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"The Wartime Diary" of Edward (Ray) Mitchell, SM1/c, YMS-180"
AcknowledgementsBack in the late 1930s, going to the movies on Saturday to keep up with the ongoing serials was about the best entertainment of the week we had, and this we did every Saturday.You always had to sit through the RKO Movietone News before the feature began. The introduction to this part of the movie was the U.S. Navy Battleships, steaming, one behind the other, at sea with the ocean sprays blowing back over the ship with every wave they went through. Every time I would see this part of the newsreel, I would think, this is what I wanted to do, join the Navy and get on one of those Battleships and ride the waves.At the end of the school year 1940 I graduated from Franklin Jr. High and was to start high school at Tilghman High the next semester. I was not doing good in school, and I could foresee going to Tilghman wasn't going to be any different. My friend "Boots" Walker mentioned joining the Navy which interested me
right off.We went to the recruiting office and signed up for a minority cruise, meaning you would be eligible for discharge on your twenty-first birthday. I wouldn't be seventeen years old until December 31 so I had to wait until then before I would be accepted. When the time rolled around, "Boots" and I were sent by train to Louisville, Kentucky for the swearing in ceremonies. After a through physical, and a nights sleep, we boarded another train for Great Lakes Naval Training Station just north of Chicago, Illinois. By the time we got to Chicago, a dozen more recruits were picked up on the way. From the train station we were picked up by an open bed truck from the Naval Station. No sooner than we had arrived on the base the sailors along the way to our quarters would yell out "You'll be sorry."After six weeks at Great Lakes, Illinois I rode a train to San Diego, California Destroyer Base. We had great accommodations, state rooms and pullman cars. I enjoyed the long trip. I was assigned to the USS Santee Fleet Oiler [AO 29] and headed for Pearl Harbor. While in Pearl I experienced my first time in salt water. While painting the side of the ship, the lines securing one end came loose and dumped us in the drink.After a short stay in Pearl, we headed back east, passed through the Panama Canal, and started transporting oil from Bay Town, Texas and Baton Rouge, Louisiana to places like Guantanamo, Cuba and as far north as Argentia, Newfoundland. This duty is called "cooks tour." After spending the summer running up and down the east coast dodging German U-boats we put in at Norfolk, Virginia Naval Shipyard the first week in December 1941. The sinking of merchant ships in the Atlantic by German submarines was happening quite often, so the Navy ordered a five inch gun mounted on our stern. On Sunday morning, December 7 the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor of course was a big surprise to everyone. After a few more trips up and down the Atlantic coast, our ship the USS Santee was selected to be converted to an aircraft carrier [an Aircraft Escort Vessel - AVG-29]. We put in at New York harbor pier one, and most of the crew got off the ship crew got off the ship and reported to the receiving station on pier one for reassignment.After a couple of weeks there, we were given the opportunity to select one of two places for assignment, which was Jig Hypo Project or George Two William Project.JOURNEY THROUGH THE MINE FIELDIt was early May 1944, and the YMS-180 was commissioned at the Naval Station in New Orleans, Louisiana. I believe it was built in Wisconsin [actually built at Chicago, Illinois].After a shake down cruise, at Battle [Little] Creek, Virginia on May 23, 1944, we headed south on a course to the Panama Canal Zone. We did not know where we would be going from there. It was about a four day trip. The YMS-177 joined us, and we met a convoy of LSTs, and passed mail to two of them. Two of the LSTs left the convoy, and accompanied up to the Canal Zone.For the next four days, we enjoyed pretty good weather, except for one day when we had intermittent rain squalls and light swells. We slowed down so that we could arrive at our destination at our scheduled time.
We put in at Coco Solo Submarine Repair Base on May 28th, around noon. Word got around that we would probably be here for a little while. We were supposed to get .50 caliber machine guns installed, and they were not there yet. The nearest liberty town was Colon, Panama. At liberty time, about half the crew headed for Colon, including most of the officers. It was a short taxi ride to town, and all of us wound up at the Cococabana Night Club. It took two or three tables to seat us all. The lights were dimmed and the show began. Just behind us was an empty table, which the officers used to put their hats on while we watched the show, which was all about sex being played out on the stage. When the lights were turned up and our Captain, Mr. Martz, executive officer, Mr. Obst, and gunnery officer picked up their hats, all the gold braid and emblems were gone. We learned later that this was not uncommon there. We enjoyed the show anyway. On the way back, the taxi driver asked if we would like to see an exhibition show which was off limits to all military personnel. Some of the guys took him up on the offer, and I learned later the next day what it was all about. It took place in a dark alley, in an old vacant building. The show was two or three women and men exhibiting the ways to perform sex every way imaginable.
We got our guns installed and got underway on June 15th, and proceeded through the canal. I was familiar with some of the procedures taken while going through since I had been there before back in 1941, before Pearl Harbor, on the USS Santee, a fleet oiler.
We reached Balboa around 1400 hours on June 15th. We docked there to stay overnight before heading out in the Pacific. I had heard all kinds of stories about Panama City, which was a short trip by taxi again. My buddies, Jack Lance, Boatswain's Mate, and Harley Young, Pharmacist Mate from Fort Wayne, Indiana, and I found the most popular bar in town to have a drink. Well, I had never tasted tequila before and I liked it pretty good. After several drinks, I got sick and puked. We decided to go to Coconut Grove. I had heard all kinds of stories about this place. We were told by the Officer of the Day [Deck], before leaving the ship, that if we went to the Coconut Grove, to go in a group, so we did. It turned out to be nothing but a street on which all the whores lived. About every door opened onto the sidewalk, and while walking down the street, the whores would step out the front door, pull up their dresses, dance a little jig, and holler out "Hey sailor." We didn't dare. Good thing I was sober. We had a good time anyway.
We were underway at 1600. We proceeded out in the Pacific. We were running along with a slight ground swell in pitch dark. We could hear the sound of another ships' propeller hitting the water. Suddenly a hugh freighter just missed our stern at about 30 yards, a close call
The next day we were heading north. The sea was nice, as we made around 12 knots. We saw some bait fish and schools of dolphin.
June 19, we put in at Corinto, Nicaragua at 0730 to take on water and fuel. We had enough time to go into town and look around, and maybe pick up a souvenir. We also managed to trade a native out of a live monkey.
We were underway again at 1130. By June 20th we were off the coast of Mexico. The weather was very nice and we saw a lot of fish. The next day we were somewhere around 70 miles off the Gulf of Tehaunapheha [Tehuantepec], and seeing a lot of sailfish.
Lance, being a charter fishing boat captain back in West Palm, decided to build a harpoon and try to get some sea turtles we had been seeing. The first one got away because the barb came out. The next day Lance harpooned a turtle that weighed in at 65 pounds. While we were on the lookout for another turtle, we sighted a big one floating, and a sailfish fin circling it. Lance said it was feeding. The captain was just as interested as we were to try and get a closer look at the fish, so we changed our course, slowed down, and eased up close, very quietly. Lance had his harpoon rigged and ready, standing as far forward on the forecastle as he could. When we got close enough, he threw the harpoon and luckily hit this fish about a foot from the tail, in the meaty part. This fish headed for the bottom. We had about 200 feet of ¼" manila line on the rig. It was all two men could do to hold the line that slipped through their hands and got pretty hot. After about thirty minutes, we managed to drag it aboard. Our prize catch of the day. It measured ten feet.
The next day we put in at Manzenillo, Mexico at 0930. We went ashore to see what was there. Not much. Some of the crew went on to town [and] found a whore house. Womack, our gunners mate, said he noticed this really pretty girl in the same room all the whores were in. He was eyeing her closely when this older woman came over and asked if he wanted to take this young girl to bed. She encouraged him to do so even though the girl did not want to go. He found out later this little girl was the older woman's daughter, and she was just getting started in the business.After drinking all the Mexican beer they could hold, it was time to head back to the ship. One of the guys had to relieve himself, so he did so right in the center of town, next to the fountain in a little flower garden. There were no paved streets in this place, so I guess this fellow thought it would not be noticed. He was wrong. He was arrested and put in jail. The captain was told about the incident, so he and the Executive Officer went to the city government house to plead to get him released. It was getting late by the time they got him out. We were underway again at 1920.
June 25th, and the weather was getting cooler and the seas were getting choppy off the coast of lower California. We had been seeing a lot of large flying fish. The water temperature was 57 degrees. We saw a large school of whales just before dark.
On June 28th we reached San Diego at 0920. I signaled the tower and got instructions to berth at the Embarcksdero Pier. This monkey that Womack picked up back in Corinto became a problem. The official there on the dock informed u the monkey could not come ashore. We did not want to take it with us, so we had to get rid of it somehow. The next day, we shifted berths to the naval repair base. We were to have repairs in preparation for Pearl Harbor. While there, we let the garbage scow take the monkey off our hands.
We stayed at the repair base for a week or so. We went ashore several times to see movies. Being a minor, I could not get a beer or anything else. I did find one place that would serve me. This real attractive waitress there, said if I would drink every vodka drink she brought me, that she would let me take her home. When closing time came, she was ready to go, but I could not stand up. My buddy, "Doctor Young," the pharmacist mate, helped me back to the ship. I was a sick boy all the next day.
I was promoted to Signalman 1st class while there and got all my insignias sewn on my uniforms.
July 8th, we were underway for San Pedro. We got there at 0700 the next day, and tied up at Terminal Island. Leland, our Chief Motor Machinist Mate, and Pop Karns, a 2nd class Machinist Mate, and I went to Los Angeles. We looked around and saw a few interesting things, including Graumans [Chinese] Theater, with all the hand and footprints. That night we went to the then famous Earl Carrol's Theater Restaurant. There was a four dollar cover charge. I had plenty of money then. We had our pictures made together at the bar, and it turned out really good. We met several of the crew at the Hollywood Canteen. I was pleased to see Irene Dunn, Maria Montez, and Joan Fontaine there.
July 11th, we were underway at 1600 with a convoy of five LSTs and five YMS' serving as escorts.
The seas were rough and the wind was cold. We were making about ten knots. We tried to refuel form an LST but the sea was too rough. On July 16th, the seas calmed down a little, so we decided to try refueling again. Now, to refuel at sea, your ship must run alongside the fuel ship and stay about 100 to 150 feet apart. This is hard to do when the sea is rough. A small line is shot across to the fueling ship, then it is used to pull over a large manila line. There are more lines rigged up to carry the fueling hose and at times a Boatswain's chair to transfer personnel and mail. Not this time. We parted a six inch line on the first try. The second time everything went okay, but it was not the easiest thing to do.
July 18th, we dropped back from the group to take some target practice with the three-inch gun. A tug pulled a floating target about a mile and a half away. We fired and fired, and got close, but never had a hit. We caught up to the main body of the convoy and took our position as escort. We were going with the swells and had several rain squalls. We slowed down to make our destination on time.
July 21st, We had firing practice all morning and made a big mess of it. We made it into Pearl Harbor around 1400 and tied up along some
I think it was July 23rd or 24th when we were informed that the President would be coming in on the Baltimore [CA 68], a heavy cruiser. When the Baltimore arrived, all the ships that were tied up along the channel that were informed of President Roosevelt's arrival, were at general quarters, in dress uniform, at attention, saluting as the Baltimore passed. We could see the President plainly, sitting up on the bridge in a white straw hat. It was an exciting moment for me.We saw the YMS-323 which had been in the Saipan operation. It had received several hits from the Japanese shore batteries. The word we got was that a pharmacist mate first class had been killed during that encounter.July 25th, we were still at Pearl. We were making a lot of preparations for leaving soon, but we did not know where we would be going. We went ashore in Honolulu. To get there we had to ride in on a school bus owned by the Navy. We got a haircut and a souvenir, took some pictures on Waikiki Beach. We made our way to a whore house, only to find them too busy with a long wait. There was a long line waiting and I learned later that the ones in line with bulging pants would be moved to the head of the line.
August 1st we were underway at 0820 to test our sweep gear. Being inexperienced, we got into trouble on the first try.August 1st we were underway at 0820 to test our sweep gear. Being inexperienced, we got into trouble on the first try. Somehow the sweep cable got tangled up in the screws. I [signaled] the base [to] send a diver out to us to free the cable. The next day we were underway at 0800. We streamed our "O" gear and all went well.
The next day we streamed our magnetic sweep cable to repair it. We made repairs and returned to our berth at 1530.Now a little about the three types of mines we were equipped to sweep. The "O" type gear was for sweeping the contact mines which the Japanese were using exclusively in the Pacific. The mines had four horns protruding that were the detonating device when broken off. They were anchored and attached to cable to float about ten meters below the surface of the water. They were planted like a balloon on a string in the mine field.The sweep gear consisted of a tow cable and pig. The pig was towed by the tow cable, when pulled through the water it would steer away from the ship about three hundred feet, and stay out there while moving through the water.
Attached to the pig was a paravane on a cable hanging below the pig at a predetermined depth. The paravane looked like a venetian blind; it would hold the cutter cable down at the correct depth as it moved through the water. The cutter was attached to the paravane and the ship. The cutter cable has cutters spaced along it at about every 75 feet. While moving through the water and in a mine field, the cutter cable would come in contact with the cable that was holding the mine; this cable would then slide across the cutter cable until it fell in one of the cutters, which would trip the mechanism and cut the cable, letting the mine float to
August 7th, a sub came in and passed right by us. This sub had been in the action and was displaying their total kill. Twenty Japanese flags painted on the conning tower meaning that manu Japanese ships sank. We moved again to the dock where all the supplies we needed we loaded aboard. Still no one knew where we would be going when our orders were received.
August 8th, we were underway at 0545 with a convoy of about sixty ships, most of which were LST's and LCI's. Captain Martz made the announcement that we were heading for Guadalcanal. For the next eight days we were running along in some heavy swells and had several rain squalls hit us. We didn't mind them because fresh water was scarce. We would catch all we could manage to store. We fished for a couple days by trolling. We caught some chafed dolphin.
One of the PCS's, an escort, got a sonar contact and dropped some depth charges. We could never tell if there were any results. It was probably a
We refueled from an LST again. We had the same kind of trouble we had the last time. We parted the lines and cables this time, but got the job done and returned to our position at escorting duty. The next day we caught a seventeen pound barracuda and had fish for supper. We passed the battleship Mississippi [BB 41], and a destroyer headed in the opposite direction. We caught a 76 pound Allison tuna. We had plenty of fish to eat.
August 23rd we crossed the equator of longitude 164° 01'. The order of the day fromTHE ROYAL HIGH COURT OF THE RAGING MAIN
ORDERS OF THE DAY
The uniform of the day for all enlisted plow deserters, park bench warmers, chicken chasers, four flushers, lounge lizards, feather merchants, Philadelphia pavement pounders, and New York drug store cowboys masquerading as sailors of which low scum you are a member, having never appeared before us will be: At completion of General Quarters.
1. Complete dungaree uniform (clean), shined shoes, (dress), neckerchief, flat hats and pea coats.
2. Mr. Rother who at this moment is impersonating an officer in the USN feather merchant will report to the flying bridge with the following uniform. Complete dress khaki with sheep line coat. He will report to the engineering spaces for a complete sweep down every thirty minutes. While standing watch on the bridge, he will keep sharp lookout for King Neptune with equipment issued.
3. Mr. Lorio will report to the pilot house for wheel watch. Uniform will be complete dress blue uniform minus white shirt, rubber boots, steel helmet and sheep lined coat. While on watch he will steer with manual control. One engine if practical.
4. Mr. Obst who of late impersonated Father Flanagan, will report to the pilot house for sound watch. Uniform will be rubber boots, dress hat on backwards, and necktie. Upon encountering Shellbacks he will stand at attention and give a military salute.
5. The captain, upon completion of morning general quarters will report immediately to Crews Galley for duty as mess cook at morning chow. Uniform will be rubber boots, nonregulation skivvie shorts, dress hat on backwards and a bib.
6. All officers will dine with the crew for morning chow. Jarrett will serve Shellbacks in the wardroom.
7. Upon completion of chow, all hands will report to their assignments.
8. Trenchery QM1/c and Captain Martz will swab down the galley.
9. All hands assigned to cleaning stations report to Shellback Weinstein for further assignments upon completion of duties.
10. Lance and yeoman report to forecastle for assignments.
11. Jarrett will serve refreshments to Shellbacks upon orders.
12. Felix and Revels will report to flying bridge for assigned duties.
For myself, I was instructed to run around the ship carrying a light in each hand, raising one above my head and singing out "one if by land" then up the other one "two if by sea." The lights weighed probably seven or eight pounds apiece, and being in winter dress blues, it got fairly warm to say the least.
August 24th, we refueled from an LST again with no trouble. After so many times, we were learning how to do it. We caught some more fish. The sea was as flat as could be. We made land fall at 1700, which was the northern part of the Solomon Islands.
August 26th, all escorts left the convoy and put into Tulagi Harbor. We anchored in the harbor and spent the night there. We received orders to practice sweeping magnetic mines the next day with four other minesweepers. Our magnetic sweep gear consisted of a large spool of cable located near the stern of the ship, and a diesel engine which furnished the power to turn the generator that produced the necessary electric current.
A YMS is a wooden ship for a good reason. Magnetic mines are detonated by a magnetic field at a given distance around them, so, if they passed close enough to a magnetic mine to be in this field, it would be detonated. This is why they are made of wood and degaussed. This was done during our shake down cruise. To degauss a ship, it had to pass through a degaussing range which removed most of the magnetism that had accumulated in the metal portion of the ship. The way magnetic mines are swept is by trailing a large electric cable over the stern for around seventy-five yards. This cable had two leads at the end. When sweeping operations began, the generator going would pulse a positive charge through one lead and then a negative charge through the other lead. These electrical charges being released in the water creates a magnetic field, and if a magnetic mine falls within that field, it would be detonated.
August 27th, we got underway at 0730. We practiced magnetic sweeping operations until around noon with four other sweepers. We retrieved gear and proceeded to Russell Island. We dropped anchor in Sunlight channel, which was nothing but jungle and very clear water. It was so clear that the bottom could be seen for at least 25 feet. We all took time out for a swim. I remember going to the bottom for a starfish, and it was a long way down and back. The next day we were underway at 0730. We entered the Solomon Sea and streamed "O" gear for practice.
August 30th, I laid in and didn't do much of anything. I got mail, and word from home that my brother in law, Lt. Bill Pittman, was killed somewhere in
North Africa.August 31st, we were underway with COMINRON ONE (Commader Mine Squadron One, Captain Clark) onboard for a demonstration of streaming "O" type gear. As you might expect, we had trouble when the boss was present.
September 1st, we got an early start. We practiced magnetic operations again. We learned today that our destination was the Anguar and Pelilieu Islands that were in Japanese possession. Now we know why all the preparations were being made. We went back to Tulagi, moored, and spent the night. The next morning we went to Hutchinson Creek to get provisions. We passed four battlewagons and cruisers, one being the battleship Idaho [BB-42]. I had learned from home that Leonard Rickman was aboard the Idaho, but there was no way I could get to visit him.
September 4th, we were underway at noon with a convoy of twenty LST's, twelve LCI's, and two net tender. The screen was made up of PC's, PCS's, SC's, and YMS's. Three CVE's supplied air support. SOPA (the Senior Officer Present Afloat) was on the LST-1015. The screen commander was on the destroyer Bailey [DD-492]. We were moving along at about eight knots in a pitch dark night when our radar went out. Our position as an escort screen was at the left front corner of the convoy. Knowing all these ships were just behind us and that visibility was very poor, concerned us, so we requested from SOPA to keep a good check on our position with their radar. The next day we went alongside the Bailey to pick up a radar technician. We had a fairly calm sea, so we didn't have any trouble transferring the tech back and forth by way of manila lines, cable and boatswains chair. With this unexpected visit to the Screen Commanders ship, it gave them the opportunity to get the mail delivered. We passed mail to several other ships in the convoy.
September 10th and the weather was getting very warm. We refueled from an LST. The next day we saw some 55 gallon drums floating by and wondered where they came from. At first we thought they might be mines.
September 13th we found salt water in the fuel oil so we had to pump it overboard and refuel from the same LST. During this operation, we got word that a Japanese plane was headed our way. General Quarters was sounded, all hands were at their battle stations. It passed on by at 2000 and didn't make any trouble. It was pretty high.
September 14th we departed from the convoy with the YMS-140 and YMS-177 about 2300, and headed for Anguar Island. We moved along at 12 knots so we would arrive there at the proper time.
September 15th, we arrived off Anguar Island. It was still dark and it seemed like we were the only ship there. When dawn broke, we saw that we would have plenty of help. There were battleships, cruisers, transports and many other types of ships in position. The battlewagons began to shell Pelilieu Island which was just across from Anguar. Pelilieu had most all the resistance at this invasion. We streamed magnetic gear and followed the YMS-140 and YMS-177 in toward Anguar to do our thing. We made three passes in close to the beach. We saw gun emplacements on the beach in two places. By this time the dive bombers were hitting Pelilieu quite hard. A lot of smoke and fire could be seen. One of the battleships made the installations on Anguar Island their target for awhile. As we swept in close to the beach, we could hear the shells from that battleship passing right over us. We could feel the concussion from them when they hit and exploded. I was more concerned about the possibility that the battleship might miscalculate and blow us out of the water, because their shells were real close over our heads. At 0830 the assault boats landed on Pelilieu. We heard on the radio that the minesweeper Perry [DMS-17] hit a mine during the operation [Perry hit a mine and sank 13 September 1944]. Some cruisers and destroyers moved in position to shell the cove we were sweeping. The cruiser Columbia [CL-56] signaled us and said "don't let us interfere with your sweeping operations." That made us feel more important. We didn't find any mines after making a dozen or more passes, so we were instructed to proceed to Kossal Passage. We left the invasion at 1500, and arrived at Kossal Passage around dark. We steamed off an island named Babelthaup all night because we had prior knowledge the passage was mined pretty heavily. We could still see the effects of the invasion at Pelilieu, tracer shell afire, etc.September 16th we joined the YMS-140 and YMS-177 and proceeded into Kossal Passage to begin sweeping operations. We were designated as a mine disposal ship. In other words, we followed behind the other two sweepers and disposed of the mines they cut up. Today we saw our first enemy mine. It felt like standing on thin ice being in this mine field. There were four or five mines floating before we tried to destroy the first one.First we tried the 3" gun. After firing about half a dozen rounds with no hits, it was time to try some other method. Next we tried the 20 millimeter gun and had somewhat the same results. I even tried a .45 caliber Thompson machine gun with no luck. The slugs would ricochet off the body of the mine and nothing would happen. We had to hit one of the protruding horns to detonate the mine. We tried our .50 caliber machine guns with no luck. We would either be over or under the target due to the roll of the ship. Finally we took the old World War I Springfield bolt action and rested it on the rail around the signal bridge, going with the roll of the ship. We drew a bead on the horn and squeezed the trigger. This got results and in a few hours we caught up.A new destroyer showed up from somewhere and it was going to help us destroy these mines [Wadleigh (DD 689)]. A destroyer found it hard to maneuver in a close place like this was, being a much larger ship. The wind got up which made things a little more difficult. A mine drifted close to the destroyer and in an attempt to get away from it they were hit in the stern. We finally destroyed eight mines, which was all they swept according to the other sweepers. We heard that several people were killed on the destroyer [Three killed and 20 injured]. We were underway at 0700, and set dan buoys to mark the areas in the passage that had been cleared of mines. We adjusted gear in the morning and swept all afternoon. We lost two cutters on the reefs, we got disgusted and quit for the day.September 19th we were underway at 0730 with four YMS', four AM's, and two DM's called the Montgomery [DM-17] and the Preble [DM-20], which were two old four stacker destroyers that were converted to Destroyer Mine sweeps [actually Highspeed Minelayers]. The Montgomery was our flagship, COMINRON ONE, Captain Clark was aboard her. We headed for Ulithi Atoll.
September 20th we met an oil tanker and refueled from them and also bummed some chow from them. We were getting kind of low. The first attempt at passing it over to us failed, it went in the drink. They gave us more.
September 21st, Ulithi atoll was in sight at dawn. The cruiser Denver [CL-58], and some destroyers were shelling the island named Asor, and started a big fire when some oil drums were hit by shell fire from the Denver. We streamed our "O" type gear and followed the YMS-324, YMS-325, and YMS-177 inside the lagoon to commence the sweeping operation. We found no mines today. The marines landed on Asor to check out the beaches in case an invasion force
September 22nd, we were underway at 0500. We streamed our gear and tested it first, because this place was reported to be heavily mined with contact type mines, and we did not want to foul up if we could keep from it. Underwater demolition squads went in to check the beaches in case a landing force had to
September 23rd we were all kind of excited about the possibility of getting into a bunch of enemy mines today. At around 0500 we streamed our gear and got everything adjusted about right when the cables appeared to have excessive strain on them and the pig was going underwater. The problem was our first mine was fouled in our gear. Now how do you get an enemy mine untangled from sweep gear? This mine was hung in the depressor which is the very lowest part of the gear, so we decided to drag it over a reef in hope that the mine's cable would hang on the reef, and free itself. It worked. We had to retrieve the gear, make necessary repairs, and start all over again. After getting all lined out, the gear seemed ready to do it's job. We started sweeping again. This time we managed to go right down a line of mines that were spaced approximately 100 to 150 feet apart, and everything worked great. Thirteen mines popped up one after the other. The fourteenth mine got hung in the gear again, but this time it blew voluntarily. The excitement was high. Every time a mine would pop to the surface, a loud cheer would come from the crew. With our gear out of service again, we took over the mine disposal duties again. The remainder of the day we destroyed 25 mines, so the day was considered a success.
Invasion troops landed today with no resistance. We anchored at around 1630 and relaxed a bit, because today was a big day for us. We all felt like we did what we had come to do, and spirits were high.
September 24th, we set out at 0500 and proceeded to join up with the other sweepers and took over the duties as disposal ship. We had a good day considering some of our previous days as a disposal ship. Actually, we destroyed six mines with six shots from our 3" gun. Now the only reason this was possible was the water inside the atoll was really calm and smooth. The ship didn't roll while aiming at the target.
Before calling it a day, we took on some stores from a cargo ship. It was always good to get fresh food items, even though we couldn't get fresh produce or dairy products. The butter we got was canned, and tasted like cheese. Of course the milk was dehydrated.
September 25th we were underway at 0445 and streamed gear. We commenced sweep operations. No luck until mid morning when we got another mine hung in our gear. This was the fourth or fifth time this had happened, so no one was too concerned about safety. The usual procedure was followed, dragging the gear over a reef, but no explosion. Thinking the mine had come free, we started to retrieve the gear to check for damages. About half the crew was back on the fantail watching to see what had happened to the gear, when all of a sudden this big black mine popped up, and caught in the sweep cable only two or three yards from the stern. Immediately, all onlookers made a mad dash as far forward as the could go. The Chief Boatswains Mate in charge, reversed the winch motor as he passed the control switch, letting the mine drift clear. It would have been all over for us if one of the horns on that mine had contacted the stern, and all of us knew it. Another attempt to free the mine from our gear was successful after dragging it over the reefs. Some of the cable that anchored the mine was still hung in our gear, so it made for a good souvenir. I still have this in my collection of memorabilia. We destroyed four more mines before anchoring at dusk.
September 26th we got an early start. We went to a new area in the atoll. We thought maybe we would have better luck, but not so.We fouled another mine in the gear, freed it, and managed to cut up four. The water in the area was so clear you could see the mines beneath the surface. It could have been the angle of the suns rays that penetrated the water that made them easy to see. It was a little scary being that close to them, knowing what could happen if we misjudged the depth below the surface of the water they were set.
September 27th, we were underway at 0545 again. We swept the same channel as yesterday, because it was learned that the Japanese might be sneaking in at night in their small submarines, laying mines where we had already swept. It turned out they hadn't, so we went to another field in this area, cut up three mines. The fourth one blew our gear again. We took over the disposal job once more and did away with nine mines before anchoring for the night.
September 28th we upped anchor at 0530 with COMINRON ONE, Captain Clark aboard, to observe our operation. We were a little nervous, having the big boss aboard. We swept through Dao channel and came back through Towatchi channel. We saw one mine and tried to sweep it. We fouled up the gear on the bottom again. Captain Clark stayed up on the bridge all day, observing everything that went on with no complaints. He seemed to enjoy the ride. It could be because the beer we had was good and cold. He kept me busy running to the wardroom for a cold one. He was a very nice person.
September 29th we had mine disposal duty again. Today's count was ten. Heard from a reliable source that the YMS-19 who had relieved us at Kossal Passage hit a mine there. Thirteen men were killed [Sunk 24 September 1944].
September 30th we were underway at 0545 and swept with the YMS-390 in the southern end of the atoll, with no luck. A strange thing happened today. We cut our own sweep cable. How that could happen, we didn't know.
October 1st we were underway at 0500 with the YMS-385 who had just been there a short time. They hadn't seen any action yet. They were anxious to get some enemy mines to their credit, so they were given lead position. They got their gear out and proceeded to sweep this channel heading of the atoll. We had just started to put our gear over when the YMS-385 just about disappeared after an explosion. It had hit a mine about a quarter mile ahead of us.
We immediately retrieved our gear and went full speed to the YMS-385. She had blown apart amidships. The bow was sticking out of the water, and the fantail was just above the water. There was all sorts of debris floating around, plus a lot of diesel fuel on the water. There were also two or three mines they had cut up. We began trying to rescue the crew of about 33 men in life jackets, floating around in all the debris and mines. We only had one small boat to put over the side and could only take one person at a time in it. The more serious ones were the first to be taken care of. About one third of the crew were badly injured. Some were bleeding really bad. You could see the blood streaming from their wounds in the water. I don't remember how many were killed, but there were several. The one I remember most is the one I saw floating out the channel heading for the open seas. The captain had already said anyone who wanted to, had permission to go in the water to help in the rescuing. I was on the signal bridge watching this ordeal, and feeling somewhat helpless, I decided to go after this sailor I saw all alone headed out the channel, because the tide was moving out. Without giving it any thought, I dived into the water from the bridge and started to go after this guy. I considered myself a good swimmer so I didn't pay any attention as to how far I was going, plus I was going with the tide. When I got to this fellow, his head was face down in the water with air bubbles coming from his nose. Thinking he was still alive, I took hold of the top of his head to pull it up, and realized it was crushed. I felt like I should get his back to the ship regardless, so I took hold of his life jacket collar with one hand, and started swimming and pulling him back towards our ship. When I located our ship it looked like it was at least a mile away. I was going against the tide currents. The diesel fuel was pretty heavy on the surface, debris everywhere and mines floating around amongst all this with the possibility of being detonated by a piece of debris hitting one of the horns. The water was choppy, and by this time, I had swallowed several mouthfuls of salt water and diesel oil, every time a wave would slap me in the face. I had to drop him, hoping to get back to the ship myself. I didn't think I was going to make it. When I did get there, I was so weak I couldn't climb the rope ladder back aboard. Some of the crew members helped me up the ladder.We had picked up 19 of the crew by this time, three of them were dead. Of the sixteen survivors, several were seriously injured. Lots of blood covered the deck. Some of the other sweepers rescued the other part of the YMS-385's crew. With the wounded crew members aboard, our next move would be to get them to the hospital ship as quickly as possible. The closest route to the hospital ship was to go back through the channel where the YMS-385 hit the mine. As we headed that way, some of the survivors objected very strongly. They threatened to jump over the side if we went back through the channel. Some of the ones that were able got up on the side rail ready to jump if we started through.
The only way to get these guys to the hospital ship was go around the atoll and come in through the channel on the opposite side. We did, and it took about twice as long to get there. All the seriously injured ones were put off at the hospital ship, and the rest went to the USS Dixie [AD 14], a repair ship, I think.
When the other ships that helped in the rescuing operation delivered the ones they rescued to the hospital ship, the total number dead was ten, and one missing. I don't know if the fellow I had to give up on was the one missing. I hope not. If we could have gotten to the hospital sooner, maybe some of the injured could have been saved.
October 2nd. We took over a new assignment, which was acting as pilot vessel. We went out to the main channel and passed out anchorage charts to the incoming ships, like the carriers Lexington [CV 16], Essex [CV 9], and Langley [CVL 27], four or five anti-aircraft cruisers, and several destroyers. By doing this it would show the ships where the most suitable place for them to anchor.
The next day we anchored close by the edge of the main channel to guide the fleet out because it was raining so hard that visibility was poor. I would stand on the signal bridge with semaphore flags, giving the word to a ship as soon as it would come into sight, in the channel or otherwise. These flags became water soaked and much heavier, and my arms became really tired. I thing the reason the fleet pulled out was the fear that being this close to all the reefs around here could be very hazardous if an anchor chain broke. The word was that a bad storm was headed our way. We upped anchor around noon after receiving word that a small power boat with two men aboard had lost power and was drifting toward the reefs. We managed to get the two men off the boat, but could not save it. The water was so rough, it was almost impossible to tow the boat. This storm was getting worse by the hour.We anchored in the lagoon after dark. About midnight our anchor chain broke, so we had to get underway and put out to sea, clear of the reefs and ride it out. I would say this was one of the roughest seas I had ever been in. At 0300 the winds were registering 70 knots on our instruments. At 0400 we reversed course and headed back to Ulithi. On the way, a destroyer asked if we were in distress.
Two or three hours later, we could see Ulithi atoll and we were preparing to enter the harbor. We discovered a mine drifting outside the lagoon and destroyed it. We received instructions to patrol outside the lagoon and assist any ship that might show up to enter the anchorage. Around 1700 we went alongside the YMS-177 to borrow some anchor chain; underway again, we patrolled all night. The next few days we swept for strays, found two or three, destroyed them, and proceeded to patrol. We went alongside the Hector [AR 7] for some needed repairs.
Oct. 12th we were underway at 0700. We did some more pilot duty all day, except for the short time it took to dispose of four mines the YMS-177 cut up.
Oct.13th we got underway again at 0545. We went alongside the minelayer Terror [CM 5], took on some additional sweep gear, preparing for tomorrow's move to Ngulu.
Oct. 14th underway again at 0800 alongside the Hector, getting provisions. We pulled out of Ulithi headed for Ngulu along with our flagship Montgomery and four other sweepers.
Oct. 15th Ngulu islands in sight at dawn. This little group of islands are about 80 miles south of Yap Island, a larger island that the Japanese controlled. We had two native boys on board that the Army Intelligence had gotten from somewhere. One of these boys had been to a Japanese school on Yap Island. They were brought along to help locate the areas where the mines were laid. The other boy that hadn't been to school was the son of the Ngulu Native Chief. His name was Rinfl, and he was anxious to see his father. Neither of the boys could speak English. One of the Army personnel was a Japanese interpreter. We had an avenue for communication with the natives when it became necessary.
At about 0800 we streamed our gear and swept through the main channel and proceeded to sweep inside the lagoon. We got three mines all day and destroyed them.
While sweeping we could see this concrete block house located on the beach of the main island. Every time we would pass near it our three inch gun would fire on it. Also, there was a mine that had washed up on the beach. The Montgomery destroyed it and fired at least one hundred rounds of ammo into the island. We anchored around 1700 near the main island.
After this first day of sweeping, COMINRON ONE Captain Clark called a conference with all the sweepers' captains to be held on the flagship Montgomery. A motor launch from the Montgomery picked up each captain from their respective ship for the meeting which was to plan tomorrow's work. It was a hot night and I usually slept on the bridge. The motor launch brought back Captain Martz after the meeting broke up at around midnight. He came straight to the bridge, woke me up, and made me aware of small boat between us and the island about 100 yards off our starboard side. We watched it for a few minutes, as it appeared to be moving closer. It had to be someone other than the motor launch that Captain Martz just got out of, because it went back to the Montgomery, and it was the only small motor boat in the water. The rest of the crew was below deck. The Captain gave the order to go to General Quarters, and this made quite a bit of noise with the ringing of the bells, and most everyone was talking to find out what was going on. By this time, the small unidentified boat had closed in to within 50 yards, and we observed the sail drop on this small boat. No doubt they knew then that they had been spotted. We got the ship to ship radio and notified our commodore on the Montgomery, and requested instructions.
Captain Clark instructed us to investigate by turning our search light on it, keep it in sight, and he would send a motor launch back with armed men to identify this small craft. As soon as the light was on it we could make out eight people standing up in this small boat. At about the same time the motor launch with armed men rounded our stern, and we could see what was happening. The eight Japanese dived in the water at about the same time the armed men started shooting. The launch got to this small boat and managed to grab one Japanese. The other seven made it back to the island. The one that was caught tried to cut his throat as he was being pulled aboard the motor launch. He was using an old rusty hacksaw blade to do the job without much success. The doctor on our flagship patched him up, and he was sent to Pearl Harbor for interrogation.
The Army landed the next day, found the seven Japanese on the main island, and took no prisoners. One of them had a knife to his stomach when they got to him. We learned later that these Japanese had crash landed a bomber very near these islands, and made it ashore.Oct. 16th we got an early start again. We started our sweeping operation and passed close by the small boat that caused some concern last night. We destroyed three mines by the end of the day's work. More army landed today, with no resistance encountered.Oct. 17th we were underway at 0600 with Captain Clark, Captain Griggs, a doctor who was a commander, and an Army captain who was the intelligence officer, and a Japanese interpreter. We also had the two native boys Renfl and his buddy. We went to the northern end of the lagoon to check on the group of natives that lived there at Nagulu. I went ashore with the doctor, interpreter, and the two native boys. As soon as we landed, the two boys hurried up the shore toward a gathering of natives standing in a group. Rinfl and his dad didn't appear to be real happy to see each other.
The American flag was handed to the chief, and immediately he walked to his hut and spread it over his front door. After giving them candy, cigarettes, and chewing gum, they all grouped together. The women were on one side, and the men on the other. Through the boy, to the interpreter, to the doctor, it was found out that there was no serious sickness in the group. sickness in the group. There were approximately thirty natives in all. The women wore only grass skirts, and the men wore loincloths. Some of the men had colored their teeth some way with glossy black. We learned this was a sign of beauty. Most all older men had tattoos of fish on their leg. This was supposed to give them luck when fishing.They were very polite people, and very friendly. They remembered the Japanese soldiers being there and laying mines in the lagoon. They were helpful in pointing out where the Japanese had laid the mines. We found out later that they were pretty close to being right on the money.
We could hear what sounded like a baby crying in the distance and inquired about it. We found out that one of the women had just had a baby a few days before. The doctor wanted to check this situation out, so he invited me to go with him to the far end of the island.
When we got there we found this mother sitting under a palm tree feeding the baby something that looked like guacamole in half a coconut shell, using her finger to put it in the baby's mouth. This method was not pleasing this baby at all. We watched the mother change to another method by putting food in her own mouth, then forcing it into the baby's mouth. It worked pretty good. The doctor was satisfied the mother and baby were doing all right, so we joined the group at the other end of the island. As soon as we arrived, I received a message from our ship to return immediately; the flagship Montgomery was in trouble back at the other end of the lagoon. We learned that our flagship had hit a mine. We got underway in a hurry and headed back to the southern end of the lagoon and tied up alongside the Montgomery which was setting down in the water much more than normal. We learned that when they dropped anchor and were swinging to take up the slack in the chain, that they hit a mine just aft of the engineroom. Five men were killed. It could have been much worse, because most of the crew were forward. We stayed alongside all night and about 0920 the next morning, we tried to tow her to another part of the lagoon away from the mines. We found out we didn't have the power or size to do the job. We acted as a disposal ship the rest of the day.
Oct. 20th we started at 0600. We exploded three mines before streaming our gear. We cut up one mine before fouling the gear on a reef, parting it. So we recovered our gear and went alongside the Bowditch [AGS-4], a repair ship to get some needed repairs. We stayed alongside all night and enjoyed seeing the movie "Broadway" with George Raft. It was the first movie we had seen in quite awhile. The next day we tried sweeping at a depth of 70 feet. Some of the areas were somewhat deeper than where we had been before. Would you believe we lost all out gear after getting only one mine?Oct. 22nd we spent most of the day adjusting gear. We exploded one mine in the afternoon and went alongside the Bowditch again at around 1645. We saw the Montgomery being taken in tow by an ocean going tug, and headed back to Ulithi. She was setting very low in the water, and didn't look like she would be able to make it back, but she did.Oct. 23rd we picked up Captain Clark early in the morning for a final survey of the areas that had been swept. We decided to make a check sweep at a depth of 20 feet in the anchorage, before leaving. We came up with nothing. We started to make preparations for leaving Ngulu. At about 1800 we pulled out of the harbor, heading back to Ulithi. We left the YMS-136 and YMS-184 at Ngulu to finish up that operation.Oct. 24th we arrived back in Ulithi around 1200. There were many more ships in the anchorage than when we left on the 14th. The increases were mostly tankers and cargo ships. We tied up alongside the Terror for the night. We hit the sack early and got a good nights rest. The next day we went alongside the Nestor (ARB 6) for repairs. We started overhauling our main engines and painting the superstructure.Oct. 28th the wind velocity had increased and the skies became overcast early in the day. Storm warnings were received so we had to secure our painting and other overhauling activities. We received the bad news that the AN-57 [USS Viburnum], a net tender, had hit a mine in Dao channel while laying a net. Three men were killed and several were wounded. It rained all the next day. A tug brought the net tender alongside the repair ship we were at. We had the chance to get a good look at the damage done. The mine hit forward and blew most of the bow off. Some of the fleet came in this day. The weather cleared up so our cleaning and overhauling work continued. One of my teeth had been hurting lately, and it got worse today.Oct. 31st I went over to the Jason [ARH-1], a large tender, to have my tooth checked out. I was expecting to get a filling, but was informed it would be pulled because it took less time, and pulled it was.
The cruiser Birmingham [CL-62] was alongside the Jason for repairs. It had just gotten back from the battle of the Philippine Sea. I had heard from my sister Liz that Joe Manendize was on the cruiser Birmingham. After my dental appointment was over, I went to the Birmingham hoping to find Joe. It took about an hour of looking before I found him. He was quite surprised to see me. We had lunch together. He was very nervous, and after the story he told me, I could understand why. He said during the battle of the Philippine Sea, they went alongside the carrier Princeton [CVL 23] to help her after she had been hit by a kamikaze. While alongside the carrier, there was a large explosion resulting in heavy damages the Birmingham, and the loss of 250 men.I couldn't get a ride back to my ship, so I had to stay on the Jason overnight. The next morning I got a ride back to the YMS-177, still alongside the repair ship Nestor. At around 0900 we got underway with Captain Clark aboard and went to the southern end of the anchorage. We anchored just off one of the larger islands and some of the crew went ashore after seeing some native girls wandering around on the beach. We never did learn just what went on while they were on the beach.Nov. 3rd. Today we tried to practice a different kind of sweeping called cantinary or cantilever. We had never tried this before. Each end of the sweep gear was attached to a sweeper. In this case it was us and the YMS-177. It was difficult for each ship to maintain the same speed and distance apart while moving. The lower cutter cable kept dragging the bottom due to not being able to keep a constant distance between ships. We gave up this exercise after fouling the gear on the bottom.Nov. 4th. The anchorage is full of all kinds of ships, cruisers, battlewagons, carriers, transports, and supply ships. Word was that this was the staging area for the invasion of Okinawa. The winds started blowing hard today.Nov. 5th we did some sweeping without much success. We had to knock off due to poor visibility. It was starting to rain pretty hard. We had to escort our flagship Montgomery to the southern end of the atoll. Winds continued to get stronger. We received typhoon warnings, and set typhoon bill condition one.Nov. 6th the weather was looking very bad. We received the word that the center of the typhoon was heading our way and would probably pass very close to us. We got underway and anchored on the leeward side of one of the larger islands for protection. No sooner than we got settled at anchor, we received word that a floating mine was sighted at the other end of the lagoon.
Nov. 7th we were underway at 0700. We went alongside the Montgomery to pick up Captain Clark and proceeded to the northern part of the lagoon to search for the reported floating mine. The water was very rough and the winds were between 45 and 50 knots. We gave up looking and anchored in the lee of Feitbul Island. Captain Clark spent the night aboard.Nov. 8th we went back to the southern end of the lagoon. We let Captain Clark off on his flagship Montgomery and anchored close by so we could act as a relay ship for any communication for COMINERON ONE. The next day we went alongside the Montgomery, picked up two officers, Mr. Rhodes, and Joe. We proceeded to the northern end of the lagoon for mail and stores. We went close by the battleship New Jersey [BB-62] so Joe could go aboard and hopefully visit his nephew. We returned to the southern end of the anchorage and anchored for the night.Nov. 10th we got a late start. We were supposed to sweep Dao channel but it was too late. There was too much traffic. The reason these channels were being swept was the Japanese mini subs were believed to be laying mines in them at night. We had no other orders for this day, so we anchored close to the battleships New Jersey and Iowa [BB 61]. These two ships together were quite a sight to see. The fire power and the size of them looked big enough to beat the Japanese Navy.
Nov. 11th we were underway at 0620 and swept along until 1000. We recovered gear and secured it for the day. We were getting very low on our food supply. We had been eating canned roast beef for the past two weeks. We went alongside one of our provision ships for a supply of food. We got the sad story that they couldn't issue us any chow until the Task Force had been taken care of. We were told to go to one of the other provision ships, so we did and all we got from them was flour and more canned roast beef. Looked like we would be eating s... on a shingle for awhile.We got the word today that Captain Clark was being detached from COMINERON One and was going back to Pearl. We all hated to hear that. He was a good man, and really looked out for us. He did everything he could to help us in every way. An Admiral took charge of all minesweepers in the Pacific. We were ordered to go on patrol, but Captain Clark got us out of it before leaving.Nov. 12th we were underway at 0630. We swept Mugai channel and came up with nothing. We anchored around 0930 near the minelayer Weehawken [CM-12].Nov. 13th we got started at 0600 and swept Towatchi channel. It had rained pretty hard most of the morning. We anchored off Fassari Island at noon time. Some of the crew went fishing off the nearby reefs.Nov. 14th we swept Towatchi channel again. No luck again. Guess the Japanese gave up coming at night in their mini subs and laying mines in the channel. We anchored near Fassari again and shortly after the YMS-177 came alongside. Most of our crew was on the signal bridge all day watching the native women on the beach. The YMS-177 crew joined in on the entertainment.We laid at anchor all day, and the weather was very nice. We did some needed painting around the bridge. For the next few days, we laid at anchor. I did some odd jobs around the signal bridge.Nov. 19th we went underway at 1300, and went alongside the USS Quartz [IX-150] for GSK stores. We then went alongside the SS Zoella Lykes for chow. She had a lot of Marines aboard. We enjoyed talking to them.Nov. 20th we were underway at 0600. No sooner had we gotten started when a huge explosion happened about a mile from us. Flames shot 300 feet in the air, and black smoke filled the area. We moved close enough to see that it was an oil tanker. We didn't know which one it was. [The ship was the USS Mississinewa (AO 59)]. About ten minutes later we received word by radio that the tanker had been torpedoed. She was anchored just inside the lagoon and was in line with the main channel. This allowed a Jap sub to fire a torpedo through the channel for a direct hit. The sub was detected just outside Mugai channel. The USS Case (DD 370) rammed it and sank it. Immediately a number of ships that were equipped with sonar gear were put on patrol to search for any more subs that may be in the area. The tanker burned all morning. We could hear the ammunition exploding. The fire and smoke covered a large area around the tanker. There was very little chance that anyone could have survived this hit. We proceeded on our assigned duty and swept the Towatchi channel About two hours later the tanker rolled over and sank. At about 1030 we anchored at the edge of Mugai channel. We set up a listening post for enemy subs. No sooner had we gotten settled in, we were given orders to investigate a spherical object floating off Azore island. At 1700 we returned to the station and continued listening watch. The object we investigated turned out to a wooden spool.Nov. 23rd we swept Towachi channel early in the morning. We were underway around mid afternoon to relieve the patrol ship on station. While going out of Towachi, we passed a body floating in the channel. It was probably one of the tanker crew members. The ship we relieved picked it up. We were relieved at about 2000, and returned to Mugai and anchored.Nov. 24th. Thanksgiving Day. We went over to the repair ship for some repairs, and were turned down. So we returned to where we were and anchored.Nov. 25th we found another body floating in Towachi channel and asked the YMS-390 if they could pick it up as we had sweep gear out and were sweeping. We went to get our radios repaired when we finished. We anchored back at Mugai channel at 1730 and set sound watch. The next couple of days it rained most of the time. We maintained the listening watch, and kept up with the sweeping of Towachi. We did manage to squeeze in enough time to pick up some much needed engine parts from the repair ship.Nov. 28th we laid at anchor most of the day. It rained all day. While sweeping Towachi channel we got word from the YMS-184 that they had found another body floating in Toqachi. We started to wonder if the sweeping was possibly causing the bodies to rise to the surface.
Nov. 29th. Underway at 0500. We swept Towachi channel. It rained most of the day. The winds became pretty stiff. We anchored on the north edge of Mugai channel about 1000.Nov. 30th we laid [at] anchor all day. The winds were still breezy and the sea choppy. It rained every ten minutes. Since Tokyo was bombed a few days ago, it was thought that the Japanese may try to bomb this anchorage. Our planes had been in the air for the last few days. Some cargo ships came in today, so we hoped for some fresh chow soon. No mail came in today. We were still eating chopped beef.Dec. 1st we got underway at 0500. We swept Mugai channel. Most all the fleet pulled out on this day. We went to the supply ship for stores and failed to get many. We took on fresh water then returned to anchor. No mail today.Dec. 2nd we laid [at] anchor all day, and it rained all day. All hands got a fresh water bath. The fleet came in, but no mail.Dec. 3rd we were again underway at 0500. We swept Mugai channel again. We anchored again at 0830. It was still windy and rainy. We were able to listen to the Army and Navy football game.Dec. 4th through the 8th we ran from supply [ship] to supply ship, and finally got enough to last a while.Dec. 9th we had an "air flash red" during the night before. A bogey [enemy] plane showed up on the radar. It lasted for about 30 minutes. We swept Mugai channel again and anchored on edge of the channel for the rest of the day.Dec. 10th we were underway at 0500. We again swept Mugai channel before the fleet pulled out. We didn't know where they were going.Dec. 11th, after sweeping the same channel, we went to the southern end of the anchorage and were able to get some fresh provisions, the first fresh stuff we'd had for some time.Dec. 12th we swept Mugai channel again and before anchoring we went by the mail ship for our mail. I did pretty well, getting four letters.Dec. 13th the channel was swept again today. We also had our fresh water storage tanks filled, picked up some needed spare parts, and anchored for
the night.Dec. 14th and 15th, we swept the channel both days, and then anchored near the edge of the channel in case we were needed in an emergency situation.Dec. 16th at 0800 we were ordered to go search for four LCMs that had broken their moorings after a pretty strong blow early that morning. We
found the[m] approximately five miles out from the atoll anchorage with no crew members aboard either of them. We tried towing them one behind the other, but the sea was too rough to do that. Some of our crew ended up manning the LCMs, bringing them back to the anchorage.Dec. 17th we were still sweeping the channel every morning. At about 1500 today, we went to the northern end of the anchorage for availability, and anchored near the repair ship Hector (AR 7). We got an invitation to the movie aboard the Hector. About 15 minutes before sundown their whaleboat pulled alongside and picked up our movie goers. The feature was "Babes on Swing Street."Dec. 18th, still anchored near the Hector, we received word we were to go back into dry dock the next day. We spent most of the day running here and there preparing for the dry dock.Dec. 19th we went into dry dock at around 1400. The only thing that was to be done was to clean and paint the bottom. Cleaning the bottom had to be started so it could [b]e dry as possible for the paint. Some of the crew worked all night. I got up at 0500 and helped finish the painting. We got done around 1000 and left the dry dock. dock. We went to Towachi channel and anchored near the edge.Dec. 20th we were underway at 0645 s[w]eeping Towachi channel. We anchored nearby.Dec. 21st we were underway at 0800. We went to the Hector to send laundry and while there, received word that we were leaving tomorrow for escort duty somewhere. We took on fuel and water to capacity and anchored nearby.Dec. 23rd we laid [at] anchor all day. We were underway at 1600 and proceeded out the channel to rendezvous w[i]th the LCT-987 and LCT-996. Guessed it was our job to escort these ships to Saipan. Around 1730 we set course for Saipan. The sea had some pretty good size swells, and we headed straight into them. About 2100 the LCT-996 signaled us with this message: "we are overloaded and not secure enough to continue." We turned around and went back, and anchored for the night.Dec. 24th we laid [at] anchor most of the day. At 1600 we were underway again and headed for Saipan. The fleet came in today. We didn't know where they had been.Dec. 25th, Christmas Day, and we are headed for Saipan moving along at 5 knots. The sea was pretty choppy. We had a pretty goos dinner, but no turkey. When we had run around the anchorage at Ulithi, we saw hundreds of objects floating around the area where the refrigerated supply ships were anchored. They were frozen turkeys that had to be deep sixed due to a failure of the refrigerating units.Looked like it was going to take about 5 day to reach Saipan at the rate of speed we were making. The seas were getting rougher so we had to slow down a little. The LCTs were having some trouble with the heavy seas breaking over the deck. They were loaded pretty heavy.My buddy Lance and I rigged a fishing line and did some trolling for a way to pass the time. We had now slowed down to 4 knots, and time was passing slowly. We didn't catch anything all day.We should be able to see Guam at around 1800. We passed a destroyer going in the opposite direction.Dec. 28th we pulled into Apra Harbor, Guam at about 0800, and anchored fairly close to the beach. Things looked quiet here, not much going on that we could see. Not many ships were here. We could see some of the ruins from the invasion, such as sunken ships and destroyed enemy military vehicles on the beach.Dec. 29th we went ashore in the middle of the afternoon to look around. There were a lot of burned out and destroyed building. Some of our group went to a different part of the island, and one came back with the leg bone of a Jap. They said the area they wound up in was apparently where numerous Japanese had been buried shortly after the island had been taken back from the Japs and secured.Emuel Conway, our gunners mate from Louisville, KY, said he noticed this Jap body that was partially visable above the ground. He took a closer look and discovered that only the skelton in clothing remained. Conway said he was making a knife back on the ship, and decided that the leg bone would make a
good handle.Dec. 30th we loaded up on beer and coke because there was no telling when it would be available again. We were underway at 1100, and set course for Saipan. The seas were still rough and the sun was shining bright.Dec. 31st I turned 21. We arrived at Saipan around 1400. We could see many small craft sunken along the beaches, and four or five large Jap freighters sunk in the harbor. We anchored in our assigned spot for the night. We learned that the last air raid was just two days before, and were advised to set gun watch through the night.Jan. 1st, 1945, we took on water and fuel that morning getting ready to go back to Ulithi. We didn't know why so soon. We laid [at] anchor most of the day. The weather was nice, and the sun very hot.Jan. 2nd we had an air raid about 0400. We couldn't see or hear any planes. It was still dark, but we could hear anti-aircraft guns firing. Underway at 1000 we went on patrol just outside the anti-submarine net that was stretched across the harbor entrance every night. We had just gotten on station and were ready to start our first pass on the patrol line, we saw a plane crash out at sea, seven or eight miles from us. We received orders from Command at Saipan to investigate. By the time we got there, running as fast as we could, a crash boat had gotten there ahead of us.I think everyone was surprised to learn that it was a small Jap plane. There wasn't much left of it. Just a few pieces floated around and two bodies. We picked up some charts, books, radio tubes, and one of the plane's wheels. The crash boat picked up the two bodies. They had been partially eaten by sharks. There were many sharks swimming around the scene. We didn't know what to do with the two bodies, so we sent a radio message to the Saipan Command, explaining [the] situiation. Our instructions were to get all the information we could off of them, and throw them back to the sharks. This we did, and returned to our station for patrol duty.Jan. 3rd we had two air raids during the night. No bombs were dropped. Looks like all the super fortresses took off today, headed west.Jan. 4th we were still patrolling and the weather was very nice. The bombers came back at all hours during the night. We didn't know where they went this time, but it couldn't have been very far, since they weren't gone very long. Another air raid again at night, no damage done.Jan. 5th I had turned in last night, when at about 2200 the ships engines chocked down and the ship came to a sudden halt. My bunk was near the little room where the sonar equipmnt was located. Immediately, water came gushing through the bottom of this room. A couple of other guys and I stuff[ed] our seabags in the hole, but it didn't seem to help. What had happened was that our sonar trasmitting head was on a shaft protruding from the bottom of the ship. It was broken off when the ship hit an anti torpedo net that was put in place every night to protect the ships anchored in the harbor from possible enemy submarine attack.We sent out a distress message by radio, and the response from the Saipan base was very quick. By the time they got to us we had closed the water tight door to the sonar room, which kept the water in this small room. We stayed hung upon this wire net the rest of the night after it was determined we wasn't going to sink. We were supposed to head back to Ulithi today.Divers from the base went down and cut us free from the net, and towed us back into the harbor where we anchored.Jan. 6th we went into dry dock, so we could see how much damage had been done. Damage to the screws was so bad that we had to have new ones put on. The bottom was scratched and scarred up pretty bad, so all hands had to go over the side to wire brush and paint again.Jan. 7th we got the woed that the new screws would have to come from the States, so the old ones were removed and we went out of dry dock and alongside the ARB-3 [USS Phaon], a repair ship. A destroyer that had hit a mine, took our place at dry dock. It was just about past going, and very low in
the water.Jan. 9th we went ashore to see what this place looked like. We all went in a group again. We found a [place] that had beer. After getting all the beer we could hold, we decided to walk around and see what was left of the island. There were all kinds of battle remnants laying around. We found another Jap skelton that had been partially unearthed. We went through his pockets and got what money he had, but it wasn't much. One of our group took one of the guy's shoes. When we got back to the ship, the fellow with the shoe discovered that the foot was still in the shoe. He was about to throw it away, but we decided to see just how much of the foot was still there. I agreed to cut it open if I could have one of the toe bones. I wanted to make a watch fob out of it.For the next two weeks, we laid alongside the ARB-3 getting repaired. I got the signal bridge painted up real good. I had plenty of time.Jan. 13th our screws came in. We shouldn't have to stay around here much longer.The Jap bombers still showed up every once in awhile, early in the morning. awhile, early in the morning. Back several days before, they were so regular that the same time every day, we held reveille so we could be at our battle stations when they arrived. One morning the mess hall on Tinian Island was hit, and a few airmen were killed.Jan. 17th I went ashore and had a tooth filled that had been giving me trouble.Jan. 18th I went ashore for some recreation. We played ball, had a few beers, and returned to the ship.Jan. 19th through Feb.1st we had to move several times. A tug moved us once, almost running us aground. They put us on the abchor chain in Tauapag Harbor to wait for the dry dock to free up, making room for us.Feb. 1st through the 4th we were still riding the anchor chain in the harbor while waiting for word to go into dry dock. My friend Romer came over last night. The last time I had seen him was in New Orleans in September 1944. After we spent some time on our ship, I went back with him to his ship and spent the rest of the day. It was really good to see him again.Feb. 5th we moved alongside the dock. We were getting closer to dry dock. A large transport came in today, loaded with troops and nurses.Feb. 7th I went ashore and got a haircut on the base. Nothing much going on. We were all ready for something to change. It was getting tiresome being pushed around, and doing nothing.Feb. 8th the new screws showed up early in the morning. Divers from the repair ship Fulton [AS-11] put them on. We went on a trial run to check for vibration. There was just a little at top speed, which was acceptable. We went back in, took on water, and prepared to leave for Ulithi. We were underway at 1530 with the PC-1591 and USA[T William A.] Glassford. We set course for Ulithi Atoll.Feb. 10th we were moving along at 7 knots. The sea was getting a little rough. We passed Guam in the evening.Feb. 11th the sea was still rough and breaking over the bow quite a bit. We should arrive at Ulithi the next day. We decided to try trolling for anything we could catch. It wasn't anytime at all until a big sheephead dolphin took the bait and was hooked. Apparently it wasn't hooked very good, it got off before we could get it in. No fish for supper that night.Feb. 12th we arrived at Ulithi at 1300. The place looked the same. We had gotten the word first thing that we were scheduled to participate in the sweeping of our own magnetic mines that were laid for protection from the enemy subs that might try to attack the ships anchored there. They had before and would again, should the opportunity arise. We anchored in the lee of Fasserai Island around 1800.Feb. 13th we went to the southern end of [the] anchorage and checked in with the YDG-6 to get our degaussing checked and calibrated if needed. It took us all day and night to do the job. I hoped everything would be in limits because the mines we would be sweeping would be several times more powerful than the Jap ones. We would hate to set one off due to our own magnetic field.Feb. 14th we were underway around 0800 for the northern end of the anchorage. Captain Martz went to ATCOM for instructions concerning our sweeping of the magnetic mines in the next few days. The first thing we had to do was check our sweep cable, so we streamed it, and checked and made some repairs. We would start sweeping the next day.We were underway at 0800, and went close aboard the USS Prairie to pick up COMINEPAC rep. We then proceeded out Mugai Channel to the mine area. We streamed magnetic cable and then started sweeping. We fell in behind the YMS-324. They had already detonated five mines on their first pass. The day's sweep totaled 13, but we didn't get any of them. There was plenty more out there, so we expected better luck the next day. About 1600 we knocked off sweeping, retrieved cable, and headed out for the USS Hector to pick up our laundry. We anchored in the vicinity of Asor Island at 1800. The chow was still lousy and getting worse.Feb. 16th we got started at 0800 with YMS-324, and swept Zowatabu Channel. The first pass through we detonated two magnetic mines, which gave us a scare. The first one exploded way in front of us, indicating that their settings are very sensative. The second one blew to our rear, where it was supposed to be. We made two more passes in this channel, and made no more contacts. We recovered the gear at 1000, and went back to the anchorage alongside a provision ship to take on staple supplies. We then went over to the Ajax [AR-6] for fresh provisions, which were really welcome. We got mail by the bundles. I was glad to see it.Feb. 18th again started at 0800 and swept two more channels. Reireperiperi and Zowariyaru, and three more Mk 12 mines. We knocked off sweeping around 1500, and returned to anchorage.Feb. 19th we swept Rowaruerii and Zowariyaru channels with no luck. We anchored around 1500 and went to a stage show being put on by the shore duty personnel on Asor Island. We were really enjoying the pretty girls dancing on stage all through the show, until they started to strip tease. It turned out they were all men made up and dressed like girls. Some of the guys on the front row kept commenting to them how big and pretty their boobs were. She asked them if they would like to feel them. Naturally they yelled yes. This guy danced over closer to where these fellows were and pulled out the two fake boobs and tossed them to the guys,Feb. 20th visibility was very bad. Wind and rain were both very hard, so we laid at anchor all day.Feb. 21st we swept inside the lagoon. We hit all channels that we had in the past few days, and got one Mk 12. It blew about 30 yards from our fantail. It got a little too close for comfort.Feb. 22nd we swept Towanindo channel, and it turned out to be the hardest one to sweep. We got one and the only one. We think this will finish up the magnetic mine sweeping operation.Feb. 23rd we ran around to several ships, gathering up the needed supplies and anchored in the same place.Feb. 24th we laid at anchor all day. Captain Clark came in today on the USS Terror, a mine layer. With him was the admiral in charge of all mine craft in
the Pacific.Feb. 25th we laid at anchor all day.Feb. 26th we went alongside Terror to get some extra line that we needed to sweep Rowaryu Channel. We had to tow the sweep cable through the channel with a motor launch, and I went with it in case we had to communicate back with the ship. Everything went fine. No mines were destroyed.Feb. 27th we swept two channels. We called it check sweeping. The Jap's had been known to sneak in and lay more mines. We anchored near the Terror around 1700. We got the good word that we could have a fresh water shower that night.Feb. 28th we laid at anchor all day, catching up on a lot of little things that needed to be done around the ship.Mar. 1st we were still at anchor, but we did go after the mail.Mar. 2nd we were underway at 1300 and proceeded to report to the Squadron Command for new duty as the mail ship for the southern anchorage. We anchored near the Ocelet [IX-110].Mar. 3rd we loaded up all the mail for the southern anchorage. We anchored at three different places, and notified ships in each area that they could pick up the mail we had for them. We had motor launches from ships lined up to receive their mail. We took their outgoing mail and headed back to the northern anchorage. We went alongside the LST-689 to unload the outgoing mail. We went to the movies on Asor Island.Mar. 4th we were underway at 0715, and went through the same procedures that we had the day before. We did manage to get our fresh water storage tanks filled up from the LST-689 while unloading mail. It looked like the whole fleet came in that day. Several carriers, battlewagons, cruisers, and destroyers were there than I could count. There was enough fire power there to make a raid on Tokyo.Mar. 5th we made the mail run to the southern anchorage. We got back around 1700 and went alongside the Corundum [IX-164], a supply ship, for spare parts. We stayed alongside them all night.Mar. 6th we made a mail run to the southern anchorage, and whie alongside the mail ship, a tug boat rammed us broadside, and cracked some beams and ribs. Everyone was hoping this would get us a trip to the dry docks. We continued on our duties.Mar. 7th we made the mail run again. We received the word that there would be no dry docking for us for a while. Apparently the damage done the day before was not serious enough to require immediate attention.Mar. 8th we made the mail run again. This was getting boring. We hoped something else would turn up soon.Mar. 9th we made the mail run, and came back to anchor near Asor Island. We saw our sister ship the YMS-177 and got our laundry back from her. They had had our laundry for over a month.Mar. 10th we were still running mail back and forth to the north and south anchorages. We went ashore for a movie again last night.Mar. 11th we anchored near Asor Island after making the mail run again. At about 2100 we received an air flash red, followed by a huge explosion about a mile away from us, near where the carriers were anchored. We couldn't tell what was really going on. We stayed at general quarters for a couple hours.Mar. 12th during our mail run, we got word as to what happened the night before. The carrier Randolph [CV-15] was hit by a Jap suicide plane. We passed pretty close to her, and could see the damage done. We heard later that there were two suicide planes involved. One dove on the carrier and the other one dove into one of the small islands close by. It was thought that most likley the plane that had hit the island mistook it for a carrier, since it was a dark night with poor visibility. At around 1300 we had another air flash red. Nothing happened. Coming back north we could see huge clouds of smoke rising from one spot in the southern end of the anchorage. We hadn't found out what happened yet.Mar. 13th while at the movies, we had another air flash red about half way through the show. We had to black out and head to our ships.Mar. 14th was suppose to be out last mail run. Tomorrow we would start carrying passengers.Mar. 15th we started passanger runs. We made two trips a day. Business looked good.MAr. 16th we were still carrying passangers. We had another air flash red. It didn't amount to much.Mar. 17th the weather was somewhat nasty. Most of the fleet pulled out. We didn't know where they were headed. There were several mine sweepers in now waiting to go on the next operation, the invasion of Okinawa. We were not scheduled to make that move, and everyone seemed glad.Mar. 18th we had a repeat of the day before.Mar. 19th the rest of the fleet and all the mine sweepers pulled out today and we were still serving as water taxi.Mar. 20th the British fleet came in, including four carriers, two battlewagons, and three cruisers.Mar. 21st what was left of our fleet pulled out, and the invasion fleet came in.Mar. 22nd and 23rd we transported passangers from the north to south anchorage.Mar. 24th the invasion [fleet] pulled out. They had no sooner cleared the area until two first line carriers came in. The Franklin [CV-13] was damaged pretty much and the Wasp [CV-18] had received several hits.Mar. 25th we got word that it would be our last day as the water taxi. Thank goodness. We would start a job the next day that would take us to some
new islands.Mar. 26th we laid [at] anchor all day, making preparations to leave the next day for an island named Fais. This island was where the king of all these little islands lived. The weather was looking bad, and it was doubtful that we would leave.Mar. 27th we took on fuel and laid at anchor all day, off of Asor Island. We went ashore and took in a movie as soon as it was dark enough.Mar. 28th we received word that there would be a doctor, chaplain, and several other officers going with us. Due to the bad weather, our departure
was postponed.Mar. 29th. The winds the night before got up between 50 and 70 knots. We received typhoon warnings. We had to drop both anchors to stay put. The seas were rough and we had to secure everything for the big blow.Mar. 30th we were still riding the hooks and riding out a typhoon. It blew like hell all night and day. It rained twice as hard. I was out in it all day. It was much rougher than the day before. We hoped it would break up in a couple days.Mar. 31st still at anchor. The winds had died down some, but the sea was still rough. I began painting the bridge.Apr. 1st was Easter. We were still anchored, and did some painting around the bridge. We took on fresh water that afternoon and anchored just off Asor.Apr. 2nd at about 0730 the party that was to go with us to Fais Island came aboard. There was Commodore Buckston, a chaplain, and doctor. Several other officers and some armed Sea Bees also joined us. We got underway at 0800 and set course for the island of Fais. It was about 50 miles from Ulithi, so it did not take long to get there, only about four hours. We anchored just off the beach where the native village was located. As soon as we dropped anchor, we sounded the ship's whistle, which signaled the [natives] that we were friends. They ran up the American flag. Some other prearranged signals were the ways colored cloths were laid on the beach. Red stripes laying on the beach in a certain way, indicated that everything was the same as it was the last time we were there. Different arrangements of the red and yellow stripes meant different things, such as medical care was needed, or the Japanese were on the island, and something
had happened.We could see a group of natives on the beach getting their outriggers ready to launch. The surf was pretty big, and they were having trouble getting through.They finally made it out to us, and after a few messages exchanged the doctor, chaplain, and other officers of the inspection party in the outrigger, and headed for the beach. They all made it without too much trouble. I guess they spent about three or four hours with the natives, before heading back to the ship. Several attempts were made and they swamped three times before giving up and staying all night with the natives. We could see a big fire after dark, and it looked like a party was going on.By morning the surf had calmed some, but not much. The natives brought all the Navy party back to the ship. They also brought some items such as combs, beads and trinkets to trade. We gave them a lot of food such as rice, flour and staples. We also furnished them with tobacco, buckets, etc.I learned that the leader of this group was the Prince. He came up on the signal bridge where I was and indicated that he liked the colorful flags I had there. He pulled at his loin cloth, which was worn and old, and not very colorful, as he smiled and looked at the flags I had. I could see he was very interested in my flags. I had some extras, so I gave him a couple. He immediately made a switch of loin cloths, and had a big smile on his face. They all seemed to be satisfied, and after awhile headed back to the island.Apr. 4th we arrived back at Ulithi, and anchored off of Asor Island.Apr. 5th some of the Mine Squadron staff, CSM Pontiff, a Yeoman, and Radio Tech came aboard to live for awhile. I started painting the mast.