Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Post Five - It's All About the Mail

Mon. 3/19/45:  I felt a bit stiff and bruised from yesterday’s workout but otherwise O.K.  We had beaching exercises all morning and did ship’s work in P.M. while anchored off Green Beach.  We had to strip the wreck in the tank deck and repair our hawsers and cables.  I got a little sand and a splinter from the boat as a souvenir.  Got underway at 7 P.M. and tomorrow we will have gunnery practice again with planes, and then head back to Pearl Harbor.  At 6 P.M. we had a “Survivor & Rescue” drill.  We had to lower the debarkation nets.  While doing so, I lost my good Waterman’s 100-year pen with my name on it, that I had given me when I enlisted last June 1st, 1943 – damn.  It slipped out of my shirt pocket and I could see it shimmering down in the clear water and was damn near ready to dive after it.  That drill was a costly one for me.  About $20, that pen cost, my friends.


Tues 3/20/45:  Had the 4-8 AM watch this morning; saw a beautiful sunrise off the island of Lanai.  We also have passed by Molokai, Kahoolawe and the tip of the main island of Hawaii itself during the cruise.  We had General Quarters all A.M.  All guns fired and did some good shooting – what a racket and how the old 899 quaked and quivered.  Oh, yes, during mooring operations Sunday A.M. we pulled two pad eyes right out of the deck.  It’s only 3/8” plate and damn poor steel at that – cripes, a shell wouldn’t even meet enough resistance to even explode.  I think it would just pass right through like so much paper.  I swear – what a tub!  Got back to Pearl Harbor at 10 o’clock and tied up at Pier 11 in West Lock.  Immediately went after mail – got very little for crew – I got a letter from  Bud Rengman in El Cerrito, California, one from Jim Bratchie in the Philippines, June Pickering and a V-mail from my sister, Grace, two from Ethel about 10-12 days old.  She has been to the doctor – something wrong in the womb.  I hope to God she’s OK, but she was so vague about it.  She is contemplating going to work at Sylvania again.

Wed 3/21/45: Had my first liberty in Honolulu.  Had a 1-hour small boat run to Fleet Landing and walked to main gate, took a bus to Honolulu and walked around.  I bought a banana split and a coke and had some pictures taken, one with Stan Wiecexak, SC 3/c and sent them to Ethel.  We took a bus to Waikiki Beach and went to the beautiful Royal Hawaiian Hotel.  We looked around and came back to town with a Marine – Bill Daley, from Dorchester, Mass., a vet of Tarawa, Saipan and Tinian.  We had a couple of drinks (boy, were they weak).  All the bars close at 4 P.M.  I bought a souvenir map, a grass skirt for Judy, some shells, pictures, two kerchiefs, a handkerchief (and this pen).  I will send some of it home immediately.  Stuff that has no writing on it I can send home; the rest will have to wait 30 days.  What a lot of baloney that is!  Got a bus back – a long trip – got a small boat back to the ship about 6:30 P.M.  It isn’t worth the effort, but I’ll go again just to get off this damn ship awhile.  Called Tommy (Agnes Blanchard) and just told her I was back; may see her again.

Thurs 3/22/45:  Stayed aboard ship all P.M.  I went after mail in AM.  Got 11 letters for the crew – something must be fouled up in the mail.  I got none.  Picked up a 16mm movie film; James Cagney in “Johnny Come Lately”.  We showed it on the main deck at 8 P.M. – not bad.  I worked on a stage over the side all P.M. and the new numbers for the ship - 899 - 6 ft. high and 3 ft. across and 1 ft. thick – a hell of a job.

Fri 3/23/45:  Part routine; didn’t leave the ship all day.  Had MacMillan get the mail, only there wasn’t any.  It sure must be fouled up, but this is overseas.  I worked over the side on a stage all day; blocked out the 6 ft. numbers on the port bow and stern starboard quarter, then wrote this.  Wish I had some mail.

The Numbers He Painted

 Sat 3/24/45: We’re still in port, Pier 11, West Lock, Pearl Harbor.  Worked all day over the side and finished locking out 899 in 6 ft letters.  I retrieved an 18” rule I dropped by stripping and swimming after it.  I’ve meant to note before that it always seems cloudy over these islands but sunny out to sea a ways.  It rained intermittently today; warm as usual.  We are in sort of an out-of-the-way corner of the harbor.  It’s all amphibious here: LST’s – about 100 around here – LCI, LCT, LSM – all types.  Some go and came everyday.  We’ll be getting our load someday soon and be shoving off “down under”.  My guess is either Guam or the Philippines.

LCI - Landing Craft Infantry

LCT - Landing Craft Tank

LCM - Landing Ship Medium


Sun 3/25/45:  Meant to say yesterday I got a letter from Mr. Beckwith, minister of the Dane St. Cong. Church, a swell guy.  Nothing from Ethel, I feel pretty low.  I’m just homesick for her and the kids. I would like some mail and a picture or two would help.  God, I’ll be glad when this is all over and we can all go home.  Germany must give in soon it seems. Our other team is across the Rhine and Russia is closing in on the other side.  Japan mainland is catching hell from our B-29 super-forts in raids from 200-300 planes.  When the B-32 comes out they’ll be able to plaster the yellow bastards off the map.  This is Pearl Harbor where they (the Japs) started this Dec. 7, 1941.  All marks of that sneak attack have been obliterated except for a few stranded pilings where ships were sunk and are still underwater, preventing their use as tying-up places.  I haven’t been to Clark or Hickham Field yet, but have seen then both several times.  I think, maybe Clayt Cressy may be a Hickham.  I’ve written the guy several times, but he’s very lax as a correspondent to me.  I had liberty today.  I left the ship via small boat at 9 AM, arrived Fleet Landing at 10, got to Honolulu at 11 and went straight to Waikiki.  Got there at 12.  It was so crowded that I couldn’t get a locker, so had no swimming.  It was a beautiful clear, hot day, too.  I carried my 127 camera – got a film from a soldier.  I took 3 snaps – had Bob Schema, Lowery and Luadzers in the pictures with me; one taken in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and two taken standing on the beach at Waikiki.  I went over to Tommie’s.  She had a cold.  Had a couple beers and sent straight across the street to the Makuola, a servicemen’s center and tried to locate Clayt – no soap.

The crew mentioned in this entry are:

Milton Bert Lowery, Seaman 2nd Class
Delmer Henry Luadzers, Seaman 1st Class
Thomas Walker MacMillan, Seaman 1st Class
Robert Edward Schema, Seaman 1st Class
Stanley Albert Wiecexak, Ships Cook, 3rd Class



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