MY WORLD WAR The Story from Harold M. Gilroy QM S/N
TWO NAVAL SHIPS
This letter covers, finding the USS Sandalwood AN32, and
the recollection of this ship during WWII. There are very
few dates attached to the events.
The USS Sandalwood AN32 Connection, letter to Al Seguin
Dear Al, It was a great surprise to me when I stumbled across your USS Sandalwood web site,and I was impressed by the great amount of detail you have assembled. It brought back many old memories of a part of my life that I had almost forgotten. As a young boy , I read many books about the sea and the great explorers that traveled around the world in uncharted waters, and it sounded very adventurous. It was really boring most of the time, but I was glad I was there. Thanks for bringing it all back. The enclosed pictures do not have all the names of them on the back, but maybe you can identify them. You have done a good job in identifying so many of the crew. I talked to Ray Huppee our RM1/c last night and we had quite a few laughs over our sea duty. It was nice to hear how he was enjoying life. I called Dr. Jim Powell last night but got no answer. I will try again soon. Thank you for all your efforts in this historical work concerning the USS Sandalwood. You are bringing back many wonderful memories for many people. God Bless.
MY RECOLLECTION OF MY TIME OF SERVICE ON THE USS SANDALWOOD DURING WW2
I first boarded the Sandalwood AN32 in Moorehead City N.C.,in the middle of the night. My first thoughts on seeing the ship were something like "What a weird looking ship." It also looked a bit small to go wondering around out in the ocean. It was the first ship I was ever assigned to, and everything was new to me. When I awoke the next morning, the ship was already underway, rocking back and forth, and of course, I immediately felt very sick. I headed out on deck, looking for a spot to throw up, and was immediately turned around and directed to the leeward side by an officer, (Mr. Raymond) who didn't want it blown on him. He never said a word and I don't think I ever heard him speak. The queasy feeling went away, but any time we stayed in port, for a few days the queasiness came back for a short while. We stayed in N.C. for a few days and then went North to Norfolk, Va. were the ship under went extensive repairs.The forward part of the main deck was overlaid with inch thick steel. then into dry-dock , where the barnacles, and old paint were removed. The whole crew, except for the ship's Doc, turned out for this dirty, smelly job. We still lived on the ship while we were in dry-dock, but ate at the base mess hall. Then the ship got a fresh coat of camouflage paint, kind of a green, brown, and orange mixture. A lot of other work was also done in the passageways, engine room, etc. We were ready to sail around the world. Then one day the word came out that we were leaving for parts unknown. The Boatswain Mate first class (Callas) jumped ship that night to go say good bye to his wife. He got busted for doing that. The next morning we were piped to Quarters, and a very formal role call took place, with all hands being present. Then, we were off, heading south in a small convoy of LST's and merchant ships. We refueled at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba where an amazing event took place. I had the Gangway watch,and a LTJG came aboard to see the Executive office. It turned out that this officer was a cousin of mine from Pa. who went to college with the exec, I never had any problems with the exec, at anytime. We then headed for Panama in some rough water and the other ship's in the convoy nick named us the sea going grasshopper based on the ship's color, and the way we leaped from wave to wave.Each time taking water over the bow. Actually the waves broke against the flat bow between the horns. We celebrated Thanksgiving Day on this leg of the voyage by having sandwich's while sitting on the deck braced against the bulkhead. I think we had our Thanksgiving dinner in Panama. As we left the dock to enter the Canal Zone, and after listening to a lecture about off base liberty in a foreign country, and to behave, we went on liberty. We had all heard about the pleasure houses in Panama, but I was dazzled by the over friendliness of the ladies, tattoo parlors, and bars. A few shipmates got tattooed to remember Panama. As we left the dock to enter the Canal a semaphore from another ship informed us that out ship's mascot, Sandy, was left behind on their ship. They kindly steamed alongside and threw Sandy overboard, and we retrieved him. Then into the canal, which seemed like one of the wonders of the world. Maybe that is why I became an engineer after I left the Navy. We entered the first lock, along with many other small craft, the dock was filled with water to another level, and then we entered Gatun Lake, all surrounded by lush and tropical vegetation. The channel through the lake wound around and it was quite a site to see a huge ship coming around the bend from the other direction out from behind the trees. It took most of the day to go through the canal. Somewhere along the way someone hung loads of bananas on the fantail. I assumed they were for resale and the profits were for the crew's beer. As we headed north we ran into a fierce storm off the west coast of Mexico. The inclinometer in the wheel house registered a maximum roll of 47 degrees, which makes it difficult to get footing to steer the ship, or for that matter to stand anywhere. The pounding damaged the main engines, and we lost way for a while, as well as power to the vital systems. I found the whole thing scary. We rode out the storm and limped into San Diego, Ca. harbor, where we docked in downtown San Diego. We left San Diego, the bananas were gone, and we headed north to Los Angels, and San Pedro, where we went into the yard on the Cerritos Channel for repairs. The channel was lined with fish factories, and with many pelicans, all tying to steel fish from the fish boats, that unloaded there. We also ran aground there, but nothing serious. When we left the yard, we headed for Hawaii towing a very large floating drydock, on a trip that seemed like it wasn't going to end. Somewhere at sea we refueled, a very interesting experience. I thought the trip to Hawaii, took us 28 days , but our Radioman Ray Huppee, RM1/c said it was 36 days, Whatever, it was a long one. then we delivered the drydock as soon as we arrived. The Sandalwood was assigned an interesting job towing targets for anyone and everyone to fire at it. It was interesting at first, but quickly got boring, except when planes started shooting and dropping bombs, and shooting rockets. I don't think the rockets were perfected at that time too good, as we became the target after a while.The coastal artillery from the beach were the most accurate. From Pearl Harbor, we went to Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, where we worked the nets with other net layers,to maintain the protective nets. As for Eniwetok, it was a dull place. At one point I had a real bad tooth ache,and (Doc Peters) sent me to a ship that had a dentist for an immediate cure. He pulled the tooth. Another time we needed a new motor launch, and I went across the lagoon with someone, (it may have been Al Seguin) where we picked out another launch from a bunch of derelicts, after a little work on the seams it was fine. Another time we went to the beach for R and R and got a dislocated jaw from a baseball that hit me . It was really boring at Eniwetok. With no reason to go ashore we took up other hobbies. Fishing was big for a while, but it didn't last as the fish was easy to catch, and most of them looked poisonous, and pre-historic. One favorite sport Now Dr, James (Shorty) Powell had was reaching over the wire mesh to get canned tuna, and spam. We were another two rats on the ship. Then the war ended and we went to Wake Island. (For details of this see Al Seguin's web site, http://community.webtv.net/CPOSeguin/ The USSSandalwoodAN32) At Eniwetok, after a days work we were awarded two cans of beer or two coke's. The one thing I remember about Wake Island had to do with the first night there. We were tied up outboard of a DE, and when we drank our beer on the fantail, I think some of the empty cans ended up on the DE. We then went back to Eniwetok, to dismantle nets by sinking them with the ship's guns. Then we went back to Wake Island for some R and R, then headed to Pearl Harbor, to get some fresh fruit, milk, ice cream, and bread, The fresh water was good too, after drinking evaporated sea water. Soon after we returned to San Pedro, arriving in January of 1946. Then on April 6th, I was separated from the ship to Lido Beach, Ca. and discharged from the Navy, at Lido Beach N.Y. ( Harold Gilroy) Harold Thank you for the wonderful update and history of the USS Sandalwood. AN32. Al Seguin and Glenn Pawlson.