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Interview on experiences in World War II

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The World WarH Years: An Oral History Interview with Stanley Stanhope


Note: Ellipsis (...) indicates a fragmentary or introductory utterance. Square brackets enclose information such as [unintelligible], the transcriber's best guess as to what was said, or editorial notes from the transcriber.

Stanley Stanhope: But the one thing I want.. .the one thing I want.. .1 want on this tape. I want to explain that Phillipine Typhoon.

Interviewer: Sure, sure. Definitely.

Technical Assistant: Yeah, we have heard a lot about that. Okay, you ready?

Interviewer: I am ready. Well, today is November 14 of 2007. We are in the VFW post in Tonganoxie. My name is Robert Elder and I am interviewing Mr. Stanley Stanhope. Mr. Stanhope, could you tell us where and when you were born?

Stanley Stanhope: I was born in Reece, Kansas in 1927, March 26th. I: All right, and was your father in World War I? SS: Yes, he was a veteran of World War I. I: He was? Did he ever talk about it?

SS: No.

I: Never did? All right. And.. .so, what was life like growing up in Reece during the Depression?

SS: Well, I was...I was...I was born on a ranch right out of Reece. We didn't live in the little town. The town was about a hundred and fifty people at the best. But I just grew up on that farm and it was tough in that Depression. One thing about it, I mean you had plenty to eat. It might not be what you really wanted, but you could, you could get the [unintelligible] out. But the people in town, they even had it worse than that, because they had no jobs. There were only two jobs in Reece; that was the postmaster, and the rural mail carrier. Everybody else was unemployed.

I: Wow. So did you grow your own food?

SS: Yeah, oh yeah. Butchered your own hogs, and had your chickens.

I: All right so....

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SS: But you.. .it really wasn't bad. .. .Matter of fact, we didn't think it was bad at all. But now, you look back now.. .and the one thing I look back now and notice was that we had no running water and no electricity. Now that you will miss if you ever have it, and then have to go back that a way. You are in a world of hurt.

I: So, you had a well then?

SS: Well, we had a well, but you had to carry it in with a bucket. I still kid people today. I say, "you left...." You, know they will brush their teeth, they'll turn on the water, and they stand there, brush their teeth and let that water run and run. I say, "If you had to carry that in with a bucket, you wouldn't let it run so much."

I: [laughing] I'll bet that is right.

SS: You waste.. .waste a lot of water that you...

TA: How many brothers and sisters did you have?

SS: One brother.

TA: Did he go to war?

SS: Oh yeah, he was a year older than me. He joined on his birthday too.

TA: And where did he go?


SS: He.. .he.. .he went to join the navy, and the navy was full up then, and so he joined the coast guard. And that was in.. .because, he was a year older than me, so that would have been in January of...


I: '43?


SS: '43. And I...see he was a year and two months older than me, then I... I joined on my birthday in March of '44.


I: Ah, yes. So.. .so where did you go to school? SS: Reece.

I: Reece, all right. And high school in Reece as well? SS: No, I never went to high school. Too busy. I: Wow.

Stanley Stanhope

SS: Well, you.. .you are going to war. And I am going.. .1 tried to get in when I was sixteen. My mom and dad said if I could get in they would sign my papers, but I couldn't.

TA: They wouldn't take you?

SS: No.. .1 had them.. .be asked to the point that took me, but they finally then got the copy of my.. .my birth certificate. I didn't think I had one, but I.. .they did. I was born in a house, you know at home. But the county, Greenwood County, had it registered and.. .so I didn't get in. I almost made it.

TA: They wouldn't take them at sixteen, huh? But they would take them at seventeen with their parents' signature.

SS: Now there was.. .several boys got in at fifteen, sixteen, you know, but when they couldn't catch it...couldn't get that.... But, then I had trouble, see I even went and got a Social Security card that showed I was born in 1925, you know. So, when I retired, [laughter], right here.. .1 was.... When I retired.. .they called the house one day and my wife answered the phone, said, "Did your husband have.. .did he happen to lie about his age when he...." Because they wouldn't give it, they didn't have no record of no Stanley Stanhope in 1925. Well, naturally they had a Stanley Stanhope in 1927. And my... I was out on the job and I called in and Mary.. .my wife said, "did you lie about your Social Security..." I said, "oh yeah." I said, "Hell, I put down 1925." So, she called up Social Security in Lawrence and they said, "we have had a lot of them lie along about this age." Because if you got the Social Security card, it kind of helped you get in when you didn't have....

I couldn't wait. I.. .the thing.. .the thing about kids where I was raised.... Now I don't know about the rest of the country because in the '20s late '20s you didn't do a lot of traveling if you was a kid. You was born, you.. .knew a little bit about people in your town, but you didn't even know too much about the county seat or nothing else. Because, it was tough times. You just didn't have the money to goto Wichita. You know, Wichita was only sixty miles, but you never.. .we never went over there. But.. .1 mean, you.. .you knew what it was to not have everything.

I: So, do you remember where you were when Pearl Harbor was attacked?

SS: Yeah. I was....my dad lost... we lost the...he lost the farm in 1939. Theyfinally foreclosed and we had to leave the farm. And he, my dad, went to work in the oil fields. And we was in Benton, Illinois as they struck some oil up there in Illinois. And he was working up there. And I was.. .1 was in school up there in Benton. I was in, I don't know what grade, but I graduated from the eighth grade there at Benton, Illinois and that is as far as I went. Because I knew I was going to join into the service.

I was going to get in that war one way or the other, 'cause the kids.. .no, I shouldn't say kids. Around where I was raised, people were patriotic as Hell! I am telling you. Not over Mickey Mouse stuff. Over somebody wanting to come over and

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take over. Now that is a no-no! Now you can talk about all you want to about wars. But a war where they are going to occupy you is a new ball game. Versus a war where you are trying to keep peace in the family. There is a difference. Now, you don't ever need to worry about the patriotism of this country.

I: And when Pearl Harbor was attacked, people were ready to.. .were ready to enlist, just like yourself.

SS: Oh, man. Oh, man, I mean there was lines at the...at the recruiting office. Lined up for blocks. My dad tried to get hi! And...and he was too old, but he wanted in. Everybody. And they finally, you know, the Seabees and the Navy started taking up to

45, 48.

TA: Did your family discuss it a lot? When Pearl Harbor happened, did they talk about it at the dinner table a lot or...?

SS: No, not really, just madder.. .mad...mad.. .at the.. .at the Japs. I mean.. .then of course Hitler, he.. .he declared war after Pearl Harbor, but we were madder there.. .people were mad. They were mad.. .madder at the Japs really then they were at the Germans to start with, other then the fact that Hitler was a bad egg. But, man them Japs now.. .the people did not want to.. .nothing to do with them in other words. Just.. .it was bad. Everybody, all of them. Which was wrong! We should never have sent them Japanese out on that desert! But that is your.. .your hindsight is always better than your foresight anyhow. But, no.. .this is.. .there is a difference. And when you try to.. .and when anybody tries to compare any war with World War n, no way. That was a.. .a war that had to be fought. There was no diplomatic solution, it had to be fought. And the United States was the arsenal of the whole deal.

I: So, where did you...

SS: Even, long before we got bombed by Pearl Harbor, we was supplying Russia, and England, and.. .and.. .and anybody fighting Hitler.

I: Ah, so before Pearl Harbor, you could really see America gearing up for the war?

SS: Oh, yeah! Oh, never.. .1 was just.. .when I was in grade school I'd run.. .I'd go home from school, and first thing I'd do is grab the paper and see what is going on with the war.

TA: You are one of the very few kids that did that.

SS: Well, I did.

TA: Most of them didn't keep up with the conflict overseas.

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SS: Well, I know they don't now, but I did. I mean, I could tell you everything. I knew where the.... Then Russia invaded Finland right in there, and I knew where the Finns was kicking their butts. And I was tickled, you know, because they jumped on Finland.

TA: So, you actually knew where Pearl Harbor was, probably?

SS: Yeah, I knew where it was at. But I.. .hell, I hadn't been no further than Wichita. [laughter]. But I knew where it was at!

TA: A lot of people didn't know that.

SS: And then I went to the oil field up at Illinois. That was a big trip for me, from Kansas to Illinois. But, no.... I was.. .yeah I was more up to date than most kids, but I am telling you.... Now we still had what we called slackers. Now they call them draft dodgers, or they.. .you can call them anything you want. But we had some slackers too. Now, a...a slacker is not one that can't get in. A slacker is one that does something to keep from getting in. Now that is a slacker [laughing], or what we call a draft dodger. I am not knocking nobody or nothing now, but.... If you.. .if you got money, and you buy your son a farm, and put him on it, he gets deferred. They didn't draft farmers. And he stays there until the day the war ends, and then he is back in town, that is a slacker. In other words, if you run the.. .the farm for the dur.. .for the war and then back.... But not many, a few.

I: Not too many, okay. So.. .so where did you actually enlist?

SS: St. Louis.

I: St. Louis. Okay, and where did they send you?

SS: Farragut, Idaho.

I: Ah, yes, we have had quite a few go through Farragut, so....

SS: Farragut, Idaho.

I: So, what was that like? What was the weather like?

SS: At the end of the world! [laughter]

I: [laughing] End of the world!

SS: That was the jumping off place. It... [laughing].. .there was a.. .when you.. .you went up there on a troop train, I mean, you was so far out in the toolies, when.. .and you know how all railroads have got a siding? You can't.. .the name of the siding that you put your.. .was Athol.

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I: Athol, uh huh, yes.

SS: Well it fit.. .well, it could, pretty close to what we would call it [laughing].

I: I...I can imagine.

SS: Yeah, but that was Farragut, Idaho. And they.. .and they had.. .1 don't what the hell it was, but everybody got sick. Not everybody, but they had that.. .that dispensary was full of sick people all the time. Flu, cold, whatever. But they called it Cat Fever. If you got sick in Farragut, you had Cat Fever.

I: Cat Fever.

SS: I don't know what the hell Cat Fever is, but that is what you got. That was your diagnosis. "Oh, you got Cat Fever."

I: How did they treat that?

SS: .. ..Well, see, they just come out with Penicillin. Oh, they'd load you down with that Penicillin hi them days. And you.. .and.. .you know, then you got every three hours. They didn't give you a shot that would last you for forever. They gave you.. .every three hours.... And they.. .they had.. .checked.. .and then some people would react to Penicillin. I can't take Penicillin now, but I took a 55 gallon drum of it. But I.. .it finally reacted on me, so I can't take Penicillin. But it reacts on some people. Now, but.. .they know that now and they always check. But they didn't then because it was brand new. But it was.. .it was cold, damp, miserable. But you wasn't there long. See, it was.. .they needed people. So you only.. .four weeks. Four weeks and you was gone.

I: So, they rushed you through pretty quick.

SS: Yeah, four weeks.

I: So, could you walks us through, like a.. .a typical day of basic training?

SS: Well, it.. .it actually basic training, in the Navy, at that tune, all that was for, was to teach you to follow orders. When I tell you something, you jump. And don't ask me why, nothing. You just.. .discipline is what you.. .the only thing they could teach you. Because everything else, you had better throw away because you didn't need it. Just discipline. And it is four weeks and they try to run you off. They try to make you.. .just break you down. They done everything hi the world to make you cry for your mama. And four weeks, you was out. Forget what you was hi there for, just pay attention to your officers, and...and.... But actually, what you learned, you learned to.. .you know, as far as.. .shooting a rifle or something, you.. .you a little bit. But, hell, you were hi the Navy. You ain't going to shoot no rifle anyhow, you know.

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TA: They teach you to swim?

SS: Oh, yeah.. .now.. .you know, I could swim. And they made me a swimming instructor [laughter], in.. .in the boot camp. And.. .and the guy.. .there is about 125 to a company, and most of this company conies.. .my company was from Iowa. And they were draftees. Mostly late thirties, even up to 35, 36. And never swam a foot in their life. Now if you want to try something, you try to teach somebody at 35, 36, how to swim. That.. .and they are scared to death of the water, I am telling you. But they got to swim a hundred yards and jump off of a thirty foot tower before they can get out of boot camp. Now we have even had some that we had to throw off the tower. We'd just flat throw him off. "Cause he'd get up there and freeze and he wasn't going, so we just had to finally...

TA: Push him off.

SS: Two, three, or four guys grab him, and get his fingers off the rail, and let him go. And then he is okay. He got down.. .he could.. .he could.. .he got out of the boot camp. But I don't know if he ever got off a ship if it were sinking or not [laughter], but he still got out of boot camp. Now he.. .he may have held on out there, but I.. .but I had to.. .and.. .and you had to teach them to swim on their backs. Boy, you take them old guys and hold them up there and, "I got you, I got you". You know, they just freeze up, and they are big, strong. Hell, I am just seventeen, and these guys are thirties. Big farmers from Iowa. And they.. .they grab you, and they will sink you like a rock. But we got them all through. We never did have any flunking. We've had, like I say, we've had to throw some of them off. Some of them we kind of had to hold them while they were swimming to make sure they made it, but we got them through.

I: Now, Farragut, that was on a lake wasn't it? SS: Out...yeah,PendOreille. LakePendOreille.

I: Ah, yes, I remember some people talking about that. Now did they have boats.. .big ships on the lake?

SS: Big.. .no, they had big rowboats. See, that is what I am telling you. When they teach you something that you never used. Here is this boat, like the old time wooden ships. Lowered down, then everybody there that got.. .got up there and tell them.... Well, you know, there ain't no way you are going to use that anywhere in.. .in World War n. hi the first place when you got on a ship, they didn't have room for that damned boat, [laughter].

TA: That is right.

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SS: And them oars. But you learned how to row one anyhow, up there. But it was...it was fun. I thought it was fun. ...But hell, like I say, I was seventeen. I was...and I wasn't homesick, because I got homesick two years earlier. When Dad lost the ranch, we had to move and I am up here in Illinois, and was raised down there hi the Flint Hills. They don't even talk like I talk. You know, they laugh every time I open my mouth you know, and I laughed every time they opened theirs. And they wore them damned knickers [laughter]. Yeah, they wore them knickers! I am looking around at like bloomers. I call them bloomers. And, of course where we was raised in jeans you know. So the teacher sent a note home with me, to my mom, saying that she thought I would feel better if she would get me some knickers. Mom wrote back a note said, "if you can get him to wear them, I'll buy them." So the teacher asked me. I said, "There ain't no way. I'll run off from home. I ain't wearing them." Because hi Reece, Kansas, if you had a come out with a set of knickers, you wouldn't.. .you couldn't lived it down in a hundred years.

I: I can imagine.

SS: But.. .Oh, speed, speed me up. I talk too much! Thank you.

I: So.. .so where you ever taught...taught any abandon ship procedures hi boot camp?

SS: No....

I: No, okay.

TA: Jumping off that tower, that is abandon....

SS: Yeah, that is why you had to clear the fifty foot tower.

TA: And didn't.. .didn't they have to learn to swim through water and that sort of... I mean fire, yeah and that sort of thing.

SS: Well, you really didn't.. .they didn't swim through it, but you had to show them how to...

TA: Part it.

SS: They'd stand in there, up here, like they was swimming and showed them that is the way to do it, because you couldn't hardly get them.. .some of them to even swim. But yeah, you are right you knew.. .fire on the water, how.... They even showed you, they might.. .they had a place there where they where they'd put gasoline on top, and throw a match to it and show you how it would burn. Until.. .and you slopped the water. And they told you what to do when you had.. .if you was in the water when depth charges was going off, try to get as much out of the water as you can. But you.. .if you are hi there

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when those depth charges.... You ain't got any business in there when depth charges [laughing] are going off, I am telling you.

I: Oh no. So, where did you go after boot camp?

SS: Went to Shoemaker, California on a troop train. I was there about a week. I went aboard the troop ship, and I went to Guadalcanal. In.. .in the Solomon Islands. And that is where I caught the Evans.

I: All right, so what was the weather like on Guadalcanal?

SS: Guadalcanal? Well, I never did get on it. We were right there by it, but we were just on a troop ship. And then when the Evans came in, I.. .we were replacements to go on the Evans. And I caught it, and they had just got back from Saipan. And I went on the Evans there in about August of '44.

I: Okay, so...so you were never actually on Guadalcanal. Could you see any damage, or see anything from the ship?

SS: No, but I could see the island. But it was.. .the battle was over. Guadalcanal was over, you know.

I: Uh, huh, yeah, '42. Because that was a couple of years before you got there.

SS: Yeah, and they.. .of course the Iron Bottom Bay, and that is where all the cruisers went down right there. When.. .when we sailed over that, they come over the loudspeakers, "we are on Iron Bottom Bay". That, I think is seven.. .five or six cruisers went down there in that Battle of Savo Island. That is where the Sullivan Boys got killed. The five Sullivan Brothers got killed on the Juneau there. But, I was at Erie, Pennsylvania. That is where the Sullivan is now. The.. .the can named after the Sullivan Boys.

I: So, you got on the USS Evans at Guadalcanal, and then where did they send you?

SS: Well, the next.. .the first.. .first.. .when the first.... When we left there, we went to Peleliu and then to.. .and then to.. .they moved the anchorage. See, the anchorage was in.. .in the Solomons. Mannis Island was the anchorage, which is right there by Guadalcanal. They moved it right after I got on, because that is south of the Equator, and moved us to Ulithi in the Mar.. .in the Marianas. In the.. .yeah, I think. But anyhow, Ulithi. And then the anchorage moved up there, and we got.. .we was getting ready for the Philippines, to invade the Philippines. MacArthur wanted to invade it, so we got to.. .and that is when we.. .we invaded the Philippines in about October of '44. And then we got ha that damned typhoon in December. That was a no-no.

I: What was that like?

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SS: That was like you.. .that was the only time I was ever scared in my life. But I am telling you, I was scared. Now I am not saying.... See, in action, you.. .you are scared, but not like scared, scared. You are scared, but you got that adrenaline running. So, you know, and then once it starts, more or less the buildup to it is the worst. Once it starts, then you forget all about being scared. You got too damn much to do and you are trying shoot that.. .you are trying to kill him before he kills you. And you are doing.. .you ain't got time to sit around and worry. You've got to get with it. But getting up to it when those guns ain't firing, and you ain't looking, you ain't seeing nothing, then you get a little.... But that typhoon, now you know that there is nothing you can do. You can't shoot at it [laughter], you can't do nothing. You can't run from it, you are just there.

TA: You're just stuck with it aren't you?

SS: You are just.. .and.. .and Mother Nature is something else. Now I am telling you, I have been in some real doozy storms, but you ain't seen nothing until Mother Nature really cranks it up and there is nothing that you can do.

TA: Isn't that the one that hit Okinawa?

SS: Yeah, [correcting himself] Well, the one the following year hit Okinawa But the one that hit in the.. .they call it the.. .that was the one Ford was in.... President Ford was on the.. .on a Jeep carrier there. I didn't know it at the time, but I read it. And.. .and you know, for fifty years, I didn't know what the hell the name of that typhoon was, but they named them just like they do hurricanes. And...

TA: What was the name of it? SS: Cobra. TA: Cobra?

SS: Typhoon Cobra. It came out in the Tin Can Sailors Magazine, which I get. Halsey's Typhoon was the name of it Cobra.

TA: Well what was the one.. .what did they name the one off of Okinawa the next year then? 'Cause everybody talks about it, nobody has a name for it.

SS: Oh, I.. .1 have heard it, but I wasn't...

TA: Well, think about it If you think of it, let me know.

SS: Yeah, I will. But that Cobra, it was...it was bad! I mean, it was.. .you could be out there with.. .75 ships in this task force. And you come up on a wave, and everybody is up there and you look, and just ships everywhere. Go down, come back up, look around and

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there ain't a damned soul there but you. You can't see a ship nowhere. They are all down in the hole and you are up on top. You look around and you go down. In about two more bounces, you come up and here you all are again. There they all are. I mean...

TA: Did your screws come out of the water?

SS: Huh?

TA: Did your screws come out of the water?

SS: Oh, screws come out. And my bunk was right over the screws. And when that screw.. .on a can, when they come out, they go a million miles an hour [imitates sounds]. Then they'd go back in, they go [imitates sound], you know. But the thing that always worries you is them screws going back in before that ships starts getting up. And.. .this happened in this deal that.. .in the after compartment, that is right above the screws. I'd say there is fifty, sixty bunks hi there, about sixty guys. And you.. .you sleep by the sound. You know, you just.. .you can sleep like a baby since.. .if the sounds are all right. But you throw one little wrinkle in that sounds, everybody is up. No.. .nobody says nothing, just everybody is up. And you have got little lights on all the tune, so people could go to the.. .coming through, going on watch and all that. Well, this son-of-a-gun went down. And when she went back down, the screws went in the water before the bow started coming up and then them screws started just shoving it down, just like we was trying to.... And.. .1 know I woke up, I said, "something ain't right". The old ship was a shaking. I looked around and everybody is up. Nobody is saying nothing, but we are all looking at each other. Eyes about that big. [laughter]. ...Because we just didn't.... And then finally, finally, she started shaking. Coming up. That meant you got them tons of water off the top of you. But that was a scary, scary son-of-a-gun. Especially on a can. See, if you was on a battle wagon, big carrier, it was bad, but you, you.... But on a can, you are just wallowing in there like a fish.

I: Wow. Anybody get seasick?

SS: Oh, hell! I never did, but those guys would.. .1 had one buddy, every time we went into anchorage, and come out, he'd get sick and beg you to throw him overboard. He was so damn weak he couldn't even.... I have had him say, "Stan, throw me overboard. Help me." I said, "no, you ain't going overboard." He'd be laying up there on the deck, behind the.. .where we'd keep the rope.. .so sick he couldn't wiggle, and vomit and then land right in it. But he done it every time. But, it was one of them things. Then after that, after [the].. .of course they had a big sea battle there at...

I: Ulithi [correcting himself] Philippines. SS: Philippines, yeah. TA: Tell us about that.

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SS: Huh?

TA: Tell us about that

SS: Well, that is when the.. .that was another time that Halsey kind of forgot where he was supposed to be and he took off after the dummy. The Japs run a... a dummy.... Ships out there like they are going to go off somewhere and Halsey chased them. They took, he took the bait. Well, that left Kincaid's Seventh Fleet...

TA: And were you part of that?

SS: Yeah, and then they came down through the slot, and then we.... We had the Baby

Flat Top Carriers. We had the Baby.. .we called them Baby Flat Tops. But

they.. .they.. .they would. I think they held about forty, fifty planes, but it was.... But,

hell they come right through that big battle. But the.. .the two cans that made torpedo

runs there, I can't remember the name of them.... I would know them, I have got them at

home.

But they.. .they.. .that is what a destroyer does. They.. .we got ten torpedoes, on it, can. We could shoot torpedoes. When you make a run on a battleship with a tin can, you're in a world of hurt, but you got to do it. And these two little cans did. And, they got the hell blown out of them, but they.. .they got that Jap Admiral nervous thinking that maybe he jumped into Halsey's Fleet. He thought he had run into Halsey, but he hadn't.

But other.. .the Gambier Bay was sunk, the St. Lo, and I don't know there was two or three Baby Flat Tops. But in that typhoon then, Hell there was planes strung all over The hell and fires on board and.... Well, three cans sunk. The Spence, The Monaghan, and the Hole [correcting himself] The Hull.

I: Hull, all right.

SS: Just one... one wave got them and just turned them over and down.... Whenyoudo that, you, in a.. ..in a typhoon.... Now I don't know how many survivors they got off, but the.. .the, I believe it was The Monaghan, it was either the Monaghan or the Spence only got six survivors. And a crew on them ships was about three hundred and sixty, maybe. Officers and chiefs and enlisted men. And they got six. Cause that is when.. .where are you going to go?

I: Yes, so you....

SS: With your little.. .with your little May West Life Jacket, [laughter] And you know.. .who are we kidding?

I: Yeah, exactly. So, you had planes on your ship when you went through the typhoon? SS: Huh?

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I: You had planes on your ship when you went through the typhoon? SS: No, we didn't have any planes. No, we ain't got room for planes. I: Okay, I must have mis.... SS: The carriers. I: The carriers, yes.

SS: They'd get broke loose on the deck, and they'd run into each other, and they'd spark and then start a fire and they'd.... And I think the cruiser Princeton had it's bridge tore off, had its forecastle tore off. That is how bad that storm was.

TA: Had what tore off?

SS: The forecastle, the bow. But.. .then after.. .after we.. .after that we got back to.. .well we did get a.. .well we did get two Jap airplanes there. I don't know who shot them down, but we did shoot down two planes. The whole.. .the task force did there. And then we got back to Ulithi and started getting ready for Iwo. And...

TA: Did you normally go in a convoy? SS: We...we were the...[six]. TA: You were the convoy?

SS: Yeah. You can't.. .a ship could not stick it's nose out of an anchorage without a destroyer. Cannot. Because we were the ping.. .we could find the sub when it.. .when it.. .when a task force went anywhere. If that is the task force, there would be a ring of destroyers around that task force, just like that.

I: And you were one of those destroyers.

SS: And then when it.. .when the task force turned this way, all them cans had to do was turn and they'd still have that ring. And then nobody ever went without the cans. Except at the end of the war there, they sent the Indianapolis from Guam to the Philippines without any escort, and they sunk her. And lost a hell of a lot of men. You know, the cans.... In fact.. .it.. .it.. .the task force was getting ready to go out of the.. .the anchorage at.. .at.. .say, Mogmog, Ulithi. There would be about three cans assigned to go out there before anybody did and start sweeping to make sure that there were no subs laying out there just waiting for you to.... And once that was cleared, then here they'd come. And they.. .you always had destroyers.

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14

I: So, what sort of equipment did you have for locating subs?

SS: For loading?

I: For locating subs. To find the subs.

SS: Oh, that.. .that is your sonar.

I: Sonar? How did that work?

SS: You.. .you... now I am not a sonar man, but you can hear them when you are up on the bridge standing watch. They.. .they.. .they ping. They have the.. .they'll throw a sound into the water and if it hits an.. .an object, it bounces back. Ping, ping. And then know they got a contact. That is what.. .now it could be a whale, not very often, but it makes...

TA: So, you are saying, if it doesn't hit, it goes ping, ping. SS: It just, yeah if it doesn't it just... TA: But if it does it goes ping, ping.

SS: Ping, ping. Ping, ping. And then, they closer you get, p.. .p... the closer the sounds get. And, in other words, I.. .1 used to have.. .not have.. .but it would come my turn, hi the navy, you.. .you slept.. .you were off eight, on four. You stood watch four hours, off eight, stood watch four. Now you stand watch on everything. Hell, I stood watch on five inch, stood watch on twenty millimeters, stood watch on depth charge rack, and stood watch on the bridge. Well, when I was on the bridge, I'd hear the ping. You could hear the pings, because the sonar room was right there. And it would go ping, ping. That is good. But then there was a ping, ping. Uh, oh, contact. Ping, ping. And then if it got closer, you.. .if you got.. .if you really had a kind of ping, ping, then you.. .general quarters. You know, because we've...we've got a real contact And then we drop depth chargers, you know. And try a pattern, what they call a pattern. You drop two of the end, four off the sides, and.. .and then you swing around and come back crossways. And you set those where you.. .where you want them. They'll say, "set them at one hundred feet", cause.. .cause you usually, by your ping, you could tell about how depth.. .the depth is. So.. .but then you.. .but you.. .you.. .to get it.. .to get a recognized kill, you got to get some rough, some damage float to the top. Oil.. .not just an oil slick, because the sub will fool you on that. They will squirt some oil out there and make you think...

I: Make you think you hit it.

SS: But the.. .the.. .the good.. .good ping jockey, we called a sonar man a ping jockey, a good ping jockey could tell you pretty much what it is.

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15

TA: What was your battle station?

SS: On number two, five inch. I was a loader on a five inch.

TA: How many could you shoot in a minute?

SS: Well, that is it. I have had a lot of people ask me that, and I really don't know. But I know one thing, a good five inch gun crew could put out a lot of lead. Now, a five inch projectile is about that long, about that big around. Now that is the projectile. You've got a powder case too. You dropped the.. .powder man puts the powder in, you dropped the.... And that projectile, I believe weighed 60 pounds, or 65 pounds, something like that.

57, it.. .it was heavy. And.. .and if you were in an extended engagement, you have to be relieved. So the powder man.. .the project.. .but on a gun crew, anybody can do everybody's job.

TA: Right, how many on a crew?

SS: Well, there is a pointer and trainer. Now those two don't do nothing, because...unless you lose power. So, they don't do nothing. So, what they do, they relieve the powder man and the projectile man, and then they'd swap back and forth. They you've got a hot case man that would make sure that the shells go out of the thing. You've got the gun captain, first loader, second loader, then you've got about eight plus the handling room which is another two. Ten, about ten guys. See, that is why a...a destroyer has got so many on it...on its crew. It's a little ship really.

TA: But it takes a lot to shoot the guns.


SS: But it takes a lot to man the battle stations. You have got the ten torpedoes, you've got seven twenty millimeters, you've got five twin forties, you've got five, five inch. In addition, you've got your radar man, your ping jockeys, and....


TA: So, how many is on a ship then total, on?

SS: I am going to say on mine, it was probably.. .1 am guessing three hundred and fifty. Officers and.... I know there was sixteen.. .sixteen chiefs, and twenty officers, I believe. .. .Twenty officers and sixteen Chiefs Vice.. .and then rest of them was about three hundred, three hundred and twenty crew.

I: Al Iright, so you were on Ulithi, getting ready for Iwo Jima.

SS: Iwo Jima.

I: And then what happened?

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16

SS: Well, we got ready for Iwo. And we went to Iwo.. .we took the Baby Flat Tops. Went out with them. And.. .but then they called us into.. .we didn't.. .we really didn't know where we was going to start with. But then they came out, "we are going to Iwo. We are going to invade Iwo." This is after we were out there quite a ways. Well, Iwo Jima, you could smell that island before you saw it. It.. .it smelled like rotten eggs. It was a volcano island. I mean it was.. .you could really smell that. Of course, they had been bombing it and.. .and shore bombarding it for two months. So that might have stirred it up a little too, you know.

TA: Just a little.

SS: But, we could smell that baby, and that was....

TA: And how many is in your convoy?

SS: Well, there was.. .there was.. .1 really don't know. My.. .our convoy was just maybe ten Baby Flat Tops, and then they called us into the anchorage or the.. .by.. .by Iwo for shore bombardments, see. They was getting ready to.. .and that was the day they was loading them out, the marines. And we were in there in line because when you shore bombard, you've got.... The battle ships are out here, the furthest away from the island because can shoot a hell of a lot further. And you've got your cruisers, and then you've got your cans. Then, there is the island. But the cans are the closest, right up to the island. And.. .but the.. .the troop ships come up here, and they start loading out these Higgins Boats with the marines. And that is why it gets hard for me to talk about [cries]...

I: andTA: That's all right.

TA: So, tell me what a Higgins Boat is.

SS: Higgins Boat is named after the guy that developed it. We wanted something that would...easy...wood. They were wooden. That was cheap to make, not hard that would get the troops on the beach and drop that front and that.. .his name was Higgins and he developed it right there in New Orleans, Louisiana. And there is a museum down there. Now that World War n museum was put up there by Higgins, but....

TA: I didn't know that is what they called them.

SS: Yeah, Higgins Boats. And they load them out, you know. Now a lot of people think when you load out.. .when you go to invade something, you just drive up there and you start running boats. Soon as you get one loaded you send him to shore. You don't do it that way.

I: No?

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17


SS: You load them out and the circle out there. The.. .the Higgins Boats circle. 'Till they get whatever amount they are supposed to get loaded, the way they want it. And then they line up and they hit them in a wave, you know.


TA: Oh, a bunch at once.

SS: Yeah. And they come.. .they would come right by our ship because we were.. .we were the last ones they'd go by, you know. And our ship, when it.. .on the.. .when it.. .I'd say our ship wasn't over eight feet out of the water you know, the deck. About eight foot up, that is all a can on.... And then these boys would come by in them Higgins Boats, and you are looking right at them.

TA: Now, during this period, was there a lot of Kamikazes going around?

SS: No, no. They hadn't...we wasn't worried about them. In fact we didn't know...it was like watching a movie.. .we.. .the navy guys.

TA: Really?

SS: They had no airplanes, and no navy to mess with, so all we had to do was support the Marines. And... and that is why we were right up there. We were just out of rifle range. Hell, you know, we were right there. And.. .and they would come by [cries] and you had to feel sorry.

TA: Sure you did. So you saw the flag raised? That must have been a heck of a sight, seeing that flag raised.

SS: Oh, it was. And when the flag went up... I don't know... you know, there was just.. .smoke. I mean with firing and smoke. But when the flag went up, somebody said, "hey, look at the flag." So, I was up on the bridge with the.. .standing lookout. I looked up there with the long glass, and there it was.

I: Wow, so what was going through your mind?


SS: And then all the ships started blowing their...their sirens and their horns. And • everybody that, you know, because...


TA: Well, sure.


SS: And then everybody is looking. There is the flag. Then, that was the little flag. That was the little one. It was a nice size flag, but not like that next one. The one that they got the picture of...


TA: The one that they got the picture of.

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18

I: Was the big one.

SS: Yeah, but.. .oh yeah, that was something.

TA: Probably the first flag was more emotional for you then the second one?

SS: Yeah, that first one. And then that is the one.. .the reason they took it down you know was 'cause that old Colonel... [correcting himself] the General said, "get that flag. That goes to the Marine Corps Museum." Said, "want that flag." So, that is when he sent the second flag up, took the first one for the Marine Corps Museum and.. .and then. But see that, that was on about the third day. But don't let that fool you.

I: No.

SS: Because by.. .1 would say, I think all but three of those boys that raised that flag got killed before they got off that island, in the battle. The battle was just getting going when the flag went up and they.. .1 think that.... Well, we...we invaded.. .on.. .on the nineteenth of February. It was either on the seventeenth or the nineteenth, but I think it was the nineteenth. It was about three days later that little flag went up. So, that was, we'11 say that was around the 21st. And that, that was in.. .February. So...and they didn't get that baby secured until March, late March. In fact, we were already ready for Okinawa when they got that secured. And most of them boys got killed on the Island.

I: So, were you providing fire support for the Marines going to bombard...?

SS: Oh yeah, yeah, now that.. .that... About the...the night after they raised the flag, they must have been.. .we pulled in on the line, and our code name was Popcorn.

TA: [laughing] Popcorn.

SS: Yeah, and we had a marine spotter on the beach...

TA: Who decided those code names?

SS: I don't know, but... but our Captain just put it on the loudspeaker. You know, and we could hear him talking, "Popcorn, every three minutes [unintelligible] fire." Well, that meant, every three minutes, we'd shoot five, five inch over there. That is the main battery. Then we'd sit down for three minutes. Five more. And then he might say, "every five minutes". So, every five. Everything was pretty quiet, [you need]. And it was about, I don't know about.. .it was.. .anyhow, we were walking around there trying to get some sleep and all this. It was about three hi the morning, I guess. And he started screaming. He said, "Popcorn, rapid fire, rapid fire Popcorn, rapid!" So, the Japs had to be giving him some trouble, because.... We jumped up and we started firing! And we fired, and we fired, I mean he'd say.... And then he'd say, "Right in the guts, right in the guts!" He'd tell us, "Right in the guts, Popcorn!" And then....

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19

TA: And what did that mean?

SS: That meant we was hitting them Japs right where he wanted us to.

TA: Okay.

SS: Yeah, he'd say, "Right hi the guts!" and.. .then "pour it on, pour it on! Right hi the guts!" So, we was hitting where he wanted us to. And then he'd say, "okay, every three minutes." Got rid of that, and then, and then it wouldn't be, oh maybe an hour, "rapid fire, Popcorn, rapid fire!" And we'd start again. And he'd say, "Right in the guts, right in the guts!"

I: So that is how you knew you hit your target, when he said, "right hi the guts."

SS: Yeah, yeah. And.. .and when we pulled off the line, we didn't have.. .we couldn't have killed a bird! We had shot everything we had. We even shot our star shells! I mean, our deck was loaded with old.. .with the powder cases and, oh it was a, it was a.... But we, we really....

TA: What did you do with those powder cases, shove them overboard?

SS: Throw them over the side. It.. .you are supposed.. .1 think keep them, but we didn't. Had to get rid of them. Hell, you couldn't walk down the deck!

I: So, the marines on the island would call hi the air strikes for you... SS: Yeah. No not the air strikes...

I: Not air strikes.. .the bombardments. Sorry, I misspoke, I am sorry.

And so, did you ever talk with anybody who had had any experience with the tunnels or the caves on Iwo Jima at all? Did you talk with anybody who did?

SS: You mean with.. .to the marines? I: Uh,huh. SS: No.

I: No, okay. And.. .so.. .so is there anything else you want to tell us about Iwo Jima before...?

SS: No. Probably not. I: No, okay.

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20

S S: I probably talked enough.... I: Oh, you are doing great

SS: Except, I try to tell.. .1 try to tell about the Higgins Boats coming by, but that is when I get all choked up.

I: Fair enough.

TA: Well, because, they didn't have a long life expectancy?

SS: Oh.. .1 was trying to tell...give you an idea...

TA: Thirty second life expectancy or something.

SS: I try to give people an idea. Even my.. .you know, I never talked about this. My oldest son is fifty six, but I hated.. .he never heard me when he grew up, ever mention World War It. And then I had two other sons, later, they never heard me until, in the last two years. In the last two years, they'd say, "Dad, what did you.. .were you ever in the service." I'd say, "Yeah, you know." "Well, you never mentioned it." I said, "never thought about it. Now, who am I going to mention it too." Because you can't talk to people about it unless they want you to. Now they...except another veteran. Now you two veterans will sit down, and you.. .complete strangers, never seen each other before, but then he'll see my hat and he'll see his. I'd say, "where are you at." And this and that. It happened to me yesterday over at Wal Mart, you know. But, but, you just never talked about it, so it.... Now, now you can't [laughing] get me to shut up about it!

I: You are doing great. You've got some great information.

SS: But, what I was trying to explain, about the Higgins Boats, about the boys in the Higgins Boats. You know, you talk about heroes, or this and that. Let me tell you a little secret. Anybody in that service, that goes to combat, is a hero. Period, [crying] I am trying to tell you but I.... When them boys come by, we would, oh it would be about like me looking at you if you was over there in that chair. That is how close I could see them.

I: Close.

SS: When they come by. Because, you know, my ship wasn't about eight feet off the water, and he is just about four foot, looking over. And in one of those Higgins Boats, I am guessing, I would say they might had thirty, thirty five, maybe I am wrong, but....

TA: Crowded in there.

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21

SS: They were crowded in there, pretty crowded. But I am going to say 30, 35. And of course, they are looking at you when you.. .when they go by. Because they, they done looked at that island and they kind of looked up at that ship as they come by. And you are looking at them white faces. They got white faces, and they.. .they and they are.. .and they are real intense because they have already heard the scuttlebutt that they expect 65, 70 percent casualties out of the first wave or two. Well, now if you have got 75 in that boat [correcting himself] or 30 in that boat....

TA: That don't leave many.

SS: And 75 of you is going to get.. .so that means that whole lot of you is going to be dead or dying pretty damn quick. Because you are not very far off shore. So that is.. .that has got to be hard on you. [crying]

TA: Well, and it is hard to look at those guys and see them looking back. SS: Oh, yeah, and know. TA: They know.

SS: And no, you know them, but said, "damn, I would have like to got to know that.. .I'll bet that.. .he could be from.. .Hell he could be from Eureka for Christ's sake." The county seat. But, my grandson, he, he is.. .eleven years old my grandson, great grandson. He, he had something in class, wanted me to come up, so I did. But I told him, I wouldn't talk about Iwo. But he fooled me.

TA: He fooled you. [laughing] A little one will get you every time. So, after Iwo, where did you go?

SS: Went back to Ulithi. And me first thing, and then we hunted up an ammunition ship.

TA: I'll bet.

I: Yeah, because you were out.

SS: Because we didn't have any. And we took on new supplies. And then we took the Baby Flat Tops, and went to Okinawa. Now here is the worst.. .the worst.. .Okinawa was the worst battle of World.. .in the Pacific in World War H

I: It was the big one.

SS: People don't.. .you know, you had Iwo, that was bad. But Okinawa, because that was the Jap home island. And they put a...and that is where the Kamikazes come. And you are only a hundred miles from Japan, the airfields where they come from. So, they had fifteen stations that they put out here. Here.. .here is Okinawa.

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22

I: All right.

SS: Here is Japan. They put fifteen stations right across here. And they put one destroyer on each station, one through fifteen. And then their job was to.. .when the Kamikazes come, they'd pick them up on radar. They would radio [unintelligible] which is here. And they'd lay smoke on the anchorage. They'd...smudge pots...smoke. They'd lay smoke. And.. .and when the Kamikazes got there, they couldn't see nothing but smoke. But that poor can sitting out there, he is a.. .he is, he is duck soup.

I: He is exposed.

SS: Yeah. So, they had one at each one. Well, we had heard the noise. We...we invaded the April Fools Day, April 1st. And we heard the cans were catching hell because they just, man they just.... I guess the Japs got mad when they had all that smoke. They just went back out there and nailed them cans. So the guy that.. .right under the main admiral was the.. .was a Tin Can Admiral, he had been. Burke, Arley Burke. In fact, he got destroyers named after him now, the Arley Burke Class. But Arley Burke went to the main admiral, and he said, "Admiral, destroyers fight better when they got.. .when they fight together. I want to put four cans on each station." Well, they didn't have enough cans. But he finally talked him into putting two on each station. And that happened just before we went out.

I: So, it was you and the Hadley, then?

SS: Yeah. Otherwise...but...and they had the...we went alongside ammunition ships and they'd give us special ammo. They had just come out with that ammo that blows up when you.. .up.. ..when the fuses got that.. .get close to metal or something. They called it something, but anyhow they got.. .we got this.. .we got this ammo. And we knew we were going on Picket Duty, and we...

TA: And what did picket duty mean? Pick 'em off?

SS: No, Picket Duty means we were out there on the picket line. You.. .just like a clothesline. We were on a picket line, and that is why we called it Picket Duty. And if the Japs was coming, we'd.. .we'd holler back, they then.. .that would give them an extra thirty minutes to lay the smoke. Then that is to cover your hospital ship...

TA: And how far out were you? SS: 45 miles. TA: 45 miles.

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23

SS: 45 miles on picket.. .and we drew fifteen. We didn't know it, but the officers did. But fifteen was the hot spot, I mean it was, you didn't last long on fifteen.

I: So, were you the closest one to Japan then? Closest?

SS: Well, I don't know, but any Picket station was bad. But fifteen just happened to be unlucky or something because it was catching hell. But so was a lot of them. If fact, there was a.. .you didn't go on picket line and.. .and make it without shooting something down, or getting shot yourself.

TA: You have a picture of the picket line, or of you...? I: If we want to get this on camera,

SS: You...you take them. She is going to let you... she is going take them anyhow. That is the Evans and the Hadley right here. But then that other one here, there is another one here shows the Evans getting hit.

I: Oh, yeah, yeah you were showing...

SS: There, there it is.

I: Here it is. Yeah, that is the Evans getting hit by one of the Kamikazes then?

SS: Right.. .getting hit right there by Kamikazes on that May 11th.

TA: Hold it up, hold it up.

S S: May 11th, 1945. And this came out of the navy archives or wherever in the... they keep these.. .that we had.... But.. .and then, the.. .there is the PUC Presidential Unit Citation], but they...anyhow, you....you.. .you look them over because.... It was a.. .there was a lot of good ships that never got any.. .well, I won't say credit, but they got no publicity. There was a hell of a lot of guys didn't get any publicity, and it is a shame. And I'll be honest about it, I belong to the VFW, I am a lifetime member. But I do not agree with them when they won't let a merchant marine in the VFW. I do not agree with that. If there was ever a dangerous job in World War II it was on one of them tubs going to Europe when that water.. .if you get in the water, you are dead.

I: A lot of them got hit.

SS: Oh, sunk them like crazy.

TA: Well, they commissioned the merchant marines and they ended up getting benefits.

SS: Yeah, but they had to fight like hell.

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24

TA: Yeah, they were... SS: Man, I am telling you...

TA: Are you the one that seen the ship take the Kamikaze, in.. .in the first gun, and it was an amm.. .ammo ship and you thought it was going to blow up?

SS: Oh yeah! You was talking about...and I told my wife. I said, "She heard me tell the story, but I didn't know it was full of beer!" I knew.. .1 knew it got hit, and didn't blow.

TA: And that was a merchant marine ship. SS: Yeah, oh yeah. TA: And he was full...

SS: And. ..well, when we went by after Iwo to get ammo, you know where we went? merchant marine ship. Went up along side it, ammunition ship, and here.. .and they are just anchored there, and we come in, and load that ammo on...

TA: Without them you'd have been sunk.

SS: Oh, that is right, and you tell me that guy ain't entitled to be in the.... Man, I don't agree with the VFW on that at all.

TA: Well, he [Lee Zimmerman] was real glad to have that front hold full of beer, let me tell you. On that ammo ship that got the Kamikaze.

SS: I guarantee you. That... well if it hadn't, he wouldn't be here talking to nobody, that is for sure. Because, I will tell you, when one of them ammo ships blows up, all hell breaks loose. That one blew up in San Francisco, you know.

TA: You said you guys was raising the anchor, was going to get the heck out of there, I mean...

SS: That is right! hell yes! When it got hit, and pulled the.. .we.. .we hosted the anchor to get the hell away from it. Well, we was up pretty close to it. We wasn't.. .but close enough to be moving.

TA: Yeah.

SS: Oh, yeah. And when you...I said...I said, "Damn, I remember that. I remember the ammo ship getting hit, and then didn't blow up." And it got hit.

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25

TA: Yes it did.

I: So, you were out there on point fifteen. How did you know when the planes were coming? Did you have radar? Did you hear them?

SS: Oh, here.. .here is what happened. We left at about four o'clock in the afternoon. We went out of [Kremmeretta], that is the anchorage that you.. .when you.... And we were just tooling along out there. Kind of like you was trolling for fish or something. And here come a brand new can, boy, out of [Kremmeretta] and brand new twin mount guns. That is the new cans, you know, they were just coming out towards the end of the war. And it went by man.. .he was just.. .he was a honking it. And all of a sudden the old Evans started jumping up and down. I said, "Uh oh". And we took after that can. And a lot of the guys thought, "Hell, that old man is going to race that can". So, we was a following him. And.. .and we are running it over thirty knots, I mean, we are honking it, right after the Hadley. And directly.. .all of a sudden we slowed down to about three miles an hour, and we are on picket station fifteen.

We relieved two cans. About three flutters of the signal lights and they are gone. And we could still see their smoke when we had already shot down one bogey. We ain't even got there.. just general quarters. And where is general quarters.. .and we were.. .and we shot one down then.... And the other.. .the cans we relieved, we could still see their smoke on the horizon. Now we knew...we.. .well once we knew we was on picket station fifteen, yeah I remember that night. We had oh, a couple craps games and two or three poker games. And whoever had any money.. .you know.. .we didn't.. .and I remember one guy.. .1 don't remember bis name. He said he was shooting dice there, I don't know he had four of five dollars out there. He said, "shoot it all." He said, "Hell, I will be dead tomorrow anyhow." And you know, we knew we was hi trouble. And you know, you just might as well make a joke about it. Hell, you ain't.. .where are you going to go? You can't.. .can't run and hide. I'll tell you something else. Most Americans that are in the service, they'd rather get killed then get.. .be called a coward. There are some things that a fellow can't stand....

TA: And you got the Presidential Unit Award, on that ship?

SS: Nineteen, there was nineteen ships, I think. Now, you know, it has been a long time but.... Nineteen ships in the US Navy got the Presidential Unit Citation in World War II. Those were two of them. And they called us, and they still do, the Champion Kamikaze Killers. That we shot down.. .and Hadley got hit by two, we got hit by four. And I think the two of us shot down forty, somewhere along there....

TA: What kind of damage did they do to your ship?

SS: Oh, man they.. .all engine.. .it.. .it flooded the forward fire room, forward engine room, after fire room, and after engine room completely flooded.

I: So, how did you deal with that flooding?

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26

SS: Oh, it ain't easy. First off, we are sinking. I mean we're.. .we're sinking. So, air cap comes in, the...the cover. You call them in when you get to where you can't fire. See, when you are dead in the water, you got no steam, you can't.. .your guns, your big guns don't move, because they move with power, electricity. So, now you can crank them, one guy cranks this way, and the other guy.... You forget that. A suicide plane, you are going to crank that.. .you are going to be so far behind when that guy gets to you.. .you.... So, you can't.. .you are just.... Your main guns are just not...

I: Not going to work.

SS: Not going to work. So, what you do, you...

TA: Call in air support.

SS: Call in air support. And then the...the old man got on the loudspeaker and said, "Everybody relieved from general quarters." But you, but.. .except the twenty millimeter boys, because they could.. .they didn't need no electricity. And said, "lighten ship. Try to keep her from.. .see if we can save her." Well, hell, we threw everything overboard that wasn't nailed down. I mean, we threw everything overboard. Depth charges, fired the torpedoes, anything we could throw over. And then we even had.. .now there is.. .when you get on picket duty, there is four Vultures there when you get there. We called them Vultures. The were LCIs, which is a little Landing Craft Infantry. But it is a.. .but it is not like a Higgins Boat. It is.. .it.. .it can go across the ocean by itself. But.. .but they are a little.... In other words, it is too little for a Jap to put a plane into. Because it.. .the plane cost as much as the... and... and... so they are there. And that is what they are. Now some of the good boys called them Pallbearers, some of them.. .we.. .we.. .we called them Vultures. Because they are out there to pick you up. They.. .they are there when you get there.

I: The support ships.

SS: They are support ships, and they are there to pick you up. Or to help you if you get hit. So, as soon as we are dead in the water, they came alongside. And we.. .and the old man said, "we got rid of all the crew except about fifty guys."

TA: Now did you stay on?

SS: Oh yeah. Well, they wanted seamen mainly, and repair party. See, I was a ship fitter, that is my job, repair. But.. .but.. .everybody wanted to stay. But they couldn't. We were trying to lighten ship. Well, if you can get a couple hundred guys off there....

I: Lightens the load.

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SS: Pretty good load of weight right there. So, we got, we got the LCIs coming alongside. And then we've got the wounded. We had a... we had some boys terribly wounded there. And the... we had dead laying all over. But not all over, but.... And then one old boy, I know.. .1 hate to say this, but when you are in action like that, things.... He was laying in a passageway there, and he was just gutted like a pig you know. And his head.. .you couldn't recognize who he was. But, the.. .the gunnery officer come by and said, "Stan, throw that.. .throw him overboard." I said, "well, okay", you know. It didn't.. .1 said.. .he said, "we'll have his.. .we'll have funeral later." I said, "okay." But over he went. Well when I... when he did, he turned and I saw his name on the back of his shirt. So, I know who it was, but I never mentioned it to.. .at the reunions or nothing because it.... But we did have a little.. .when we buried the rest of them, we put his name in there. But it was just a case of you got a guy there that is scaring the hell out of a lot of people and...and we didn't have room to... everybody is trying to get through there, and get things done, so you kind of skip over some of the nicey, niceties that you like to see on TV. This is.. .this is war. And.. .and also then, we had friendly fire. That.. .nobody wants to mention that. But even at the reunions, they never mentioned it for a long time...

TA: That always happens.

SS: And I finally told them one day, I said, "You guys.. .ain't nobody remembers that LCI shooting through our forecastle?" [laughter]. And a lot of them.. .and a lot of them had forgot. And some of them never even knew it, but...

TA: How do you get that stopped?

SS: Huh?

TA: How do you get that stopped? The friendly fire?

SS: Well you...

TA: Did they call over and say, "hey stop it.

SS: No, yeah, yeah. It was.. .the LCI coming along.... Here.. .here is our can, like this, looking this way. -LCI comes right here. We timed.. .timed to us.. .was getting these pumps so we can start pumping and this and that. And another Jap comes. And here he is coming down.. .way out there you know. He is coming down, making his run towards us. Well the guy.. .the LCI has got a little forty millimeter on the front. He has got him. This guy.. .the kid on the forty millimeter on the LCI, he is.. .he is shooting at him, shooting at him. But when the Jap goes down behind our forecastle, he just keeps a shooting.

TA: Because he is concentrated right on....

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SS: On that airplane. And when the airplane got below, he just, "boom, boom, boom," shot three holes through the forecastle. And it wounded Matbias Casey and.. .and Dockery. They got all right, but they.. .they.. .1 thought Casey was dead for twenty years, but he made it, later, but Dockery, I never heard about Dockery but he never died from that. Somebody might have killed him, but he.. .he was an ornery bastard! [laughter].

TA: Well, another thing I wanted to ask you is did you.. .when you shot down those Kamikazes, did you pick up those pilots?

SS: The.. .the.. .one. We got.. .well we had two pilots on our ship. The one that.. .the last one that hit behind the galley, he was laying there hi pieces. And the one that hit on the port side astern, flopped. When he dropped that bomb, it went under the deck.. .under the waterline and blew up in the fire room. But his...he flopped out on the deck. And then when they say Japs are small, this guy was a huge.. .he was a.. .1 said, "Hell, that has got to be one of them Jap Marines." He was every bit of six...

TA: Were they both alive? SS: No, no.

TA: Well, I am talking about, if you shoot down one of the Japanese planes and it goes in the water.

SS: No, we didn't mess with them.

TA: You just left them out?

SS: Yes, he.. .if he.. .if he.. .if he got out of there, he had to do it on his own.

I: Now, if there was a fire on the ship, how did you.. .how did you deal with fires? Did you have bucket brigades? Fire extinguishers?

SS: Well, I have got a little story about them fires too. I: Sure.

SS: The.. .the last plane that hit us, knocked a warhead off of our torpedo tubes. You know, your torpedo tubes. It hit the end of the torpedo tube and knocked the warhead off. Now that is 600 pounds of TNT!

I: I'll bet that was ugly!

SS: And, it is burning! On fire! hi there. And [laughs], we...we had already left the battle stations, and the old boy in the.. .at the repair party, run up there. And I can't remember his name. I think is name was.. .old, old... Hoag, Jimmy, Hoag, run up there

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SS: On that airplane. And when the airplane got below, he just, "boom, boom, boom," shot three holes through the forecastle. And it wounded Mathias Casey and.. .and Dockery. They got all right, but they.. .they.. .1 thought Casey was dead for twenty years, but he made it, later, but Dockery, I never heard about Dockery but he never died from that. Somebody might have killed him, but he.. .he was an ornery bastard! [laughter].

TA: Well, another thing I wanted to ask you is did you.. .when you shot down those Kamikazes, did you pick up those pilots?

SS: The.. .the.. .one. We got...well we had two pilots on our ship. The one that.. .the last one that hit behind the galley, he was laying there in pieces. And the one that hit on the port side astern, flopped. When he dropped that bomb, it went under the deck.. .under the waterline and blew up hi the fire room. But his...he flopped out on the deck. And then when they say Japs are small, this guy was a huge.. .he was a.. .1 said, "Hell, that has got to be one of them Jap Marines." He was every bit of six...

TA: Were they both alive? SS: No, no.

TA: Well, I am talking about, if you shoot down one of the Japanese planes and it goes in the water.

SS: No, we didn't mess with them.

TA: You just left them out?

SS: Yes, he.. .if he.. .if he.. .if he got out of there, he had to do it on his own.

I: Now, if there was a fire on the ship, how did you.. .how did you deal with fires? Did you have bucket brigades? Fire extinguishers?

SS: Well, I have got a little story about them fires too. I: Sure.

SS: The.. .the last plane that hit us, knocked a warhead off of our torpedo tubes. You know, your torpedo tubes. It hit the end of the torpedo tube and knocked the warhead off. Now that is 600 pounds of TNT!

I: I'll bet that was ugly!

SS: And, it is burning! On fire! In there. And [laughs], we...we had already left the battle stations, and the old boy in the.. .at the repair party, run up there. And I can't remember his name. I think is name was.. .old, old... Hoag, Jimmy, Hoag, run up there

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with the fire hose and pulled her back. To put the.. .and a stream run out about the size of your little finger! [laughter] He dropped that hose and took off! Because it is...there is 600 pounds of TNT laying there in that.. .in a fire. And every body, everybody said, "James, get back." So, and.. .and.. .and it.. .and it never did explode. And it.. .and the leak in that warhead was running down the deck and that was burning that whole string. Just like you was pouring gas down there. And an officer told us at a reunion, a demolition guy, that the reason that warhead probably didn't explode was because it had the leak. If it hadn't have, the fire would have put the pressure inside it. But by that leak, and he said, "nitro burns just like gasoline." Nitro ain't what explodes that baby, not the fire. It is the.. .but he said, that is probably what.. .the reason that didn't go off. But I will never forget that.. .old Hoag dropping down that hose.

TA: And.. .and running like the devil, huh?

SS: And another, see.. .and.. .and when I was in the navy, that was a segregated navy in the war. I didn't agree with it, but it was segregated. In other words, you had Blacks on the can, but they stayed in one certain place, and they was the officers mess guys. They cooked and served the officers. But you'd see them out there sunning their laundry.. .1 mean their bedding and stuff. But you never ate with them, you never.. .they never used your toilet or.... I don't know where hi the hell they went, but you just didn't know them. Except.. .and they got.. .their battle stations normally was in the magazine, which is the worst battle station you can draw. I mean, you are down there on top of all that ammo. If something hits that, bye bye. But, we.. .they had.. .had one guy named.... What the hell was his name? [laughs] Anyhow, he was a phone man for the forward repair party. He wore a set of phones, and he had a lead on that thing about a hundred and fifty feet. That he could just.. .you know.. .it wasn't.. .from when he had it But when that last Jap comes in, [laughing], he is up on the forecastle, and he looks up and sees that Jap coming, and he takes off running down the deck with them phones on. [laughter]. When that slack run out, his feet was as high as that ceiling. His name was Chappie.

TA: Chappie?

SS: Chappie. His feet went up, and we all was trying to find a hole. You know, we are getting down. So we were running down in the pay locker. Well, then after we.. .we hear it quit firing, and that is when the old boy shot through the boatsmen locker. That same guy, as when Chappie took his dive. We come out of there, Chappie is still laying over there. I said.... Me and Hoag and the [unintelligible], we come up out of there and Chappie.. .Chappie is dead, Chappie is dying, he is talking to himself over there! Chappie is dead. Chappie is dying. I guess it knocked.. .1 said.. .we went over there and we said, "Get the Hell up here!" [laughter] But that was comical, I mean.. .never.. .1 don't know whether he.. .whether he.. .he is probably dead by now, because.. .1 don't know, but I have never heard.... And then we had another great big one. We had another great big, black guy. And he was throwing those depth charges over by himself when we was lightening that ship. I am telling you, he was chucking them babies. And they weigh about 300 pounds. Well, I am talking too much.

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I: Oh, you are doing great. So, so anything else you'd like to tell us about Okinawa, or?

SS: About Okinawa, you know, that is basically the.. .May 11th, what I am talking about on that.. .on the.. .picket duty. See, the.. .the Picket Line at Okinawa, was a suicide mission, but you had to have it. You.. .you.. .you.. .if you didn't, with all them suicide planes, if you didn't lay smoke, you got all your ammunition, cargo ships, in that anchorage, and they are just.. .they couldn't have missed. I mean, they are all right there. They are like.. .thick as fleas. And that.. .and.. .or course after that, now we got.. .after they towed us, see they.. .they'd come out there and.. .and the.. .the tugboats come out there and they.. .they had big pumps. And the Hadley was sinking too. I mean, we are both sinking. .. .We sunk right down to.. .the ocean was right even with the.. .our deck. And the only reason we didn't sink is it was calm. That was one day it was just like a bathtub. The ocean was just like a bathtub.

I: Boy, you were lucky.

SS: Not a ripple, there wasn't a riffle. And.. .and that is the reason, because we'd have just... if it had had a five mile an hour wind it would just...

TA: Just finished you off.

SS: And by the time... and they didn't start towing us right then. The tug boat was there, but it was... said, "hey, we can't tow. We've got to get that baby up some." So, we got more pumps then we.. .and we finally started.. .it started raising.

I: Pumping the water out.

SS: Yeah, and we was plugging things up with mattresses and shoring things up and we finally got it up about six, eight inches, and then they slowly towed us towards [Kremmeretta] because that is where the floating dry dock was. But the towed us first to le Shima which is another little island.

And that is where Ernie Pyle, I don't know whether you heard of Ernie Pyle or not, but he was the.. .he was the G.I.s Correspondent. Ernie Pyle was a war correspondent that always looked out for the dog faces. The low.. .the enlisted man. And he got killed there on le Shima.

TA: Yeah, he did.

SS: And he was a great guy. He was on our ship, by the way, for oh, a couple hours.

TA: Did you meet him?

SS: Oh, yeah, yeah. And he.. .in fact, we went alongside the Indianapolis before Iwo. And the Indianapolis was Sprague's.. .Admiral Sprague's flagship. Now that is the same

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Indianapolis that sunk at the end of the war where they all died. But...Sprague's flagship, well, we went alongside it to synchronize our radio with their's. Now this is a scuttlebutt, Hell, I don't know what.. .but we went alongside there for something. Had to be pretty important because that was the flag. I, mean...so anyhow, we went alongside and Ernie Pyle was on the Indianapolis. So he come over just to visit with us. And of course, they were regulation. I mean, with the flag on there, you had your hair.. .your hat square, socks, shirt buttoned.

landTA: Spit and polish.

SS: Oh, spit and polish, you got it. Well, a destroyer, very loose, very loose. In fact, we had cutoff dungarees, and seabee shoes, and made moccasins out of them. And we looked, you know, an old shirt, and just.. .we looked kind of ragged, [laughter]. But Ernie Pyle said, "You guys look a little more like sailors." [laughter]. So, but we did get to meet him there. I sure hated to hear him get killed. He was a good guy. He was in.. .you know.. .he was.. .he used to.. .he used to stick up for the.. .the GI.

TA: Did.. .did you.. .was you prepared to go to Japan?

SS: Oh, yeah, and, see that is another thing.

TA: When the war was over. Where was you at when the war was over?

SS: I was on survivors leave.

TA: Really? See, when we got back to the states, they towed us eight thousand miles.

TA: Is that right?

I: So they towed you all the way back...

SS: To San Francisco.

I: And you were on the Evans the whole time?

SS: Yeah, clear to San Francisco, you know. And they...and they.. .we.. .pulled, took us in the Marin Island Shipyard there in Frisco [correcting himself] or Richland. And they are already tearing stuff off, you know, when we are leaving to go on Survivors Leave. They said, and I don't know in how many days, they were going to have us up and running because we got to go back and make the big run. And so, everybody was going on leave. And.. .and that is something else that.. .1.. .that was out of step. .. .They said, "Hell, just as well go home. Get drunk, raise Hell, spend your money, because we are going to Japan. Ain't no tomorrow." So, I got drunk, raised hell, and spent all my money and they dropped the damn bomb before I got back off leave! [laughter].

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TA: And there was a tomorrow!

SS: They dropped the bomb, the sixth, I am due back off of leave the ninth.

I: Boy, talk about timing.

TA: Did you have enough points to get out?

SS: No, I was regular navy. I ain't going nowhere. I am in until.. .1 am in until '47. That.. .see when you join that like, you are not reserves, you are regular navy.

TA: So, where did you go after that?

SS: Oh, hell, I went.. .1 had a lot of fun after that. But, you know, it.. .1 got to.. .they put me on a.. .they sent me to Farragut, back to Farragut.

I: Back to Farragut? Uhoh.


SS: Back to Farragut. No, just to...because that...the boot camp was gone. They just sent me there to be refitted because I got all my gear blew up when.. .on the Evans and everything. So they gave me my new clothes and I went to Seattle and went on a troop ship. And I went to hauling troops. And I went from...


TA: Back and forth.

SS: Went from Seattle to.... Took 400 blacks from Seattle to Japan. Now you talk about some sick birds. When you come out of Seattle, they got the worst ground swells of anywhere on the coast. And it is not bad, it just makes you sick, if you are inclined to be seasick. And 4,000,400 blacks all sick. At one time.

TA: Yuck.

SS: You've got a genuine mess. Them bunks are ten foot high.. .ten racks high and they start throwing up up there. And it comes all the way down. I had one little guy there.. .laying there.. .1 said, so help me.. .so help me...1 would say he didn't weigh over 140 at the best. And he was laying on his back, and every time he'd throw up, it would look like Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park. Up, right back on him. He can't ever move his head this way or that. I said, "Boy.. .you are going to.. .turn your damn head anyhow. You don't have to take it twice, you know." And "Ya," he said, "I am going to die". I said, "here is what...." I said, "You have got to put something in your stomach." I couldn't get it through your head. I said.... "I can't eat nothing." I said, drink water, anything." If you just drink water, and then I said, "and then get the hell topside." You are down here closed in and.. .and.. .but some of them...

TA: We've only got about five minutes left.

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I: So, we'd better change tapes.

TA: No, I think I am just going to go ahead and wrap up.

SS: I think I bored the lady...

TA: You came back home in...in what year?

SS: I came back.. .well I ain't got time to tell you about my little trip around the world have I? Okay.

TA: Okay, real quick. Around the world.

SS: Oh, real quick. I got a load of.. .1 come to Wichita on leave. Went back to.. .to Frisco, got back on my ship. Took a load of soldiers to Japan, dropped them off. Picked some up and took them to Manila, Philippines. Dropped them off, picked some up and went to Calcutta, India. Dropped those off and picked up some British and took them to Alexandria, Egypt, up the canal. And then went from Alexandria, Egypt to Marseille, France, and then to New York City. And then I got me another fifteen day leave and I come to Wichita. I come in the back door, and my.. .my Aunt said, "What are you doing coming in the back door?" I said, "because when I go out the front, I have been all the way around the world." So, I come in the back door and I went out the front door, [laughter].

I: I like that.

SS: Made a complete trip.

TA: I like that.

SS: Because that is where I left. I left out the front when I...

TA: Yeah, that is neat. I like that.

I: So, how did you meet your wife?

SS: Huh?

I: How did you meet your wife?

SS: Well, let's see. I met her in a bar.

I: In a bar?

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SS: She come in with some girlfriends, and I was there. And she wasn't...think...she didn't think much of this cowboy. She [unintelligible]. I said to her.. .they introduced me. I knew one of the girls. One of the girls was a bartender at the Hilton Inn down there in Kansas City. So...and I was...I was with the Union, you know. So I'd go in there a lot. So, I.. .talking to her and I said, "who is.. .who is your friend?" And she told me her name, Mary Patton. Something. And, I said, "oh, Irish, huh?" And that did it So, anyhow, I took them to breakfast. All four of them. There was three girls and me [correcting himself], four girls and me. And then, I run into her two or three weeks later, somewhere, and went from there.

I: And the rest is history, wow! And, did you ever hear from Tokyo Rose at all?

SS: No, no we used to listen to her though. When we was over there. We... we used to like to listen to her. She played good music.

TA: Yeah? So you did hear her?

SS: Oh, yeah we tried [unintelligible]. We was mad when we couldn't get her, because we got the... the latest songs and everything. And.. .and you know, that was the only way we could get them was through Tokyo Rose. And.. .if she.. .she wasn't making.. .most of us a damn bit homesick. I mean, over.. .we just wanted to hear the music. Course, we know what.. .the other stuff was all BS anyhow. How many.. .how many United States ships they'd sunk, and how many barines they'd killed. We....

TA: You already knew that stuff.

SS: Well, yeah, but we knew she stretched the hell out of things too. [laughter].

I: But you just wanted to hear the music.

TA: They say she was very pretty.

SS: Huh?

TA: They say she was very pretty.

SS: Yeah, and Axis Sally was good...was a good looking woman.

TA: Who?

SS: Axis Sally in.. .in German. They had one two. Axis Sally they called her. And Tokyo Rose. But no....

TA: What did you do for a living, the rest of your life?

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SS: Well, I was a.. .a truck driver and a teamster official.

TA: And you had how many children?

SS: Four.

TA: And grandchildren?

SS: Oh yes! Oh yes! I got, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, and I got, one, two, three, four, five, six, seven great-grandchildren. And one in the hopper!

TA: And one in the hopper?

I: Wow.

TA: Well really appreciate it. This has been a wonderful interview.

I: You have done wonderful. That...that...we...I have learned so much.

SS: I.. .1.. .like I say if I.... When.. .when are you.. .you going to get them back to me, are you...?

TA: On Friday, we'll be here Friday.

SS: Oh, no hurry. But even if I.. .if you can't.. .you can just leave them here in that envelope. And if find out.. .the tape.. .if I have got an extra one of them tapes that that kid from.. .from...

TA: Yeah. I know what you are talking about.

SS: Made of... of my ship. It was pretty neat. They put it together out there at the college, and.. .but this was.. .but.... I.. .1 told my wife, I said, "I know I'll talk too damn much."

TA: I wish.. .1 wish we could do a whole another tape on you. I: Yeah.

SS: But you what.. .you see.. .for.. .for years, never even talked about it. Never even talked about it.

TA: They seem to all be talking now, everybody...

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SS: Yeah, and.. .and the more you talk about it, you'll remember things. Just like you telling me about that.. .1 was there, but I.. .and I remember the damn ship getting hit, and I knew it didn't blow up.

TA: But you didn't know it had beer on it.

SS: I didn't know about it.. .but you know.. .the more you say that, I am.. .1 am thinking we did know about it, but I am not sure. But.. .and we have our.. .1 started our reunions in '79, and the way that I done it, I just put the ad in the VFW and the American Legion there would be a reunion in Kansas City, and contact me. And there was twelve guys showed up. And we started, and we have it every two years. And we got up to.. .like I say, to a hundred and seventy eight, that one.... Now we are back down.. .we had six [correcting himself] nine, we had nine at this one, last May. Now we won't have.. .the next one is going to be in.. .in Washington, DC in.. .in two years, which would be....

TA: You might not want to wait two years.

SS: Well, that is what I.. .you know.. .but.... Now, there was more than nine alive, but they just...

TA: They are too ill to....

SS: To ill or.. .and it wasn't money, because we done told all our people that, "if you don't have the money, we have got a fund."

I: Good.

SS: "Not a lot, but you.. .you can get to the reunion. Buy your room, rent paid, airfare, whatever." We'd get them to the reunion if they need help.

I: Wonderful.

TA: Well, that you very much, [to TA] Turn that off.

SS: Okay, and thank you people.

I: And I have got some more information about your...

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