April 4, 2020
Last month I posted about Cloyd Fair, one of the ship’s barbers. He mustered onto the Boston on Commissioning Day, along with a full crew of mostly fresh-out of – boot-camp sailors. But Cloyd saw some duty before coming to the Boston; he was a barber on the Arizona. He survived the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor and the sinking of his ship.
Today I want to tell you about another plankowner who mustered onto the Boston on Commissioning Day: Victor K. Conner of Pleasant Plains, Illinois. Like Cloyd Fair, the Boston wasn’t Victor’s first ship. He was a machinist mate on the USS Wasp (CV-7) as she plied the South Pacific. CV-7 was escorting troop transports to Guadalcanal when she was torpedoed on Sept. 15, 1942.
Victor’s son Vic reached out recently, sending me a picture of his dad. He shares his and his siblings’ memory of their dad’s experience: “he spoke about the time the USS Wasp was torpedoed. He worked in the boiler room as a machinist mate with secondary training as a fireman. When the first Japanese torpedo hit he was thrown to the ground and the second one stood him back up again. As the ship was severely damaged, all the sailors began exiting the ship anyway they could-all except the boiler men who had to remain below deck to back the ship out of oil leaking from the damaged ship.
When Vic and the other men could leave, it was the USS Duncan that came along and swept them out of the water on ropes catching the men like fish. When he was aboard the Duncan, he and the other men that were rescued sat together on canvas tarps. The tarps were sticky, and sadly he found out that they were actually sitting on the bodies of fellow shipmates that had been covered by the tarps. He also spoke of the horrors he saw in the water as they pulled away from the burning vessel.”
(If you want to read about another Boston guy whose ship was sunk, check out my post from 2 years ago about Lester Zook. Type in “zook” on the search icon on the main page.)