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|185k||13 May 1944
Mrs. Frank (Eugenia) Amerata, ships sponsor
Commercial Iron Works photo
|492k||Personnel Draft 5490 from Naval Small Craft Training Center, Treasaure Island, San Pedro, CA to to Naval Receiving Barracks, Portland, OR For Further Transfer to PC-814||Gary Neidhardt|
|122k||5 June 1945
LT Paul W. Neidhardt, Executive Officer, second from left
Commercial Iron Works photo
|74k||5 June 1945
|545k||Newspaper article from "The Oregonian" regarding the last PC commissioning in the U.S. Navy|
Going full astern during builders trials on the Columbia River, Oregon
Full astern during builder's trials
Courtesy of the Columbia River Maritime Museum, Astoria, Oregon.
Herb Alden photo.
|56k||5 June 1945
Last PC commissioned in U.S. Navy. Had only 127 days of active duty, 5 June - 10 October 1945.
Herb Alden photo.
|43k||Stranded on a reef 8 miles off Okinawa||Gary Neidhardt|
We have had quite a little excitement around here, and things are pretty well mixed up right now.
A typhoon which was expected to pass well clear of us to the south veered to the north and came directly over the island. We had a new and larger anchor to replace one of those we lost, and it held until the wind got up around 70. Then it began to drag. At that time the center of the storm was expected to pass 50 miles to the west of us at noon. It was then 9.a.m., and we were fairly sure we could ride out three hours o.k.
However it curved more, and by noon was really blowing. By 2 p.m. it surpassed anything I have seen to date. I wonít go into the details, because it still isnít pleasant to talk about. At a few minutes after 4, when we couldnít see 10 feet and a man could hardly risk being outside (to try to direct the ship, Bill and I took turns standing out with legs and arms wrapped around stanchions (posts)), we went aground. Radar had been out since 2 oíclock by water coming in the ventilation.
I was in the wardroom at the time, resting. Bill was up on top. When we hit, it looked like all was over. However, by tremendous good fortune, we were riding down wind at the time (not knowing even approximately where we were) and a big wave just lifted us up and set the ship down on a reef.
We couldnít move . . . in fact had we washed off the reef the ship probably would have sunk, because our main engine room was flooded and we would have been completely helpless.
At any rate, we stayed there for two days, eating cold food and drinking what liquids were available. It happened that the only fresh water tanks that were full were pierced and were contaminated by salt water. We were quite safe, since we were 100 feet from the nearest edge of the reef. We were about 8 miles from the mainland of Okinawa.
We were taken off yesterday, and are now living in tents ashore. As yet we donít know how long it will take to go through the details of decommissioning the ship, removing salvageable equipment, etc.
Only one man was hurt . . . a cut arm, broken toe, and sprained ankle. Call it luck, Providence, or what you will, we certainly were fortunate. None of the living compartments were flooded, so we were able to get most of our clothing, etc. off. I had too much to move on short notice and had to leave some things behind.
The losses were terrific. In fact, I have it on fairly good authority that the Navy may abandon Okinawa as a major naval base. It is impossible to keep large numbers of ships here. Ships of all sizes were wrecked. There were no large combatant ships here, but all kinds of service craft --- tenders, oilers, etc. are on the beach. Several other PCís were lost, some with heavy loss of life.
Ashore it was almost as bad. Tents and other buildings were blown down, and quite a few men were killed and others injured by flying debris. An ammunition barge blew up and really did a job on a couple of nearby ships.
We are eating K rations and G rations since the food supplies suffered, too. However, all in all we are quite comfortable.
There is nothing to worry about now. In fact, I will be home quicker than I would have had the ship stayed afloat. As soon as we can get the shipís details taken care of, I should be able to get in line for
For the time being, address my letters to the ship. We are still attached to it until it is decommissioned. Right now we are getting no mail because the post office was completely wrecked.
I love you, dearest, and I assure you that I am mighty happy to be alive and able to return. It will be a long time before Iíll gripe about any sort of living conditions.
This is quite a change from seagoing life. Weíre virtually camping out a la army . . .eating C rations over a fire, washing clothes in buckets, etc. However, weíre getting along quite nicely and getting our quotas of vitamins despite the rather tiresome quality of the rations. Thereís one outfit a few miles away that seems to have saved most of its food supplies from the storm. We invite ourselves in on their officerís mess occasionally to relieve the monotony.
Itís hard to say how long this will last. The local admiral has decided that an investigation must be made into the reasons for each shipís loss, and since there were 208 commissioned ships, and many other craft sunk or grounded by the storm, the investigation will take quite some time. Personally I think that this is strictly unnecessary in most cases, since the reason for the losses is plain to anyone who can read . . . 122 knot wind, barometer 28.04, a storm center passing almost directly over the bay, etc.
I imagine that the U.S. papers have carried some account of the storm, since it was really a major disaster. No doubt you had considerable reason to worry between the time that you read of the storm and my letter of October 12 arrived.
Yesterday I took some pictures of the damage, which I hope will come out ok. Iíll keep the film undeveloped until I get home. You have seen pictures of the damage done by hurricanes along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, so you can visualize what happened here to the temporary structures ashore as well as the massed shipping in the bay.
Just to keep things interesting, another tragedy occurred Friday, which also may have reached the U.S. papers, since there were correspondents on the scene. A Seabee cache of dynamite exploded and caused about 200 casualties, around 10 fatal. It was in a tomb in the area where the overflow of men ashore awaiting transportation home were housed. The Seabees had been asked to remove it, but they dilly-dallied and said that it ďcouldnít explodeĒ. However, some sailor used gasoline to start a fire for heating his rations. Apparently some of the gas ran over near the dynamite, and boom!
Men can take only so much, and when that occurred there were a lot of bitter men here. They have put up with the lousy living conditions here, since they knew they were on the way home. Then to have something like that happen was too much. I canít blame them, because that accident was the result of pure stupidity on the part of the local officers.
Our boys are living in pup tents on a hillside. They have their area fixed up quite comfortably, and are getting along well, supplementing the local rations with food salvaged from the ship. There is talk of moving them out on transports in the bay until their disposition is decided (some survivors have already gone out) but our gang wants to stay put. They have had enough of sitting in Buckner Bay waiting for the next typhoon to come.
At the moment the plan is this. A salvage board is checking each ship to determine whether or not it can be re-floated. If it canít, the personnel will be sent back to the states except for one or two officers and two enlisted men who will stay to appear before the board of inquiry. Iím not certain yet whether Iíll be required to stay around or not.
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