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NavSource Online: Amphibious Photo Archive


From a letter by Earl Johnson USS LSM-134

"... Once at Okinawa, we were tied up to the MS Tjisdane (a Dutch merchant ship, with a Hindu crew) loading trucks, when a nest of LSM’S within our view, came under air attack. Then 2 planes veered off in our direction, until they were very close. One suddenly turned away, with the other [a Zero] continuing in at conn level; with the wing tip almost touching. The pilot turned his head toward me as the plane passed, missing the conn by only inches. This very young man locked eyes with me for a fraction of a second. The face was without any discernable expression and the eyes emotionless. Then he was gone.

The plane plunged into the Tjisdane, cutting the cable that was lowering a truck and dropping it on our well deck. The collision with the cable apparently diverted the plane into an area that was not the intended target. As it struck the deck there was an explosion and fire that was quickly brought under control with minimum casualties. We watched as the pilots body was lifted out of the cockpit, frozen into a sitting position.

In my memory, I will always see the young pilot wearing, what I call the “Smiling Jack” head gear, and what was obviously a ceremonial scarf, looking into my eyes as he passed. Did he only avert his gaze to escape seeing the impact that was to take his life or was there something about me that drew his attention, perhaps because I was also very young? That is Improbable but as I said, I will always wonder.

Warren, please don’t ever take that page off your site.

Shipmate and friend.. Earl Johnson USS LSM134"