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LETTERS/MESSAGES HOME
FROM PCE-884

from Willie Caton "Bill" Culpepper, Radioman 2/c, V6, USN
Contributed by his daughter Shirley Brook

This is a communication to All Navy from Secretary of the Navy James Forrestal, dated 14 August 1945, that he kept a
copy of:

USS PCE-884 % Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, California
"All hands of the United States Navy Marine Corps and Coast Guard may take satisfaction in the conclusion of the war against Japan and pride in the part played by them in accomplishing that result. XParaX The demobilization of the Armed Forces of the United States and return to conditions of peace will create problems taxing patience and control almost as great as the tension so of warX I ask that the discipline which has served so well to bring this democracy through hours of great crisis be maintained to the end that nothing shall mar the record of accomplishment and glory. That now belongs to the Navy Marine Corps and Coast Guard X James V. Forrestal St 142301/194AR NH/2340/14th 14 Aug 45 (OCT) From: SECNAV Action to ALNAV"


EXCERPT: from a letter to his wife Aug 16, 1945

Although the peace hasn't been signed yet, we consider the war "over" and we will be just marking time from now on. Needless to say we radiomen have been kept busier-than-hell since the announcement that "The Japanese have accepted the surrender terms"...There have been congratulatory messages coming from all the "Goldbraid" to the Pacific Fleet, etc.

Also we have been doing a little bit of celebrating of our own...in our own ways. To start with, when we got the message, the Captain made arrangements to keep it a secret until I could get up on the Bridge to read the message over the PA system to all hands. First the three inch opened up with a few rounds and then I had the "honor" of reading the message to all hands. HA-HA. Then they guys on the bridge broke out the very pistols and fired most of our flares and also they fired some of our parachute flares..some pictures were taken with the ships camera so if I can get some copies I will send them to you.

"Ships work" continued after that until noon but there wasn't too much done. Yesterday evening we had a party (cokes and our "three piece band") We had a good time--wish you were here.


Excerpt from a letter to mother:

"U.S.S. PCE 884 September 3, '45
DEAREST KATHY,
WELL DARLING, THE WAR IS 'OFFICIALLY OVER NOW..WE HEARD THE SURRENDER OVER THE RADIO YESTERDAY. I WAS ON WATCH AT THE TIME AND DIDN'T HEAR ALL BUT IT WAS VERY BRIEF AND TO THE POINT. THE WHOLE OPERATION DIDN'T LAST BUT ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES. AFTER THE SURRENDER WAS SIGNED PRESIDENT TRUMAN GAVE A SPEECH BUT I DIDN'T HEAR ANY OF IT.
TWO DAYS AGO, WE PICKED UP TWO LIFE RAFTS. ONE WAS FROM A PLANE (RUBBER) AND THE OTHER WAS THE TYPE THAT SHIPS CARRY. BOTH HAD BEEN IN THE WATER FOR QUITE A WHILE AND WERE DETERIORATED. THEY WERE BOTH EMPTY.


TYPHOON STORY: Excerpt from personal letter.

September 17, 1945

For the past two days I have been wondering if my 43 1/4 points would do me any good. I didn't think I would need them where I was going. Fortunately for me, it wasn't the "Will of the Gods" that I would visit Davy Jones' Locker so early in life. I guess you are wondering what the hell I am talking about so without further adieu I will tell my story. Believe what part of it you want and disregard what you don't....On the 13th there was a tropical disturbance forming and we were on the outer edge of it heading east. Since we are a weather ship we had all the latest meteorological data on the storm. Some of the information we got ourselves, the other was received by radio. It was logical to keep heading east to keep out of the worst of it but the meteorological center at Guam sent us a message saying to "go west to Avoid Tropical Disturbance" and though the captain knew that this would just put us right into the middle of it there was nothing to do but obey orders. The meteorological center has on record the movements and actions of all typhoons, etc. So they should know how best to avoid them but we have on record one hundred badly scared men. By moving west we headed into the typhoon and for a while I wouldn't have bet one way or the other as to our chances of survival. Everyone aboard agrees that it had been anything but a PCE, we would have been playing a harp or toasting marshmallows by now.

We couldn't even "go west" for long due to the waves and the wind. It was all we could do to keep afloat and keep the bow into the huge waves. There were three men in the wheelhouse at all times and most of the steering was done with the engines.

During the course of the typhoon, the clinometer registered 50 degs. But some men swear they saw 60 or better. There is no way of knowing if everyone had better ways of spending their time than watching the clinometer. You were either praying, working, sweating or all three. Our anemometers only registers up to 80 knots and it stayed there for almost 24 hours. The Captain and Aerologists estimated the wind at better than 100 knots.

There were mammoth waves that dwarfed our small ship. They were estimated to be around 100 feet from trough to crest and sometimes higher. The height of our mast is only 69 feet so you can imagine how we felt. I went up on the flying bridge and could see nothing but water, and no matter what direction I looked, we couldn't tell whether or not it was raining because there was a solid sheet of water on all sides of the ship and visibility was almost zero at times.

I celebrated my 20th birthday at the climax of the typhoon but didn't even think of it until the next day. It was at its worse on the morning of the 16th.

To give you some idea of how strong the wind was I will tell you some of the damage it did...... The paint was stripped from the hull and mast, the commission pennant was torn away, the flag was ripped to shreds with only part of the blue field remaining, the flagstaffs on the bow and stern were neatly bent, the gun covers, canvas ammunition rack covers, etc. were so badly beaten and worn they are useless now, and everything topside that wasn't lashed down as washed away.

All-in-all though we are proud of the way our PCE came through this beating and the whole crew thinks the men at Portland who built this ship deserve a decoration or something.

.....Don't worry about me, this ship can stand up under anything, and I'm not kidding!"


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