I was surprised when I was working on newly found records of the USS Boston Aviation unit, that when the Boston was pulled from duty in the Pacific after months of fighting, the Aviation unit was removed lock, stock and barrel when the ship arrived in San Francisco on the way to it’s retrofit in San Pedro. there were between 15 to 20 members of the unit, and many had been together from 4 months before the ship was commissioned. The Aviation unit was started in February of 1943 and the ship was commissioned in June of 1943.
On the 28th or March 1945, the entire Aviation Unit was transferred to the Alameda Naval Air Base in California. After the Boston was retrofitted, an entirely new crew was mustered in San Pedro to restart the unit.
The Boston was a very lucky ship. No man was lost on the receiving end of enemy fire while she was in the Pacific. There were several deaths in the line of duty, however. One such death befell pilot Lt. E.E. Grutzmacher.
I remember the time we lost Lieutenant Grutzmacher, one of the Gooney Bird pilots. He was spotting for us on one of the operations. I don’t remember if it was Iwo Jima, but it was one of the islands where we were firing our 8 inch guns.
He came back to get on board — they have cranes to pick him out of the water — anyway, the ship turns in such a way that it smoothes all the water near the stern. A big area is nice and smooth and he lands in there, motors it in close to the ship and they put the hook on and they pick him up. Well, this time he hat a ground swell and it flipped the plane upside down. He got caught in it. He didn’t have time to get out and went down. Gone. I saw it with my own eyes. he died. There’s all kinds of ways of getting killed out there.Pat Fedele.
Thanking and honoring all our soldiers killed in the line of duty.
About nine years ago I was blessed with a gift of serendipity. A young man emailed me after finding and buying “A Bird’s Eye View” for his grandfather’s birthday. Mike told me that his grandfather was the “ship’s tenor” and he was alive and well and wanted to meet me. A guy named Pat Fedele. The drive from where I live to his house is 8 1/2 hours (on a good day), depending on the mad road conditions in and around Los Angeles. I finally got to meet him. Over several additional visits, Pat told me many Boston stories (which are scattered throughout the Baked Beans books.)
There’s no way to talk about Pat and not talk about his love of singing. I mentioned in an earlier post that whenever we talk on the phone, I get a song. In a post just before Christmas, I included a song from a c.d. that he gave me. (He was 87 years young when he recorded it.) In honor of Pat on his 95th birthday, here’s another:
Keep singing, my friend. Happy Birthday. Love this guy.
p.s. to all our friends celebrating Easter and/or observing Passover – Peace. To everyone else, Happy Spring. Peace.