Tag Archives: radioman

Thanksgiving

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November 1943, Recovery of the Gilbert Islands

Night attacks November 1943

“For the first time we were conscious of a formidable enemy.”

“Tomorrow this task force will be well within air range of the Marshall Islands and air attack can be expected at any time until the operation is completed. Everyone must be extremely careful not to shoot at our own planes. Never fire at night unless you are certain that you see your target. There may be Japanese torpedo boats in the area. This will be a long operation so make yourselves at home.”

Charles Gilbert, PFC, USMC, November 16, 1943

“On the evening of November 25th we had our first real action. The day was Thanksgiving. We had a swell turkey dinner that afternoon. Air defense was sounded that evening and we went to our stations. After about 20 minutes our anti-aircraft battery cut loose and for the first time we were conscious of a formidable enemy.”

Lloyd Glick, Musician 1/c

“On the night of November 25, 1943, we had an air attack. These night attacks were scarier than day attacks because at night it was difficult to see the planes. The planes would drop flares and they would light up our task force like daytime and the flares would hang in the air like forever before burning out. We would be well lit for the enemy and it was really scary.

During one night air attack while on a 40MM director a ‘Betty’ twin engine [Japanese] bomber flew just aft of the ship or across the fantail from starboard to port with all tracers all around him and they lit him up so I could even see the gun blister on it. I didn’t get a chance to fire at the plane…. Our view was blocked to starboard with the superstructure behind us and he was gone in the darkness.”

C.J. Baker, Firecontrolman 3/c

“November 25. At about 1900 we picked up several bogeys. They kept circling, going out and coming back in until about 1945 when they started their run in. The attack came from starboard side which was my side. There were about a dozen. We opened fire with 20mm on the forecastle and we got the plane. In the meantime others were circling and dropping flares so we opened up several times with our 5-inch [guns] trying to drive them off. At about 2030 they all disappeared.”

“November 26. We have been passing through debris and oil all day. In the evening about 1830 air defense was sounded and about 1900 we had bogeys everywhere and coming in. At 1930 they started dropping flares and we opened fire. We fired off and on for half an hour. Our task force launched three night fighters commanded by LCDR Butch O’Hara. They vectored him out to a bogey which he promptly shot down. He said he was going to start a run on another. One of our pilots said he saw Butch hit the water near two burning Bettys. BB55 got one sure and one probable.”

Charles Paty, Radioman 2/c

Thanksgiving menu 1943

“Holiday chow aboard one of these ships was unbelievable. There is nothing nearer and dearer to a sailor’s heart than plenty to eat: pumpkin pie, roast turkey, ham, mashed potatoes and gravy. Here comes our big Thanksgiving chow. About 5PM they started serving. At 5:15 we got contact on the radar, ‘hostile planes approaching.’ Sounded air defense. Everybody jumped up and left their beautiful chow sitting in front of them to go to battle stations. The cooks have to secure their area. All the food went in the garbage. A half hour later we secured from GQ (general quarters/battle stations). They got ready to serve chow again. More enemy planes coming in. They threw it out a second time. We stayed at general quarters until just short of 10PM that night. Finally, we opened enough doors so that the mess cooks could get through the galley and prepare battle rations.”

Donald Wickham, Musician 2/c

 

 

Crew Memories

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Crew Memories of military service from some of the men who are no longer with us this Memorial Day

“When I was in high school, I thought the greatest thing in the world was to be a soldier. At that time, back in the late 1930s, the government had a program called CMTC, Citizens Military Training Corps. As a high school student, you would go for a month to be trained by the Army. I went to what is now known as Fort Dix, but was then called Camp Dix. I went there for a month. I said to myself, ‘You know what you can do with this Army. I ain’t going out there to lie in that wet grass and march all day in that sand and get sand in my shoes.” When the jobs didn’t work out, I decided to enlist in the Navy rather than risk being drafted into the Army. Things were heating up in Europe and who knew what Hitler would do. You heard the news over the radio, saw it in newsreels at the movies, and read it in the paper.”

-Paul A. Wieser (died 2006)

Paul Wieser 1941 The late Paul Anthony Wieser
Paul A. Wieser

“Well, I looked to military life for a long time before I was old enough to enlist. I tried to lie and enlist. I didn’t make it. They caught me. They could look at me and tell that I was too young. Then along comes the draft of 1941. I was just seventeen and they wouldn’t take me without a guardian’s signature. Finally, I talked my mother into signing the papers to let me go. I told her that I didn’t want any part of the Army. If the draft got me, I wanted to get what I wanted and not what they wanted me to have. I wanted to come into the Navy.…”

-Theron T. Nichols (died 2010)

“I enlisted in the winter of 1941, in January. I had always been interested in the Navy as a boy, and you could feel the trouble over in Europe that we were going to get involved sooner or later. I enlisted with my parents’ consent.”

- Larry Resen (died 2006)

“I was born and raised in a little town in Wisconsin named Kimberly. It was a home base for a paper mill and paper-related products…. I went to the paper mill several times. I would see these slots where people kept their time cards. People who were there for eight- hour shifts, day in and day out, seven days a week, twenty-four hours a day. I said that is no life for me. I said, ‘There must be a better way’…In November 1936, I enlisted in the U.S. Navy.”

-John P. Van Sambeek (died 2006)

“Well, I lived on a farm in New York State. I went to a one-room country schoolhouse when we first started. Six grades in one room. Later on after a certain age, they bused us to another town seven miles away. That was the high school. After high school, I couldn’t live with my Dad. One day he said, ‘Men join the Navy.’ So I got tired of pulling that cross cut saw and I joined the Navy. This was April of 1941 right after my eighteenth birthday.”

- Henry Okuski (died 2009)

“I’m from Brooklyn. I had just graduated from high school in January of 1941. I was walking downtown on Fulton Street. I saw the sign ‘Join the Navy and see the world.’ This was in the beginning of March before my eighteenth birthday. I went upstairs and talked to the person in charge. He said, ‘How are your eyes? Can you read this?’ I said, ‘Fine.’ He said, ‘Why don’t you go in and see the doctor?’ I went in and saw the doctor. Everything was fine except he said. ‘I see you bite your nails. We can’t take you in because you bit your nails. Here is a pair of gloves. Put them on and come back next week. If your nails are not bitten, we will take you in.’ I guess it (the concern) was nervousness, I don’t know. I went back the following week and they took me in and that is when I enlisted.”

-Edwin L. Calder (died 2006)

I was born in Little Rock, Arkansas in December 1922. I first enlisted in the Navy on the 6th of June 1939. I guess the main reason was because I was a young kid who wanted to get out of Arkansas and see the world.

-Charlie Rosell (died 2009)

Many of your friends have already answered your country’s call to service. More will be going. Choose a service that will give you action, thrills, adventure, travel. A service where you will live a rugged, healthy & outdoor life. Many men who have delayed too long in volunteering for the Navy now regret it. Don’t wait until it’s too late. You can choose the Navy right up to the actual moment of your induction.

- Navy Recruiting Bureau, July 1942

Recruiting graphic

WWII Draft Lists – 10 million men were inducted into military service between 1940 and 1946

October 1940:  all men aged 21-36

July 1941:  men who had turned age 21

February 1942:  men aged 20-45

April 1942:  men aged 45-65

June 1942:  men aged 18-20

December 1942 men who had turned 18

 

Divine Services

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First Easter Service First Easter Service program

“When the ship was commissioned, we only had one chaplain, Captain Albert, a Protestant. Later on after the war started, we had two chaplains, one Protestant and one Catholic. The chaplain’s office was located inside the library and the library’s head (bathroom) served double duty as the confessional for Catholics. When we had a Catholic priest, he held mass nightly in the warrant officers’ mess. Some people started up Bible study groups. The chaplain was in charge of morale and personal welfare. The chaplain also helped with the (ship’s) paper and library.”

-Paul Wieser, Boatswain’s Mate 1/c

“Religious service was usually held in the mess compartment aft on the starboard side. It was held on Sundays and special occasions. The attendance of the service was dependent on what we were headed for. If action was immanent, the attendance would go up. If not, only those who attended service regularly would be there. The chaplains were always there to help you. It was a tense time in our lives. They would comfort us and tell us everything would be all right and to just trust in God, which we did. Being a Catholic, I could go to confession and communion whenever I wanted and the chaplain was always there, for me and for the rest of the crew.”

-Jim Masie, Firecontrolman 1/c

Presentation of Ship's Bible April 1941 from Hustvedt to Albert

“We had some fantastic officers on board. The man that comes to my mind first of all was a Lutheran chaplain named Everett Wuebbens. He was a man who got along with everybody on the ship. He didn’t force his religion on you except at chapel on Sunday, and you didn’t have to go there unless you wanted to. I happened to like him so much. I don’t believe I ever missed a service. When he was detached from the ship I liked him so much and thought he was so good that I wrote to the chief of chaplains and suggested him as the chaplain for the Naval Academy.”

-Commander Joe Stryker, Executive Officer

“They had the organ down where they held the services. Before the service, (one of the ship’s band members) was playing light classical numbers. I would always run down early, because he was such an excellent organist, to enjoy the music before the church service.

At that time, the senior chaplain was a Lutheran minister and the assistant chaplain was Catholic. He had been a boxer prior to the time that he had gone into the priesthood. He was a honey and when it came time and we had problems, he was Johnnie on the spot. Although I am not Catholic, I admired and loved the man. He was just great.”

-Lieutenant Stansel DeFoe

Divine service on deck

Midshipman Abram D. Harrel onboard the Ship-of-the-Line North Carolina, April 8, 1838:

“At 10 am inspected the crew at quarters, performed divine service. There is something particularly sublime in witnessing the performance of religious devotions at sea. How very effecting to see, these tempest tossed sons of the ocean obeying the summons of the bell and assembling at the altar, doffing their tar-paulins and beginning in solemn manners to chant their simple songs to that God who is the protector of the poor mariner. How the invocation of the poor sailor to the father of the distressed goes to the heart. The consciousness of our insignificance, excited by the voice of infinity; our songs, resounding to a distance over the silent waves.”