Books revised

5-12-18

Happy Mother’s Day.  Where would we be without mothers (existential and rhetorical question) ?

Not sure which particular blend of character strengths (and flaws!) came my way from my mother, but maybe it’s appropriate that I announce the completion of a major (and final) revision of the Baked Beans books.  I could give any number of reasons why I decided to rework the books (is that you nagging me, Mom???) but ultimately I wanted to change the focus of the first books (from a chronicle of the ship geared towards families and friends of crewmembers).  The story of the Boston really is the story of the U.S. Navy’s incredible victory over Japan; as seen through the many Operations carried out by Task Force 58 and 38.  In this sense, the revised books are more durable historical documents.  I’m hoping they have “staying power.”

The biggest news here is that the revised books are available in Kindle format.  Books are all priced $14.95 each (all 3 for $40.95 and free shipping when purchased through the website  –  same as before).  For anyone who wants to “upgrade”  but has already purchased books –  I’ll be happy to send you new ones at my cost and shipping.  Email me at steve@kellys.org.  There are folks out there who have helped me by sharing photos, documents, etc that I have used in the books – sit tight, I’ll be getting back to you with complimentary copies.  ANYONE who has purchased Baked Beans books through either Amazon or my website in the last month or so, contact me and I’ll replace them.  A few copies slipped through the cracks in draft mode – not quite final-edited.  OOPS.

Anyway, I’m now really satisfied with the books.  Done.  (Not really done.  Started revising “A Bird’s Eye View”)

 

 

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Pat Fedele

4-22-18

Shame on me!  I am two days late wishing a great guy Happy Birthday.  Pat Fedele was born on April 20, 1924.  Pat is one of the six original crewmembers of the Boston that I had the good fortune to meet and interview for the Baked Beans books.  Pat and I have kept in touch since then, and I consider myself very lucky to know him.

Pat is a tenor, and he shared his smooth-as-silk voice with his shipmates.  I asked him about Happy Hours and “The Three B’s” :  Frank Carroll and Andy DiMarzo and me. I put the group together.  One day we were just singing around together down below.  So at one point I said ‘do you know this song by Glen Miller or this song?’  I’d break out a song and they would harmonize.  We sounded really good, just like the Modernaires.  From then on we were the Three B’s.  When I wasn’t doing a solo, they were with me as a trio.  We were so good they sent us from ship to ship sometimes.

From the Boston Cruisebook:

Keep smiling Pat.  Keep singing.  Happy Birthday.

 

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Bob Knight

4-6-18

I got an email yesterday from Bob’s daughter Pam telling me the sad news that her dad passed away on Monday after suffering a major stroke.

Bob was “one of my plankowners”  –  original crewmembers who met with me and graciously answered my questions about “what was it like to be on the Boston?”  Bob was funny and witty and charming and told some great stories about what it was like to be an 18 year old kid who found himself with a shipload of other young men enduring the grueling Pacific War.  Bob and I kept in touch in the years that followed and he regularly read (and commented on) this blog.

Pam sent me a link to his obit: http://robertsmitchellcaruso.com/book-of-memories/3465591/Knight-Robert/obituary.php

I’m sad Bob is gone.  More than that, I am forever grateful I got to meet these men and see glimpses of what my father experienced and endured from his days at the Fargo Building in Boston to coming home from Occupation Duty.

Steve

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Zook, the Juneau, the Solomons, and the Boston

3-22-18

Five days ago, the wreckage of light cruiser USS Juneau, was found off Guadalcanal by ex-Microsoft executive Paul Allen.  The Juneau was a casualty of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, Nov 12-13, 1942.  Without spending too much time on all the twists and turns of the ship-to-ship battle, the Juneau was hit by a torpedo, and many hours later was hit by another torpedo which ripped through the munitions magazine, splitting the ship in half.  She sunk in less than a minute, taking all but 100 of her crew to the bottom with her.  100 men mostly wounded men, including the five Sullivan brothers managed to get onto 3 rafts.  They floated for eight days –  all but 10 men perished from their wounds or were eaten by sharks.

From Vol 3, Baked Beans, John Farkas remembered this:  There used to be a guy on the Signal Bridge . . . he had his bunk up there, too.  He had permission to sleep up there because he used to be on the Juneau.  Never wanted to go below decks.  He was blown off the deck on the Juneau and then it got hit by a torpedo in the magazine and it blew the ship apart.  Fished out of the water much later.  Amazing.

I have said many times that my father never spoke about his time on the Boston.  He was a signalman striker, and in his later years, he told my younger brother Bill that a guy named Les Zook was allowed to sleep on the signal bridge because his ship was sunk out from under him.

Excerpted from the New York Times, April 20, 1997, written by Robert D, McFadden, entitled:

A New Navy Destroyer Honors Victims of a Wartime Tragedy at Sea

Yesterday, in a moving tribute to the brothers and other seamen of the Juneau, a new Navy destroyer was commissioned ”U.S.S. The Sullivans” at a naval station on Staten Island, and two of the 10 men who survived the sinking of the Juneau were on hand to remember their comrades and recall their ordeal.  ”My emotions are overflowing,” said 78-year-old retired Lieut. Comdr. Lester Zook, of Eugene, Ore., who was a 23-year-old seaman when the Juneau sank. ”It’s a tremendous feeling being here today. It revives some unpleasant memories, but also some pleasant ones.”

The light cruiser that bore the name of Alaska’s capital was laid down in Kearny, N.J., in 1940, and launched in 1941. She joined the Pacific fleet in August 1942, and was assigned to task forces operating with the aircraft carriers Wasp, Hornet and Enterprise.

After her guns brought down dozens of Japanese aircraft and helped sink several ships, Juneau took up a station on Nov. 12, 1942, as part of a protective screen around troop transports and cargo vessels unloading at the American landing beaches on Guadalcanal. She helped repulse 30 enemy torpedo bombers and was credited with six kills.

The next day, a Japanese force of 20 ships attacked the Americans. Juneau helped sink a destroyer, but as the two forces slugged it out at close range, she was struck on  the port side by a torpedo. Juneau was forced to withdraw. Shortly after 11 A.M., a Japanese submarine, I-26, fired three torpedoes at the Juneau. The cruiser avoided two of them, but was struck by the third on the portside amidships. She broke in two, witnesses said, and went down in 20 seconds. But as many as 100 members of her crew were hurled into the water and managed to inflate three life rafts. Over the next seven days, Mr. Zook recalled yesterday, the survivors drifted in their rafts and died, many of them of injuries suffered in the sinking, others of shark attacks.

Mr. Zook remembered wounded men crying, moaning and suffering aboard overloaded rafts, some hanging off the sides. Some became delirious, he said. Eventually, five seamen in one raft reached a small island 55 miles away and were picked up by an amphibious plane. Five others were rescued from another raft.

Mr. Zook, a Juneau signalman, remained in the Navy for 27 years after the sinking. Nightmares troubled him for many years afterward.

Lester Eugene Zook was transferred to the Boston and came aboard on Commissioning Day, 6-30-1943 (making him a plankowner.) He mustered off the ship on 12-28-1944, having achieved a promotion to the rank of Ensign.  I’d like to point out that his departure from the ship was only days after enduring the fierce Typhoon Cobra.  I wonder what was going through his mind as the ship took a 46° roll  –  beyond the danger of capsizing mark.

So the Boston was home to two men who came within a breath or two of dying in the Solomons – Lester Zook by means of two Japanese torpedoes that sunk his ship, and Marine officer Norm Bayley who almost succumbed to malaria while fighting the Japanese on Guadalcanal.

Steve

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Another “supplies consumed” gem

3-11-18

Several years ago, Bob Knight loaned me his collection of “saved papers” from his time aboard the Boston, which I scanned.  Among those documents were several issues of the ship’s weekly newsletter, “The BeanPot.”  From the first newsletter of 1946:

I don’t know how many men were still aboard then.  The ship and her crew was waiting to be relieved (“sometime in mid-January”) from Occupation Duties.  Many men had mustered off the ship between early Sept, 1945 and Christmas Day.  By the looks of this list, there were still planty of hungry men on board.

Bob is a plankowner and is one of the men I interviewed and featured in the Baked Beans books.  He regularly reads these posts and often comments on their contents (see the comments section).  Thanks Bob, for all your great material and for being available to us.

steve

 

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