. [4] The project was abandoned in October 1999, shortly before title would have passed to the railroad company. [3] Quapaw remained in lay-up between 1997 and 1999.

On 11 December 2011, Quapaw (having been renamed Tiger after being sold to a private interest) sank pierside while being prepared for transfer to a salvage yard for scrapping. [5]

Quapaw received four battle stars for World War II service, five for the Korean War, and seven for the Vietnam War.

In 2006, Quapaw figured in a widely circulated chain e-mail that claimed that a sailor stationed aboard had snapped pictures of the Attack on Pearl Harbor on a Kodak Brownie camera, which remained undiscovered until very recently. In addition to the fact that Quapaw was not launched for another 18 months, the pictures typically circulated with the e-mail were taken from several different locations – and unlikely to have been taken by one individual. Most are well known archival photos from the attack, and all had been previously published. [6]

An anchor from the USS Quapaw is displayed in a tribal museum in Quapaw, Okla. [7] It is the only part of Quapaw that was preserved by a member of USS Quapaw Association after the ship was dismantled in 2012. [7]

A Short Biography

After participating in nearly every stepping-stone assault since the New Guinea landings of early 1944, the USS BUSH met her end during the final campaign of the war when three Jap Suicide planes crashed into her sides as she stood picket duty ahead of the Okinawa invasion forces.

The veteran Pacific fighter put up a gallant struggle to survive as her crew warded off further attacks and patched up damage to keep her afloat after the first hit. But their courageous fight ended when two other kamikazes, driving through dwindling AA fire, crashed into her hull.

After leaving Leyte on March 27, 1945, the BUSH steamed to her first stint of duty on Number 1, a Picket Station which was located 51 miles north of Okinawa. On April 2, the USS PRITCHETT (DD561) reported to relieve her and the BUSH proceeded to Kerama Retto for fuel. On the next day, word was received thit the PRITCHETT had been seriously damaged by a suicide plane and the BUSH, after only a few hours rest, was ordered back on station.

From April 3 to 5, the Japs gave the destroyer a busy time. However, she repelled the planes that decided to attack and warned the task force of others evidently out after bigger game. Her luck ended on April 6. During the early hours of that day, the BUSH took four different targets under fire, shooting down one, but by midday, the attacks appeared in increasing numbers.

Shortly after 3 o'clock that afternoon, just when the third raid in a half hour was driven off, a lone Jap fighter with Suicide written in his approach came streaking in about 30 feet above the water. In spite of his roller coaster tactics, the Jap was hit constantly, but not even the accurate fire could deter him from his purpose. The Kamikaze crashed with a terrific explosion at deck level on the starboard side between number 1 and 2 stacks. His torpedo or bomb exploded in the forward engine room with such force that a 6-foot section of engine room blower, weighing about 4,000 Pounds, was blown into the air high enough to knock off the radar antenna and land on the port wing of the bridge.

Fires were put out by damage control crews and watertight integrity was preserved sufficiently to keep the vessel afloat. The USS COLHOUN (DD801) came in from a nearby picket station to offer assistance however, at 5 o'clock a flight of 10 to 15 Jap planes interrupted the battle to keep the BUSH afloat. The Colhoun was hit immediately and the BUSH received her second blow 25 minutes later. This smash nearly cut her in two. At 5:45 p.m., the third and final Kamikaze smashed her further by driving into her blazing decks.

Four LCS's and the USS Pakana (ATF 108) and USS PCE (R) 855 searched the area for survivors, rescuing a total of 246 men by daybreak. Eighty-seven officers and men were killed and 42 wounded in the action.

About 6 months after commissioning, the BUSH started the first of her long series of assaults on the enemy. Her initial job came on the night of January 25-26, 1944, when she shelled a personnel area on the peninsula seaward of Hadang Harbor, Alexishafen area, New Guinea.

Following in quick succession came fire support missions in the landings on Los Negros, in the Admiralty Island Group Morotai, New Guinea and Leyte, Philippines.

The Leyte mission marked the start of trouble for the BUSH. While operating, in the screen of the USS Nashville (CL 43), the destroyer experienced the start of the Nip last-ditch plane attacks. She shot down one plane off Leyte but by the time the Philippines operation had ended she destroyed many more.

On November 1, 1944, while maintaining an antisubmarine screen in Surigao Strait, she withstood a two hour air attack in which four torpedoes and two bombs were dropped near her, none of them accurate enough to cause damage. In retaliation, the BUSH sent two Nip planes into the sea.

While screening unloading supply echelons at Ormoc Bay, on December 9 * , the BUSH took the opportunity to bombard enemy lines near Camp Downes. Three days later, the destroyer escorted a slow tow resupply group to Mindoro from Leyte. Two planes were shot down by ships in convoy and nine others were brought down by CAP planes. One of the planes was splashed as a direct result of the BUSH's fire.

Leading another resupply group to Mindoro, the BUSH's fire fought off plane attacks during the entire run from Leyte. One day out of Leyte, December 28, two merchantmen and an LST were sunk by suicide planes. The arrival in Mindoro offered no peace for Jap planes kept on sweeping in, plummeting into any available target. Four other ships were damaged while at Mindoro. The trip back to Leyte was equally harassing but enemy damage was kept to a minimum due to added aid from the CAP. During this short run, the ships of the convoy sent 16 planes into the sea, two of which went down after being hit by the BUSH gunners.

The beginning of 1945 brought no rest for the veteran destroyer. January 4 to 9 the BUSH screened the amphibious assault in Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands, and then remained in the area to patrol the Gulf entrance against submarines. On the 9th, an enemy suicide plane crashed through anti-aircraft fire and appeared headed for her stern but missed and crashed into the sea 25 feet off the fantall. During the next day, another Jap attempted to succeed in the task where his late comrade failed, but his luck was even worse. The Jap was never able to pull himself out of his initial dive, he dove headlong into the sea with the BUSH's anti-aircraft fire following him from the peak of his dive to the final splash.

This marked the second straight time that the BUSH was singled out of a group of destroyers as the object of a suicide attack. The next day, ** her crew got busy repainting her sides to conform with the colors worn by the other "tin cans".

During the remainder of January, the BUSH set a trio of Jap luggers aflame as she swept the northeast corner of San Fernando Harbor for Nip shipping. After bombarding the western part of Rosario and starting four large fires there, the BUSH retired to prepare for the Iwo Jima landings.

The assault on Iwo started February 19 and lasted until March 6. During this time, the BUSH was employed as an inner and outer transport area screening ship and had several opportunities to train her guns at Jap installations in support of the American land advance. This was her final mission prior to the fatal Okinawa operation.

Built by the Bethlehem Steel Company, San Francisco, California, the BUSH was commissioned on May 10, 1943. *** Commander Wallis F. Peterson, USN, was the ship's first commanding officer.

The second ship to bear the name BUSH, the DD-529 was christened by Miss Marion Jackson Allston, Massachusetts, great, great grandniece of the vessel's namesake, First Lieutenant William S. Bush, a Marine Corps officer who lost his life on board the USS Constitution during the war of 1812.

For its action against enemy forces, the USS BUSH (DD 529) is entitled to the following battle stars:

1 Star/Bismark Archipelago Operation
Cape Glouchester, New Britain, 26 December 1943 - 1 March 1944
Admiralty Island Landings, 29 February - 17 April 1944

1 Star/Eastern New Guinea Operation
Saidor Occupation, 2 January - 1 March 1944

1 Star/Western New Guinea Operation
Morotai Landings, 11 September 1944 - 9 January 1945

1 Star/Leyte Operation
Leyte Landings, 10 October - 29 November 1944

1 Star/Luzon Operation
Mindoro Landings, 12-18 December, 1944
Lingayen Gulf Landing, 4-18 January 1945

1 Star/Iwo Jima Operation
Assault and Occupation of Iwo Jima, 15 February - 16 March 1945

1 Star/Okinawa Gunto Operation
Assault and Occupation of Okinawa Gunto, 24 March - 30 June 1945 ****

The BUSH measured 377 feet in length, 39 feet in beam. A Fletcher type destroyer, the ship was credited with a top speed in excess of 35 knots and was armed with five 5"/38 caliber guns and 10 21-inch quintuple torpedo tubes. Editor's Notes

* The original write up provided to the editor showed a date of November 9. The editor has corrected the date to December 9 in accordance with the ship's deck logs.
** While the painting did occur, it is doubtful it happenned the very next day as the BUSH continued active patrol in the Lingayen Gulf area for another two weeks or so. More likely, the new paint was applied while at anchor in San Pedro Bay, Leyte, Philippines beginning January 23, 1944. This later date would be consistent with the recollections of the BUSH's Deck Division officer, Lt.(jg) E. E. Sechrist.
*** The original write up (obtained through BUSH reunion material) reflected a commissioning date of June 10 1943. The editor has corrected the date to May 10, 1943 in accordance with deck logs and other sources of information.
**** The original write up (obtained through BUSH reunion material) reflected a completion date of 30 January 1945 for the Okinawa campaign. This is an obvious error and the editor "guessed" that the intended date was 30 June 1945.

One last editor's note. After her shakedown cruises and exercises, the BUSH spent late 1943 patrolling Alaskan waters near Adak, Alaska. BUSH departed from the Aleutians Islands near the end of November 1943.

The History of The USS Pakana - History

Greetings! This month's edition of "Dispatches" contains a large assortment of stories from many eras. "Reporting on the War" covers Ernie Pyle's service and sacrifice during WWII. "Free State of Jones" tells the story of the residents of Jones County, MS during the Civil War. Our Profile in Courage focuses on Col James Kasler of the United States Air Force during the Korean War. I hope you enjoy them.

1/ Reporting the War
2/ Free State of Jones
3/ Military Myths and Legends: The Ship That Wouldn't Die
4/ Battlefield Chronicles: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu
5/ Profile in Courage: Col James Kasler
6/ Heroic Huey Pilot to Receive Medal of Honor
7/ TWS: Meet Our Admin Team
8/ TWS Bulletin Board
9/ Letters to the Editor
10/ Book and DVD Review:

Please send any comments or member-written articles to [email protected] . Bulletin Board Posts and Reunion Announcements to [email protected] .

LtCol Mike Christy, US Army (Ret)

Reporting on the War

Seventy-four years ago, the events of World War II were the daily concern of everyone in the United States. Hundreds of correspondents, photographers and field artists braved enemy fire, slept in foxholes and suffered bitter cold and unbearable heat in their effort to chronicle events on the war. Some became prisoners of war, a few were killed.

With a pantheon of talent including Edward R. Murrow, Ernest Hemingway, Joe Rosenthal, Robert Capa and Bill Mauldin reporting news of World War II, reporting the war surpassed all previous war coverage. For the first time, new technologies enabled almost instantaneous transmission to a waiting audience back home. Radio listeners heard the voice of Edward R. Murrow, speaking from a London rooftop during a German air raid, and newspapers ran stories and pictures from battles in the Pacific and European theaters, sometimes only hours after the reporters witnessed the scenes. And for the first time women covered the war, earning the respect of their male colleagues for insightful, accurate coverage.

As many reporters covered battles won and lost, the greatest number of articles being printed in the United States were human-interest pieces, most popularized by Ernie Pyle, a reporter/war-correspondent who focused on individual soldiers' stories, using full names and hometowns to humanize those fighting. These articles did not attempt to valorize the soldiers but rather show them as people with hopes, fears, and quirks which he felt accurately represented what was happening on the front.

This was an important distinction from official dispatches issued by the White House and other governmental agencies which were vague, often only listing names of battles, the outcome, and information regarding casualties.

Ernest Taylor Pyle was born on Aug. 3, 1900, on the Sam Elder farm, located south and west of Dana, Indiana, where his father was then tenant farming. Pyle, the only child of Will and Maria Pyle, disliked farming, once noting that "anything was better than looking at the south end of a horse going north." After his high school graduation, Pyle - caught up in the patriotic fever sweeping the nation upon America's entry into World War I - enlisted in the Naval Reserve. Before he could complete his training, however, an armistice was declared in Europe.

In 1919, Pyle enrolled at Indiana University in Bloomington with no particular vocational ambition. All he knew was that he heartily disliked the rigors of working his family's farm, and anything else had to be better. Learning from a friend that journalism courses were a cinch, he enrolled in the university's journalism curriculum as a means to escape the plow. He ended up enjoying his classes, but just short of finishing his journalism degree in 1923, he left the university to accept a reporter's job at the La Porte Herald.

His stay in La Porte was short. Within six months, a connection from his university days helped him get a job in Washington D.C. with the Washington Daily News. From there he went on to short stints with two newspapers in New York, and by 1928 he was back at the Washington Daily News as a copy editor.

In Washington, he met Geraldine "Jerry" Siebolds, and they married on July 25, 1925. "Jerry" suffered from intermittent bouts of mental illness and alcoholism, resulting in a rocky and tempestuous marriage. The next year, Pyle quit his job, and they criss-crossed the country for two years, covering over 9,000 miles. In 1928 he returned to The Washington Daily News, and for the following four years he served as the country's first and best-known aviation columnist.

In 1932 Pyle once again became managing editor of The Washington Daily News. Two years later he took an extended vacation in California to recuperate from a severe bout of flu. Upon his return, to fill in for the paper's vacationing syndicated columnist Heywood Broun, he wrote a series of 11 columns about his stay in California and the people he had met there.

The series proved unexpectedly popular with both readers and colleagues. G.B. Parker, editor-in-chief of the Scripps-Howard newspaper chain, said he had found in Pyle's vacation articles that "They had a sort of Mark Twain quality and they knocked my eyes right out". On August 2, 1935, the day before his thirty-fifth birthday, he and Jerry started an epic journey of five years, during which they crossed the continent twenty times, touched down at least three times in every state, and visited every country but two in the Western Hemisphere. "We have worn out two cars, five sets of tires, three typewriters, and pretty soon I'm going to have to have a new pair of shoes" he later wrote. He filed something like 2.5 million words. The results were immensely popular and breezily chatty vignettes about his encounters with sheepherders and lumberjacks, celebrities, farmers, and hotel bell hops.

With the advent of World War II, Pyle's fortunes began moving upward, first by inches and then by quantum leaps. Initially, he had been too preoccupied with his nomadic pursuits of local color to pay much heed in the late 1930s as Hitler's aggressive grab for lebensraum (additional territory considered necessary for national survival) moved Europe toward a continent-wide conflict. But the German invasion of Poland in September 1939 suddenly changed all that. Pyle's ambition became that of being a war correspondent. However it wasn't until late 1940 that he finally arrived in England to begin his career as a wartime columnist.

There Pyle experienced his first significant taste of success with his accounts of the devastating effects of the Luftwaffe's relentless bombing raids on Great Britain's citizens during "The Blitz". Witnessing a German fire-bombing raid on London, he wrote that it was "the most hateful, most beautiful single scene I have ever known." A book of his experiences during this time, "Ernie Pyle in England," was published in 1941. However gratifying all this might have been for Pyle, the most impressive chapter in the story of his rise did not really begin to unfold until he and other members of the wartime press landed with American troops in North Africa in November 1942.

As his daily columns on Allied operations in Africa started finding their way into print back in the United States, Pyle's reputation soared like a meteor. Almost overnight he became the most talked about, sought after, and revered member of his profession. The veteran Colliers reporter, Quinton Reynolds, called him "unquestionably the greatest correspondent in Africa." An editor for the Indianapolis times declared his column "the hottest feature we've got," and an assistant editor whose paper did not have the good fortune to be carrying his column confessed to Pyle, "I wish to God I had you".

But perhaps the most singular manifestation of Pyle's escalating fame was the ordinary soldier's curiosity about him. The question most commonly asked by enlisted men at the front, whenever they encountered members of the press, was, "Do you know Ernie Pyle?".

Pyle interrupted his reporting several times during the war with leaves to return home to care for his wife while they were still married. After his return to the United States for a vacation, he wrote to his college roommate, Paige Cavanaugh: "Geraldine was drunk the afternoon I got home. From there she went on down. Went completely screwball. One night she tried the gas. Had to have a doctor." The two were divorced on April 14, 1942. They remarried by proxy while Pyle was in Africa on March 10, 1943.

After Africa, Pyle went on to cover the Allied invasion of Sicily and Italy and in mid-1944 was with American forces as they established a foothold on the beaches of Normandy and began the march toward Paris to drive the Germans from France. With each change of venue his reputation seemed to wax only more. By early 1945, having won a Pulitzer Prize the previous year, this one-time travel columnist, who had once had trouble interesting newspapers in his work, was being carried in nearly 400 American dailies plus nearly 300 weekly publications.

The explanation for Pyle's success as a war correspondent contained several elements. He had a low-key and self-effacing manner of dealing with people that enabled him to elicit the makings of a story, where a more aggressive approach might have failed. He also instinctively knew how to spot a story's potential in situations which most journalists would have dismissed as too trivial to deal with. An equally important ingredient to the success of Pyle's columns was what he once called their "worm's-eye view of the war".

Also contributing to his popularity was the matter-of-fact and sometimes beguiling simplicity of his journalistic style, which imbued his words with a remarkably graphic sense of the horror and waste of the war, without engaging in histrionics or being maudlin. This is not to say that his columns did not on occasion draw tears.

Although Pyle's columns covered almost every branch of the service - from quartermaster troops to pilots - he saved his highest praise and devotion for the common foot soldier. "I love the infantry because they are the underdogs," he wrote. "They are the mud-rain-frost-and-wind boys. They have no comforts, and they even learn to live without the necessities. And in the end they are the guys that wars can't be won without."

Noble Prize-winning author John Steinbeck, a Pyle friend, perhaps summed up the reporter's work best when he told a Time magazine reporter: "There are really two wars and they haven't much to do with each other. There is the war of maps and logistics, of campaigns, of ballistics, armies, divisions and regiments - and that is General George Marshall's war.

"Then there is the war of the homesick, weary, funny, violent, common men who wash their socks in their helmets, complain about the food, whistle at the Arab girls, or any girls for that matter, and bring themselves through as dirty a business as the world has ever seen and do it with humor and dignity and courage - and that is Ernie Pyle's war."

Despite the warmth he felt for the average G.I., Pyle had no illusions about the dangers involved with his job. He once wrote a friend that he tried "not to take any foolish chances, but there's just no way to play it completely safe and still do your job."

Returning to the United States in the late summer of 1944 after witnessing the liberation of Paris, Pyle knew this much-needed respite from the war, however much he wished otherwise, must be only temporary. By early the next year, having succumbed to the Navy's urging, he agreed to cover operations in the Pacific. "I'm going simply because there is a war on and I am part of it," he wrote.

By the time he accompanied a group of Marines on their landing at Okinawa early in April 1945, he was beginning to take a decidedly more optimistic view of his work. Even the premonition of his own death begin to fade, and shortly after his Okinawa sorties he observed in a letter, "I feel now that at last I have a pretty good chance of coming through the war alive." Then on April 17, 1945 he arrived on the recently occupied island of Ie Shima and the next day set out with some soldiers in a Jeep to survey the terrain, which still contained pockets of Japanese resistance. Suddenly, the party encountered a Japanese machine gun, and its withering fire quickly drove them to dive into a ditch. Pyle briefly lifted his head from the ditch to look, and seconds later an enemy bullet entered his left temple just under his helmet, killing him instantly.

Pyle was buried with his helmet on, among other battle casualties, with an infantry private on one side and a combat engineer on the other. The men of the Army unit he was covering erected a monument, which still stands, at the site of his death. Its inscription reads, "At this spot the 77th Infantry Division lost a buddy. Ernie Pyle, 18 April 1945."

Eleanor Roosevelt, who frequently quoted Pyle's war dispatches in her newspaper column, My Day, paid tribute to him there the following day: "I shall never forget how much I enjoyed meeting him here in the White House last year," she wrote, "and how much I admired this frail and modest man who could endure hardships because he loved his job and our men."

Though newspapers reported that Geraldine "took the news bravely," her health declined rapidly in the months following Pyle's death. She died on November 23, 1945.

The infantrymen who received Pyle's body after his death found in his pockets a draft of a column he intended to release when the war in Europe ended. In that column, Pyle wrote that he would not soon forget "the unnatural sight of cold dead men scattered over the hillsides and in the ditches along the high rows of hedge throughout the world.

"Dead men by mass production - in one country after another - month after month and year after year. Dead men in winter and dead men in summer."

"Dead men in such familiar promiscuity that they become monotonous."

"Dead men in such monstrous infinity that you come almost to hate them."

After the war Pyle's remains were re-interred at the Army cemetery on Okinawa, and later at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu. In 1983 he was awarded the Purple Heart - a rare honor for a civilian - by the 77th Division's successor unit, the 77th Army Reserve Command.

In 1947 - after the war that brought Pyle such fame and adulation, and two years following his death - his editor, friend, and fellow Hoosier, Lee G. Miller, culled selected columns from Pyle's 5-year journey throughout the Americas with his wife Jerry, and stitched them together into a book titled "Home Country," a posthumous contribution to a familiar and persistent genre of American nonfiction: the road book. It became his final legacy, but not his most lasting one.

Grown men have been known to cry while reading Pyle's most widely-reprinted and famous column, "The Death of Captain Waskow," which related the passing of a beloved officer and its impact on his men. This column moved a nation, and was recreated in the widely-acclaimed movie about Pyle's epic WWII passage through the European theater, called "The Story of G.I. Joe," starring Burgess Meredith, and premiering just 2 months to the day after Pyle was killed in action. Robert Mitchum played Waskow.

In his documentary film, "The Battle of San Pietro," John Huston depicted the action in which Capt. Henry T. Waskow died on December 14, 1943.

The editors of the Washington Daily News devoted their entire front page to the memorializing of Waskow on Jan. 10, 1944. Below is the complete article.

AT THE FRONT LINES IN ITALY, January 10, 1944 - In this war I have known a lot of officers who were loved and respected by the soldiers under them. But never have I crossed the trail of any man as beloved as Capt. Henry T. Waskow of Belton, Texas.

Capt. Waskow was a company commander in the 36th Division. He had led his company since long before it left the States. He was very young, only in his middle twenties, but he carried in him a sincerity and gentleness that made people want to be guided by him.

"After my own father, he came next," a sergeant told me.

"He always looked after us," a soldier said. "He'd go to bat for us every time."

"I've never knowed him to do anything unfair," another one said.

I was at the foot of the mule trail the night they brought Capt. Waskow's body down. The moon was nearly full at the time, and you could see far up the trail, and even part way across the valley below. Soldiers made shadows in the moonlight as they walked.

Dead men had been coming down the mountain all evening, lashed onto the backs of mules. They came lying belly-down across the wooden pack-saddles, their heads hanging down on the left side of the mule, their stiffened legs sticking out awkwardly from the other side, bobbing up and down as the mule walked.

The Italian mule-skinners were afraid to walk beside dead men, so Americans had to lead the mules down that night. Even the Americans were reluctant to unlash and lift off the bodies at the bottom, so an officer had to do it himself, and ask others to help.

The first one came early in the morning. They slid him down from the mule and stood him on his feet for a moment, while they got a new grip. In the half-light he might have been merely a sick man standing there, leaning on the others. Then they laid him on the ground in the shadow of the low stone wall alongside the road.

I don't know who that first one was. You feel small in the presence of dead men, and ashamed at being alive, and you don't ask silly questions.

We left him there beside the road, that first one, and we all went back into the cowshed and sat on water cans or lay on the straw, waiting for the next batch of mules.

Somebody said the dead soldier had been dead for four days, and then nobody said anything more about it. We talked soldier talk for an hour or more. The dead man lay all alone outside in the shadow of the low stone wall.

Then a soldier came into the cowshed and said there were some more bodies outside. We went out into the road. Four mules stood there, in the moonlight, in the road where the trail came down off the mountain. The soldiers who led them stood there waiting. "This one is Captain Waskow," one of them said quietly.

Two men unlashed his body from the mule and lifted it off and laid it in the shadow beside the low stone wall. Other men took the other bodies off. Finally there were five lying end to end in a long row, alongside the road. You don't cover up dead men in the combat zone. They just lie there in the shadows until somebody else comes after them.

The unburdened mules moved off to their olive orchard. The men in the road seemed reluctant to leave. They stood around, and gradually one by one I could sense them moving close to Capt. Waskow's body. Not so much to look, I think, as to say something in finality to him, and to themselves. I stood close by and I could hear.

One soldier came and looked down, and he said out loud, "God damn it." That's all he said, and then he walked away. Another one came. He said, "God damn it to hell anyway." He looked down for a few last moments, and then he turned and left.

Another man came I think he was an officer. It was hard to tell officers from men in the half light, for all were bearded and grimy dirty. The man looked down into the dead captain's face, and then he spoke directly to him, as though he were alive. He said: "I'm sorry, old man."

Then a soldier came and stood beside the officer, and bent over, and he too spoke to his dead captain, not in a whisper but awfully tenderly, and he said:

Then the first man squatted down, and he reached down and took the dead hand, and he sat there for a full five minutes, holding the dead hand in his own and looking int ently into the dead face, and he never uttered a sound all the time he sat there.

And finally he put the hand down, and then reached up and gently straightened the points of the captain's shirt collar, and then he sort of rearranged the tattered edges of his uniform around the wound. And then he got up and walked away down the road in the moonlight, all alone.

After that the rest of us went back into the cowshed, leaving the five dead men lying in a line, end to end, in the shadow of the low stone wall. We lay down on the straw in the cowshed, and pretty soon we were all asleep.

Free State of Jones

"Free State of Jones," released into theaters on June 24, 2016, tells the real-life story of defiant Southern farmer, Newton Knight and his extraordinary armed rebellion against the Confederacy. Banding together with other small farmers and local slaves, Knight launched an uprising that led Jones County, Mississippi to secede from the Confederacy. Knight continued his struggle into Reconstruction, distinguishing him as a compelling, if controversial, figure of defiance long beyond the War.

Knight is excitingly portrayed by actor Matthew McConaughey. His first wife, Serena, is played by Keri Russell and Gugu Mbatha-Raw as his Negro wife Rachel. Several photographs from the movie appear in this presentation.

Newton Knight was born in November 1837, near the Leaf River in Jones County, Mississippi, a region romantically described in 1841 by the historian J.F.H. Claiborne as a "land of milk and honey." The landscape was dominated by virgin longleaf pines. Wolves and panthers still roamed the land. He married Serena Turner in 1858, and the two established a small farm just across the county line in Jasper County.

Knight, an American farmer, soldier and southern Unionist, was best known as the leader of the Knight Company, a band of Confederate army deserters that turned against the Confederacy during the Civil War. Local legends state that Knight and his men attempted to form the "Free State of Jones" in the area around Jones County, Mississippi, at the height of the war, though the exact nature of the Knight Company's opposition to the Confederate government is disputed. After the war, Knight aided Mississippi's Reconstruction government.

Knight has long been a controversial figure. Historians and descendants disagree over his motives and actions, with some arguing he was a noble and pious individual who refused to fight for a cause in which he did not believe, while others have portrayed him as a manipulative outlaw. This controversy was fueled in part by Knight's postwar marriage to a freed slave, which effectively established a small mixed-race community in southeastern Mississippi. The marriage would have been considered illegal as Mississippi banned interracial marriages except from 1870 to 1880 during the Reconstruction era.

Newton was a grandson of John "Jackie" Knight (1773-1861), one of Jones County's largest slaveholders. Newton's father, Albert (1799-1862), however, did not own any slaves, and was the only child of Jackie Knight who did not inherit any slaves. Newton, likewise, did not own any slaves. Some say he was morally opposed to the institution due to his Primitive Baptist beliefs. As a staunch Primitive Baptist, Newton also forswore alcohol, unlike his father and grandfather. He was probably taught to read and write by his mother.

Knight, like many Jones Countians, was opposed to secession. The county elected John H. Powell, the "cooperation" (anti-secession) candidate, to represent them at Mississippi's secession convention in January 1861. Powell voted against secession on the first ballot, but under pressure, switched his vote on the second ballot, joining the majority in voting to secede from the Union. In an interview many years later, Knight suggested many Jones Countians, unaware of how few options they had, felt betrayed by Powell.

Knight enlisted in the Confederate Army in July, 1861. He was given a furlough in January 1862, however, to return home and tend to his ailing father. In May 1862, Knight, along with a number of friends and neighbors, enlisted in Company F of the 7th Battalion, as they preferred to serve together in the same company, rather than with strangers.

Throughout the summer and fall of 1862, a number of factors prompted desertions by Jones Countians serving in the Confederate Army. One factor was the lack of food and supplies in the aftermath of the Siege of Corinth. Another involved reports of poor conditions back home, as small farms deteriorated from neglect. Knight was enraged when he received word that Confederate authorities had seized his family's horse. However, many believe Knight's principal reason for desertion was his outrage over the Confederate government's passing of the Twenty Negro Law. This act allowed wealthy plantation owners to avoid military service if they owned twenty slaves or more. An additional family member was exempted from service for each additional twenty slaves owned. Knight had also received word that his brother-in-law, Morgan, who had become the head of the family in Knight's absence, was abusing Knight's children. Morgan's identity has since been lost, but he is thought to be Morgan Lines, a day laborer and convicted murderer.

Knight was reported AWOL in October 1862. He later defended his desertion, arguing, "If they had a right to conscript me when I didn't want to fight the Union, I had a right to quit when I got ready." After returning home having deserted in the retreat following the defeat at Corinth, Knight, according to relatives, shot and killed Morgan.

In early 1863, Knight was arrested and jailed, and possibly tortured, by Confederate authorities for desertion. His homestead and farm were destroyed, leaving his family destitute.

As the ranks of deserters swelled in the aftermath of the Siege of Vicksburg, Confederate authorities began receiving reports that deserters in the Jones County area were looting and burning houses. A local quartermaster, Capt. W. J. Bryant, reported that "The deserters have overrun and taken possession of the country, in many cases exiling the good and loyal citizens or shooting them in cold blood on their own door-sills."

Gen. Braxton Bragg dispatched Maj. Amos McLemore to Jones County to investigate and round up deserters and stragglers. On October 5, 1863, McLemore was shot and killed in the Ellisville home of Amos Deason, and Knight was believed to have pulled the trigger.

On October 13, 1863, the Knight Company, as it was called, a band of guerillas from Jones County and the adjacent counties of Jasper, Covington, Perry and Smith, was organized to protect the area from Confederate authorities. Knight was elected "Captain" of the company, which included many of his relatives and neighbors. The company's main hideout, known as "Devils Den," was located along the Leaf River at the Jones-Covington county line. Local women and slaves provided food and other aid to the men. Women blew cattle horns to signal the approach of Confederate authorities. From late 1863 to early 1865, the Knight Company allegedly fought fourteen skirmishes with Confederate forces. One skirmish took place on December 23, 1863, at the home of Sally Parker, a Knight Company supporter, leaving one Confederate soldier dead and two badly wounded.

During this same period, Knight led a raid into Paulding, where he and his men captured five wagonloads of corn, which they distributed among the local population. The company harassed Confederate officials, with numerous tax collectors, conscript officers, and other officials being reported killed in early 1864. In March 1864, the Jones County court clerk notified the governor that guerillas had made tax collections in the county all but impossible. A letter dated February 13, 1864 from a Union scout addressed to Maj. Gen. John M. Palmer of the Union Army was discovered in 2016 by a historian working in the National Archives. It estimates the Knight Company's numbers to be as high as 600 and confirms their intention to join up with the Union Army. The exact number is still a matter of debate, in light of an interview Knight gave after the war stating, "There was about 125 of us, never any more."

By the spring of 1864, the Confederate government in the county had been effectively overthrown. Lt. Gen. Leonidas Polk wrote Confederate President Jefferson Davis on March 21, 1864, describing the conditions in Jones County. Polk stated that the band of deserters were "in open rebellion, defiant at the outset, proclaiming themselves ‘Southern Yankees,' and resolved to resist by force of arms all efforts to capture them." On March 29, 1864, Confederate Capt. Wirt Thomson wrote James Seddon, Confederate Secretary of War, claiming the Knight Company had captured Ellisville and raised the U.S. flag over the courthouse in Jones County. He further reported, "The country is entirely at their mercy." Union Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman received a letter from a local group declaring its independence from the Confederacy. In July 1864, the Natchez Courier reported that Jones County had seceded from the Confederacy.

Gen. Polk initially responded to the actions of the Knight Company by sending a contingent under Col. Henry Maury into the area in February 1864. Maury reported he had cleared the area, but noted the deserters had threatened to obtain "Yankee aid" and return. Shortly afterward, Polk dispatched a veteran contingent of soldiers led by Col. Robert Lowry, a future governor who would later describe Knight as an "ignorant and uneducated man." Using bloodhounds to track down guerillas in the swamps, Lowry rounded up and executed ten members of the Knight Company, including Newton's cousins, Benjamin Franklin Knight and Sil Coleman. Newton Knight, however, evaded capture. He later stated his company had unsuccessfully attempted to break through Confederate lines to join the Union Army.

By April 1865 the Confederate rebellion had been crushed and the American Civil War was finally over. Mississippi was occupied by Federal troops sent to maintain order and to protect the civil rights of former slaves. Capt. Newton Knight was called into service by the United States Army as a commissioner in charge of distributing thousands of pounds of food to the poor and starving people in the Jones County area. Knight also led a raid that liberated several children who were still being held in slavery in a nearby county. Like many Southern Unionists, he supported the Republican Party, namely the Reconstruction administration of Governor Adelbert Ames. As conflict mounted between white neo-Confederate resistance (the Ku Klux Klan) and the Republican Reconstruction government, Ames appointed Knight as Colonel of the First Infantry Regiment of Jasper County, an otherwise all black regiment defending against Klan activity.

In 1870, Knight petitioned the federal government for compensation for several members of the Knight Company, including the ten who had been executed by Lowry in 1864. He provided sworn statements from several individuals attesting to his loyalty to the Union, including a local judge and a state senate candidate. But the federal Court of Claims ruled that "the evidence fails to support the allegation of the petition that the Jones County Scouts were organized for military service in behalf of United States or that they were in sentiment and feeling throughout the war loyal to the Government of the United States."

At great personal danger, Knight became a strong supporter of the Republican Party. In 1872, he was appointed as a deputy U.S. Marshal for the Southern District to help maintain the fragile democracy.

In the statewide elections of 1875, however, violence and election fraud kept most blacks and Republicans from voting. Democratic candidates committed to "white rule" were swept into office. White terrorists shot out the windows of the Governor's Mansion to intimidate Republican Gov. Adelbert Ames, Ames pleaded for federal troops to help keep order, but President Ulysses S. Grant refused. Ames tried organizing a state militia to protect the voting process. But the tide had already turned against Republican rule in Mississippi, and Ames was forced to resign. He lamented that blacks "are to be returned to a condition of serfdom - an era of second slavery." Blacks could not vote freely in Mississippi again for nearly 100 years.

By the mid-1870s, Knight had separated from his wife, Serena, and married Rachel, a woman formerly enslaved by his grandfather. During the same period, Knight's son, Mat, married Rachel's daughter, Fannie, and Knight's daughter, Molly, married Rachel's son, Jeff. Newton and Rachel Knight had several children before her death in 1889. Newton Knight died on February 16, 1922 at the age of 84. Under the Mississippi Constitution of 1890, it was a crime for whites and blacks to be buried in the same cemetery. Yet even in death, Knight was defiant. He left careful instructions for his funeral and was buried on a high ridge overlooking his old farmstead in a simple pine box beside Rachel, who had died in 1889. The inscription on his tombstone reads, "He Lived for Others."

Much has been written about Newton Knight-some pro, others con, a few balanced. In 1935, Knight's son, Thomas Jefferson "Tom" Knight, published a book about his father, "The Life and Activities of Captain Newton Knight." Tom Knight portrayed his father as a Civil War - era Robin Hood who refused to fight for a cause with which he did not agree. The book noticeably omits Newton Knight's post-war marriage to Rachel.

The 1942 James H. Street novel, "Tap Roots," is loosely based on the Knight Company's actions. Though the book is a work of fiction, the novel's protagonist, Hoab Dabney, was inspired by Newton Knight. The book was the basis of the 1948 film, "Tap Roots," which was directed by George Marshall, and starred Van Heflin and Susan Hayward.

In 1951, Knight's grandniece, Ethel Knight, published "The Echo of the Black Horn," a scathing denunciation of Knight and the Knight Company. Dedicating the book to the Confederate veterans of Jones County, Ethel Knight portrayed Newton as a backward, ignorant, murderous traitor. She argued that most members of the Knight Company were not Unionists, but had been manipulated by Knight into joining his cause.

In 2003, historian Victoria Bynum's book "The Free State of Jones" was published by the University of North Carolina Press. This book provides a broader view of the Knight Company, taking into account the economic, religious and genealogical factors that helped shape the views of Civil War-era residents of the Jones County area. Bynum provides numerous examples of Knight stating his pro-Union sentiments after the war, and notes the influence of the staunchly pro-Union Collins family, many of whom were members of the Knight Company. She also brings to light the many women and slaves who provided assistance to Knight and his men.

In 2009, Sally Jenkins and John Stauffer published "The State of Jones," which elaborates on Knight's pro-Union sympathies and presents evidence that his views on race played a significant role in his actions during and after the war.

Military Myths & Legends: The Ship That Wouldn't Die

The USS Laffey (DD-724) was laid down 28 June 1943 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine. She was launched 21 November sponsored by Miss Beatrice F. Laffey, daughter of Medal of Honor recipient S1c Bartlett Laffey. Commissioned 8 February 1944, Cdr. F. Julian. Becton as her first "Captain".

After shakedown, the Laffey traveled the world in the war effort. She was off the beaches of Normandy on D-Day. Off Cherbourg, France where an unexploded shell bounced off her hull above the waterline and did little damage. Rescuing a badly wounded Japanese pilot off the Philippines. Firing support in Leyete Gulf and Ormoc Bay. Transported intelligence to McArthur in the Philippines. Supported landings at Mindoro and Luzon, Iwo Jima, and Kerama Retto.

That is where this story begins.

Commander Frederick Julian Becton, Captain of the destroyer USS Laffey (DD 724), took the radio message his communications officer handed him on April 12, 1945, but the concerned look on the young officer's face made Becton suspect that it was not good news. Laffey, an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, had been screening the heavy fleet units that were bombarding Okinawa in close support of the ground forces ashore. She was the second U.S. destroyer to bear the name Laffey the first ship had been lost off Guadalcanal in 1942.

The message told Commander Becton to detach his ship from the screening force and proceed at once to the huge naval anchorage at Kerama Retto, where he was to go alongside the destroyer Cassin Young and take aboard her fighter-director team. That could mean only one thing: Laffey had drawn duty on the radar picket line - the most dangerous, deadly and unwanted assignment in the Okinawa campaign as far as Navy personnel were concerned.

Shortly after dawn on April 13, Becton brought his ship into the crowded harbor at Kerama Retto. Many of the ships anchored there had been battered by kamikazes while on radar picket duty. Although Laffey's crew had encountered suicide bombers at Leyte, Mindoro, Luzon and Iwo Jima, they had never before seen so many damaged ships in one place. The crewmen began to imagine what might happen to them when they went out to their assigned picket station. Morale was low, and it only got worse when they received news that President Franklin D. Roosevelt had died the day before.

As soon as Laffey tied up alongside Cassin Young, the fighter-director team of two officers and three enlisted men reported aboard, carrying with them special electronic gear. Three hundred rounds of 5-inch ammunition were also loaded aboard so that Laffey would sail with full magazines of all calibers. As Laffey prepared to depart, the skipper of Cassin Young offered some advice to Becton: 'Keep moving and keep shooting. Steam as fast as you can and shoot as fast as you can.'

A gun captain from the destroyer Purdy, which was anchored nearby, also offered his thoughts about picket duty. Purdy had been struck by a kamikaze on April 12, killing 13 and wounding 270. He told the Laffey crewmen: 'You guys have a fighting chance, but they'll keep on coming till they get you. You'll knock a lot of them down, and you'll think you're doing fine. But in the end there'll be this one bastard with your name on his ticket.' After all the horrific stories the crew had heard while in the anchorage, they were almost relieved when Laffey steamed north toward her assigned area, radar picket station No. 1.

On April 14, Laffey, accompanied by LCS 51 (landing craft, support) and LCS 116, arrived on station 51 miles north of Point Bolo on south-central Okinawa, which was used as a reference point in aligning the 16 picket sectors. Laffey relieved the destroyer-minelayer J. William Ditter (DM 31), whose skipper informed Becton by radio that during his time on station no kamikazes had entered the area, nor had any been detected by radar.

Becton hoped his ship would be as lucky, but at the same time he felt he should speak to his crew about the battle that was bound to come. He pressed the microphone button, and throughout the ship boomed the familiar words, 'This is the captain speaking.' Becton warned his crew not to expect the same kind of luck Ditter had had. He told them that he expected to see plenty of Japanese but that he had confidence in the crew's ability. They had tangled with the enemy before and won. They were now going to make the Japanese wish they had never heard of USS Laffey. In conclusion, Becton said: 'We're going to outmaneuver and outshoot them. They are going to go down, but we aren't.'

A short while later three bogeys appeared on the radar scope, but Laffey had no Combat Air Patrol (CAP) planes with her. Fifty miles to the east, however, there was a group of CAP planes with the destroyer Bryant (DD 665) on picket station No. 3. Becton requested their assistance, and the fighter-director team sent them toward the Japanese. All enemy planes were shot down. Not long after that, the radar operator reported eight more enemy aircraft approaching, and again Becton requested Bryant's CAP planes. The fighter-director team vectored them in, and they destroyed all the aircraft. By the end of Laffey's first day on picket duty, 11 planes had been shot down, but Laffey's gunners had not yet fired a shot.

No enemy action occurred the next day, Sunday, April 15. The crew's routine was broken only when Laffey was ordered to steam a few miles east to investigate a patrol plane's report that a downed Japanese aircraft was in the water. The plane was found with its dead pilot still strapped in the cockpit. Laffey's crew recovered an aircraft code book and other miscellaneous items that they would turn over to the intelligence section ashore, then sank the plane.

Monday morning began quietly on radar picket station No. 1. The whole crew was able to eat breakfast without any interruptions from the enemy. Then, at 8:25 a.m., the radar operator reported a solid cluster of pips too numerous to count approaching at 17,000 yards. It was a group of 165 kamikazes and 150 other enemy aircraft coming in fast from the north. The fighter-director team's two officers requested more help from CAP. They were informed that fighters would be sent to intercept the huge onrushing formation, but it would take time for the CAP planes to arrive in the area. Meanwhile, Laffey and her two support craft would have to deal with the enemy on their own.

At 8:30, four Aichi D3A 'Val' dive bombers broke off from the oncoming group and headed for Laffey, which was steaming along at flank speed. Two came in from the bow and two from the stern in a coordinated attack. Becton ordered hard left rudder, bringing the destroyer broadside to the planes, and the two forward 5-inch guns downed two of the Vals at about 3,000 yards. The stern 5-inch gun shot down the third kamikaze, and the 20mm and 40mm mounts downed the fourth with an assist from the gunners on LCS 51.

There was no time to rejoice over that success, however, because two more attackers, Yokosuka D4Y 'Judy' dive bombers, were coming in fast - one from the starboard beam and one from the port beam. When the Judy on the starboard side got within range of the 20mm and 40mm guns, it was torn apart by converging fire and crashed into the sea. The gunners' attention then shifted to port to assist with the second Judy, as it came in bobbing and weaving. The Japanese pilot strafed the ship, peppering the superstructure and wounding several men. The 20mm and 40mm guns finally downed the plane about 50 yards out, but just before hitting the water, the pilot released a bomb that sent shrapnel flying everywhere, wounding several more men and knocking others off their feet. The explosion also knocked out the SG radar, which was needed to detect low-flying aircraft.

The next attacker, another Val, came streaking in on the port beam. All three 5-inch guns opened fire, and as the plane came closer, the 20mm and 40mm mounts joined in. It looked as if the pilot was aiming to slam into the aft 5-inch gun, but he came in just a bit high and only grazed the top of it before smashing into the sea off the starboard side, killing one man in the gun crew. The eighth attacker, a Judy, came skimming in low over the water on the starboard beam. The 20mm and 40mm guns were hitting the plane, and finally, after a hit in the gas tank, the Judy burst into a fireball and crashed into the sea. Laffey's crewmen felt as if they had been battling the enemy for hours, but it was only 8:42, just 12 minutes since the attacks had started.

There was a respite of about three minutes before the next attacker, another Val, came boring in off the port bow. The portside guns raked the plane, which shuddered and twisted but kept coming, even as gasoline poured from one wing tank. The pilot cleared the portside 20mm and 40mm mounts and crashed into the 20mm mounts amidships, killing three gunners before sliding into the sea. Flaming gasoline was everywhere, and black smoke engulfed the area. Two 40mm mounts were wrecked and out of operation, as were two 20mm mounts.

The ammunition racks around the gun tubs were filled with clips of shells, which were in danger of exploding due to the heat. Damage-control crewmen began to heave the clips over the side of the ship. Some of them were so hot that the men had to protect their hands with rags. As some of the ammunition exploded and blew holes in the deck, flaming gasoline poured into a magazine below. Fortunately, the ammo was packed in metal cans that resisted the heat until a damage-control party arrived and hosed down the containers, thereby avoiding disaster.

Communications were knocked out in the forward engine room, but that did not present a problem for the moment. The engineers decided to adjust the ship's speed according to the sound of the gunfire they heard. If it was loud and fast, they would increase the speed. A more immediate problem was the smoke and fumes being sucked into the engine rooms by the ventilators. Machinist's Mate John Michel, in the aft engine room, shut down the supply fans. The temperature soon reached 130 degrees and kept climbing as Michel worked his way through the dense smoke, located the controls for the exhaust fans and turned them on. The smoke began to clear and the temperature began to fall. Knowing that the smoke would undoubtedly attract more kamikazes, Becton reduced the ship's speed to avoid fanning the flames.

Just as the crew was beginning to get the situation under control, two more kamikazes, both Vals, struck. One came in from astern low and fast, just a few feet above the water. The gunners of the three after 20mm mounts hit him with accurate fire, and parts of the plane broke off, but the pilot kept boring in. He plowed through the three mounts, killing the gun crews, and rammed into a 5-inch gun. The bomb he was carrying exploded, causing the plane to disintegrate and throwing gun captain Larry Delewski clear of danger. Fortunately, he was unhurt. Another man was blown overboard, but he was picked up by LCS 51, along with another crewman who had gone overboard earlier.

Flaming gasoline covered Laffey's fantail and aft gun mount, sending more black smoke billowing into the air. The fires threatened a magazine below the mount, so firefighters flooded it, preventing an explosion that could have torn the ship apart. The situation was about to get worse, however, because the 11th kamikaze came crashing aboard at almost the same spot. That plane's bomb wiped out the mount's gun crew and wounded several others. The damage-control parties had no time to take a breather.

About two minutes later, another Val came gliding in from astern, probably because the guns were out of commission there. The pilot dropped his bomb and sped away. The bomb detonated on the stern just above Laffey's propeller, severing the electrical cables and hydraulic lines that controlled the ship's rudder mechanism. The rudder jammed at 26 degrees left, and the ship began to steam in a circle, still able to maintain speed but without control. Although crewmen began to work on it at once, their efforts were fruitless. The rudder was jammed tight and could not be moved.

The smoke and flames must have indicated to the attackers that Laffey was nearly done for, but they did not ease off. Two more planes came roaring in from the port quarter, and every gun that could be brought to bear on the attackers poured out a steady stream of flak, but to no avail. The first plane slammed into the aft deckhouse, exploding in a ball of fire. Seconds later, the other plane crashed into the ship in almost the same spot. Gasoline from both planes produced roaring fires that covered the whole aft part of the ship.

Machinist's Mates George Logan and Stephen Waite, who had been battling fires in the aft living spaces, became trapped when the escape hatches buckled. They went to the emergency diesel generator room and secured the watertight door behind them. There was no light or ventilation and no way out, but there was a telephone that still worked, and they got through to the aft engine room. John Michel went to work again, this time with some help from Machinist's Mate Buford Thompson. They chiseled a hole through the bulkhead and passed an air hose in to the trapped men. Meanwhile, Machinist's Mates Art Hogan and Elton Peeler used cutting torches to make a hole in the deck and then pulled Logan and Waite to safety.

At the same time, a Nakajima Ki-43 'Oscar' was streaking in from the port bow with a CAP Vought F4U Corsair on its tail. The port side 20mm and 40mm mounts were sending up a steady barrage while trying not to hit the Corsair. This Japanese pilot did not drop down and ram the bridge but zoomed up and over it, shearing off the port yardarm on Laffey's mast, which came crashing down to the deck, taking the American flag with it. As the Corsair zoomed by, it hit the air-search radar antenna and knocked it to the deck below. After he cleared Laffey, the Japanese pilot lost altitude quickly and crashed into the sea, while the Corsair pilot managed to pull up and bail out before his plane hit the water farther away. Signalman Tom McCarthy saw Laffey's colors fall to the deck and wasted no time in remedying the situation. He grabbed a new flag from the flag locker, shinnied up the mast and attached the new colors with a piece of line.

As he watched the Corsair chase the last attacker, Becton realized that his CAP planes, which had been spread thinly and even lured out of position at times, were now beginning to furnish some close support. That did not mean that Laffey was out of trouble, however. As if to prove the point, another Judy came in fast on the port beam, with a Corsair hot on its tail. The portside 20mm and 40mm mounts and the Corsair were hitting the Judy, which splashed into the water about 50 yards away from Laffey. Shrapnel from the Judy's bomb severed all communications to Laffey's two remaining 5-inch guns, as well as wounded the crews who were still working the hot 20mm and 40mm guns. Three gunner's mates were also wounded.

Ensign Jim Townsley quickly jury-rigged a substitute system for communicating with the gun mounts. With a microphone strapped around his neck and plugged into the ship's loudspeaker system, he climbed atop the pilothouse, from where he could see the onrushing attackers, and directed the gunfire from there. The 17th attacker was eliminated as he bore in from the starboard side. The plane took a direct hit from a manually trained 5-inch gun, with an assist from the 20mm and 40mm mounts.

Two more kamikazes, both Oscars, came streaking in, one from the starboard beam and one from the starboard bow. The attacker on the starboard beam was hit with a 5-inch round head-on in the propeller and engine and blew apart. Mount captain Warren Walker shouted: 'We got the SOB! What a beautiful sight!' Meanwhile, another gun had the other attacker in its sights as the plane came diving in. Even though the electrical controls were out and the gun was being operated manually, it took only two rounds to finish off the attacker. As the plane exploded, the gun's trainer, Andy Stash, yelled excitedly: 'We got him! We got him! Did you see that bastard explode?'

In the brief lull that followed, assistant communications officer Lieutenant Frank Manson arrived on the bridge to report to the skipper. When Mason finished talking, he hesitated a bit and then added: 'Captain, we're in pretty bad shape aft. Do you think we'll have to abandon ship?' Becton quickly replied: 'Hell no, Frank. We still have guns that can shoot. I'll never abandon ship as long as a gun will fire.' Relieved, the Lieutenant went back to his duties.

The battle was not over yet. The 20th attacker, another Val, came gliding in from dead astern. Both the sun and the thick smoke helped to conceal the plane from the gunners. The pilot dropped his bomb, blasting an 8-by-10-foot hole in the already battered fantail. As he passed low over the length of the ship, he clipped off the starboard yardarm. He didn't get far a Corsair seemed to come out of nowhere to shoot him down several hundred yards off the starboard bow. Shrapnel from the bomb hit the emergency sick bay that the ship's medical officer, Lieutenant Matt Darnell, had set up topside. Fragments severed the tips of two of the doctor's fingers. Bandaging the bloody stumps, he calmly asked the astonished pharmacist's mate who was assisting him, 'Who's next?'

The 21st attacker, another Val, strafed the ship as it came in off the starboard bow, aiming straight for the bridge. Seaman Feline Salcido, the bridge lookout, did not think that the captain saw the plane coming. He put his hand on the back of Becton's neck and shouted, 'Down, captain, down!' As they both crouched low, a violent explosion rocked the bridge. The plane had dropped a bomb, killing one 20mm gun crew and wounding members of another nearby crew. That Val did not get away either a Corsair pounced on him and finished him off.

The last plane was a Judy, which strafed Laffey as it came in from the port side. Although the port 20mm and 40mm guns put out a steady stream of fire, the attacker kept getting closer. Just when it seemed that the gunners were goners, a Corsair came roaring in with all guns blazing and blew up the Judy in midair.

By the end of the 22nd attack, the situation aboard Laffey was critical. The fires still raged, the stern was down due to flooded aft compartments, many guns no longer functioned and the rudder was still jammed at 26 degrees. Amid all the confusion and noise, Becton heard what sounded like many planes diving at once. Laffey could not absorb any more punishment. Sonarman Charlie Bell, Becton's telephone talker, provided him with the encouraging news he so desperately needed. 'Captain, look what's up there,' he said, pointing skyward. The weary skipper looked up to see 24 CAP Marine Corsairs and Navy Grumman F6F Hellcats just arriving to lend a hand to the few planes already on station. The Japanese had had enough and were hightailing it out of the area with the CAP planes in hot pursuit.

Laffey's crewmen could not contain their jubilation. Shouts of 'Get the bastards! Rip 'em up! Nail 'em!' rose above the din of the receding battle. It was finally over, and the grim toll was staggering: 80 minutes of continuous air attack, 22 separate attacks, six kamikazes crashed into the ship and four bomb hits. But Laffey's gunners had shot down nine attackers. The ship's casualties totaled 32 dead and 71 wounded. Amazingly, eight guns were still able to fire. LCS 51 came alongside to help fight the fires, but the little vessel had also been hit and could only offer limited help.

The destroyer-minesweeper Macomb took Laffey in tow and headed for the Kerama Retto anchorage shortly after noon. The tugs Pakana (ATF 108) and Tawakoni (ATF 114) were dispatched to bring in Laffey. Using pumps, they got the flooding under control aboard the badly damaged ship. The jammed rudder caused towing problems, but it was still possible to maintain a forward speed of 4 knots.

At 6:14 the following morning, April 17, Laffey entered the harbor at Kerama Retto. Men gazed in amazement at the battered newcomer. It just did not seem possible that a ship could have taken so much punishment and survived one kamikaze hit was often enough to sink a ship. Laffey's escorts on radar picket station No. 1 had also suffered during the agonizing ordeal. LCS 51 had a 7-foot hole in her port side amidships, and three of her sailors had been wounded. LCS 116 had suffered topside damage, along with 17 dead and 12 wounded.

Shortly after sunrise, when Laffey was safely at anchor, the crew went aboard the tug Tawakoni for breakfast, their first real meal in almost 24 hours. Later that morning, a chaplain came aboard to conduct services for those killed or missing in action.

By April 22, six days after her ordeal on the picket line, Laffey had undergone enough repairs to depart for Saipan. At Saipan more repair work was performed, especially on the battered fantail. Laffey's next stop was Pearl Harbor, where the crew was warmly welcomed and entertained while the ship underwent further patching to ensure its safe passage back to the West Coast.

On Friday, May 25, 1945, Laffey moored at Pier 48 in Seattle, WA. 39 days after her fight for survival on radar picket station No. 1. Before additional repairs were begun, the battered ship was thrown open for viewing by the public.

Some naval officials believed that defense workers had been easing off in their production efforts since V-E Day on May 8, and they had been searching for a way to remind everyone that the war was far from over. After seeing Laffey's condition, everyone got the message loud and clear.

For her outstanding performance on the picket line, Laffey was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation. Eighteen members of her crew received Bronze Stars, six received Silver Stars, two received Navy Crosses and one received the Navy Commendation Medal.

This article was written by Dale P. Harper and originally appeared in the March 1998 issue of World War II magazine.

Battlefield Chronicles: The Battle of Dien Bien Phu

The causes of the Vietnam War trace their roots back to the end of World War II. A French colony, Indochina (Vietnam, Laos, & Cambodia) had been occupied by the Japanese during the war. In 1941, a Vietnamese nationalist movement, the Viet Minh, was formed by Ho Chi Minh to resist the occupiers. A communist, Ho Chi Minh, waged a guerilla war against the Japanese with the support of the United States.

On September 2, 1945, hours after the Japanese signed their unconditional surrender in World War II, Ho Chi Minh proclaimed the independent Democratic Republic of Vietnam, hoping to prevent the French from reclaiming their former colonial possession. In 1946, he hesitantly accepted a French proposal that allowed Vietnam to exist as an autonomous state within the French Union, but fighting broke out when the French tried to reestablish colonial rule by shelling the city of Haiphong in December 1946 and forcibly reentered the capital, Hanoi. These actions began a conflict between the French and the Viet Minh known as the First Indochina War (1946-1954) and referred to as the Anti-French War by the Vietnamese.

Beginning in 1949, the Viet Minh fought an increasingly effective guerrilla war against France with military and economic assistance from newly Communist China. Deeply concerned with the spread of Communism, the United States began supplying the French military in Vietnam with advisors and funding its efforts against the "red" Viet Minh.'

With the First Indochina War going poorly for the French, Premier Rene Mayer dispatched Gen. Henri Navarre to take command in May 1953.

Arriving in Hanoi, Navarre found that no long-term plan existed for defeating the Viet Minh and that French forces simply reacted to the enemy's moves. Believing that he was also tasked with defending neighboring Laos, Navarre sought an effective method for interdicting Viet Minh supply lines through the region.

Working with Col. Louis Berteil, the "hedgehog" concept was developed which called for French troops to establish fortified camps near Viet Minh supply routes.

Supplied by air, the hedgehogs would allow French troops to block the Viet Minh's supplies, compelling them to fall back. The concept was largely based on the French success at the Battle of Na San in late 1952. Holding the high ground around a fortified camp at Na San, French forces had repeatedly beaten back assaults by General Vo Nguyen Giap's Viet Minh troops. Navarre believed that the approach used at Na San could be enlarged to force the Viet Minh to commit to a large, pitched battle where superior French firepower could destroy Giap's army.

In June 1953, Maj. Gen. Rene Cogny first proposed the idea of creating a "mooring point" at Dien Bien Phu in northwest Vietnam. While Cogny had envisioned a lightly defended airbase, Navarre seized on the location for trying the hedgehog approach. Though his subordinates protested, pointing out that unlike Na San they would not hold the high ground around the camp, Navarre persisted and planning moved forward.

On November 20, 1953, Operation Castor commenced and 9,000 French troops were dropped into the Dien Bien Phu area over the next three days.

With Col. Christian de Castries in command, they quickly overcame local Viet Minh opposition and began building a series of eight fortified strong points transforming their anchoring point into a fortress by setting up seven satellite positions. Each was allegedly named after a former mistress of de Castries, although the allegation is probably unfounded, as the eight names begin with letters from the first nine of the alphabet (all but F). The fortified headquarters was centrally located, with positions "Huguette" to the west, "Claudine" to the south, and "Dominique" to the northeast. Other positions were "Anne-Marie" to the northwest, "Beatrice" to the northeast, "Gabrielle" to the north and "Isabelle" 3.7 miles to the south, covering the reserve airstrip. Over the coming weeks, de Castries' garrison increased to 10,800 men supported by artillery and ten M24 Chaffee light tanks.

The battle that settled the fate of French Indochina was initiated in November 1953, when Viet Minh forces at Chinese insistence moved to attack Lai Chau, the capital of the T'ai Federation (in Upper Tonkin), which was loyal to the French. As Peking had hoped, the French Commander in Chief in Indochina, Gen. Henri Navarre, came out to defend his allies because he believed the T'ai "maquis" formed a significant threat in the Viet Minh "rear" (the T'ai supplied the French with opium that was sold to finance French special operations) and wanted to prevent a Viet Minh sweep into Laos. Because he considered Lai Chau impossible to defend, on November 20, Navarre launched Operation Castor with a paratroop drop on the broad valley of Dien Bien Phu, which was rapidly transformed into a defensive perimeter of eight strong points organized around an airstrip. When, in December 1953, the T'ais attempted to march out of Lai Chau for Dien Bien Phu, they were badly mauled by Viet Minh forces, forcing the garrison to flee towards Dien Bien Phu. En route, the Viet Minh effectively destroyed the 2,100-man column and only 185 reached the new base on December 22, 1953.

Viet Minh commander Vo Nguyen Giap, with considerable Chinese aide, massed approximately 50,000 troops and placed heavy artillery in caves in the mountains overlooking the French camp. On March 13, 1954, Giap launched a massive assault on strong point Beatrice, which fell in a matter of hours. Strong points Gabrielle and Anne-Marie were overrun during the next two days, which denied the French use of the airfield, the key to the French defense. Reduced to airdrops for supplies and reinforcement, unable to evacuate their wounded, under constant artillery bombardment, and at the extreme limit of air range, the French camp's morale began to fray. As the monsoons transformed the camp from a dust bowl into a morass of mud, an increasing number of soldiers - almost four thousand by the end of the siege in May - deserted to caves along the Nam Yum River, which traversed the camp they emerged only to seize supplies dropped for the defenders.

Despite these early successes, Giap's offensives sputtered out before the tenacious resistance of French paratroops and legionnaires. On April 6, horrific losses and low morale among the attackers caused Giap to suspend his offensives. Some of his commanders, fearing U.S. air intervention, began to speak of withdrawal. Again, the Chinese, in search of a spectacular victory to carry to the Geneva talks scheduled for the summer, intervened to stiffen Viet Minh resolve: reinforcements were brought in, as were Katyusha multitube rocket launchers, while Chinese military engineers retrained the Viet Minh in siege tactics. When Giap resumed his attacks, human wave assaults were abandoned in favor of siege techniques that pushed forward webs of trenches to isolate French strong points. The French perimeter was gradually reduced until, on May 7, resistance ceased. The "Rats of Nam Yum" also became POWs when the garrison surrendered.

The shock and agony of the dramatic loss of a garrison of around fourteen thousand men allowed French Prime Minister Pierre Mendes to muster enough parliamentary support to sign the Geneva Accords of July 1954, which essentially ended the French presence in Indochina and the end of the First Indochina War (1946-1954), the precursor to the Vietnam War.

A disaster for the French, losses at Dien Bien Phu numbered 2,293 killed, 5,195 wounded, and 10,998 captured. Viet Minh casualties are estimated at around 23,000. The defeat at Dien Bien Phu marked the end of the First Indochina War and spurred peace negotiations which were ongoing in Geneva. The resulting 1954 Geneva Accords partitioned the country at the 17th Parallel and created a communist state in the north and a democratic state in the south. The resulting conflict between these two regimes ultimately led to the first phase of the Second Indochina War, better known as the Vietnam War, or the American War in Vietnam. It began in 1959 with North Vietnam's first guerilla attacks against the South and ends with the fall of Saigon in 1973. American ground forces were directly involved in the war between 1965 and 1973.

Profile in Courage: Col James Kasler

James Helms Kasler was born on May 2, 1926 in South Bend, Indiana and following 30-years of distinguished military service, retired as a U.S. Air Force Colonel. Three times he went off to war and three times returned home. During his career, he is the only person to be awarded three Air Force Crosses. He also was awarded two Silver Stars, Legion of Merit, nine Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Purple Hearts, eleven Air Medals and Bronze Star with V for valor. Setting aside recipients of the Medal of Honor, he is the 10th most decorated serviceman in U.S. history. For some, he is known as Indiana's Sgt. Alvin York, the famous hero of World War I.

Shortly after graduating from Shortridge High School, he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force in May 1944. He spent his two-year enlistment flying combat missions over Japan as a B-29 Superfortress tail gunner.

Following the war, Kasler attended Butler University in Indianapolis for three years before entering the U.S. Air Force pilot training program in January 1950 and received his wings on March 24, 1951 at Williams AFB, Arizona. Following a brief assignment to Presque Isle, Maine, in November 1951 he was sent to Korea and assigned to the 335th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron, 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group.

Flying the F-86 Sabrejet, Kasler was credited with his first aerial victory on April 1, 1952, downing one MiG-15 near Wongsong-dong and damaging a second east of Sinuiju. He shot down another MiG near Okkang-dong on April 21. Action picked up in May, and he was credited with four more MiG-15s - one on the 4th, two on the 15th. It was on April 25 when he got his 6th in MiG Alley.

He and his wingman, 1st Lt. Albert Smiley, caught several MiGs just as they were returning to their Communist air base. Kasler got behind the lead MiG, chasing it for about 50 miles on the deck, refusing flight commander Phil "Casey" Colman's request to call it a day. On the MiGs tail, Kasler opened up, and his gunfire tore it apart. Its canopy gone, its pilot engulfed in fire, the MiG arched down in a flaming trail before it splattered in the mud flats just below. Kasler pulled back on the stick mightily, to avoid sharing his victim's fate. He cleared and called triumphantly to Colman, "Casey, I'm an ace."

MiGs were routinely piloted by Chinese and Soviet pilots and a U.S. intelligence officer later informed Kasler that the three MiGs he and Smiley killed were the only ones recorded that day.

The officer had another bit of information: One of those three planes had been piloted by the son of Mao Zedong, father of the Chinese revolution and principal founder of the People's Republic of China.

Kasler returned to the United States in July 1952 and during the next 11 years served in Canada, Turner AFB, Georgia, Seymour Johnson AFB, North Carolina, and Breitburg Air Base, Germany, flying a variety of jet fighters. In 1963 he received his Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Nebraska.

In February 1966 he went to Tahkli Air Base, Thailand as the operations officer for the 354th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 355th Wing. While mission were flying daily over both South and North Vietnam, Hanoi was at that time off-limits to U.S. warplanes. Fearing a wider conflict, Robert McNamara, secretary of defense during the Kennedy and Johnson presidential administrations, drew a 50-mile circle around it and a 30-mile ring around the principal harbor.

That restriction was eliminated in June 1966 as American defense chiefs were slowly escalating the war, and had recently decided to broaden the bombing of North Vietnam to include industrial targets like the Hanoi POL (petroleum, oil, & lubricant) facility.

On June 21, Kasler learned of the impending strike and began to select pilots, draw up the precise navigation plans, and studying Hanoi's formidable aerial defenses. North Vietnam had the strongest anti-aircraft defenses in history: over 7,000 AA guns of 37mm or larger, and batteries of radar-controlled SAM's ringing Hanoi.

By midnight on the 28th, their plans were complete, down to detailed route charts, folded accordion-style. Minutes before the 0830 mission briefing, Kasler was invited to lead the mission, much to his surprise, and to the discomfort of Col. Holt, who otherwise would have led the large raid. The briefing focused on weather (clear) and winds (light and variable) - both perfect for fighter operations. Both wings, the 355th and the 388th, would approach the target from the south, to minimize the chances of a bomb ending up in the city of Hanoi. Each Republic F-105 Thunderchief carried eight 750-pound bombs.

Kasler rolled down the runway and lifted off at 235 knots. Airborne, he headed north for the rendezvous with the aerial tankers. They refueled uneventfully and were three minutes ahead of schedule. Kasler led the Thuds in a circle to kill the 180 seconds. Twenty minutes later, they were over the Red River and Kasler began to lose altitude, until they were 300 feet off the ground, at the base of "Thud Ridge," the landmark mountain range that ran east-west across North Vietnam's mid-section.

As they dropped tanks, they could see smoke rising up from the POL tanks, already hit by Navy jets. Flak blossomed all around them, even at 300 feet. The NVA gunners must have had their 85mm and 100mm pieces at zero elevation. Amidst the smoke from the target and puffs of anti-aircraft fire, Kasler called for afterburners and went into his bomb run. Big fat oil tanks filled his view he dropped his bombs and rolled away to the right. Turning back, he saw the fuel tanks erupting into huge billowing fireballs, thousands of feet high.

His flight crossed the Red River and the flak gunners switched to fighter-bombers behind him. Flying west, looking for targets of opportunity, he found a convoy of twenty-five trucks. The Thuds blasted them with 20mm cannon fire, destroying at least half of them. He glanced back at Hanoi, now 35 miles behind. A pillar of black smoke towered up, over six miles high.

The Hanoi POL strike was very successful. Over 90 percent of the facility was destroyed and the Vietnamese abandoned it altogether.

On August 8, 1966, on his 91st combat mission, he was leading the formation when his wingman, Fred Flom was shot down. Kasler dropped down and flew low-level cover while awaiting the arrival of a combat rescue patrol. Running low on fuel with just enough to return to base, he instead hooked up with a KC-135 midair refueler and return to look for Flom.

Kasler's F-105 was also shot down over North Vietnam that same day and captured by the North Vietnamese. He was a POW until 4 March 1973. So began six years and seven months of imprisonment by an enemy who knew exactly who he was and why to hate him.

Oddly, it was Kasler's notoriety that saved his life, but it also exposed him to unspeakable torture. His captors gloated. They singled him out. They almost immediately put Kasler on television, so they couldn't kill him without losing face, but they were particularly eager to force a confession or any capitulation, so great would have been its propaganda value.

It was testimony to the ferocity of the air war that another of Kasler's closest friends, Lewis Shattuck, was shot down and rescued on Aug 1st and was shot down again, and this time captured, on Aug 11th. And that his friend John Brodak went down Aug 14th.

That's three buddies down within 35 days of one another and serving as POWs from 1966 until 1973.

At one point, during the fall of 1967, Kasler's captors took his clothes and his mosquito net. For three days, they denied him food and water and they beat his back and buttocks with a truck fan belt, every hour on the hour, 6 a.m. until 10 or 11 p.m.

He was tortured repeatedly by his Communist captors, in an effort to get him to cooperate with their propaganda claims. In the early years, the prisoners were kept in isolation and rarely let out of their cells. The Vietnamese used isolation, sleep deprivation, starvation, as well as physical pain to try to break Kasler down. His worst session came in June 1968:

“The Vietnamese were attempting to force me to meet a delegation and appear before TV cameras on the occasion of the supposed 30000th American airplane ever North Vietnam. I couldn't say the things they were trying to force me to say. I was tortured for six weeks. I went through the ropes and irons ten times. I was denied sleep for five days and during three of these was beaten every hour on the hour with a fan belt. During the entire period I was on a starvation diet. I was very sick during this period. I had contacted osteomyelitis in early 1967 and had a massive bone infection in my right leg.

"They would wrap my leg before each torture session so I wouldn't get pus or blood all over the floor of the interrogation room. During this time they beat my face to a pulp. I couldn't get my teeth apart for five days. My ear drum was ruptured, one of my ribs broken and the pin in my right leg was broken loose and driven up into my hip."

"I lay in agony for six months until I was given an operation in January of 1969."
[Excerpted from]

Kasler shared the infamous Room 7 of the "Hanoi Hilton" with other great heroes like Robinson Risner, James Stockdale, Bud Day, John McCain, Larry Guarino, and Jeremiah Denton. He never cooperated with the North Vietnamese and survived to return home in March, 1973, after six and one-half years in captivity.

For seven long years, his wife Martha, daughter Suzanne and twins Jim and Nanette awaited Kasler's return from Vietnam. It came, joyfully and tearfully, on March 8, 1973 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

The twins were 12 when their father left for Vietnam. They were 19 when the family was reunited. Kasler momentarily mistook his son Jim for Suzanne's husband, John Morris.

The confusion was understandable but short-lived. It is testimony to Kasler's enormous strength, and that of Martha and the kids, that normalcy was incredibly, and almost immediately, restored.

In July 1974 Kasler was assigned as vice commander of the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and remained in that capacity until his retirement as a Colonel on 1 May 1975, in spite of him being in line for an Air Wing command and a brigadier general's star.

He spent the last 39 years of his life as a resident of Momence, an Illinois-Indiana border town where he owned South Shore Golf Course and had interests in banking and real estate, served on a number of boards and received a variety of civic and service awards.

He died on April 24, 2014, at the age of 87, in West Palm Beach, Florida. One obituary read, he joined what Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg called 'our honored dead.'

Kasler's former cell-mates at Hanoi Hilton, Lewis Shattuck and John Brodak, were in Indianapolis for the May 16, 2014 memorial service at Crown Hill Cemetery that saluted Kasler in death. It was a grim, gray day, but the rain eased and the sky brightened a bit for the F-15 Eagle flyover, when there was a lump in every throat and a tear in almost every eye. Kasler was more than a hero. He was a husband to Martha for 65 years, a father and grandfather.

At his funeral, John Brodak, his voice flush with feeling, said, 'The colonel was my mentor and my hero, the most courageous man I've ever known. He was a fierce warriors and a patriot and I'm proud he called me his friend.'

Brodak is a retired Air Force colonel who flew with Kasler. And for 15 months of the six and a half years both were North Vietnamese prisoners of war, he was Kasler's cellmate at 'The Zoo' and the infamous 'Hanoi Hilton.'

Kasler's happiest occupation was Grandpa. His six grandchildren served as greeters at his Crown Hill memorial celebration. Each spoke.

One, Ashley Hurley, recalled grandpa's infectious sense of humor and how, when she was little, he would get down on the floor with her and laugh and laugh.

James Kasler was nicknamed "Stoneface" by his Air Force peers, testimony to his toughness, his seriousness of purpose and his mission commitment. But men like Brodak and Shattuck, his wife Martha, kids and grandkids

Heroic Huey Pilot to Receive Medal of Honor

The details of the heroism that will see Charles Kettles awarded the Medal of Honor at the White House come back clearly and quickly even five decades later.

The White House announced Tuesday afternoon that Kettles would receive the award from President Obama on July 18.

Kettles, 86, recalls the events of May 15, 1967: flying his UH-1 helicopter time after time after time into dizzying, withering fire to save the lives of dozens of soldiers ambushed by North Vietnamese troops in the Song Tau Cau river valley nursing the shot-up, overloaded bird out of harm's way with the final eight soldiers who'd been mistakenly left behind.

"With complete disregard for his own safety, " the official narrative of that day reads. "Without gunship, artillery, or tactical aircraft support, the enemy concentrated all firepower on his lone aircraft. Without his courageous actions and superior flying skills, the last group of soldiers and his crew would never have made it off the battlefield."

Kettles, born and bred and retired in Ypsilanti, Mich., remembers how he felt after he touched down nearly 50 years ago for the last time, finally safe, unrattled and hungry.

"I just walked away from the helicopter believing that's what war is," Kettles told USA TODAY. "It probably matched some of the movies I'd seen as a youngster. So be it. Let's go have dinner."

Kettles' actions were documented and saluted long ago. He was awarded the second-highest award for bravery, the Distinguished Service Cross. And that, he thought, was that. Kettles completed another tour in Vietnam, retired from the Army as a lieutenant colonel and opened an auto dealership with his brother.

That's where the story would end, if not for William Vollano, an amateur historian who was interviewing veterans for the Veterans History Project. Vollano's prodding led the Army to reopen Kettles' case and determine that his actions merited the Medal of Honor. Coincidentally, the military is also reviewing the actions of hundreds more troops in the post-9/11 era to see if they, too, should receive upgrades of their service crosses and Silver Stars.

May 15, 1967

On that May morning in Vietnam, Maj. Kettles' and several other helicopter pilots ferried about 80 soldiers from the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division to a landing zone near the Song Tra Cau River. The river, just eight or 10 feet above sea level, drifted past a 1,500-foot hill.

"Very steep, which set them up for an ambush," Kettles recalls. "Which did happen."

Hundreds of North Vietnamese soldiers, dug into tunnels and bunkers, attacked the Americans with machine guns, mortars and recoilless rifles.

"Two or three hours after they were inserted, they had been mauled over and the battalion commander called for reinforcements," Kettles says.

Kettles volunteered to fly in reinforcements and to retrieve the wounded and dead. As they swooped in to land, the North Vietnamese focused their fire on the helicopters. Soldiers were killed before they could leap from the aircraft, according to the official account of the fight.

Air Force jets dropped napalm on the machine gun positions overlooking the landing zone, but it had little effect. The attack continued, riddling the helicopters with bullets. Kettles refused to leave, however, until the fresh troops and supplies had been dropped off and the dead and wounded crowded aboard to be flown out.

Kettles ran the gantlet again, bringing more reinforcements amid mortar and machine gun fire that seriously wounded his gunner and tore into his helicopter. The crew from another helicopter reported to Kettles that fuel was pouring from his aircraft. Kettles wobbled back to the base.

"Kettles, by himself, without any guns and any crew, went back by himself," said Roland Scheck, a crew member who had been injured on Kettles' first trip to the landing zone that day. "Immediately, all the pilots and copilots in the company decided, 'This is Medal of Honor material right there.'"

"I don't know if there's anyone who's gotten an Medal of Honor who deserved it more," he said. "There's no better candidate as far as I'm concerned."

The final run

At about 6 p.m., the infantry commander radioed for an immediate, emergency evacuation of 44 soldiers, including four from Kettles' unit whose helicopter was destroyed at the river. Kettles volunteered to lead the flight of six evacuation helicopters, cobbled together from his and another unit.

"Chaotic," Kettles says. "The troops simply went to the first helicopter available."

Just one soldier scrambled into his helicopter. Told that all were safe and accounted for, Kettles signaled it was time to return to base.

"The artillery shut down, the gunships went back," Kettles said. "No reason for them to stay anymore. The Air Force shut down. We climbed out to about 1,400 feet, a 180-degree turn back toward base camp and the hospital."

That's when word reached Kettles that eight soldiers had been left behind.

"They had been down in the river bed in a last ditch defensive effort before the helicopters loaded," Kettles said. "I assured the commander I would go back in and pick them up."

Kettles took control of the helicopter from the co-pilot and plummeted toward the stranded soldiers.

The North Vietnamese trained all their fire on Kettles. As he landed, a mortar round shattered the windshields and damaged the tail and main rotor blade. The eight soldiers piled on board, raked by rifle and machine-gun fire. Jammed beyond capacity, the helicopter "fishtailed" several times before Kettles took the controls again from his co-pilot. The only way out, Kettles recalls, was to skip along the ground, gaining enough speed to get the helicopter in the air.

"If not we were going to go down the road like a two-and-a-half ton truck with a rotor blade on it," Kettles says.

After five or six tries, Kettles got off the ground. Just then, a second mortar round slammed into the tail.

"That caused the thing to lurch forward," he says. "I don't know if that helped much. I still had a clean panel, that is, the emergency panel. There weren't any lights.

The helicopter was still doing what it was supposed to do even though it was, I guess, pretty badly (damaged). We got out of there."

The Medal of Honor

Kettles acknowledges it was an extraordinary day, one that he thinks about but doesn't dwell on. He and the other helicopter pilots and crew performed as they were trained, followed orders, completed their mission. Simple as that.

The Medal of Honor, he says, "belongs to them certainly as much as myself. I just happened to be the lead position where the decisions were mine, properly so.

"For them, unfortunately all they could do was follow. And they did. They did their jobs. They're as deserving as I am certainly. That's what it means to me."

For dozens of soldiers, especially the last eight, Kettles' decision kept their names from being etched on the black granite wall of the Vietnam War memorial here in Washington with the 58,000 others who died in the war.

"The eight who got out of there who aren't on that wall," Kettles says. "That's what matters."

By Tom Vanden Brook and Gregory Korte, USA TODAY

TWS: Meet Our Admin Team

Assistant Chief Admin - Darrell Bucy (US Army Ret)
Darrell joined TWS in 2014 and liked it so much he joined our Volunteer Profile Assistance Team to help others in finding their way around our site. In September of 2015 he joined our Admin Team. Darrell mans the help desk, adds cemeteries and reunions, answers emails and a hundred other duties that go on behind the scenes and keeps TWS running smoothly.

Database Manager - Rowdy Gaines (US Army Ret)
Rowdy joined TWS in 2008. He's been an active part of our Philippines forum since he retired there in 2014. Earlier this year, Roger joined us to manage our databases. Roger is responsible for all the descriptions of battles you see on our site. He's also responsible for the historical accuracy of our Unit database. His hard work makes it possible for you to only be able to select from units that were active when you were. It's a huge job but he keeps plugging along. If you have any historical footnotes or operations you need listed, email us at [email protected] and Roger will be happy to get them added for you.

Graphics Manager - Loyde Mcillwain (US Marine Corps/US Navy/US Army)
Loyde has been here the longest. Like his military career, Loyde wears many hats at TWS. He troubleshoots any problems on the website and works with the programmers to get them corrected. He's our Graphics Manager. All of the patches, ribbons, badges etc that you see on the site are his responsibility. If you have a badge, patch or ribbon that is missing, email us at [email protected] and we will work to get it added for you.

Chief Admin - Diane Short (US Navy)
I joined TWS in 2007. In 2009 TWS formed the Volunteer Profile Assistance Team and that is where I started. In 2010 I joined the staff of TWS and I've enjoyed every minute of it. (Well most of it anyway.) Like Loyde, I wear many hats. I answer the 888 line for TWS, edit both Voices and Dispatches, work with our teams of volunteers, trouble shoot any technical problems with Loyde, man the help desk, solve any disputes, maintain health checks on the site, answer emails, make the posts to our facebook pages, answer messages and work with our programmers on content and design. If you have any questions about the site or any problems you wish to report, you can email me at [email protected] or you can call me directly at 888 398-3262.

TWS Bulletin Board

If you are a "free" member of Together We Served and would like to contact those you served with but can't afford to pay for it this time of year, simply log back in and accept membership from one of our partners.

Volunteer of the Month

SMSgt David Scoggins
US Air Force (Ret)
(Served 1961-1983)

Shadow Box:

SMSgt David Scoggins has been a member of Air Force Together We Served since June 6, 2008 .

In 2009, TWS formed the "Volunteer Profile Assistance" (VPA) team and Dave was one of the very first to sign up. Our VPA's serve as our frontline. They are the ones who reach out to our members when it looks like they are having problems completing their profiles. They answer questions from members on the forums and also man the member help desk. If you've had a technical problem in the last 7 years, Dave probably answered it for you.

Thank you Dave, for your dedication to helping your Wingmen and making AFTWS the best it can be.

Service Reflections Video of the Month

Records Show VA Mishandled Personal Info
According to federal records obtained by FOX25 Investigates, veterans' protected health information, lab results, doctors notes, and - in some cases, medicine - were mishandled 37 times by workers in the VA Boston Healthcare System in the last three years. The review comes after a disabled Navy veteran first told his story to Fox25 in March. Fox25 Investigates obtained records through the Freedom of Information Act that reveal at least 37 cases of mishandled sensitive material by the VA in Boston since 2013. For more information, visit the

Number of Vets Waiting for Health Care Grows
The most recent data on pending appointments recently released by the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) shows that nearly 506,000 veterans currently seeking care at agency medical centers have waited more than a month for appointments, an increase of more than 10,000 in just two weeks and 23,000 in one month. The new numbers, which survey pending appointments as of May 15, cast light on the agency's continuing struggle to reduce wait times. A recent report by the Government Accountability Office concluded that the VA does not provide sufficient oversight to make sure that veterans receive timely care and that staffers accurately log patient wait times. The recent data is available on:

Senate Rejects Program to Privatize Commissaries
The U.S. Senate has agreed to strike a provision in defense authorization legislation that would have created a pilot program to privatize some military commissary stores. The upper chamber voted 70-28 in favor of an amendment introduced by Sens. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, and Barbara Mikulski, a Democrat from Maryland, to remove the privatization language from the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, or NDAA. Before the vote, the senators had pressed their colleagues to support their amendment to give the Defense Department more time to fully assess the effects and costs of the change. They cited a recent Pentagon report that concluded the program would hurt the purchasing power to achieve cost savings for military families and veterans. For more details, see

Marine Corps changes rules on Tattoos
Marine Corps Bulletin 1020 (MCBUL), released June 2, 2016, explains the new Marine Corps tattoo policy, which replaces all previous tattoo policy guidance. Any tattoo, regardless of where it is, cannot express sexism, nudity, racism, vulgarity, or anything that is offensive and is of nature to bring discredit to the Marine Corps. Marines can have an unlimited number of tattoos that are covered. Marines are prohibited from getting tattoos on the head, neck, inside the mouth, wrists, knees, elbows and hands, except for a single band tattoo on one finger. Within 120 days after the release of this MCBUL, all commanders must ensure Marines document their tattoos if not in compliance with new policy. Documentation will be made on a page 11 of the Marine's Electronic Service Record.

DoD program offers employment pipeline
Under the framework of the Department of Defense SkillBridge program, eligible transitioning service members can participate in job skills training. The program is governed by DoD Directive 1322.29 - Job Training, Employment Skills Training, Apprenticeships, and Internships (JTEST-AI) for Eligible service members. To be eligible a service member is expected to be discharged or released from active duty within 180 days of starting the JTEST-AI. The service member must initiate their own participation and also have approval from within their chain of command. For more information, visit the Department of Defense SkillBridge Program website:

Going After Payday Lenders Who Prey on Troops
The federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has proposed rules to crack down on the predatory loan practices of payday lenders that ensnare thousands of service members and their families in spiraling debt. Under the new rules, "lenders making short-term loans would be required to check upfront whether the borrower can afford to pay the full amount of the payment when it comes due, without needing to re-borrow," said Richard Cordray, the agency's director. "Specifically, lenders would need to verify the borrower's income, borrowing history, and certain key obligations," Cordray said at a hearing in Kansas City with victims of payday loan rollovers at interest rates that can top 390 percent. For more details, see:

Women Taking the 'Man' Out of Job Titles
Engineman? Yeoman? Not so fast. Now that women will be allowed to serve in all combat jobs, the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are dropping "man" from some of their job titles to make them inclusive and gender-neutral. Much like the term "Fireman" has evolved to "Firefighter" and "Policeman" to "Police Officer," an Engineman could be called an Engine Technician and a Yeoman could be called an Administrative Specialist.

"This is one more step in how our force has changed," Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said in an interview Friday. "Our force has evolved, our force is different. And I believe it's stronger and better."

Some Army and Air Force titles end in "man," too, but the services aren't considering changing them. The names are historically significant, and the focus now is on bringing women into the jobs rather than on what to call them, both services said.

Defense Secretary Ashton Carter ordered the military in December to open all military jobs to women, including the Marine Corps and Special Operations forces like Navy SEALs and Army Green Berets.

During a visit to Newport, Rhode Island, in late May, Carter was asked by The Associated Press whether job titles that end in "man" should change throughout the military. Carter spoke about the benefits of opening jobs to women to make "full use of the wonderful talents of half of the population of the country."

"Signifying that in all appropriate ways is, I think, exactly that, very appropriate and needed," he said.

Carter said that he didn't offhand have a good alternative for titles that were stripped of "man," but that someone smart was going to figure it out.

Mabus called in January for a review of Navy and Marine titles. There are nearly two dozen in the Navy that end in "man" and roughly a dozen in the Marines.

Mabus said he wants titles that more accurately convey who is doing the job and what the job is.

"In the overall scheme, it's a small thing, but I think it's important because it's what Sailors and Marines call each other, and words do matter," he said.

Mabus, who is reviewing the services' recommendations now, said the Navy and Marines will announce changes this summer.

Some iconic titles will stay the same, and others will change to make the jobs easier to understand outside of the military, which will help when Sailors and Marines are looking for civilian jobs, he added.

For example, few civilians know what a Hospital Corpsman does, Mabus said. A Corpsman could be called a Medic or an Emergency Medical Technician, much like "Messman" was previously changed to Culinary Specialist, he added.

A female Yeoman told a senior Navy official that "administrative specialist" would be a better title than Yeoman, Mabus said.

Lory Manning, a retired Navy Captain, said that there are fairly easy substitutes for many of the titles, and that they should be brought up to date. "It's time for us to let go of telling women, 'You're just included. We don't call you out by sex, but just know you're part of mankind,'" said Manning, a senior fellow at the Service Women's Action Network. "When you hear that 'man' at the end, the image is a male image."

Army spokesman Lt. Col. Jerry Pionk said his service branch might consider such changes in the future if it helps accomplish missions. The bigger challenge is that the Army will start to train the first female soldiers to serve in the front-line combat branches later this summer, including the infantry, he added.

Infantrymen have walked the battlefields and engaged the nation's enemies for centuries, and "there are a lot of emotions around that," Pionk said.

National Infantry Museum Director Frank Hanner served as an Infantryman.

"No matter what they call us, we'll do the job," Hanner said.

Air Force spokeswoman Capt. Brooke Brzozowske said a job title review is not currently underway or being considered in the Air Force.

The Coast Guard, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, is monitoring efforts, spokesman Lt. Cmdr. David French said.

VA Launches Veterans Legacy Program
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced the launch of the Veterans Legacy Program to memorialize veterans' service and sacrifice through public educational programming. The program will use resources at VA national cemeteries and online educational resources such as lesson plans, interactive maps and short video vignettes. The American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) will co-sponsor a "Teachers Institute," a workshop for educators. Information about the program can be found on the Veterans Legacy Program webpage:

Member Submissions

Fallen Heroes and a Father's Bitter Anguish
By Richard A. McMahon

When a bereaved father refused to accept the Medal of Honor awarded to his fallen son during the Korean War, it caused shock waves across the nation. But that is only the beginning of the story.

J. Halsey McGovern, his wife Marguerite, and their six children comprised a close family in a modest but happy home in the Petworth neighborhood of Washington, D. C. But on January 30th, 1951, their world changed forever. On that fateful date, Halsey learned that his son Robert was killed in action in Korea. Eleven days later, another son, Francis, was also killed in the conflict. For his heroic action Robert was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest wartime distinction. Francis, called by his middle name, Jerome, was awarded the Silver Star, another high medal for valor. Broken-hearted by the loss of his two sons within days of each other, the distressed father refused to accept either award.

In a letter to the Army turning down the medals, Halsey McGovern wrote that the failure of the U. S. government to support the troops in the field by an all-out war effort "sears the soul." The distraught father also told reporters "I don't think Truman is worthy to confer honors on my boys, or anyone's boys." Even when several members of Congress offered to present the medals, Halsey still refused. However, writing to relatives, he did acknowledge that the citation accompanying Robert's medal "will make you proud of him and of all the American kids who die and have died over there."

The morning of January 30, 1951 dawned gray and cold. The men of Company A, 5th Cavalry struggled to work out the stiffness that came from sleeping out in below-zero weather by swallowing multiple cups of coffee and heavy helpings of powdered eggs. The company's mission that day was to seize Hill 312, a fortified enemy position, close by, but concealed by a heavy morning mist. The 1st and 2nd Platoons would lead the assault, the 2nd Platoon commanded by Lt. Robert McGovern.

After more than an hour of uphill slogging through the dense fog, the air suddenly cleared, revealing the crest of the hill. Enemy fire broke out at once, and the 2nd Platoon began moving up the steep incline against the strongest part of the Chinese defenses. McGovern was out in front by more than twenty yards and his platoon scrambled frantically trying to keep up with him. He was caught in a burst of fire, fell, but regained his feet and continued to lead his men forward. Another burst of fire shot his carbine out of his hands. Disregarding his wounds and weakened condition, he drew his pistol and charged a machinegun emplacement which was raking his men. Firing his pistol and throwing grenades, he killed seven enemy soldiers before falling mortally wounded in front of the gun he had silenced. The following words from his Medal of Honor Citation tell the rest of the story:

'Lieutenant McGovern's incredible display of valor imbued his men with indomitable resolution to avenge his death. Fixing bayonets and throwing grenades, they charged with such ferocity that hostile positions were overrun and the enemy routed from the hill. The inspirational leadership, unflinching courage, and intrepid actions of First Lieutenant McGovern reflected utmost glory on himself and the honored tradition of the military services.'

On February 10, 1951, in another sector of the front, and unaware that his brother had been killed eleven days earlier, Second Lt. Jerome McGovern prepared to lead his platoon in an assault upon enemy positions on Hill 442. After advancing approximately 300 yards, the company was halted by intense mortar and gunfire. Despite being wounded at this time, McGovern reorganized his platoon and resumed the assault. Reaching the crest of the hill first, as he turned to urge his men on, he was killed by enemy fire.

Inspired by his heroic conduct and absolute fearlessness, his Silver Star citation reads, '…the platoon followed him in a fierce charge upon the hostile positions. The gallantry and inspirational leadership displayed by Lieutenant McGovern reflect great credit upon him and the military service.'

The McGovern brothers died 15 miles and 11 days apart, in remarkably similar circumstances. Both commanded platoons attacking fortified hills, and both led the charge well ahead of their men. Both officers were wounded yet continued to lead the assault, and both died on the ramparts of the enemy position. Finally, both were awarded posthumous medals for heroism.

Halsey McGovern died in 1983 at the age of 97, adamant to the end in refusing to accept the awards earned by his sons. After his death, the surviving McGovern children petitioned the Army to issue the medals, and they were presented to St. John's College High School, where both men graduated. The school has established a Hall of Honor where their medals and citations are permanently on display. Its Cadet Corps Drill Team is now known as The McGovern Rifles. New recruits to the Corps are required to memorize portions of the citations.

In 2003, Charles, the youngest of the four McGovern brothers, discovered that a U. S. Army base in Bosnia was named in honor of Robert. "I've almost felt compelled to do it," he said, making a special trip to visit Camp McGovern. After a ceremony for their visitor, the camp commander gave Charlie a tour of the base, including a sign bearing the name and picture of his brother, along with a plaque describing his heroic action. When they lowered the flag that day they presented it to Charlie.
Robert and Jerome McGovern were laid to rest side by side in Arlington National Cemetery. Inscribed on their joint tombstone is a tribute to them written by their father: "To their conscience they were true and had the genius to be men."

Note: Colonel Richard A. McMahon (U. S. Army, retired) is the author of "The Dark Side of Glory," reviewed previously in an issue of Dispatches. The book was awarded the 2014 Gold Medal for historical fiction by the Military Writers Society of America.

Heartbreak Ridge
By Bill Wilson

Bill Wilson served as a Sergeant First Class with Company I, 23rd Regiment, 2nd Division, United States Army, in the Korean War from Aug. 22, 1950 to Aug. 22, 1952. The following is an excerpt from his memoir that he wrote on his experiences as an infantryman during the Korean War.

For my contingent of green replacements, the call to duty came late in the evening of the third day of our arrival at the regimental Command Post. We were told to fall in, and every other man was instructed to pick up a stretcher. We were loaded onto trucks and were driven up the road a short distance to the base of a mountain. There a Major, who was noticeably drunk, told us to unload and to follow him up a trail leading to a high ridge of the mountain. By this time it was nearly full dark. We started up the narrow trail that followed a small mountain stream. The climb got steeper and rockier as we went, and the darkness, which was now absolute, made progress with the stretchers awkward and very difficult. The column was moving too fast and the troops were falling over the rocks in the dark or slipping into the stream, all the while mumbling and grumbling about the officer that was leading us. Sometime about midnight, the column stopped as if for a break, but after several minutes I became uneasy. Then the word, passed from man to man back down the line, came to me that the column had been broken, and they wanted the ranking NCO to tell them what to do. It turned out that, as Sergeant First Class, I was the ranking NCO.

The first combat related decision that I was to make had been forced on me much sooner than I had expected, and the moments that I spent in hesitation and reflection should be understandable. We could hear heavy firing and artillery coming from the mountain top. My appraisal of the situation was that we were in hostile territory, totally without guidance, with the chances of finding the main column in total darkness being very remote, and the chances of leading these men into the hands of the Koreans a real possibility - not to mention that I was scared. This was weighted against the ingrained principle of 'always complete your mission.' I determined that the best course of action was to return to where we had started, get a guide, or get new instructions. I thought we could likely find our way back, since we had followed the stream all the way.

I had the word passed from man to man up the trail and to those behind me down the trail. I told them that we were going back and that no man was to lose contact with the man in front of him. I had no idea how many men I was leading out. I took the lead and we started down the stream in the blackness. I got in the stream bed itself rather than staying on the trail because I remembered on the way up that the path left the stream for short distances before coming back to it. Being totally blind in the dark I was unwilling to lose the stream for even a minute. As long as I could feel the water I felt confident that it would lead us out.

We had not gone far when we came across another group from the original column. A Sergeant had taken charge of this group and had decided to set up a defensive perimeter and wait for morning. This caused me to have some doubt as to the wisdom of my decision, but on short reflection I decided to stay with the conviction that the proper action was to get back and try to salvage the mission if possible. Still carrying the long and awkward stretchers in addition to the M1s and other gear on our backs, we slipped, stumbled, and fell over the rocks in the stream for what seemed like a very long time. Finally the stream widened out considerably and became almost level. This made walking easier, but we still were moving as quietly as possible, not knowing where we were or what we might run into.

As we were moving down the stream bed I heard noises up ahead and stopped the column. I told the guys behind me that I was going to crawl up ahead, and for them to hold the column there until I came back. When I had crawled up a hundred yards or so I could make out voices, but I couldn't understand them. I crawled a little further and could hear well enough to determine that they were speaking French. I knew that a French battalion was attached to the 23rd Regiment and I felt some relief, but I was worried about how they might react to noises in the dark. Since I was well protected by the bank of the stream I decided to call out to them. I shouted 'GI, GI.' They suddenly stopped talking and I heard the 'Clack-Clack,' sound of a 50 caliber machine-gun being loaded. I lay there in silence waiting to see what their reaction would be, but there was only silence. They knew there was someone out in front of them, so I had better try to make them understand. I peered up over the edge of the bank and thought I could make out a bunker with a firing opening. I called out again 'GI, GI, American, American.' This time they acknowledged me by shouting back 'Francsia, Francsia.' I never dreamed I would ever use my half semester of junior college French but I called back 'parlez English?' I heard them talking to each other and assumed that this was as good a time as any to do what had to be done. I started shouting non-stop, 'American GI, I'm coming out. Don't shoot. American, American, GI, GI, don't shoot.' Keeping up this plea I slowly stood up in the ditch, and when they didn't fire I started walking toward where I thought the bunker was. It was still pitch black.

Two French soldiers stepped out from behind their bunker and looked me over, and I asked again 'parlez English?' Their response was 'non, non.' One of them pointed and I somehow understood that he would take me to someone who could speak English. I followed him through the dark until we came to a cave. He stepped in and I followed. What I saw, smelled and heard was straight out of Dante's Inferno. I couldn't make out anything other than dark recesses and the scurrying shadows of a few men, since there was only the dim light of candles and it was almost as dark in the cave as it was outside. A heavy odor of medicine and alcohol hit me, and coming from somewhere back in the deeper recesses of the cave I heard the agonized moaning and loud cries of pain from several men. It was evident that I was in a forward aid station, but it appeared to me to be a pit from hell. I will never forget that scene.

A French officer, that I gathered was a Doctor, came up and asked me in English if he could help me. I explained to him what the circumstances were and he directed a French soldier to guide me to the 23rd's position. The Doctor also told us that we were very fortunate because a Korean patrol had slipped into their forward outposts less than an hour before our arrival and killed three French soldiers--one of which had his throat cut--and the guards were very nervous.

I went back to the stream, called out the men and we arrived at a 2nd Division artillery position well before daylight. I told the men that we would wait there until someone claimed us. My devotion to carrying out the mission had cooled considerably. I settled down in the firing pit of a 4.2 mortar and tried to get some rest even with the constant booming of the big guns. I closed my eyes on my first day at the front.

Veteran Information

Agent Orange
If an AO / Dioxin affected veteran, know one, spouse or offspring add your statement in comment area too! All 18+ can sign! NO VETERAN LEFT BEHIND, Pass along to others too!

Our government needs to do its job and take care of the veterans as prescribed by law, Abe Lincoln and DOD regulations.

Will you sign this petition? Click below to review many comments and decide, 5,200+ have done so to date.

SIGN, Pass along to others too (family, friends, tweeter and your email list), post link to group pages like FB every few days, and SHARE and reSHARE with everyone!

[email protected] Head of the VA. Send him your details.
(513) 509-8454

Submitted by Dennis McHenney
[email protected]

Artillery Book
I was at a yardsale for books two years ago and bought a bunch of WWII books. When I returned home I noticed one of them was a hand written in pencil. From April. 1943 Guatalcanal. It is from 37th Division artillery and has maps and coordinates in it. The person who wrote this book is Sgt. J R Gibson. There is also a gridded picture of Guatalcanal and two loose pages with the subject: surveyed points. These two pages are signed by George T. Fielding III (the third). Also part of a trail guide for the Ten Mile River rim and spokes trails from 1939.Ten mile river, N.Y. im assuming the river guide was just something the author was interested in as it appears to have nothing to do with the manual. Anyway since I have had this in my possesion I've had the want to get this to a sibling or son or daughter or a family member of Sgt JR Gibson. This is something I feel they would love to have as a great memory of the work that was done by our military during those times and they could have a personal piece of his history. Thank you for any help in this, I wont give up until it is either with the right family member or in a museum.
Thank you
Cory Conroy
[email protected]

Looking For:

NOW CASTING: ARE YOU READY TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE IN 365 DAYS? Do you want to train for a Tough Mudder competition? Have you ever aspired to break a world record? Do you want to lose weight and wear a bikini for the very first time? Maybe your all of your friends are getting married and you want to find the love of your life? Perhaps you've been trying to have a baby or want to become a surrogate for a friend or family member? Are you a service person who wants to reconnect with your lost love or a shipmate? We're looking for individuals with unique stories who want to achieve their ultimate goal. If you're ready to make a major life change, we want to document your journey. Apply at

Searching for MSgt James Levaseur
MSgt James Levaseur was indeed the very best Equipment Maintenance Technician I ever had the privilege to serve with in my air force years. We serve together twice: Lowry AFB was my first assignment after basic training I completed the technical training program held at Lowry AFB and then got stationed there at Lowry AFB, 1973 - 1976, this is where I first met James Levaseur, he was my supervisor.

Some years later, I got stationed overseas to the 10th Reconnaissance Technical Squadron, RAF Alconbury, 1978 - 1982, James Levaseur was my supervisor there again. He was always eager and willing to share his knowledge, he was the very best supervisor and mentor a guy could ever hope to have. I was glad to come across James's profile here on TogetherWeServe where I learned he was in fact a prisoner of war in Vietnam for a time, he did a good job shielding that piece of information from us, I'm sure they had good reason for not telling us, his recovery/adjustment from that experience must have worked well, I never would have guessed it, still I feel cheated not knowing!

Bottom line is, I consider James Levaseur a dear old friend, and I can use help tracking him down, make sure he's ok, and see what he's up to these days. I will appreciate anything you guys can do to help me reconnect with my former supervisor and dear friend!

My email is [email protected]
My full name is: Jocelyn Bruno
My phone: (210)325-9898 (it's my android so I can receive calls/and files)
My home address: 10271 Mission creek, Converse TX 78109

Assistance Requested
Thank you Brian Foster for this wonderful website. I just joined so have much to read and learn.

I am the daughter of the late Lt. Col. Charles F. Lindimore, WWII, Korean Conflict, Purple Heart, Bronze Star. I am in the process of writing a book on my father's experience as CO at one of the battles of POW in June, 1945.

I am seeking any living soldier who served under my father who is still living. The battle was Trieste, Italy, June 5, 1945 362nd Infantry 91st Div. My father was a 23 yr. old Lt. and all other officers were killed and he had to take the remaining of his company up a large hill and over take the Germans who were killing our soldier with massive firing of machine guns. This is by Florence Italy. My father took me there and he re-united with the Lorenzetti family of Triete who owned the town. They gave us a great reunion dinner with many people attending. My father received the Bronze Star for this battle and his Captain bars. I have an entire book written by his men who fought in this battle and my father endorsing as CO.

I am in need of any soldier still living who would be willing to give me an interview of what they remember (if, they are willing to) to enclose in my book. I found one family in Texas and they were so happy to hear from me and so sad their father and husband who served under my Dad had passed six months prior to my call as he had wanted to hear from one of his buddies in that battle. I feel bad I only found this small book with stories, poems, and dedications to their loss comrades so late.

I am trying to do my best to preserve this authentic and real piece of one of the battles of POW in Italy 1945. My father and the American's in this campaign were under General Clark. After the Italy battle and the Germans were defeated, Eisenhower ordered D-Day to begin. So, these Italian battles certainly were important and our soldiers and allies deserve recognition anyway possible as they opened the gateway for D-Day and progress to end the war.

I am in possession of a book General Clark gave his officers when they went into Rome. The War College in Carlyle, Pa. wanted me to donate but I am in process of writing a book on the memory of my life in the military with my father and including information from the small book the 362nd wrote about this battle.

Is there anyone who can tell me how to find living men from the POW campaign and especially this battle? I have all the men listed on the last page of Daddy's book written by his men and where they were inducted from in the U.S.

Hope someone replies to this. Thank you anyway. God Bless Mr. Foster for setting up this wonderful website.
Penny L. Elliott,
New Smyrna, Florida
[email protected]

Duval County Missing Photos for Faces on the Wall

As we all know there are 58,000 + names carved in the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. But one of the projects of the Memorial Committee is to add a face to each of those that gave all during the Vietnam War.

Check out Faces on The Wall by CLICKING HERE for more information on this project.
There are 1,955 names on The Wall whose home of record was Florida. Of those, however, 755 do not currently have a photo. There are 100 of our fallen brothers from Duval County whose photos are missing. That is the largest number of missing photos of any Florida County.

I try to research via internet searches every day. And I have found a few of the missing photos. On the attached list, if you see a yellow highlight it means that I have found a photo.

If you grew up in Jacksonville and graduated in the 60's, many of the missing photos may be in your yearbooks.

If you served with any on the list, you may have photos.

You also may know family members of those whose photos are missing. This is always a delicate item, but you may be able to get a family member to send a photo.
Let's look at this as a Chapter project to identify all 100 Duval County Vietnam Veterans that we need a face for.

I was a FAC in 1967, and we had inserted a group of 10 Spec Forces, into Laos. They were on the ground, called and said they were OK, so I released the Chopper and two A-1E's we'd used for the insert. I headed out to recon the trail. It wasn't long before I got a call from "Hillsboro", the aircraft that controlled all of the air during the day. They told me the team we'd just inserted was surrounded by NVA, and that they had F-4's and A-4's inbound with ordinance but that they were bingo fuel, meaning that they had to drop their bombs and head home.

When I arrived at the location, I asked the SOG team where the enemy troops were exactly. He said "they're close, about 50 meters north of us and off to the east and south." He also told me that he couldn't stick his head up to see exactly where they were, as they would blow it off! I was flying an O-2A, which is a twin engine, push/pull, Cessna. Also called a Cessna 335 in civilian life, I think. At that point I decided to take a calculated risk, dove down low, picking up speed to probably 180 or so, and made a pass from south to north, just a little bit west of our guys. When the NVA opened up on me with their AK-47's, it was like a picture of muzzle flashes, in the shape of a "J" , if you laid it on it's side, the long line to the north of the friendlies, and the bottom of the J would be east of the team. Also the team had a large red panel marking their position.

When I cleared the F-4's in with their 500 lb bombs, I told them, you have to be right on with your bombs since the friendlies are really close to the bad guys. He said, "don't worry Covey, we have their panel in sight. They were the best F-4 strikes I had ever seen. Then the A-4's off a carrier I think, had napalm, so I put them in from north to south on the east end of the "J". Shortly thereafter, the helicopter and A-1's showed up, extracted the friendlies, and not one of the 10 were even injured!

I submitted DFC's I believe, for the fighters. My O-2 had several holes in the tail area, but that time they didn't hit me. I used to say that most of the enemy troops weren't duck hunters, they didn't know how much you needed to lead an airplane. Anyway, as I wrote before the team had a party that night and invited me and about 5 other FAC's. I don't know the name of the gentleman that gave me the hug, and said they wouldn't be there if it wasn't for me, only that it was on Sept 11, 1967. Anyway, it's one of my favorite stories, and I have many many more, from of course long, long ago.

If you recognise yourself in this story, contact me. I'd love to hear from you!

Letters to the Editor

Coast Guard Heroes
I really enjoyed the article on Douglas Munro. I am a member of the Cle Elum/Roslyn VFW Post and each year on the anniversary of Munro's death every dignitary in this county as well as every Active Duty Coast Guardsman join to honor our most distinguished resident. You might also note that the Coast Guard has a new Headquarters in D.C. and it is appropriately named the Douglas Munro Building.

Ron Jacobson
MSgt USMC, Ret.

Another very interesting Dispatches. These are always informative and interesting. I also like this one for the USCG inclusion. They were also active in operation Market Time, and some brown water operations. I remember the radio station on a hill outside of Vung Tau where they commanded and controlled the coastal surveillance operation in 66-67.

On the Cuban report a couple of comments. An agency buddy has no doubts about the roles the Cubanos may have played in North Vietnam and Laos. He has doubts about the reports of activities inside Cuba. I tend to agree. There would have really been no advantage to take anyone there and at this late date, I feel confident that more would have surfaced from all the defectors and refugees exiting that workers' paradise.

I had buddies in C&C who reported Caucasians involved in counter recon units but no one I knew ever captured either a living one or recovered any bodies. I do know that if you got one it was worth a month in Taiwan!

My company encountered a Caucasian, white, wearing cammies, carrying an M-14 and accompanied by two NVA. N Company Rangers had a Guamanian soldier and a couple of Kit Carson Scouts who wore enemy clothes and carried an AK-47. My guys hesitated and challenged instead of just engaging. They ended up killing one NVA but the Caucasian and one NVA escaped.

I reported it and got a bunch of Poo Poos from Brigade. Then A Company spotted the two survivors a day or so later. They got the other Vietnamese but the Caucasian escaped again. We never found out who the guy was or why he was in the AO. We doubted it was a European given that we were near the coast and we could not figure out what mission a foreigner might have in that AO deep into the country.

Military Myths & Legends
Just writing to say I love Mysteries, Myths and Legends. Especially ghost stories that deal with the military. I can't wait to read them at the Together We Served web site.

RM2 Gail Johnson
U.S. Navy Vet.

The VN Myths & Legends article said that 58K+ were KIA in Nam. As you can see in the graphic below, there are 58K+ names on the wall but 47K+ were killed as the result of enemy fire.

I know the ones who died in country from NBC were doing their jobs, but from this Grunt's point of view the 47K+ were putting themselves directly in harm's way. Having lost 20+ from my company in six months and 8 in one day, I feel these should not be lumped with someone who was in a vehicle wreck.

Nick McIntosh
U.S. Marine Corps

I enjoy your dispatches very much. I am especially intrigued by the personal reflections from the service members that were "there." Thank you for the great service you provide.

Your latest dispatch included a section called "Common Myths of the Vietnam War." Though very interesting there is one statistic I find disturbing.

Two-Thirds of the United States Military Force in Vietnam was volunteer. I am sure the numbers you found in the record books will show that on paper this number is accurate. However as Paul Harvey would say, "And here is the rest of the story."

I was born in the middle of the Vietnam War and cannot claim to be an expert, however, one thing I do know is the United States had the military draft still in place. My knowledge is from personal experience. My father "volunteered" to join the Army National Guard of New York. By some miracle, his company was never called up to active duty. I have one uncle that "volunteered" to join the Marines, and one uncle that "volunteered" to join the Navy. All three of these veterans decided not to play the odds of getting drafted into the Army infantry and "volunteered" to serve in another "safer" branch of the military. My father-in-law wasn't so lucky. He played the odds and lost. He was drafted into the Army infantry. All four of these service members made it back to the US after the war.

PVT Bernie Struble (National Guard) Mechanized Infantry motor pool never left the United States. Died of natural causes 2016.

CPL Joe Chechak (US Marines) in country as a Yeoman. Did not see action.
Lymphoma has been in remission for 10 years due to Agent Orange exposure.

PO2 Larry Chechak (US Navy) Stationed on a destroyer escort as a Sonar
Technician. Helicopter air crew as a collateral duty. Will not talk about his time in service, especially as a door gunner.

PVT Bob Walsh (US Army) in country as a Mess Cook. Will not talk about his time in service, especially driving his canteen truck in convoys.

Here is a perfect example of the of a two-thirds "volunteer force" on paper, and the personal story of why that number is completely accurate and completely wrong.

Thank you for your service, keep the stories flowing. We all need your medicine.

CPO Gary Struble
US Navy
1999-Still Counting

Recently I was honored by the local group "HONOR FLIGHT" with 55 other veterans of Korea and Vietnam wars with a chartered flight to the War Memorials in Washington, DC. We made the one day trip with only seven WWII vets, all over 90 years old. Each vet was accompanied by Guardian. I could not believe the patriotism paid to all of us as we toured the area and also had a tour of DC, before we returned home, all with a local police escort. It was a great show of thanks to all these vets.

Book and DVD Review:

The author has a wonderfully and engaging writing skill that keeps a reader looking forward to the next page and the next. As he writes of his journey through life, he expertly combines hope, disappointment, forgiveness and most importantly, humor.

Ahern instilled his brand of humor in a collection of amusing stories relaying events over the course of his life and his twenty-two year police career. These true stories, a combination of weird news and world's dumbest criminals, give an inside look at the humorous side of police work. But the book is much more.

As the name implies, Ahern's book covers the three phases of his life beginning with his adoption, his service in Vietnam with the U.S. Air Force and his 22 year career as a police officer in NYC and later in as a police officer and later detective in the Leesburg (Florida) Police Department. Scattered between these three phases is his search for his birth parents.

Ahern was born in Bay Bridge Hospital in Brooklyn, New York in 1945. He was half African American and half Caucasian. At age 3 he was given up for adoption and fostered by Thomas and Elaine Hackley. His foster father treated him badly and deserted the family a few years later only to return periodically. His foster mother was his anchor, giving him a loving home, human comfort and sound advice as he was growing up.

During his enlistment in the Air Force, one tour was spent in Vietnam where he was assigned various supply missions in Phan Rang and Da Nang airbase. His duties ranged from supply collection and distribution to driving new trucks that had been delivered to South Vietnam ports of entry back to Phan Rang. Then there were always Vietnamese bars and lady hostesses.

He'd plan on making the Air Force a career but after failing several promotions in spite of excellent performance ratings (one is printed in his book), he got out and returned to NYC. He got married and after various jobs, was accepted by the NYC Transit Police Dept. After a number of years, he quit after experiencing wholesale police brutality and some racism - both ignored by the brass.

Following numerous jobs and living in different states, he returned to police work when he moved to Florida and joined the Leesburg Police Department, moving through the ranks to detective and department head of numerous divisions.

As for his birth parents, and years of searching, he eventually found both of them. His birth mother was white, his birth father African American and Ahern was the unwanted result of a workplace affair. His mother was married to a NYPD detective who refused to acknowledge him. In a joyous reunion, he met with his mother and the rest of the extended family of half-brothers and sisters. After much research, he found his birth father in North Carolina. When the two met in person, it was perhaps the happiest moment in both their lives.

I really enjoyed the relationships of all the characters in the book. The humor and personality of Ahern made the book. Reading this novel will make you laugh (out loud), cry and think.

Reader Reviews
I have the honor of knowing Pete and calling him friend. I learned a lot more about Pete from reading his book. You get to see the other side of a Cop. Pete and I worked in the same Police Department. Cops are people too. Some think we are “Super” Human or Just Plain Pigs. We run in as others run out. Why, I don't know. Cops and Firemen just do it as part of their job. Pete shows the real side of a Cop.

After reading “3 - Pete: One Man's Journey,” I continue to be profoundly amazed and inspired about the contributions single individuals make to impact the quality of life for those around them. Mr. Ahern's thorough and in depth autobiography left nothing to the imagination. His incredible recall of facts and circumstances surrounding his life are indeed remarkable. I thoroughly enjoyed reading such an entertaining and inspiring book. There were certain parts of the book that relate to me personally sections that allowed me to live through his experiences right along with him sections that conveyed outright laughter and sections that made you both angry and sad about the human experience. I am glad that I purchased this book. It is a must read and I definitely recommend this valuable reading for all adults. Mr. Ahern is a man of character. Thank you for sharing your story.

This is a well written autobiography of an everyday guy that turned the garbage he was handed at birth into gold. It is a real page turner. I could not put it down until there was no more to read. The facts recounted are explicit in detail, content and vision.

This book was quite a page turner for me. It tackles issues that have occurred at historical points in time that remain uncannily relevant today. The writer has a style that captivates the reader. He effortlessly executes this skill with humor which thereby engages the reader to the extent that he or she feels like a present observer (or more like a close friend), as the writer recounts in impressive details, the journey of real-life events. He covers everything from adoption, matters of race, war, dysfunctional relationships, PTSD, life as an NYPD Cop. the topics are just too extensive to list. The bottom line is that I recommend this book to people both young and old, as there is something in it that will appeal to everyone!!

About the Author
Born in Brooklyn, New York, he was given up for adoption at age 3 months. Lived as a Foster Child until age 17 in the most amazing family and grew up in Jamaica, New York. Served in the U.S. Air Force from 1963 to 1966 with the last year in Vietnam. Entered Law Enforcement in New York City followed by Leesburg, Florida where he specialized in Hostage Negotiations, Crimes Against Children, Crimes against the Elderly and Sex Crimes. Retired in 2002. Married with one son, four stepsons, two daughters and eight granddaughters. Living in Lake County, Florida and an avid Jazz Fan.

This remarkable work by Bob Zimmerman stands out from most films about World War II. Unlike most war documentaries, his focus is less on strategies and tactics but rather on seven valiant Marines who fought and survived the Battle of Okinawa - the bloodiest battle of World War II.

In this award-winning DVD, each of the seven former Marines interviewed relive their tormenting experiences by describing the terror and heartbreak of close-in combat as they witnessed day in and day out the death of hundreds of their buddies and those who suffered severe wounds. Their names are Dick Whitaker, Jim White, Bill Pierce, Junior Montgomery, Roy Wilkes, Fred Westphal and Bill Sloan.

Perhaps the greatest element of Zimmerman's film was his allowing the seven interviewees all the time they wanted in describing what it was really like for them fighting on Okinawa. This was the heartbeat of the documentary real emotional moments as each spoke of fear, courage, hope, horrifying conditions and the death of thousands of civilians, Japanese soldiers and U.S. forces.

I cannot recommend this film highly enough. Hearing the heartfelt testimony of these seven Marines will give the viewer a genuine prospective on the horrors and personal suffering inherent in war - any war, now and then.

The interviewees were members of the 6th Marine Division which was formed on Guadalcanal on September 7, 1944. It was made up from infantry and support elements of the 4th, 22nd and 29th Marines, as well as the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Raider Battalions which had been disbanded months earlier. Following rugged training, the Division was shipped 6,000 miles to land as part of the III Amphibious Corps on the island of Okinawa on April 1, 1945.

Initial battles for the Division were Yontan Airfield and Yae Take in northern Okinawa before being sent south to participate in the assault against the strongly defended Shuri Line located in hills honeycombed with caves and passages teeming with thousands of suicidal Japanese. Units making the assault were the 22nd and 29th Marines. During a 12-day period Marine made a series of 11 blood-drenched series of battles to wrest the position from its' Japanese defenders. During those 12-days, regiments reduced to company strength, and companies to platoons. Many platoons were wiped out to a man. On one day alone (May 16), there were 576 casualties - a day described as the "bitterest" fighting of the Okinawa campaign. By the time the area was considered secure, 1,656 Marines died in the fight for this 50-foot-high strongpoint, with another 7,429 wounded.

The Sixth division was credited with over 23,839 enemy soldiers killed or captured and with helping to capture 2⁄3 of the island, but at the cost of heavy casualties.

After the war it served in Tsingtao, China where the division was disbanded on April 1, 1946, being the only Marine division to be formed and disbanded overseas and never set foot in the United States. But not before distinguishing themselves like few have done before or since.

Viewer Reviews
The documentary is an exceptionally detailed account of the war in the Pacific by the men who were there. The trauma of what they experienced is etched into their memories and they recall it in vivid detail. You can see at times where they are recounting the stories of their time on Okinawa and how it is like a movie playing back in their heads. They speak to the horrors of war, their personal struggles and their absolute commitment to winning. God bless these heroes and thanks to them for giving us a real life look into one of the great battles of World War II.

This excellent DVD tells the story of the Sixth Marine Division's experience in the battle of Okinawa through the eyes of six Marines who were there. The filmmaker lets them tell their stories, which begin with their induction into the Marine Corps and end with their homecoming after the war. But the focus is on Okinawa. Each Marine has something different to say, and they all combine for a moving and fascinating portrayal of the battle. The interviews, which are the highlight of the film, are supplemented with superb photos and footage of the battle. It's a beautiful film, very professionally done and better than anything I have seen on the History Channel. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in WWII or the Marine Corps.

I have seen WWII documentaries on combat in the European and Pacific theaters before. This feature, however, reached for a level that is usually not explored: testimony from the combatants themselves. Bob Zimmerman took the time to fully and patiently let each of the veterans interviewed tell their story. He did not deal solely with descriptions of fighting, but, through his skill as a filmmaker, we came to know each man's story via details of their personal lives details that served to humanize them. They are each given depth through their own descriptions of their lives before, during and after this intense conflict. Bob gives us just enough of this human dimension he deftly does not overindulge.

Words alone can never fully communicate what real combat is like. Bob conveys more of the intensity than perhaps other films by approaching from a different angle. He allows the viewer to first appreciate each man as an individual thus making the combat appear even more stark, exacting and intense.

About the Filmmaker
Bob Zimmerman is a film producer and owner of R.A.Z. Films. 'Rise of the Valiant' is his second documentary and he is currently working on a WWII film.

He lives in Illinois with his wife Brenda. 'Rise of the Valiant' received the 2015 Major Norman Hatch Award for the best mini-documentary (longer than 40 minutes) dealing with historical or current Marine Corps subjects.


The first GOLDSBOROUGH, torpedo boat number 20, was built by Wolff and Zwicker Iron Works of Portland, Oregon. Her keel was laid 14 July 1898 and she was launched 29 July 1899, under the sponsorship of Miss Gertrude Ballin, young daughter of the Superintendent of the Wolf and Zwicker Iron Works. The torpedo boat was commissioned in the Puget Sound Navy Yard 9 April 1908, Lt. Daniel T. Ghent in command.

GOLDSBOROUGH had a length overall of 198 feet extreme beam, 20 feet 7 inches normal displacement of 255 tons mean draft 6 feet 10 inches designed speed of 27 knots, and a designed complement of 3 officers and 56 men. Her original armament was four 6-pounders and two 18-inch torpedo tubes.

GOLDSBOROUGH joined the Pacific Torpedo Fleet after commissioning on 9 April 1908 and spent the next six years based at San Diego, California. She cruised along the coast of California and the Pacific Coast of Mexico, engaged in torpedo practice and joint Fleet exercises and maneuvers. She was placed in ordinary at the Mare Island Navy Yard on 26 March 1914 and later sailed up the Pacific coast to serve as a training ship for the Oregon State Naval Militia at Portland, Oregon (December 1914-April 1917.) She was again placed in full commission on 7 April 1917 and served as a patrol ship for the Thirteenth Naval District throughout World War I, basing her operations from the Pacific Coast Torpedo Station. During this service 1 August 1918, her name was assigned to a new destroyer to be constructed and she was designated U. S. Coast Torpedo Boat Number 7. She was decommissioned in the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, on 12 March 1919 and sold for scrapping 8 September 1919.

The second GOLDSBOROUGH DD 188 was a “four piper” destroyer which was launched at Newport News, Virginia in 1920 and sponsored by Miss Lucetta Goldsborough, the Admiral’s niece. This ship had a displacement of 1215 tons a speed of 35 knots, and a crew of 6 officers and 95 men. After two years of routine duty she was decommissioned in Philadelphia Navy Yard until re-activation in 1940 as a seaplane tender-destroyer with the hull number AVD 5. In this assignment she saw duty from the Caribbean to Greenland and from the Galapagos Islands to Chile. AVD 5 served in several capacities and in various areas of the Atlantic working with Hunter-Killer Groups and on wartime patrols.

On December 1, 1943 her classification was changed back to destroyer DD 188, and until early in 1945 she operated in the East Atlantic against Nazi Submarines. Following a conversion to APD 32 (high speed destroyer trans-port), she arrived in Pearl Harbor where she embarked a company of United States Marines and joined a task force steaming for what was to become the invasion of Saipan. The landing was made on 13 June 1945 in the face of the stiffest enemy resistance. For five weeks she supported the invasion and twice provided gunfire support to the men on the beaches. Upon completion of this assignment she joined the forces that became involved in the Battle of Leyte Gulf beginning 18 October 1944. Her first mission was to land underwater demolition teams in the face of Japanese machine gun, mortar, and 75mm gunfire. GOLDSBOROUGH returned the enemy fire with her 3 inch guns and joined by other ships in firing into concealed positions ashore. A landing boat came alongside to transfer wounded and later enemy artillery bracketed GOLDSBOROUGH, then hit the forward stack spraying the ship with shrapnel.

On October 1944, GOLDSBOROUGH joined the Central Philippines Attack Force and entered Leyte Gulf. The invasion for the Liberation of the Philippine Islands was launched at this time. Following the operation at Iwo Jima and Okinawa, earning her fourth and fifth battle stars, she returned to San Pedro where she was deactivated and later decommissioned and scraped.

The third GOLDSBOROUGH DDG 20, was built by the Puget Sound Bridge and Drydock Company in Seattle, Washington, and was commissioned at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington on 9 November 1963, Captain Charles D. Allen Jr., in command. The ship was sponsored by Mrs. Alan Bible, wife of U.S. Senator Bible of Nevada.

After working up in the Puget Sound area, she completed a series of port visits on the mainland, and arrived in her new home port of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 14 February 1964. Following qualification and acceptance tests in April, she sailed for Sydney, Australia for the Coral Sea celebration and returned to Hawaii in June.

GOLDSBOROUGH got underway in late November for Yokosuka, Japan and her first WestPac deployment with the Seventh Fleet. In February 1966 GOLDSBOROUGH made a second deployment to the Orient. She provided gunfire support for Operation “Binh Phu I” firing nearly 600 rounds. GOLDSBOROUGH also screened attack carriers on Yankee Station in the South China Sea. She participated in SEATO exercises in May, and was station ship at Hong Kong in June. On 26 June she was again off Vietnam on picket station. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor on 23 July.

In August 1966, GOLDSBOROUGH entered the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for overhaul and extensive modification. In 1967 she participated in “Operation Sea Dragon”, designed to interdict the North Vietnamese lines of supply into the Republic of Vietnam, and provided Naval Gunfire Support along the DMZ. During this deployment GOLDSBOROUGH fired nearly 10,000 rounds in support of allied forces and avoided over 800 rounds of hostile fire without damage to the ship. She was awarded the Naval Unit Commendation for exceptionally meritorious service in Vietnamese waters from 29 August 1967 to 17 February 1968 upon her return to Pearl.

In November 1968 GOLDSBOROUGH made her fourth Western Pacific deployment in five years, participating in eighty-eight gunfire missions in support of Vietnam, Republic of Korea, and U. S. Marine and Army forces.

In 1969 GOLDSBOROUGH participated in the Apollo 11 Recovery Mission. The command module “Columbia” splashed down about 200 nautical miles south of Johnston Island at 12:50 GMT July 24, 1969.

After a yard period in 1970, GOLDSBOROUGH made a fifth WestPac tour, departing Pearl in August and returning in February 1971. Again she provided Naval Gunfire Support for allied troops, and carried out carrier escort duties in the Gulf of Tonkin. Later that year she visited Portland, Oregon for the 1971 Rose Festival.

In September 1971 GOLDSBOROUGH departed on her sixth deployment to the Western Pacific, providing Naval Gunfire Support for allied ground troops and performing carrier escort services.

In early 1972 she was assigned to the recovery Task Force for Apollo 16. Departing again on 13 October 1972 for her seventh deployment to the Western Pacific, this would be her last trip to the “gunline” of Vietnam. In December, while conducting a combat mission GOLDSBOROUGH was hit by coastal artillery fire. The shore battery put a hole five feet wide through an upper deck. The ship’s crew received a Meritorious Unit Commendation for service between October 1972 and February 1973. The ship returned to Pearl Harbor in May 1973.

GOLDSBOROUGH underwent a major overhaul at Pearl in 1974. Her electronics and weapons systems were modernized, and she was fitted with a new type of sonar. Her boilers and generators were rebuilt as well. She was badly in need of this overhaul, being well worn from her repeated deployments to the Western Pacific.

During the 1980’s GOLDSBOROUGH participated in Persian Gulf operations, including contingency activity during the Iranian hostage crisis. She conducted maritime escort duties during the Iran / Iraq war, escorting Kuwaiti oil tankers through the Persian Gulf. GOLDSBOROUGH was modernized extensively in 83-84 at Pearl Harbor. In 86 the ship was host of the CNO Adm. Watkins.

In September 1990, during Operation Desert Shield GOLDSBOROUGH made the first seizure of an Iraqi ship, the Zanoobia. The Iraqi ship was boarded and diverted to a neutral port by GOLDSBOROUGH crew members. The ship’s action set the standard for future boarding operations during Operation Desert Shield.

GOLDSBOROUGH completed her final forward deployment in October 1992 to Central America as part of a joint task force involved in counter-drug operations, setting the standard for joint aerial and surface detection and monitoring operations.

GOLDSBOROUGH was decommissioned and stricken from the Naval Vessels Register on 29 April 1993. She was sold to Australia as a parts bulk in September the same year.

USS NIMITZ (CVN-68) flight deck fire and munition explosions

On 26 May 1981 there was another munition accident on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier. As USS NIMITZ, CVN-68, was operating at night off the coast of northern Florida. An EA-6B aircraft attempting to land drifted to the right of the flight deck centerline and struck the tail of an SH-3 helicopter. It then hit three parked A-7E aircraft, a tow tractor and three F-14 aircraft before coming to rest on the port edge of the flight deck. An intense fuel fire erupted.

USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) 26 May 1981. Fire on the flight deck following the crash of an EA-6B aircraft. U.S. Navy photo

The three F-14 aircraft involved in the fire were each configured with one AIM-7F SPARROW missile, one AIM-9L SIDEWINDER missile, one AIM-54 PHOENIX missile, and a quantity of 20mm target practice ammunition.

The fire was fed by a continuous flow of JP-5 fuel from the punctured tank of an F-14 aircraft that had just been refueled. The flight deck fire fighting systems prevented the fire from spreading and the fire was contained in an area of about 4000 square feet. Throughout the fire, numerous hoses were trained on the missiles to keep them cool. About 28 minutes after the fire began, it was believed “out” and the order was given to move into the area to start on the clean up.

As the sailors approached the scene, a SPARROW missile warhead detonated. This was an unexpected slow cook-off reaction of the explosive in the warhead. The SPARROW missile had detached from the launcher of an F-14 aircraft during the fire and was among the hot debris on the deck. The warhead explosion killed two crewmembers, injured seven and rekindled the fire. The warhead detonation made a 12-inch long by 24-inch wide by 3-inch deep depression in the flight deck. 49 Two more SPARROW warheads and one SIDEWINDER warhead detonated after the first explosion. In all, fourteen sailors were killed and thirty-nine were injured in this accident. Also, three aircraft were destroyed and nine were damaged. The cost to repair the material damage from this accident was over 58 million dollars.

USS NIMITZ (CVN-68) Returning to port after the fire and munition explosions. U.S. Navy photos.

The USS NIMITZ incident increased the concern about the cook-off sensitivity of munitions and ship survivability. VAdm. Bulkeley asked for a follow-up briefing on the progress in the EAD program. I briefed him and the Board of Inspection and Survey on 26 February 1982. He suggested that the Fleet Commanders should be apprised of our efforts to make insensitive ordnance. The OP-354 staff was asked to make the arrangements. On 22 April 1982 Mr. Max Stosz of White Oak and I presented the pre-brief of what we expected to present to the Fleet Commanders to VAdm. Walters, OP 03, for his approval. We followed with a briefing to VAdm. Johnson, the COMNAVSURLANT, in Norfolk, VA on 4 May 1982.

49 “Navy Studies EA-6B Crash on Nimitz”, Aviation Week & Space Technology, P. 115, September 13, 1982.

History of USS Requin (SS 481)

Man’s quest to sustain life in the extreme environments of the ocean depths and space was realized in the 20th century during the Cold War. NASA and the Navy faced many of the same challenges and hazards including the effect of extreme temperatures on materials, pressurization, and an unimaginably slim margin of error. For these reasons, NASA and Navy scientists collaborated on research and watched each other’s progress very closely. In many ways, the Cold War was a race of technology and scientific discovery.

On a frigid New Year’s Day morning in 1945, the nearly completed hull of the U.S. Navy’s newest submarine, USS Requin (SS 481), entered the water for the first time. As she readied for battle, the world was drastically changing. While at his Georgia retreat, President Roosevelt died. Vice President Truman was sworn in. Allied troops were rushing to Berlin as the war in Europe was ending. But as history has it, the Requin never actually entered battle. Her scheduled departure date was August 21, 1945. Fortunately World War II officially ended on the 15th.

Commissioned on April 28, 1945, as a Standard Fleet Submarine, Requin made its first journey to Hawaii to join the Pacific Fleet at Balboa. Arriving at Pearl Harbor in early August of the same year, the submarine prepared for its first war patrol. In port at Pearl Harbor Naval Base when World War II ended, Requin departed and headed west for Guam. The submarine was recalled to Pearl Harbor on October 26, 1945, with ultimate orders to sail to Staten Island, NY.

In January 1946, Requin was assigned to Submarine Squadron 4 for anti-submarine training. In August of the same year, the submarine returned to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where it underwent its first of three conversions to become the first U.S. Navy Radar Picket Submarine.

In November 1946, Requin departed shipyard and headed for the Caribbean to test the conversion. In November 1947, the submarine moved for exercises north of the Arctic Circle under operational control of Submarine Division 82 and sailed with her sister ship, USS Spinax.

On January 20, 1948, Requin reported back to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard where it underwent its second conversion, a Migraine II conversion, and was reclassified to SSR 481. In December, the submarine departed shipyard and was assigned to Submarine Squadron 8 in New London, CT.

In 1949, Requin sailed its first deployment with the Sixth Fleet. In 1951, it departed Norfolk, VA, for a four-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. Over the next five years, the submarine would be deployed to the Mediterranean Sea four times until 1956 when it resumed duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea.

In June 1959, Requin reported to Charleston Naval Shipyard, Charleston, SC, for its final conversion to a Fleet Snorkel boat. Its radar equipment was removed, and it was reclassified to SS 481. In 1960, the submarine was deployed to the Mediterranean Sea once again.

Requin continued its operations with the Sixth Fleet until May 1964, when it resumed its duties with the Second Fleet.

On September 20, 1963, Requin completed its 5,000th dive.

In the Fall of 1966, the submarine extended deployment for operation UNITAS VII cruising around South America on exercises with various navies.

On April 4, 1967, Requin began its final deployment with the Sixth Fleet searching for a lost nuclear submarine.

On June 29, 1968, the submarine was reclassified as AGSS 481, non-combat duties. In October 1968, it became inactive at Norfolk, VA. Finally on December 3, 1968, Requin was decommissioned.

In 1969, the submarine remained in service as a Naval Reserve Trainer in St. Petersburg, FL. It remained a Trainer until 1971 when it was reclassified as IXSS 481, unclassified submarine. Requin was finally struck from the U.S. Navy list on December 20, 1971.

Today, Requin serves a very different purpose, educating hundreds of thousands of visitors about life and science aboard a submarine in the mid-20 th Century. Preserved within her 312-foot-long hull is the technology of a bygone era she is a far cry from the sleek nuclear-powered behemoths that now patrol our seas.

The History of The USS Pakana - History

We are proud to bring back our collection to our online viewers. This exhibit includes a cross-section of 500 photos from our private collection as well as a list of the photos in our full collection. If you would like more information about any photo in the full collection or would like to donate photos, please us.

Faces from the Arizona

Through the efforts of Budd Nease, during his 50 yrs of research, and the donations made by survivors, their families, and the families of crew members, our collection has grown to over 1500 photos of the men who served on the USS Arizona. Included in the online exhibit are group photos and photos with no names. If you can put a name to ANY of those faces, please send an with the photo number and name of person in the photo. Thank you for your help and enjoy the exhibit.

Project Details

Photos in Online Exhibit: 500

Photos in Collection: 1500

First Published Online: 19 September 1999

First Published Online as "Men of the Arizona": 01 November 2001

First Published Online as "Faces from the Arizona": 04 March 2008

End Date for Online Exhibit: 01 January 2017

Online Exhibit Copyright: ©1999-2016 by Nancy A. Nease

All stories, photos, media, etc. contained on this website may not be reprinted or used for any reason without the express written consent of the owner except for non-profit educational purposes.
Email for further information. Thank you.

All rights to digital materials within this website are held by N. A. Nease and respective holding institutions or individuals with the exception of public domain items.
The materials contained within this website are made available online for educational and/or personal research purposes only.


NOTICE: Claudia J. Thedens (aka T. J. Cooper) is expressly forbidden to use ANY materials published on this website in ANY and ALL of her current or future revisions and/or new for-profit publications.

Final Echoes

When the Franklin finally arrived at Ulithi, she picked up a number of her crew members who had been thrown from or had jumped from the damaged carrier and had been pulled from the sea by other vessels. After emergency repairs at Ulithi, the carrier steamed to Pearl Harbor for more repairs and then headed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, arriving there on April 28, 1945.

Throughout the saga of the ship’s return, however, Gehres, the disciplinarian, complained loudly about those crewmen who had left the ship during the disaster either consciously or unconsciously, men who had been blown overboard or had jumped as the flames approached them. “No order was issued to abandon ship,” he said.

The captain also created what he called the 704 Club, consisting of those men who had stayed with the ship throughout the disaster. He refused to recommend anyone not in the club for a citation. It has been suggested, however, that Captain Gehres’s ardor was cooled when someone mentioned that perhaps Admiral Davison’s name should be included on the list of those who had failed to remain aboard the Franklin.

Besides the two Medals of Honor that were awarded, Captain Gehres and 18 other men were awarded the Navy Cross, including the executive officer, Commander Joe Taylor, and Commander Jurika. Twenty-two men earned Silver Stars, and 115 Bronze Stars. Two hundred and thirty-four men received letters of commendation, and 1,110 Purple Hearts were awarded. In the end, the Franklin’s men had become the most decorated crew in United States Naval history.

At the Brooklyn Navy, Yard, the carrier suffered a boiler room fire that resulted in no casualties, and in 1946 a leak of carbon dioxide fumes killed two men aboard the ship. She was made seaworthy again but never returned to action. She was decommissioned in 1947 and scrapped in 1966. During her scrapping in Virginia, human remains from the March 19 attack, those of the last casualty to be recovered, were found inside an air duct.

Workers in the navy yard also reported that they had heard sounds while aboard the carrier. They were unable to locate any source. The sounds, they said, were of “men talking, and laughing, or horsing around like guys do.”

Watch the video: Inside the History: 8 55 Magazine on Heavy Cruiser USS Salem CA-139 (August 2022).