Tag Archives: knots

Pearl Harbor

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“The ship went immediately into war regulations, even though the United States did not declare war until December 8, 1941. Censorship became for the crew something difficult to live with. It was like taking away our freedom; it was something everyone had to abide by. The sound bite was ‘Loose lips sink ships.’”
Leo O. Drake

“The day war was declared, we were in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. In fact, I had the duty of sounding that war had been declared. We got the word ‘bogeys’, and we went to General Quarters in the yard. We had ammunition in the mount. We got the word to ‘stand by.’ We heard this many times before in our drills. Our next order would have been ‘commence firing.’ Just then, we got the word to ‘Rest easy,’ the plane was a ‘friendly.’”
Paul A. Wieser

“December 7, 1941, I was at home in Jersey City and planned to take my mother to a New York City movie. The radio had a bulletin about Pearl Harbor, details were sketchy and we proceeded to take the bus to New York. As we exited the movie, it was dark and people came up to me and said “You better get back to your ship sailor.” I took my mother to the bus depot and then returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard. I remember distinctly my surprise when two guards with rifles accosted me as I walked to the ship. Things had changed.”
Larry Resen

Sheet Music

“December 7, 1941. I had the duty this weekend, and was asleep in my top bunk when the word came. ‘This is not a drill. The Japanese have bombed Pearl Harbor. We are in a state of war.’ We went to General Quarters and started setting up guard posts throughout the ship. I was given a 45-caliber automatic and duty belt and stood watch outside a lower 5-inch handling room. Some patrolled the opening to the Navy Yard in our launches, watching for anything that might float in that was suspicious. I had no idea where Pearl Harbor was, and knew little about the Japanese. I soon learned.

Before Pearl Harbor, the public didn’t have too good an opinion of a sailor; even my girlfriend’s mother didn’t trust me after I joined. But Monday when I headed home, I couldn’t put a nickel in the fare box. I was being treated like a hero, what a difference a war made. My family didn’t expect me, and they were all gathered as if they wouldn’t see me again till the war was over. When I walked in you would have thought I was gone for years: ‘Home the Hero.’“
Bill Taylor

“I had lunch with mom and dad and some friends. I said good-bye and kissed them. I came back to the gate and the Marine at the gate said, “Get back to your ship, Pearl Harbor has been bombed and we are at war.” Running back to the ship, there were guns going up on the buildings and the Brooklyn Navy Yard boats going out into the East River.”
Edwin L. Calder

“I remember the day the war broke out. I had just got off watch at 4 o’clock. I changed my dress blues, got showered and shaved. I was standing on the deck waiting for my buddy and that is when the war broke out. We were all standing in line for inspection and they passed the word that all leave was cancelled.”
Edward Hall

“Received electrifying news of the fact that Japan had bombed the U.S. possession Pearl Harbor! U.S. declared war on Japan (12/8/41). My birthday today and feel very lonely and sort of thrilled because war declared on my birthday.”
Mike Marko


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BB55 in typhoon

On December 18, 1944, the Battleship and Task Force 38 were caught in a typhoon while steaming through the Philippine Sea. Winds rapidly built up to over 100 knots. The ocean swells created high crests and deep troughs. Three destroyers in the Task Force were lost. On occasion the Battleship rolled 30+ degrees, nearly lying flat on her side. On the bow, the immense force folded the 20mm steel gun shields against the guns.

“The scariest time of my life was the typhoon Cobra off the Philippines. We were fueling destroyers…and the seas were getting really rough. We fueled them as long as we could then it started to get dangerous…. The captain ordered us to just cut the ropes and get out of there as it was getting worse by the second. We just left the fuel lines on the deck and everyone went below decks.

While playing pinochle one of our head men of the division walks by and tells about 15 of us to get our lifejackets on, we were going topside! No Japanese plane ever scared me as much as this. Three of us went to the very tip of the bow. The others were spread out along the #1 turret and were going to tie down the fueling lines. At the bow, before we even touched the lines, the ship went up on a swell and we knew were going to take on a good bit of water; so we grabbed onto whatever we could find. We went down and about three feet of ocean hit us and sent us sprawling. We got up and got back to position when we started to go up on a swell again, this time way up and when we started to head back down I knew this was going to be really bad. I just remember being washed down the deck towards the #1 turret and hitting all those obstacles under all this water; and when I came to a stop I was under the spray shield of the 16-inch gun.”

Bob Palomaris, Gunner’s Mate 3/c

“The pitch was much worse than the roll. Each time the ship dipped into a trough between the waves, a the bow would crash into one of the huge (70 foot) waves and a wall of green water would burst over the bow and roar, two or three feet high, over the main deck for the length of the ship.”

Ensign Al Dunn



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Laundry Receiving Room

“We were glad to have the laundry to keep us clean. Smaller ships may have done their laundry in a bucket or small washing machine, and shore stations may have had a sink with a rack in it to scrub your clothes, but all we had to do was send it down to the laundry. “

- Charles Foster


We made out good in the laundry. We had a system for all of the money that came out of the clothes that were being washed. We would put all the money in one place and at the end of the week, we’d divide it – kind of a like a tip! We also had hot baths in the laundry. We would put water in the washier and take a bath. Some guy would play a trick on you and push the button – you might go round and round a couple of times before they would let you out. We did a good job with the butchers’ and the bakers’ clothes. We put creases in the dungarees and shirts. They looked better than the rest of the crew. In return, they brought us meat, pies, and cakes. The guys we didn’t like, we would tie knots in the pants legs and socks. We would stand on the pants and pull the knots tight while the clothes were wet. They had a heck of a time getting those knots out and getting their dungarees decent looking enough to wear.

- William Jenkins, Seaman 2/c

Blue for whitework

“The 5th Division had about eight or nine bags about five feet high of dirty clothes which was taken down by our crew. When it was done we would get a call to pick it up. Those guys in the division who were department cleaners would sort it and put it on each bunk of the man who slept in that bunk. At the end of the workday each guy folded his laundry and put it in his locker.”

- Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

Laundry marking ink

“We stenciled our names on all washable items except socks (they were black) in black indelible ink. When soiled, we popped the item into a laundry bag which also had our name stenciled on it and marked it off on a laundry list. Quantity for each item was also indicated. We had a small separate mesh laundry bag just for socks. Weekly, on officers’ day, we closed up the laundry bag with a large horse blanket style safety pin and put it out with the filled out laundry slip for the stewards to pick up and take to the laundry for us. After washing, extracting, and drying, the clothing was pressed and folded. The stewards then gathered it up and returned it to the rightful owner with the completed laundry slip.

- Lieutenant (jg) Tracy Wilder, Fire Control Division Officer

Oversize Safety Pin for Laundry Bag