St. Louis (Middle Cruiser) - Helena outside - Honolulu (far back)
Rambling Memories from Shipmates
Letter from Hank Brooker
Thoughts while thinking, Dec 18 or 19, 1941 after a fast chow at Treasure Island our company climbed aboard the St. Louis via cargo nets, while she was preparing to get underway from S.F. Bay. Shortly after clearing the bay GQ sounded. For sure I thought I was a goner. They assembled us in the mess hall for several hours. I really enjoyed the aroma of sea sick sailors. Dec 23 or 24th, arrive in Pearl Harbor where part of our company went to other ships. I was fortunate and stayed with the "Lucky Lou" for the rest of the tour. I met many deep water sailors.
Letter from Jan (Swannie) Svane
In the March issue you mentioned the liberty at S.F. Dec 31st, "41"..........Boy do I remember that day. I had the mid-watch and the crew from Commander Fink on down, all came back aboard a HAPPY CREW............. They informed me they couldn't buy a drink any where........everyone in town and in every bar was buying drinks for our good crew.
Received from J.D (Doug) Huggins
(Comment): One of my Christmas presents from my daughter was a book entitled "Incredible Victory: The Battle of Midway"..by Walter Lord. First published in 1967, latest printing in 1998. I enthusiastically recommend it , especially to any of our members who were on the ship in May 1942, when we hauled "Carlson's raiders" ( marines ) to Midway Island in the week or ten days prior to the battle of Midway.
I have a vivid memory of those marines and I was duly impressed by their choice of weapons. They were allowed to choose the weapons they wanted to fight with.......beginning on page 49 of the book........ "I quote" May 25th , they (the Midway garrison) got some good news.........first came Nimitz's message giving a new date for the expected attack....... now it would be June 3-4-5, a whole extra week to prepare........... then.......... "the light cruiser St. Louis" tied up at sand island, bringing the first reinforcements from Hawaii.
Captain Ronald K. Miller's fine battery of eight 37 mm guns was a welcome addition to the anti-aircraft defense. Four went to eastern island and Miller planted the other four in the woods on Sand Island. He was still at it when some trucks roared up, throwing sand in all directions a gang of men piled out howling slogans and singing Chinese communist songs
Carlson's raiders had arrived. This outfit officially known as the second raider battalion was something of an experiment. Organized by major Evans F. Carlson, its training reflected many ideas he had picked up as a civilian observer with the Chinese communist forces is North China. It had white house blessing, but its Gung-Ho philosophy smacked of indiscipline to many old marines to say the least. "Carlsonís Raiders" were controversial!! "End-Quote"
From my observations they were a tough bunch of guys, and as I said they picked their own weapons, some of the jap troops scheduled to land on midway were lucky they didnít land because they surely would have met some of these marines. New "quote": "There was no doubt about their fighting qualities, and when Midway's hour came Nimitz hurried out two companies, arriving on the "St. Louis", along with Captain Miller's guns, "D" company went to eastern and "c" company joined Miller on sand island.
Both companies were a wild looking lot ..bandoleers of cartridges hung from bronzed shoulders, their pockets bulged with grenades, their belts bristled with knives, which they flung casually at trees with skill, even their medics were armed. No stenciled red crosses for this bunch. Jack, this all really brought that week back to my memory, I have heard one or two of our people say that we were in the battle of midway, but plainly we were not...... ...we may have passed between the Japs on the west and the U.S. carrier task force on the east........they were several hundred miles apart at that time. From there we left midway and headed north to the Alaska and Bering sea patrols. Our carrier force was hiding north-east of midway, waiting to drop the hammer on the Jap fleet and carriers This battle really turned the tide by knocking such a hole in the Japanese carrier forces
A Sailorís memories of:
VALLEJO- MARE ISLAND........... Paul Haire Speaks
Vallejo-FriscoBuses. "Albany, Richmond, Aleum, Pinole Valley-Vallejo direct, "Door Nine" "Bruno's Bar (and a dozen other bars) / Bruno later lost a leg when he was hit by a car while crossing Virginia Ave.
I think there must of been some kind of boat service or ferry between the Navy Yard and Vallejo.
Communication office in the Navy Yard. We stood watches and directed traffic for ships present, but it's pretty hazy for me. The first time I saw a Negro petty officer who wasn't an OC was at Mare Island. He was on an all black Destroyer. Specialty shops at Mare Island. The only one I remember is a galvanizing shop with dipping tank full of molten zinc
Hitch Hiking was prohibited, but how do you suppose we got to "FRISCO" ?? KODIAK WOMEN'S BAY: "Red House" - "Blue House" - "Yellow House", etc......Muddy streets and wooden sidewalks. Whiskey, but no beer, because of the shipping problem. Williwaw storm. We kept expecting it, but it never happened. "Weathers not so bad here.......We've had two or three sunny days already this year......Salmon fishing at Bell's Flats!!!!!!
No tables in rough weather, so you had to hook your heels around the mess
tray on the mess hall deck. Shipboard boxing: It was rumored that Painter
Moriarity didn't dare to go below decks prior to Dec. 7th. He was a driving
force in the boxing, and as far as I knew, even ventured below decks after that
The running story in daily press about three Salt Lake City girls caught by
Postal Inspectors, sending nude pictures of themselves to GI's. It turned out
that the whole thing sprouted in the fertile brain of RM1c Guinn. He managed
half a smile emerging from a conference with the Captain. As if what he got was
more like "Don't ever do anything like that again" then
The running story in daily press about three Salt Lake City girls caught by Postal Inspectors, sending nude pictures of themselves to GI's. It turned out that the whole thing sprouted in the fertile brain of RM1c Guinn. He managed half a smile emerging from a conference with the Captain. As if what he got was more like "Don't ever do anything like that again" then "Probably....Very Well Done".
Happy hour on the main deck aft some six week after the Green Island incident. This seems to have been directed and conducted by a specialist "R" (recreation) with help from a 90 day wonder who had theatrical experience of aspirations.
Rations at battle stations after the Green Island hit. to the delight of us damn Yankees, we got BAKED (not boiled) BEANS for the first time in our NAVAL CAREERS......
Here are some of the events which I remember during my days on the " Lucky Lou" from June, '42 to April, '44. These are actual happenings and some of the names are real , as I remember them. Others had to be changed to avoid my being keel-hauled by someone's third generation descendants.
During September, 1942, in the Aleutians, a certain department head decided that he should modify the plane recovery procedures on the fantail. He gave orders to the EMs and the AvMMcs to change the length of the sled tow line before the plane's hook engaged the rope sled. Then he had the operator lift the plane before the lift line was vertical. Consequently, the plane's pontoon nose went under the water and the plane flipped over on it's back. The recovery destroyer recovered the plane crew and sank the plane with machine gun fire.
Three days later the same thing happened again. The electrician told the Chief Engineer that the recovery manual was being ignored by that certain officer. He never again opened his mouth during plane recovery. The destroyer skipper came over the TBS on the bridge and said "Please instruct your plane recovery team, Our Scotch is getting low."
In the spring of '43 we had a radar contact. Our destroyer leader went over to investigate the incident and found a Jap submarine on the surface charging batteries and smoking Pot, or whatever they used. He promptly blew off the conning tower with a 5 inch gun broadside. Exactly on the same watch four days later the same thing happened again. The DesRon commander sent us a TBS and asked "What are the limits on these birds?" He later became CNO.
When we were torpedoed on July 7, '43 the talker for Eris Marshik in the forward 5 inch gun director looked down at the 12 inches of water which fell inside the tub and said "Gee, Mr. Marshik, we went down fast didn't we?", - They were 80 feet above the water.
There are many others which I remember and I'll feed them to you if you want any more. Looking forward to the '99 reunion.
Best Regards, Pete Reeve, E DIV. Officer- '42-'44
Robert (Bob) Bucci:
:........I reported aboard two days after Thanksgiving day in November 1942. In the Frisco Area. A few days later we headed for the Southwest Pacific and ended in Espiritu Santos as our operation base.
I remember the night of January 6, 1943 as we bombarded I thought of it as my first action. The scuttlebutt was that McArthurís planes were to give us air coverage the next morning. At daybreak I was sitting port side aft, I saw seven planes above the ships on our port side. In a moment I saw a plane diving down, and I wondered why. Until I saw a bomb explosion in the British cruiser Canberra. I ran to the hatch near the 5" mount heading for my battle station, as I got halfway through the scuttle the 5" guns fired..
As I went down the ladder, I was hollering "Bombers" "Bombers", then the guys in the sacks were hitting the deck before General Quarters sounded. I still have a scar on my left ear drum from the 5"guns, time has healed it. I was in the "A" division with Lt Koehler, we were in the same battle station together, so I got to know him and liked the big guy. I also enjoyed meeting and conversing with his son at the Santa Monica Reunion.
After numerous bombardments we were sent to Kula Gulf to intercept the "Tokyo Express". Night of July 4-5 1943 our task force found and attacked, and in that battle we lost our sister ship the "Helena". I still have a dollar bill blackened with fuel oil from one of the men from the Helena that we shared our bunks with in our compartment after we picked them out of the water.
At flank speed we got to Espiritu Santos and left off the "Helena" men, reloaded ammo. and headed back up "the slot". In the battle of "Kolombangara" on the night of July 12-13 1943. "St. Louis", "Honolulu" and "Leander" received torpedo hits. Iím sure we caused much damage to the Japs.
While our bow was being repaired I got a 21 day leave. Upon returning from leave, several hundred of us were transferred to New Construction. As luck would have it, we received 30 days to report to the USS Hornet.
Received from James S. Daw
Just a "Foot-Note" or so regarding the "Wartime Patrols" of the "Lucky Lou" This is after we returned from the "Gilbert and Marshall Island" raid and were put on convoy duty with the Matson Line ships between Hawaii and the States. One trip to the States we had a very famous four (4) stacker with us in convoy the S.S. MAURITANIA sister ship of the S.S. LUSITANIA.........she sure could step along, but when she "Blew Tubes", she darn near blinded the convoy.
Or!..........the night that the S.S.LURLINE had her forward hull hatch open and a naked light showing----this was at "Darken Ship" time. Captain Rood was very patient - signaled the "LURLINE'S bridge force three (3) times to correct the matter...... The fourth (4) time the skipper called, he gave the "LURLINE'S" Captain just three (3) minutes to attend to the matter, or he. Captain Rood, would do it for him!..........Skipper ordered the forward Port 5" battery to train out and lock on the hatch............At this point there was quite a scramble to close the hatch.
Since the U.S.S. CHESTER is listed in the report how about the story of the captured Jap Officer who wanted to see the 5" machine guns that the CHESTER was using in the "Marshall Island Raid" all he could see, as he said, were the CHESTER'S gun flashes.
THOSE BOYS WERE GOOD!!!!!!!!
Last item! The evening we were recovering Lt. Robby, from Air Patrol, and we had him and "S.O.C. on the sea-sled, the ship was turned to starboard to smooth the sea, and she caught a heavy swell - bridge reported the inclinometer as 28ļ to port heel, but I'm more apt to believe it was 40ļ or better. I was standing on the outside platform of the rear 5" 38 Port side and saw sea water come aboard thru the main deck scuppers, and not because of a high wave.
I'll let some one else tell what happened to the Chief "Skinny Legs" on the mess deck.
That's all for now, If I think of any thing else, I'll drop a note.
...........God's Love and Blessing to All, Jim Daw former S 1/c Now C 1/c (citizen 1st Class)
Letter from James E. Fonville
Time Frame: War Years circa 1941...........As a fourteen year old farm lad, many changes would be made in my lifestyle. Being one of six boys in the family, we knew an extended war would require an expanded military force and sacrifice of all. For many months the news was reporting horrible stories of wounded, prisoners and death in battles. One of my brothers had gone on to the European Theater of operations. Many items were being rationed on the home front n support of our military men.
My Father and Mother could see a time when it would no longer be possible to continue their farming operations with only the younger children, four of which were my sisters. My twin brother and I wanted to leave the farm and prepare for service after we had an opportunity to seek employment for pay for about a year. After the summer harvest of 1942, we were given 17.55 each. We left Seymour, Texas and "Hitch Hiked" to Kansas , Mo. where we obtained employment in the Flour Mills. Our work as a unit was given recognition as outstanding. We were awarded the Army & Navy "E" Award.
By this time we were facing a decision regarding enlistment or being drafted. We returned to our parents newly established home in Weatherford, Texas. The day before our 18th birthday our Father took us to enlist in the U.S. Navy reserve. On that date of Feb 1st, 1944, my twin brother, Jesse and I began that transition to become an active part of the US Navy. We rode a train form Fort Worth, Texas to the Naval Training center, San Diego, CA. The assigned company 44-78 became our "home"
After Boot Training, my assignment was to Machine Shop Training School, Jesse was assigned to Signalman training school. Both schools were on the base. Near graduation time we were privileged to use the Sail Boats, If we were experienced sailors. The first day we were not experienced, so we watched some of the "old salts" rig their boats. Upon our next opportunity we could declare our experience and enter the competitive race.
We managed to get our boat rigged and launched. We gained a lot of "experience" racing down the channel, in fact we passed every boat before we approached the FINAL, a 180 degree turn around. Our lead was increased and maintained on the return. As we approached the FINAL, a 90 degree turn was required to enter the docking area. We won the race, up to that point, suddenly it capsized disqualifying us. How embarrassing.
Soon Jesse was assigned to Ocean Side CA for assignment to the APA 221. My machinist school was completed and September 27th, 1944 I was assigned to the USS St. Louis CL 49 at Terminal Island. About this time the tide of war changed, We were beginning to win. I had trained with some of the best men America ever produced. Many joined the ship with me. Did the Japanese know we were coming after them ?
I was assigned to "B" division, boiler Room #2. Thereafter, the "Lucky Lou" kept the cleanest bilges in the Navy. She rode pretty good and turned corners better than a sailboat. It was rather hard to see the rest of the boiler room crew, they were above me and the floor plates. Usually, when my shift was completed, I was permitted topside to join another work party. On a Big Ship there is always work to be done by somebody.