Bataan Speaking Introduction Aug '43-Mar '44 April '44 May '44 June '44 July '44 Aug'44-Sept '44 Bridge Reminiscence Oct '44-Mar '45 Apr '45 May '45 June '45 July '45 Aug '45 Arthur Bode & Bernard MacDonald Sept '45 Oct '45 Recall & Reminisce

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Aug '43-Mar '44

 

 

SUNDAY 1 AUG., '43

TODAY A SHIP WAS BORN AND CHRISTENED BATAAN. SECRETARY KNOX DECLARED IN A MESSAGE THAT SHE "HAS A RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY WHICH WILL NOT BE DENIED." THE LAUNCHING TOOK PLACE WITHOUT CEREMONY AT THE NEW YORK SHIPBUILDING CORPORATION, CAMDEN, N.J. MRS. GEORGE MURRAY, WIFE OF THE REAR ADMIRAL COMMANDING NAS, PENSACOLA, SPONSORED THE NEW CARRIER. MISS MARIA OSMENA, DAUGHTER OF VICE PRESIDENT SERGIO OSMENA, OF THE PHILIPPINE COMMONWEALTH, SERVED AS MAID-OF-HONOR. THE BATAAN THUS BECAME THE FIRST SHIP TO BE NAMED AFTER A WW II BATTLE.

WEDNESDAY 17 NOV., '43

THE USS BATAAN JOINED THE NAVY TODAY. THE COMMISSIONING WAS HELD AT PIER #2, PHILADELPHIA NAVY YARD. MORE THAN 600 GUESTS ATTENDED. IT WAS THE FIRST WARTIME COMMISSIONING IN THE DELAWARE RIVER VALLEY AND THE SECOND IN THE NATION TO BE PUBLICIZED. CAPTAIN VALENTINE H. SCHAEFFER, USN, FIRST COMMANDING OFFICER, RECEIVED THE SHIP FROM REAR ADMIRAL N. F. DRACMEL, USN, COMMANDANT OF THE FOURTH NAVAL DISTRICT.

CAPTAIN SCHAEFFER STATED --

"THE UNITED STATES SHIP BATAAN IS NOW IN COMMISSION. THE DESIGNERS, SHIPBUILDERS, AND WORKERS HAVE DONE THEIR JOB. OUR WORK IS NOW CUT OUT FOR US: PLENTY OF IT. I CAN PROMISE YOU DRILLS AND MORE DRILLS, AND THEN SOME DRILLS, INTENSIVE TRAINING ACTIVITY TO UTILIZE TO THE UTMOST THE LIMITED TIME THAT IS AVAILABLE.

"A LARGE PERCENTAGE OF HIS SHIP'S COMPANY ARE INEXPERIENCED. FOR MANY OF YOU, THIS IS YOUR FIRST TOUR OF DUTY ABOARD A FIGHTING SHIP. HOWEVER, WE ALSO HAVE ON BOARD A NUMBER OF OFFICERS AND ENLISTED MEN WHO ARE SEASONED VETERANS OF MANY OF THE MAJOR BATTLES OF THIS WAR.

"WE HAVE BEEN GIVEN A NAME WHICH HAS AS MEANING TO IT -- BATAAN. THE USS BATAAN COMMEMORATES A CAMPAIGN THAT HAS BECOME A SYMBOL OF THE FORTITUDE AND ENDURANCE OF FREE MEN IN THE FACE OF OVERWHELMING ODDS. IT HAS A RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY THAT SHALL NOT BE DENIED.

"FROM THE SOUTHWEST PACIFIC COMES THE FOLLOWING MESSAGE FROM GENERAL MAC ARTHUR; 'I FEEL THAT IF GIVEN THE OPPORTUNITY, THE USS BATAAN WILL ADD FRESH LAURELS TO THAT HALLOWED NAME'.

"I UNDERSTAND THAT MAC ARTHUR'S HEADQUARTERS IN AUSTRALIA STILL ANSWER ALL PHONE CALLS WITH THE WORDS 'BATAAN SPEAKING.'

"BEFORE LONG THIS SHIP GOES INTO ACTION, THE WORLD AGAIN WILL KNOW THAT BATAAN IS SPEAKING -- THIS TIME FROM THE DECK OF AN AIRCRAFT CARRIER BEARING THAT NAME.

"BATAAN FEEL, BUT THE SPIRIT THAT MADE IT STAND FOR MONTHS AGAINST THOSE OVERWHELMING ODDS -- A BEACON TO ALL THE LIBERTY LOVING PEOPLES OF THE WORLD -- THAT SPIRIT, INVINCIBLE, THE SPIRIT OF BATAAN CAN NEVER FALL.

"IT IS IN HONOR OF THESE MEN THAT THIS SHIP BEARS THE NAME THE UNITED STATES SHIP BATAAN. IT IS A FIGHTING NAME AND WITH GOD'S HELP, WE WILL MAKE IT A FIGHTING SHIP."

TUESDAY, 15 FEB. '44 TO WEDNESDAY, 1 MARCH '44

OUR POST SHAKEDOWN OVERHAUL PERIOD BEGAN IN EARNEST. THE SHIP'S PERSONNEL WAS DIVIDED INTO THREE SECTIONS WITH FOUR AND ONE HALF DAY LEAVE PERIOD FOR EACH SECTION -- OFFICERS HAD A FIVE DAY LEAVE FORTHCOMING.

AS THE FIRST LEAVE SECTION WENT OVER THE BOW, THE NAVY YARD PAINTERS STARTED THEIR CAMOUFLAGE TASK. CURIOSITY RAN HIGH AS PAINTERS STARTED SPRAYING, SEEMINGLY AT RANDOM, WITH BLACK, WHITE, LIGHT GRAY, AND DARK GRAY. "WHAT AREA IS THIS COLOR?" BECAME THE $64,000 QUESTION.

AS THE THIRD LEAVE PARTY RETURNED, THE OVERHAUL PERIOD WAS APPROACHING ITS END. OUR CAMOUFLAGE WAS COMPLETE -- A PANORAMA OF DISMAL BLACK. ENLIVENED WITH AN OFF-SETTING WHITE BORDER. INTERMINGLED WITH BATTLESHIP GRAY AND A SOFTER GRAY HORIZON BLENDING EVERYTHING -- STACKS, MOTOR WHALE BOATS, JEEPS, TRACTORS, GUN MOUNTS -- FELT THE ARTIST'S BRUSH. IT CONVEYED STARK REALITY. WE WERE RAPIDLY APPROACHING OUR "D-DAY".

AMMUNITION BY THE THOUSANDS OF ROUNDS COVERED THE HANGER DECK. AT THE AFTER BOW A SEEMINGLY ENDLESS HUMAN CARAVAN BEARING CRATES OF FRESH PROVISIONS POURED OVER THE AFTER BOW. MORNING BROUGHT THE AIR GROUP PERSONNEL ABOARD.

AS NEW PLANES WERE LIFTED ABOARD, HEARTS POUNDED AND SPECULATION WAS RIFE -- "THIS IS IT." BUT --WHERE WERE WE HEADING; WHAT WAS OUR DESTINATION? LIBERTY ON MARCH 1 ADDED THE FINISHING NOTE -- NINE O'CLOCK FOR ENLISTED MEN, TEN O'CLOCK FOR CHIEFS, AND TWELVE O'CLOCK FOR OFFICERS -- CINDERELLA LIBERTY. TOMORROW WAS THE DAY.

THURSDAY, 2 MARCH '44

DAWN BROKE CLEAR AND COOL. THE SHARP NOTES OF QUARTERS SOUNDED, AND THEN THE NEWS -- UNDERWAY. THE PILOT CAME ABOARD; FRESH WATER LINES, TELEPHONE CONNECTIONS, AND THE BROWS WERE REMOVED. AT 0800 THE FAMILIAR STRAINS OF THE SHIP'S SONG CAME OVER THE LOUD SPEAKER, FOLLOWED BY THE STIRRING MUSIC OF "ANCHORS AWEIGH". THE USS BATAAN HAD STARTED ON HER "RENDEZVOUS WITH DESTINY".

THE PILOT DISEMBARKED AND WE WERE HEADED DOWN THE RIVER PAST MEMORY-FILLED GLOUCHESTER, BIRTHPLACE CAMDEN, AND INTO THE BAY PAST CHESTER AND WILMINGTON. IN COMPANY WITH THE USS BENNION, WE HEADED OUT TO SEA. THE GUNNERY DEPARTMENT HAD FIRING PRACTICE. AS A PLANE TOWING A SLEEVE MADE SEVERAL RUNS. SCORE: ONE SLEEVE DOWNED. ONE TORN TO SHREDS -- A REMARKABLE FEAT -- BOTH CREDITED TO MOUNT NO. 11, LT. WM. BARNETT, USN R IN CHARGE.

FRIDAY, 3 MARCH '44

OUR FIRST GENERAL QUARTERS IN THREE WEEKS BROKE THE MORNING SILENCE, REMINDING ONE AND ALL THAT WE WERE AGAIN IN DANGEROUS WATERS. THE HEADS OF DEPARTMENTS HELD THEIR FIRST UNDERWAY MEETING AND ROUTINE FLIGHT OPERATIONS WERE SCHEDULED.

SATURDAY, 4 MARCH '44

GAS MASKS WERE ISSUED. A NEAR DISASTER OCCURRED ON THE 20MM MOUNT NO. 6 AS THE CUT-OUT AM FAILED TO FUNCTION PROPERLY AND THE ADJOINING GUN SHIELD WAS HOT. FORTUNATELY NO SERIOUS CASUALTIES ENSUED. ONE MAN WAS LACERATED AROUND THE FACE, ARMS AND BODY, AND A FEW MORE WERE SLIGHTLY BRUISED. OFFICER OF THE DECK INSTRUCTIONS WERE RESUMED IN THE WARDROOM UNDER THE TUTELAGE OF LT. COMDR. SHARP.

SUNDAY, 5 MARCH THRU TUESDAY, MARCH '44

THROUGH MONA PASSAGE AND A SWING TOWARD THE WEST. A FAKE SUB SCARE RAN HURRIEDLY THROUGH THE SHIP. ROUTINE FLIGHT OPERATIONS WERE HELD WITH THE ONLY CASUALTIES A FEW BUSTED TIRES. MONDAY'S PLAN OF THE DAY CONTAINED THE TERSE STATEMENT, "THE SHIP WILL ARRIVE AT THE CANAL ZONE ON WEDNESDAY." FAILURE OF PERSONNEL TO OBSERVE WATER TIGHT INTEGRITY WAS BROUGHT OUT AND ALL HANDS WERE REMINDED OF THEIR OPPORTUNITY TO REQUEST OFFICIAL WAR BALLOTS. WE WERE AGAIN REMINDED TO CONSERVE FRESH WATER.

TOMORROW WE ARRIVE AT THE CANAL. THE PLAN OF THE DAY FOR TUESDAY LISTED NUMEROUS DEFICIENCIES IN CLEANLINESS AND ALL HANDS WERE AGAIN REMINDED THAT LIFE BELTS MUST BE WORN TOPSIDE AT ALL TIMES. HOWEVER, THE ANTICIPATION OF OUR TRANSIT THROUGH THE CANAL CAPTIVATED THE FANCY OF ALL HANDS. THE BOS'N DEPARTMENT WORKED FEVERISHLY RIGGING THE NECESSARY PLUMB BOBS. GUN TURRETS DISMANTLED TO SQUEEZE US UNDER THE 100 FT. LIMIT ABEAM. OUR "WHITE ELEPHANT", THE GREAT FLIGHT DECK CRANE, WAS USED FOR THE FIRST TIME -- NOT AS WAS INTENDED, BUT FOR A PLATFORM FOR THE CANAL PILOT. IT WAS SECURED JUST AFT OF THE FORWARD ELEVATOR AND A PLATFORM INSTALLED ON THE TOP WITH A CHAIR ON IT FOR THE PILOT. ALL WAS IN READINESS.

WEDNESDAY, 8 MARCH '44

OUR DAY OF TRANSIT THROUGH THE CANAL DAWNED COOL AND CLOUDY, BUT SOON THE PENETRATING HUMIDITY ROSE AND THE SHIP FROM FOC'SLE TO FANTAIL WAS CLUSTERED WITH THE MORNING DEW. OUTLINED IN THE MORNING HAZE WERE NUMEROUS MERCHANTMEN, FREIGHTERS AND TANKERS SWAYING GENTLY IN THE TIDE, A LAST MINUTE CHECK WAS MADE TO INSURE CORRECT PREPARATORY MEASURES FOR OUR TRANSIT. OUR MOTOR WHALE BOATS WERE HOISTED ABOARD AND SECURED ON THE FLIGHT DECK. THE PILOT EMBARKED. AT 0900 WE STARTED OUR SLOW JOURNEY TOWARD GATUM LOCKS. WE ENTERED LOCK NO. 1 AT 1131 AND IN LESS THAN AN HOUR WE HAD COMPLETED OUR TRANSIT OF THE FIRST SET OF LOCKS. PASSING THROUGH GATUM LAKE WE TOOK ADVANTAGE OF AN OPPORTUNITY TO CLEAN THE SHIP. OUR PASSAGE WAS SLOW BUT EVENTFUL. THE ENTIRE COMPLIMENT LINED THE FOC'SLE, CAT WALKS, FLIGHT DECK, GUN TURRETS, AND FANTAIL. FOR 85 PERCENT OF THE CREW, IT WAS THEIR FIRST TRIP THROUGH THE "DITCH". EXCITEMENT AND CURIOSITY REIGNED SUPREME. MANY WERE AMAZED AT THE INNUMERABLE WELL-CAMOUFLAGED GUN PLACEMENTS IN EVIDENCE EVERYWHERE. AT 1706 WE PASSED THROUGH MIRA FLORES LOCKS. WE MOORED STARBOARD SIDE TO AT 1856 AT BALBOA, AND THE PORT SECTION WAS GRANTED LIBERTY.

TUESDAY, 9 MARCH '44

QUARTERS FOR MUSTER WERE HELD ON THE FLIGHT DECK. WE RECEIVED A GASOLINE LIGHTER ALONG THE PORT SIDE. DURING THE DAY, MANY OF THE CREW VISITED ADJACENT SHIP'S SERVICE STORE TO PURCHASE SOME CANAL ZONE SOUVENIRS. FIELD DAY WAS HELD AND A ZONE INSPECTION WAS MADE TWENTY SOLDIER PASSENGERS WERE TAKEN ABOARD AND BUNKED IN THE MESS HALL ON COTS. LATE IN THE AFTERNOON, ACCOMPANIED BY THE SHRILL BLASTS OF OUR TUGS, WE GOT UNDERWAY AGAIN IN COMPANY WITH THE USS BENION.

FRIDAY, MARCH 10 '44

THE DAY STARTED WITH ROUTINE FLIGHT OPERATIONS AND COMMENCED AS ANY DAY AT SEA WOULD, WHEN LATE IN THE MORNING, LT. WHITE, FLYING AN F6F, LANDED, VEERED SHARPLY TO PORT, AND CRASHED IN THE PORT CAT WALK, RUINING SEVERAL MARK 14 GUN SIGHTS ATOP THE 20MM GUNS, TEARING UP SEVERAL FEET OF FLIGHT DECK PLANKING, AND NARROWLY ESCAPED SERIOUS INJURY HIMSELF. THE VENTILATION SYSTEM, WHICH HAD BEEN CAUSING SOME TROUBLE, UNDERWENT A THOROUGH CLEANING UNDER THE SURVEILLANCE OF THE C & R OFFICERS.

SATURDAY, 11 MARCH '44 THRU THURSDAY, 16 MARCH '44

THE WRECKED PLACE FUSELAGE WAS JETTISONED OVER THE FLIGHT DECK RAMP AFTER SALVAGING ALL USABLE PARTS. ROUTINE FLIGHT QUARTERS WERE HELD THROUGHOUT THE ENSUING TRIP. OFFICERS CHANGED ROOMING ASSIGNMENTS FOR THE THIRD TIME.

SUNDAY, USUALLY A DAY OF REST, WAS QUITE FULL FOR THE BOS'N DEPARTMENT. AT 0800 A DESTROYER WAS FUELED, AND, UPON SECURING FROM THE FUELING, THE TOWING SPARS WERE RIGGED AND PUT OVER THE SIDE. ALL HANDS NOT ON DUTY WERE TOP SIDE AS OUR PLANES ZOOMED IN AND CUT LOOSE WITH ALL SIX BARRELS. THE RICOCHETING TRACERS SHOWING EVIDENCE OF OUR PILOTS' DEADLY ACCURACY. THE

FOLLOWING DAY A SUB ATTACK WAS SIMULATED. LATE IN THE DAY IT APPEARED THAT A DYED-IN-THE-WOOL SUBMARINE WAS PRESENT, AS, AT 1430, A SHIP-JOLTING THUMP WAS ENCOUNTERED AND THE PITOMETER SWARD WAS BENT ALMOST IN HALF. MEN ON THE FANTAIL SAW A HUGE RED SPOT APPEAR ON THE WATER AND LATER A WHALE WAS SEEN TO SURFACE FAR ASTERN. IT WAS ASSUMED THAT THE WHALE COMING IN CONTACT WITH THE SHIP HAD BENT THE PITOMETER SWARD AND CAUSED THE JOLT. AN INSPECTION OF THE SHIP BY REPAIR PARTIES FOUND NO FURTHER DAMAGE. UNIFORM OF THE DAY AS ANNOUNCED IN THE PLAN OF THE DAY WAS SERVICE DRESS "B" THUS, IN AN INDIRECT MANNER, WE CONCLUDED THAT WE WERE TO DOCK SOME TIME TODAY, THE 16TH. AT 0900 WE ENTERED SAN DIEGO HARBOR AND PROCEEDED TO OUT MOORING SPACE. FOR THE MAJORITY OF THE CREW IT WAS THEIR FIRST GLIMPSE OF SUNNY CALIFORNIA. AT 1115 THE SHIP MOORED STARBOARD SIDE AT THE DESIGNATED PIER ON NORTH ISLAND. OUR TWENTY SOLDIER PASSENGERS LEFT, AND HUGE CRANES IMMEDIATELY STARTED LIFTING STORES AND SUPPLIES ABOARD. BY THE TIME LIBERTY WAS DECLARED, HALF THE HANGER DECK WAS ENCASED WITH A HUGE BIN CONTAINING MARINE STORES, MACHINE GUNS, AMMUNITION, RIFLES, BEDDING, ETC. LATER IN THE NIGHT, THEIR ROLLING STOCK CAME ABOARD: TRUCKS, JEEPS, TRACTORS, CRANES, MOBILE MACHINE SHOPS, AND RADIO UNITS.

FRIDAY, 17 MARCH '44

QUARTERS FOR MUSTER WERE HELD AS THE LOADING OF MARINE STORES CONTINUED. WE TRANSFERRED SEVERAL MEN WHO WERE RATED IN EXCESS OF OUR ALLOWED COMPLIMENT, AND RECEIVED MANY NEW SEAMEN IN RETURN. AT 1100 THE FIRST CONTINGENT OF MARINES ARRIVED. IN THE GROUP WERE FORTY-NINE FIGHTER PILOTS AND TWO HUNDRED FIFTY ENLISTED MEN WITH MAJOR McLOEGHLIN IN COMMAND. THE VMF SQUADRON'S MASCOTS, A PAIR OF DOGS, CAME ABOARD CARRYING THEIR OWN PACKS ON THEIR BACKS IN TRUE MARINE FASHION.

LATER IN THE DAY, THE 44TH MARINE REPLACEMENT BATTALION BOARDED THE BATAAN. LIBERTY WAS GRANTED AND HALF THE CREW WENT UPTOWN TO CELEBRATE ST. PATRICK'S DAY.

SATURDAY, 18 MARCH '44

0700 THE REMAINDER OF OUR PASSENGERS ARRIVED AND WERE TAKEN ABOARD. THE SHIP WAS CRAMMED TO OVERFLOWING. EVERY AVAILABLE SPACE -- FLIGHT DECK, HANGER DECK, MESS HALLS, AND BERTHING SPACES -- WAS UTILIZED. AT 1130 WE SAID GOOD-BYE TO SAN DIEGO AND THE USA. THE FORECASTLE AND FLIGHT DECK WERE LINED WITH STRANGELY QUIET MEN. ALL IN A SOBER, REFLECTIVE MOOD. "IS THIS OUR LAST LOOK AT HOME?" WAS THE CONSENSUS: FOR INDEED THIS CALIFORNIA, THIS USA, IN ITS ENTIRETY, WAS HOME TO ALL OF US.

PRECEDED AS USUAL BY OUR FAITHFUL COMPANION, THE USS BENNION, WE HEADED SEAWARD AND WEST, DESTINATION, AS ALL HANDS THEN REALIZED, WAS PEARL HARBOR, T.H. AS ONE WAG PUT IT, "THIS CERTAINLY IS THE LONG ROUTE TO BROOKLYN."

THE TEDIOUS TASK OF ISSUING LIFE JACKETS TO ALL PASSENGERS BEGAN WITH THE C & R DEPARTMENT UTILIZING THE HANGER DECK AND MESS HALLS FOR THE TASK. DIVINE SERVICES WERE POSTPONED DUE TO CROWDED CONDITIONS AND ROUGH PASSAGE.

SUNDAY'S NOTE ON "ROUGH PASSAGE" BECAME EVIDENT ON MONDAY. THE MAJORITY OF PASSENGERS SEEMED STRICKEN WITH DIRE CASES OF "MAL DE MER". BUCKET BRIGADES WERE FORMED AND UTILIZED. THE MALADY EVEN REACHED THE MARINE MASCOTS AND BOTH DOGS STAGGERED ABOUT THE HANGER DECK IN TRUE LAND-LUBBER FASHION.

THE DIFFICULT TASK OF FEEDING OUR ALMOST DOUBLED COMPLEMENT WAS EFFECTIVELY HANDLED BY CSP TARBELL. EVERYONE HAD THREE MEALS A DAY, AND, ALTHOUGH SOME HAD BREAKFAST WHILE OTHERS SITTING ALONGSIDE WERE EATING DINNER, NO COMPLAINTS WERE HEARD. THE SHIP'S ORCHESTRA "GAVE OUT" ON MONDAY AND TUESDAY EVENING. AN INSTANCE WHERE EVEN AN INFORMAL GROUP IS A GREAT BOOSTER FOR MORALE.

THE REMAINDER OF THE TRIP WAS UNEVENTFUL. ON WEDNESDAY, MARCH 22, WE SIGHTED MAUI. T.H.. OUR FIRST GLIMPSE OF LAND. THE SHIP MOORED STARBOARD SIDE TO FOX 10, FORD ISLAND. OUR MARINE PASSENGERS DISEMBARKED AND ALL WAS AGAIN SERENE. BUT WAS IT? FIFTY YARDS AHEAD OF BATAAN'S BOW, TWO-THIRDS SUBMERGED, WAS THE RUSTY HULL OF THE ONCE PROUD USS UTAH. IT WAS AN OMINOUS SIGN, ONE THAT SEEMED TO ASK "WE WERE NOT PREPARED; ARE YOU PREPARED, BATAAN?"

SATURDAY, 25 MARCH '44

TODAY WAS THE FIRST "QUARTERS FOR MUSTER" WE'D HAD IN SOME TIME. THE FLIGHT DECK WAS CLEARED FOR THE PILOT QUALIFICATION JOB ASSIGNED US BY COMAIRPAC. ALL HANDS WORE LIFE JACKETS TO QUARTERS AS A CHECK. A FEW SLY REMARKS WERE PASSES; THE WORD WAS THAT WE WERE TO BE CALLED THE "DIS-CHARGER" AND WOULD EVENTUALLY RUN THE RENOWNED "CHARGER" OF CHESAPEAKE BAY FAME OUT OF BUSINESS.

SEVERAL PASSENGERS CAME ABOARD DURING THE MORNING FROM VARIOUS STATIONS ON THE BEACH; FOUR OFFICERS, THE LANDING SIGNAL OFFICER WHO WILL WORK WITH THE SQUADRONS TO BE QUALIFIED, AND THE ASSISTANT AIR OFFICER ON THE HAWAIIAN SEA FRONTIER STAFF.

A BATTLE PROBLEM WAS RUN OFF AT 1330. A MYTHICAL 15-FOOT HOLE IN THE FLIGHT DECK CAUSED BY A MYTHICAL BOMB WAS COVERED WITH A PRE-FABRICATED PATCH.

FLIGHT DECK EMERGENCY PATCHES WERE GIVEN A COAT OF PAINT BY REPAIR VIII. THE ARRESTING GEAR OFFICER AND HIS COHORTS FROM THE BEACH GAVE THE DECK PENDANTS AND BARRIERS THE FINAL CHECK. EVERYONE EYED THE QUALIFYING SIGNAL OFFICER IN PITYING MANNER.

GETTING UNDERWAY WAS AT 1558. INSTEAD OF DOUBLING BACK FROM OUT PIER, WE WENT AROUND FORD ISLAND, GETTING A GOOD VIEW OF THE BASE. THE HULKS OF THE ARIZONA AND OKLAHOMA WERE PASSED ON THE WAY AROUND.

SEVERAL HOURS WERE SPENT CALIBRATING THE RADIO DIRECTION FINDER ON DIAMOND HEAD. AFTER THAT WE STEAMED OUT TO POINT "LUCKY". FROM THERE TOMORROW MORNING WE WILL GO TO EITHER "FAITH", "HOPE", OR "CHARITY", DEPENDING ON WHICH DIRECTION THE WIND IS FROM AT THE TIME. THE NAMES, BESIDES COMING FROM THE THIRTEENTH CHAPTER OF I CORINTHIANS, WERE ORIGINATED BY LT. COMDR. ERNIE BUTOW, THE "STORM KING", WHO THINKS WE NEED A RELIGIOUS AND PRAYERFUL ATTITUDE FOR THIS OPERATION.

SUNDAY, 26 MARCH '44

THE FIRST DAY WASN'T AS BAD AS WE THOUGHT IT MIGHT BE. THE SCORE WAS A TOTAL OF 44 PILOTS QUALIFIED OUT OF THE NECESSARY 100 PLUS FOR THE THREE DAY OPERATION. THE FORTUNATE PART OF IT WAS THAT THERE WERE NO SERIOUS ACCIDENTS AND NO INJURIES TO PERSONNEL.

THERE WAS, HOWEVER, ONE BAD CRACK UP, LATE IN THE DAY WHICH MIGHT HAVE PROVED SERIOUS. ENSIGN RICHARDSON, IN HIS FIRST LANDING ABOARD A CARRIER, TOOK THE CUT; THEN, WHEN SETTLING TO THE DECK, STARTED TO SLIP TOWARD THE PORT SIDE. ALTHOUGH HE HIT THE DECK FAIRLY WELL AFT, HIS TAIL HOOK DIDN'T CATCH A WIRE. HE KEPT ON GOING TOWARD THE PORT WALKWAY. FINALLY THE HOOK CAUGHT, THE CABLE REEVED OUT, AND THE PLANE CAME TO A STOP JUST AFTER THE LEFT WHEEL HAD JUMPED THE FLIGHT DECK. THE PLANE DIDN'T CATCH FIRE, BUT PART OF THE LEFT LANDING GEAR ASSEMBLY AND THE LEFT INBOARD FLAP WASHED OUT.

THE "TOURNEAUPULL" WAS BROUGHT UP FROM THE HANGAR DECK AND LIFTED THE CRIPPLED PLANE BACK TO THE FLIGHT DECK. OTHERWISE, ACCIDENTS WERE STRICTLY MINOR; ONE F6F PROP NICKED THE BARRIER AFTER CATCHING A LATE WIRE, AND AN SBD BLEW A TIRE THAT COULDN'T BE REPLACED BECAUSE WE DON'T HANDLE SBD PARTS.

EVERYONE TOOK A DEEP BREATH AND HOPED WE COULD DO AS WELL THE NEXT DAY.

MONDAY, 27 MARCH '44

EVIDENTLY THEY GAVE US THE BEST OF THE BUNCH THE FIRST DAY. THE SECOND DAY'S OPERATIONS WERE ROUGHER WITH FEWER PILOTS GETTING ABOARD, AND MORE WAVE-OFFS AND BARRIER CRASHES.

THE WHOLE THING WAS HARD FOR OUR AIR DEPARTMENT TO UNDERSTAND. OUR AIR GROUP HAD BEEN PREVIOUSLY QUALIFIED BY OUR OWN LANDING SIGNAL OFFICER; THEY HAD BEEN OPERATING TOGETHER ON THE BEACH FOR SEVERAL MONTHS PRIOR TO COMING ABOARD. THEIR PROCEDURE IN THE LANDING CIRCLE WAS GOOD AND THEY HAD BEEN GIVEN PLENTY OF "BOUNCE DRILL". BUT THE PILOTS TRYING TO QUALLIFY ABOARD TODAY WERE OBVIOUSLY NOT READY TO QUALIFY -- THEY HADN'T BEEN TRAINING ON THE BEACH LONG ENOUGH AND HADN'T BEEN GIVEN ENOUGH BOUNCE DRILL.

THE FIRST CRASH WAS AN SB2C; THE IMPACT OF THE PLANE'S NOSE AGAINST THE BARRIER WAS TERRICIC -- HE FLEW RIGHT IN. ON THE REBOUND AFTER THE NOSE-OVER, THE ENTIRE ENGINE ASSEMBLY BROKE COMPLETELY AWAY FROM THE FUSELAGE AND DROPPED ON THE DECK.

A SECOND CRASH MERELY INVOLVED A PROP GETTING WRAPPED UP IN THE BARRIER CABLE. A HOLE IN THE DECK MADE BY THE SPINNING PROP WAS PATCHED BY REPAIR VIII.

DURING THE AFTERNOON ONE HELLCAT PILOT WHO COULDN'T GET ABOARD CALLED IN FOR INSTRUCTIONS ON THE RADIO. THE POOR FELLOW COULDN'T FIGURE OUT WHAT WAS THE MATTER, SO AIR PLOT CALLED THE SIGNAL OFFICER AND RELAYED THE PROPER "WORD" BACK ON THE RADIO.

ANOTHER PILOT LET OFF STEAM BY SINGING TO HIMSELF OVER THE RADIO (TO THE TUNE OF "THE BATTLE HYMN OF THE REPUBLIC"), " ALL I EVER GET IS WAVE-OFFS"

ONE FLIGHT OF PLANES MISSED THE SHIP BY 30 MILES AND CALLED IN FOR DIRECTIONS. THEY WERE GIVEN INSTRUCTIONS BUT DUE TO POOR COMMUNICATIONS, THEY MISSED THE SHIP AGAIN, THIS TIME BY 40 MILES. FINALLY AIR PLOT TOLD THEM TO GO BACK TO THE BEACH. SURE ENOUGH, ON THE WAY HOME THEY COULDN'T MISS THE SHIP AND REPORTED OVERHEAD READY TO LAND, JUST AS THE SHIP STARTED TO RUN DOWN WIND. AIR PLOT REPEATED THE "RETURN TO THE BEACH" INSTRUCTIONS.

THE TOTAL NUMBER OF PILOTS QUALIFIED, THIRTY EIGHT, WAS SOMEWHAT DISAPPOINTING. WE WERE FAR FROM THE NUMBER THAT MUST BE QUALIFIED AT THE END OF THE THREE DAYS OF OPERATIONS. HOWEVER, THE TWO BARRIER CRASHES HAD DELAYED OPERATIONS WHILE THE ARARESTING FEAR OFFICER AND HIS CREW FITTED THE NEW CABLES. AND WAVE-OFF AFTER WAVE-OFF WAS GIVEN BY THE SIGNAL OFFICER BECAUSE "DISQUALIFIED".

THEY NEEDED MORE BOUNCE DRILL BEFORE THEY COULD TRY AGAIN.

FIREWORKS FINISHED OFF THE DAY WITH NIGHT BATTLE FIRING AT AN ILLUMINATED SLEEVE. A JM-1 (B-26) CAME OVER WITH A LONG LINE AND A BRIGHTLY LIGHTED SLEEVE. BOTH 40'S AND 20'S FIRED -- THE TRACER FROM THE 40'S BEING BRIGHT RED AND THAT OF THE 20'S SOMEWHAT LIGHTER. THE PATTERN WAS PRETTY, BUT EVIDENTLY THE LUCK THAT CUTS THE CABLE AND BRINGS DOWN THE SLEEVE WASN'T THERE. ONE OF THE GUN BOSSES SAID IT WAS "ONLY A LITTLE BIT OF A THING ANYWAY" AND NO ONE WAS PARTICULARLY ALARMED. EVERYONE JUST HOPED THAT WHEN -- OR RATHER, IF -- THOSE NIGHT TORPEDO ATTACKS DEVELOP, THE BOYS GET "RIGHT ON."

THE MOVIE TONIGHT WAS "MY LOVE COMES BACK". WE WISH WE COULD RIGHT NOW.

TUESDAY, 20 MARCH '44

TODAY WAS THE LAST DAY OF OUR PILOT QUALIFICATION JOB. WE TOOK PLANES ABOARD MOST OF THE FORENOON, INTERRUPTED FREQUENTLY BY BARRIER CRASHES. THE ARRESTING GEAR CREW WAS GETTING MORE PROFICIENT EACH TIME A PLANE CRASHED. NONE OF THE TANGLES WITH THE BARRIERS WAS SERIOUS, HOWEVER, AND AT THE END OF OPERATIONS -- AND OF THE QUALIFICATION PERIOD -- NO PILOT OR FLIGHT DECK CREWMAN HAD BEEN INJURED.

LT. RUSS CHERRY AND FIVE OF HIS GREEN-HELLMETED CREW HAD A CLOSE CALL. AN F6F CAUGHT NO. 2 PENDANT. ONE MAN WENT OVER TO INSPECT THE CABLE AND WHEN HE FOUND IT IN A QUESTIONABLE CONDITION, GAVE THE "FOUL DECK" SIGNAL TO CHERRY BY CROSSING HIS ARMS OVER HIS HEAD. CHERRY CAME RUNNING, AS DID CREWMEN. MEANWHILE, PLANE PUSHERS HAD CLEARED THE TAILHOOK AND HAD THE F6F IN A POSITION FOR TAKE OFF. LT. ROLAND BOSEE, FLIGHT DECK OFFICER, DID NOT SIGNAL. THE SLIPSTREAM CAUGHT THE CREW -- EVERYONE HUGGED THE DECK AS 2,000 HORSEPOWER AND A THREE-BLADED PROB ADDED HURRICANE FORCE TO THE 30 KNOTS OF WIND ALREADY COMING OVER THE DECK. LUCKILY THE PENDANTS WERE IN AN "UP" POSITION AND PROVIDED SOMETHING TO GRAB. EVERYONE RELAXED WHEN THE PLANE WAS AIR BORNE AND THE SLIPSTREAM DISSIPATED. THE CREW WENT RIGHT ON INSPECTING THE PENDANT AS IF NOTHING HAD HAPPENED.

OUR ELATION AT BEING LUCKY ENOUGH NOT TO HAVE ANY PERSONNEL CASUALTIES DIDN'T LAST LONG. AS SOON AS WE DOCKED, THE TWO SQUADRON ACI OFFICERS CAME ABOARD. THEY LOOKED SORT OF FUNNY. LT. "SPIDER" REINHARDT, AIR OPERATIONS OFFICER, ASKED TOM HAMBLETON, "HOW'S EVERYTHING ON THE BEACH, TOM?"

"NOT TOO GOOD A DAY, SPIDER," TOM SAID QUIETLY. "WE LOST CHESTNEY. HE AND FANNING HAD A MID-AIR COLLISON. FANNING BAILED OUT BUT CHESS WAS KILLED IN THE CRASH."

THE SQUADRONS' LUCK HAD HELD FOR A LONG TIME. NO VF OR VT PILOT HAD BEEN KILLED PREVIOUSLY. "FEARLESS" FRASER HAD CRACKED UP AND HAD BEEN BADLY BURNED, BUT HE WAS FLYING AGAIN. NOW "CHESS" WAS GONE -- LIEUT. (JG) BROUNE R. CHESTNEY. WE ALL COULD REMEMBER A HUNDRED THINGS ABOUT HIM -- HIS GEORGIA DRAWL, THE STRANGE FEAR HE HAD OF BEING THE LAST PLANE TO MAKE A LANDING ABOARD, AND HIS CASUAL HANDS-IN-POCKETS POSE.

WE HAD TIED UP JUST BEFORE CHOW, AND EVEN THOUGH IT WAS AFTER HOURS FOR THE DAY SHIFT IN THE NAVY YARD, THERE WAS A FLOOD OF WORKMEN ACROSS THE GANGWAY. LATER IN THE EVENING A CRANE BROUGHT US A NEW RADAR ANTENNA

WEDNESDAY, 29 MARCH '44

IN A WAY, THIS WAS A LAZY DAY, YET AGAIN IT WAS CRAMMED WITH ACTIVITY. THE LAZY SIDE WAS LIBERTY AT 1200 FOR THE PORT WATCH; THE WORK WAS MOSTLY PLANING FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS. IN THE MORNING COMDR. MATTER, THE AIR GROUP AND VT SKIPPER, AND LT. COMDR. JOHNNIE STRANGE, THE VF SKIPPER, CAME ABOARD TO TALK WITH THE AIR OFFICER AND THE CAPTAIN, PRESUMABLY REGARDING REFRESHING THE AIR GROUP AND TRAINING OPERATIONS..

WE HAD AN UNPLEASANT JOB -- THAT OF ORDERING TWO CRUISE BOXES FROM THE YARD. ONE FOR THE EFFECTS OF THE MISSING VF 50 DEVIL CAT CHESTNEY, AND ONE FOR FIGHTER DIRECTOR HOWELL McGAUGNEY. MAC WAS BEING TRANSFERRED TO BASE EIGHT HOSPITAL ON THE BEACH FOR RECOVERY FROM AN EMERGENCY APPENDECTOMY AND RESULTING COMPLICATIONS. OTHER COMPLICATIONS SET IN WHEN THE COMBINATION TO MAC'S DESK SAFE WOULDN'T WORK. A LOCKSMITH FROM THE YARD WAS CALLED AFTER THE NAVIGATOR AND FIRST LIEUTENANT HAD TRIED TO OPEN IT WITHOUT LUCK. THE YARD WORKMAN FINALLY HAD TO DRILL IT OPEN.

THURSDAY, 30 MARCH '44

NOT A LOT WENT ON TODAY. THE COMMUNICATION WATCH OFFICERS STARTED OFF PLENTY EARLY -- AT 0400 -- DELIVERING SECRET MESSAGES REGARDING OUR PLANNED MOVEMENTS TO THE VARIOUS COMMANDS ON THE BEACH. AFTER WE CLEARED THE CHANNEL, WE CALIBRATED DIRECTION FINDING EQUIPMENT AND COMPASSES. A SPEED RUN WAS SCHEDULED, BUT NOTHING HAPPENED; MOST OF THE SPEED WAS AT FIVE KNOTS GOING AROUND IN CIRCLES.

TWO "CANS" WERE WITH US, OUR OLD FRIEND OF THE PHILADELPHIA-TO-PEARL HARBOR CRUISE, THE BENNION; AND THE A.W. GRANT. IT SEEMS THAT WE HAD TROUBLE GETTING AN ESCORT, SO THESE TWO DD'S, WHICH WERE SCHEDULED FOR AN AIRCRAFT EXERCISE ANYWAY, WERE NOMINATED. ON THE FIRST NIGHT, HOWEVER, WE WERE ACTUALLY "TAFFING ALONG". DURING THE EVENING HOURS A LOW-ALTITUDE AIRCRAFT ATTACK WASSCHEDULED AND WE WERE TO BE JUST OBSERVERS.

BAD WEATHER WAS RESPONSIBLE FOR A CHANGE OF PLANS, THOUGH, AND A "SKYHOOK" (A PB4Y THAT WAS SUPPOSED TO ACT AS AN ELEVATED C.I.C.) NEVER ARRIVED OVERHEAD ON STATION.

FRIDAY, 31 MARCH '44

WHEN THE NOSE OF AN SB2C "BEAST" DROPPED OFF AFTER A BARRIER CRASH ON OUR RECENT QUALIFICATION SORTIE, SOMEONE SAID, "I'VE SEEN EVERYTHING". TODAY HE TOOK IT BACK. ON A REFRESHER LANDING, ENSIGN "RED" TARLETON IN F6F 20 CAME IN, HIT THE DECK AND BOUNCED. HIS HOOK SEEMED TO HAVE AN AVERSION FOR A WIRE AND WHAM -- RIGHT THROUGH ALL THREE BARRIERS HE WENT, LEFT A PROPELLER TIP IN THE FORWARD ELEVATOR AND KEPT RIGHT ON GOING OVER THE STARBOARD SIDE JUST AHEAD OF THE FORWARD 40MM GUN MOUNT AND SANK, FAST.

TARLETON STRUGGLED TO GET OUT AS SOON AS THE PLANE HIT THE WATER BUT WAS HELD BACK AT FIRST BY A CHUTE STRAP. JUST AS THE PLANE WENT UNDER HE FREED HIMSELF AND, AS THE COCKPIT FLOODED, HE CAME TO THE SURFACE AND STARTED PADDLING. THE "CAN" ASTERN STEAMED OVER AND PICKED HIM UP -- A PLENTY LUCKY PILOT. A VISUAL BLINDER MESSAGE GAVE US THE WORD THAT HE WAS OKAY; TWO MINOR BRUISES AND A HALF INCH CUT OVER ONE EYE. AFTER THAT INCIDENT THE MORNING'S OPERATIONAL PLAN WAS HELD UP WHILE ALL PLANES IN THE AIR WENT BACK TO THE BEACH TO CHECK TAILHOOK PRESSURES.

QUALIFICATION REFRESHER LANDINGS CONTINUED IN THE AFTERNOON. A PLANNED COORDINATED GROUP ATTACK WAS CALLED OFF BECAUSE OF BAD WEATHER.

AT DINNER TONIGHT RUSS CHERRY RECEIVED A PRESENT FROM AIR GROUP 100, THE PILOTS WHO HAD FOULED UP HIS BARRIERS. THERE WAS MANY BOXES OF CANDY, EVIDENTLY FOR KEEPING A "SWEET" DISPOSITION IN SPITE OF ALL THE CRASHES.

IT WAS GOOD TO HAVE AIR GROUP 50 BACK ABOARD, TO HAVE OUR OWN PLANES COMING IN OVER THE FANTAIL. IT'S LIKE TAKING AWAY THE THE GUNS OF A BATTLEWAGON TO TAKE AWAY THE PLANES OF A CARARIER. IT'S LIKE "OLD HOME WEEK" ON BATAAN.

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