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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Bridge Reminiscence

 

DURING THE NEXT SEGMENT OF BATAAN SPEAKING, I WOULD LIKE TO INCLUDE A PORTION OF, "THROUGH A FORTY-SIX YEAR HAZE", BY CMDR. ARCH ATKINSON, NAVIGATOR -- WWII -- USS BATAAN CVL-29 I QUOTE

WITHIN THE PAST TWO OR THREE YEARS, "SUNDAY MORNING" THE CBS PROGRAM OF CHARLES KURALT HAD A SEGMENT ON THE RETURN OF JAMES MICHNER TO ISLANDS IN THE SOUTH PACIFIC WHERE HE WAS STATIONED BY THE US NAVY DURING WWII. JAMES MICHNER IS THE AUTHOR OF BOOKS OF FICTION BASED UPON WELL RESEARCHED FACTS OF HAWAII AND THE SOUTH PACIFIC. DURING MICHNER'S RETURN TO THE SOUTH PACIFIC, A WOMAN INTERVIEWER ASKED HIM THE QUESTION; "WHO WAS THE GREATEST HERO OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR?" MICHNER COULD HAVE EASILY SAID EISENHOWER, PATTON, BRADLEY, MACARTHUR, NIMITZ, HALSEY, SPRUANCE, MITCHNER, OR THIRTY KNOT BURKE. MICHNER SAID THE GREATEST HERO OF THE SECOND WORLD WAR WAS A HOMESICK 17 YEAR OLD BOY WHO HAD BECOME A MAN OVERNIGHT IN A FOREIGN ATMOSPHERE UNDER HARSH, HOSTILE, AND DANGEROUS CONDITIONS. THAT NAMELESS BOY WAS THE GREATEST HERO OF WORLD WAR TWO.

AS NAVIGATOR AND FORMER PERSONNEL OFFICER OF THE BATAAN, I OBSERVED THESE YOUNG HEROES. I HAD A NUMBER OF THESE BATAAN HEROES IN MY "N" DIVISION -- GENSKE, DAVIDSON, RATAJCZAK, CUMPSTON, SONDRUP, THE SPEIGHT TWINS, TURNER, AND MANY MORE. EACH DIVISION OF THE SHIP HAD THESE WONDERFUL PEOPLE. THE REUNION OF THE BATAAN PERSONNEL BRINGS OUT THE POINT OF JAMES MICHNER. THE YOUNG PEOPLE WHO WERE CALLED TO DEFEND THEIR COUNTRY ARE NOW THOSE WHO HAVE BUILT A FINE AND WONDERFUL UNITED STATES, THE ENVY OF THE WORLD.

WHEN WE ARRIVED AT HUNTER'S POINT, MANY OF THE OFFICERS WANTED LEAVE FOR THEIR MEN, MOST OF WHOM WERE FROM THE EAST COAST WHERE THE SHIP WAS BUILT. THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER TOLD ME, THE PERSONNEL OFFICER, NO LEAVE SINCE MUCH WORK HAD TO BE DONE. AT THAT TIME, I WAS THOROUGHLY DISLIKED FOR THE EXECUTIVE LET ALL THE BLAME FALL ON THE PERSONNEL OFFICER. I WAS HUNG OUT TO DRY. CAPTAIN HEATH COUNTERMANDED THE ORDER SAYING THAT THERE WAS A STRONG POSSIBILITY THAT MANY COULD BE KILLED IN ACTION. THE CAPTAIN INITIATED A VERY LIBERAL LEAVE POLICY.

TRAVEL FROM THE WEST COAST TO THE EAST COAST AND BACK WAS A VERY PRECARIOUS TASK. HOWEVER, BATAAN PERSONNEL WERE EXCEEDINGLY RESPONSIBLE. THEY RETURNED ON TIME.

WITH A HURRICANE HEADING UP THE EAST COAST, MANY PRUDENTLY LEFT EARLY TO ENSURE GETTING BACK TO THE SHIP ON TIME.

TWO BOYS FROM NEW YORK ARRIVED EIGHT DAYS LATER. NATURALLY, THEY HAD TO BE PLACED ON CAPTAIN'S MAST. I SAT THE TWO OF THEM DOWN IN THE PERSONNEL OFFICE AND LISTENED TO THE MOST INCREDIBLE TRAVEL SAGA I HAVE EVER HEARD. I TOLD THEM TO WRITE IT DOWN AND TO TELL THE SKIPPER EXACTLY WHAT THEY AUDI RECOUNTED TO ME.

THE EXECUTIVE OFFICER, COMDR. DEEM, TOOK THE MAST. THE MORE THE TWO TALKED, THE FURTHER THE EXECUTIVE'S JAW DROPPED. WHEN THEIR STORY WAS ENDED, COMDR. DEEM THREW UP HIS HANDS, LAUGHED, AND DISMISSED THE CHARGES AND COMMENDED THE TARDY TWO ON THEIR VALIANT EFFORTS TO RETURN TO THE BATAAN.

FORTY-SIX YEARS LATER, I WILL ATTEMPT TO RECOUNT THE TRIP.

THE ONE MISTAKE THE TWO MADE WAS NOT TO LEAVE PRIOR TO A HURRICANE HITTING NEW YORK. THEIR FREE DEADHEAD PASSAGE IN A NAVY PLANE WAS SCRUBBED. THEY MANAGED TO GET AN ARMY FLIGHT INTO, I BELIEVE, INDIANA. THEY THEN HITCHHIKED TO THE ST. LOUIS AREA AND GOT AN ARMY FLIGHT TO COLORADO. THEY RODE IN TIN FLIVVERS AND EVEN RODE HORSES OVER A ROCKY MOUNTAIN DIVIDE TO GET TO ANOTHER AIR BASE. BETWEEN RIDING IN TRUCKS, AND LIFTS FROM KINDLY SOULS WHO WERE SUBJECT TO TIGHT GAS RATIONING, THEY AT LAST, EIGHT DAYS LATE, REACHED THE BATAAN.

CAN ANYONE TOP THE RESPONSIBILITY OF THOSE TWO YOUNG MEN?

THE BATAAN CREW -- AT LEAST A FEW -- WERE KNOWN TO HAVE PLAYED A JOKE OR TWO. THOSE ON THE RECEIVING END OF THE JOKE WERE NOT IMMUNE BECAUSE OF RANK OR RATE. ALLOW ME TO CONTINUE WITH COMDR. ATKINSON'S "REMINISCENCE"

THE ADMIRAL IN CHARGE OF FORD ISLAND HAD A MOTOR SCOOTER AS HIS PERSONAL TRANSPORTATION AROUND HIS DOMAIN. THE ENLISTED PERSONNEL OF THE BATAAN DECIDED TO CONFISCATE THE SCOOTER SO THEY COULD ROAR AROUND THE FLIGHT AND HANGER DECKS.

UNFORTUNATELY, THE ADMIRAL WITNESSED THE ABDUCTION AND THREATENED TO DETAIN THE BATAAN FROM SAILING THE FOLLOWING MORNING UNLESS HIS SCOOTER WAS RETURNED. A "THOROUGH" SEARCH WAS MADE OF THE SHIP AND NO SCOOTER COULD BE LOCATED. HOWEVER, THE MISSING VEHICLE MYSTERIOUSLY APPEARED DURING THE NIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FLIGHT DECK. AS A RESULT, WE LEFT FOR ULITHI ON TIME. RUMOR HAD IT THAT THE ADMIRAL'S SCOOTER WAS LISTED AS A SIDE OF BEEF AND LOCATED IN THE REFRIGERATOR ROOM.

UNQUOTE.

 

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Last modified: 09/15/17