There Was a Time . . .

8-26-18

Aviator George H. Bush, flying in a squadron of Torpedo Bombers (Avengers) from the light carrier San Jacinto, flew into a blanket of anti-aircraft fire as they attacked a radar installation on ChiChi Jima on September 2, 1944.  After bombing his target, he flamed down, crashing into the sea.  He was the only survivor.  He was rescued by a submarine, and one month later he was returned to his ship.

During Typhoon Cobra (December 18-20, 1944), young Lieutenant Gerald Ford (who replaced Nixon upon his impending impeachment) led a brigade of fire-control sailors into the hangar deck of the light carrier Monterey where partially gassed planes, slammed about by the treacherous seas, caught fire.  President Ford’s actions helped saved the ship from complete disaster.

Young Lieutenant John F. Kennedy’s PT Boat was rammed by a Japanese destroyer in the Solomons during the night of Aug. 1, 1943.  The torpedo boat sank.  Two crewmembers died, but 11 survived.  Kennedy’s heroics, swimming for miles while belt-towing an injured crewman and their subsequent six day cat and mouse escape from Japanese patrols, is the stuff of legends.

His predecessor, President Dwight Eisenhower, well . . . we all know his story.

None of the Presidents who served after H W Bush served in the active-duty or combat military.  Arizona Senator and presidential candidate John McCain, whose grandfather, Admiral John S. McCain Sr. was Task Force Commander during WWII, and whose father, Admiral John S. McCain Jr. served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam, passed away yesterday.  He, like his predecessors, was a naval aviator.  In October 1967 his plane was shot down during a bombing mission over Hanoi.  The seriously injured pilot was captured and remained a prisoner until 1973.  He suffered from broken limbs, barbaric torture, illnesses, deprivations of all sorts, and attempts by the North Vietnamese to betray his country.  He never did.

There was a time when the passing of a man of great tenacity and courage in battle, a hero by (just about) everyone’s definition, a man who devoted his life to serving his country, would have brought unequivocal praise, honor and respect by the President.

sigh.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

“In a Friendly Way”

8-18-18

August 15, 1945:  This morning we returned to the Tokyo area and the carriers had launched their first strike when we heard the final news of the Japanese surrender.  So the war ended for the U.S.S. Boston, 21 months after we left home port.

August 16, 1945:  This morning we have our C.A.P. over the task groups, bogies are still in the area.  There are some Jap pilots that refuse to surrender.

August 17, 1945:  Today Admiral Halsey announced to shoot down Jap planes “in a friendly way” if attacked.

August 18, 1945:  Several Jap planes were shot down today by C.A.P.  These planes tried to attack the ship by crashing into them. We are still on Condition Three Watch.

Frank Studenski   WAR DIARY U.S.S. BOSTON CA-69

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

During Okinawa

8-12-18

I am “polishing up” A Bird’s Eye View (for many reasons).  This is an interesting process for me.  I wrote this book about the Boston first, relying on Frank Studenski’s amazing diary and research from whatever I could find on the internet.   In retrospect, it is a good chronicling of the (Central Pacific) War and Task Force 58 and 38.  I am on the Okinawa months, during which the Boston headed stateside and was docked in San Pedro, CA for overhaul and radar / weapons control upgrades.

From a damage – injury – loss of life perspective, CA-69 was a lucky ship.  Many other ships were not so lucky.  The Japanese tactic of “kamikaze defense” was in place routinely by the latter days of the Philippines Campaigns.  There were some incidences during Iwo Jima.  However, during the last-ditch desperation of the Okinawa invasion, Japan unleashed wave after wave of savage one-way “floating chrysanthemums” attacks against US ships and landing forces.   The numbers of ships and men lost are staggering.

3-19-45.    Men on cruiser Santa Fe look on as the heavy carrier Franklin lists. 1,700 men were evacuated to other ships, 260 men were wounded and 724 sailors perished in fiery explosions below deck as enemy bombs ignited planes and aviation fuel.

5-11-45.  Kamikazes hit the flight deck of heavy carrier Bunker Hill, fully loaded with gassed-up planes ready to take off. 389 men perished, 264 men were wounded. TF Commander Marc Mitscher was not wounded, but he lost 14 of his staff. The ship was so badly damaged it never returned to the War.

Just a few examples.  The Boston was truly a “lucky ship.”

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

August 6

8-5-18

Men from the Boston visit Hiroshima in September 1945  (pic by Bernie Oster)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Forties Glam, part 3

7-14-18

For about three months in 1945, the Boston was stateside being repaired at the Navy Yard in San Pedro.  The guys all had three-week leaves (in two shifts).  When they returned to the ship, there was plenty of liberty time for all.  From Baked Beans, Vol 3, Bob Knight tells us:

My aunt had a cousin who lived in Hollywood, right next door to Walt Disney.  I got to meet Walt and tour some of the studios.  Jane Russell was just coming in at that time and I got a quick peek at her in the studio.

Jane Russell

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment