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|158k||Shipping in an Okinawan harbor, as seen from the beach in May 1945. Most ships present appear to be amphibious types. PCS-1391 is just to the right of exact center, with USS
LCI(L)-77 partially hidden behind her bow
Photographed by Thomas Binford, USNR
National Archives photo 80-G-K-16204 from the Naval History and Heritage Command
|95k||Photographed circa 1945-1946.
Courtesy of William H. Davis, 1977
U.S. Navy Photo NH 85160
|Naval Historical Center|
|58k||Coxswain Eugene S. Joiner (right) on liberty in Honolulu, HI with a shipmate and friend.||Dan Joiner|
|313k||San Francisco, CA
From the book "San Francisco Bay Cities - Around the Golden Gate in Pictures" by Josef Muench
|01||LT Clarence E. Hartmann, USNR||29 February 1944 - 1945|
|02||LT R. F. Stafford, USNR||1945|
Eugene Soloman Joiner
03/28/1926 - 02/03/2005
Coxswain SV-V6 USNR
Enlisted/Inducted 04/26/1944 - Honorably Discharged 04/28/1946
Service / File # 944-88-99
Ratings Held: AS, S2c, S1c, Cox
Service: NTS Great Lakes Naval Base/U.S.S. PCS-1391
Remarks: Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal (2 Stars)
Confirmed Kamikaze Kill (1 Star)
Philippine Liberation Ribbon (2 Stars)
To Joann with love, Papaw.
This is a short story of my un-heroic life. Suggested by wife Kathy that I put on paper. Especially dedicated to my Grand Daughter Joann Joiner who is so interested in my pre and post war years.
Finally, the day I was waiting for, I was old enough to volunteer for the Navy. That's the first time I volunteered for anything, and believe me, the last. Well, here goes the old country boy. New overalls, shined shoes with holes in the soles, on a train to Great Lakes Naval Training Station. What a trip! First time away from home & Mom's cooking. Arrived like herds of cattle, treated the same.
First day, physicals, haircuts, shots, and showers, complete chaos. Finally, bed & lights out. Much crying & sobbing, barracks got stern warning. Second day, of all things I left the farm to get away, but the Navy had us out digging sod & sodding around barracks. Remember the stern warning? Well, the payoff came. They got us out at midnight in our shorts, running 24 laps around the drill field, in a cold rain!
Enough about Boot Camp, there was much more. But let's get on the train (semi cattle cars) for Shoemaker, California, to await transportation to Hawaii. Where my ship was moored, waiting for her crew
Shoemaker, California, got on an LST for Honolulu (15 days of Hell). Here I am aboard one of Kaiser's floating barges, with 500 GI's and tanks, guns, ammo, etc. Unfortunately, I was the only one who did not get seasick, so my job was to take fire hoses and wash vomit from bathrooms, floors, and bunks (sometimes from the men themselves). Finally we reached Pearl Harbor! Went directly to Naval Barracks for orientation & final shots.
While there, President Roosevelt made a tour of the island, everyone was restricted to barracks. Also, got caught in a pineapple grove, and shot at by Jar Heads (Marines). Well the day finally came that we picked up our ship, U.S.S. PCS-1391 (80 crew members, 6 Officers). Got our assignments of duties, bunks, general quarters, battle stations, etc. Left Pearl Harbor, armed for a bear, or anything.
At sea for 6 or 8 days, got pain in stomach area, saw the Doc (ingrown hair). Doc's name was Don Gould, whose family owned a Drug Store next to my sister's restaurant in St. Charles, Michigan (small world). Anyhow, we proceeded on to a destination that we never dreamed of, Guadalcanal.
When we arrived there, they had secured the island 4 days before. Doc and me had to go ashore for medical supplies, which was located 1-1/2 miles inland. Now there were still snipers everywhere, we had to pass by leper colonies and elephantitis compounds, and malaria fever camps. Needless to say, we were scared shitless. Very happy campers to get back aboard ship. Well, we are out of this miserable place.
Invasion of Eniwetok, we are a Radio Control ship, which means the Army and Marines come aboard and direct the landing ships through mined areas to beaches. Our ship is the first one in, we get as close to the beach as possible. This was a small island, 3,000 Japs, a lot of artillery, took 2 weeks to secure. Rest a couple days, do minor repairs.
On to Saipan, much larger island, heavier concentration of Japs. First day out, meet supply ship (food) took on stores and fuel, then picked up troop ship convoys. Escorted to Saipan through same procedure as Eniwetok, only much longer (finally over after several weeks).
Then back to Eniwetok for R and R, and a beer party on a sand bar, with 3.2 beer (uck). Not a tree left on island, getting prepared for a larger invasion of Guam, waiting for convoy of troop ships. Finally underway, lots of food, ammo, and fuel. Left 8 days before invasion to patrol around island for land bunkers and floating mines (exploded 3 mines). Rejoined convoy, escorted safely through channels to harbor, where troops landed with great success. After weeks of bombarding by Battleships and Planes. After many weeks we prevailed, and re-captured island, but the Navy got pretty busy.
We got no R and R. As a matter of fact, all Hell is a fixing to break loose. Rosie the Riveter has completed a lot of Carriers, Heavy Cruisers, and Destroyers, which we are joining for a big one in Manila Bay (in the Philippines). Bear in mind, the big boys (Battleships and Carriers) have been bombing and shelling the island for days. Finally, the day of reckoning has arrived, we pulled in the Bay just at daybreak, the Japs were not surprised. They were waiting for us.
My battle station was Trainer on a 3"- 50 bow gun, which is a large gun. Jap planes started coming like bees from a hive. One came right over us, dropped 3 bombs (all missed ship by 10 feet), neither of the three exploded. Thank God, or we would be history.
Manila is where we got our first introduction to the Jap suicide planes, the Japs were beginning to get desperate at this time. They sent 4 suicides at our group of ships, fortunately, all were shot down without any damage to us (meaning our fleet). After several weeks, the invasion was calm, in the harbor the Army was moving inland in great haste. Needless to say, our job was over there.
We were ordered to take on supplies, and move out. Destination, patrol and mine sweep around Leyte Island, where Ernie Pyle was killed. Included in patrol, patrol and sweep Subic Bay area, Northern Philippines. After many days of sweeping, we were ordered back to Guam to pick up another convoy of troop ships for the invasion of Subic Bay. The Army was not moving fast enough, we needed the Hugh Harbor at Subic Bay (didn't know why, but was soon to find out).
After Subic Bay was invaded and secured, Sea Bees built airstrips, supply houses were established, temporary barracks erected. Troop build up was very large, ships of every description were arriving daily. We knew something big was brewing. After many days, over 500 ships had arrived with thousands of troops, supplies, tanks, etc.
Finally, one morning before dawn, we moved out. Ships everywhere, but not ahead of us. Our ship and 3 others were out 4 or 5 miles ahead, working a criss cross pattern, searching for subs and whatever. At this particular time, the Japs had entered into the war 1 man suicide subs, along with planes. Needless to say, we had our hands full.
After two days out the Captain opened our orders, Okinawa (Whoopee!), 4 or 5 days out we were all out on the bow of the ship in early evening, marveling at the ocean & moon. Water was so calm, with the moon's reflection it looked like a mirror, not a ripple to be seen. The only sound you could hear was the ship slicing through the water, what a beautiful sight. I had the 3:00 AM watch, sacked out about 10:30 PM, I was awakened about 2:30 AM. Attempted to get out of bed, was dumped on the floor half asleep wondering what the Hell was going on. Typhoon! Started up ladder to main deck, was knocked back down by water. Got up, donned life jacket and safety belt, proceeded to watch stations (Sonar, Helm, Radar, and Lookout), we rotated half an hour on each.
For the next 10 days we were in this Mother Nature blow out. Many ships were damaged, several Dog Faces were swept overboard. The waves were so high, they were higher than the ship. I would sit and watch them coming knowing that each one was going to do us in. We did 45 degree rolls, but for some unknown reason we survived. We were running at full speed and just barley able to forge ahead. The flying fish were going crazy, so were we. No decent meals (could not cook), everything in the galley would fly around, so we lived on crackers, Spam, cheese, and coffee. Coffee makers were secured down, and would not move around.
Finally, after what seemed like eternity, we finally broke out of our old friend. Gathered our wits, got grouped, reformed after a few days. Some ships strayed several miles off course, the only way we could see ships near us was on radar, rain & water so thick. Well, we are all together again and on our way.
Just about the time we were settling down, the Jap subs decided they would upset our apple cart again, well they did. We nailed one good, mattresses, pillows & debris floated up, the other three patrol ships also got their share. After several days, the afternoon and evening arrived when we took aboard Army and Marine personnel. We knew the next morning would be the big event (but not to what extent). About 5:00 AM we moved in, everyone thought we would somewhat surprise them, with delays from the typhoon. Not so, they were prepared. We pulled at high tide, got very close to the beach, which was perfect. Got all landing craft on their way in, some made it, some were blown out of the water.
We survived the first day, with great losses to both sides, and finally establishing a beachhead. During the night the tide went out, leaving us stranded on a coral reef, all personnel and material that could be moved - had to be moved to one side of ship (to keep ship upright). Needless to say, we were like sitting ducks (could not defend ourselves), but we had plenty of protection. Had to wait one more day for the tide to come back in, before we could set ourselves free (which was a very welcomed event). We moved back out in the harbor and dropped anchor for 3 days and 2 nights.
Now remember, there is over 500 ships in this harbor, all are armed to the teeth. Lo and behold, here they came in droves, the Kamikaze! The New Mexico (Battleship), Houston (Heavy Cruiser), and numerous other ships took direct hits. You know when you look up, you normally see blue skies? Not so there, entire sky was black from gunfire from our ships. Thousands of guns shooting at the same time, every once in awhile you would be able to see a small piece of sky. Well, this went on for days.
While we were anchored in the harbor, we would dump garbage boxes overboard. The Japs would get the boxes when they floated ashore, get under them & swim out to ships, sneak aboard and kill several men before they were detected. So, every time we saw a box floating, we would riddle it with machine gun bullets.
Things weren't going so good on the island, we wasn't gaining any ground, troops more or less pinned down. We were ordered out to patrol on the Northern end of island (kind of an early warning device against Kamikazes), as we were leaving under red alert the guys aboard ships were so jumpy, they shot down 4 of our own planes (not good).
Arrived at patrol area, patrolled for several days, we got one plane (probably saved many ships by early warning). As we were passing by island, spotted General Buckner in Jeep, next second it was blown up. Back at landing area (invasion point) things were going rather badly, the Army was unable to capture Naha City (the Capital). We were called back in, ordered to proceed to Subic Bay in Philippine Islands to pick up convoy of reinforcements (Marines). Brought them to Okinawa.
On our way to the Philippine Islands (we left at night), me, Bob Ellison, John Sontag, and Paul Hartwig were all sitting on ammo boxes BS talking about the things we would if we got home (not much hope of that at this time), when we kept hearing large whizzing sounds. Jap 16" shells missing, going over our heads (whew!).
Got message the Jap Fleet (what was left of it) was coming through the Samar Straits, John F. Kennedy and his PT armada were trying to hinder them as much as possible. He broke his back on that run, but held them at bay until our big boys could get into position. They sank most of the Jap ships, the Yamato got away and made it back to Tokyo.
Back in Okinawa the Marines landed and launched an attack on Naha City, first couple of days they were being carried out on stretchers as fast as they were going in. After several months at Okinawa, they (the Japs) didn't surrender, they were wiped out. Everything was beginning to calm down, we were anchored in the harbor again, doing repairs, cleanup, just killing time. Mean time, more ships, troops & supplies were flowing in and we finally got mail call (not much). After several days it was almost impossible to see the water. There were so many ships. You want to see some polluted water? All the garbage, trash, toilets flushed into the harbor (ugh), enough about that, you get the point.
We knew something was brewing, and it could be only one thing, our last stop. Tokyo! One afternoon the message came over the intercom "Gentlemen, start your engines! Prepare to move out at 8:00 PM!". I can't explain the feeling, happy as Hell, and scared to death. After many hours of maneuvering & getting into positions, we were finally underway at half speed. Troop transports were not known for speed, just as well, we were out front playing our little games.
This time we had Destroyers and Destroyer Escorts, with the wagons and Cruisers, Carriers. Bringing up the rear was the Troops. God knows how many we were. About half way there when we heard the bomb had been dropped, everyone was at their battle stations. I guess some sailor was so happy, he fired off a large caliber gun. Admiral Halsey's voice came over the PA system in an effort to chew the boy out, but before he could finish, every gun on every ship was shooting. What a display of fireworks! That's the only battle Halsey ever lost.
We proceeded on in to Tokyo Bay, tied up alongside the Yamato, one of the world's largest battleships at that time. As I explained earlier, the Yamato is the one ship that got away in the Samar Straits.
We stayed tied up until after Christmas in 1945. Yokosuka, located around Tokyo Bay, along with several other cities, we made liberty there once. On Christmas day, our Captain gave the crew a Christmas drink, 190 proof grain alcohol with grapefruit juice (WOW)! Preparing to go on liberty as I spoke of, but I fell overboard, spent Christmas day trying to wash saltwater out of my dress blues.
I forgot to explain about the U.S.S. Missouri, she dropped anchor at the mouth of Tokyo Bay, and waited for MacArthur to put on his little show.
December 26th, 1945 - A day I will never forget. We were heading home, but first had to turn in our Jap yen (a bunch of bull). Going home! A long way off, probably 7 or 8 thousand miles at 30 mph (not very fast huh?).
After many days of bouncing around, we finally made it to Hawaii, where we stopped for a couple days for minor repairs, fuel and food. Meanwhile, we got liberty, went ashore, bright lights, bars and booze! What a sight! About 20 of the crew went to a bar, guess what? A fight broke out, we wiped the floor with two big bouncers, wrecked the joint. All of a sudden, it seemed like all the SPs & MPs in the service were upon us. We all spent the night in the brig with sand floors, the Captain had to come and get us out next AM before he could sail for the states. I guess the government paid for the damages to the bar. We all got busted in rank.
We are finally on the last leg, ten more days, Sausalito, California - USA.
PS: Something I forgot to talk about, crossing the International Date Line & Equator, of course you get initiated and inducted into King Neptune's Realm. We had to crawl from bow to stern in our shorts, with fire hoses sprayed on our rear while others busted us with paddles. After we arrived at stern, we were blindfolded, 3.2 beer poured in mouth. There was a large man aboard with big belly, the Shellbacks put graphite in his navel button, and our faces were pushed in the graphite while we were still blindfolded. There was much more, too numerous to write about.
The following were questions answered by Eugene S. Joiner regarding his actual duties while in battle.
Gene - on PCS-1391 during WWII. He was the Trainer on a 3" 50 gun. Another fellow was on Elevation. Gene did the actual shooting. They wore headphones, and the Radar men told them the Elevation and Direction of the enemy (Japanese) planes. The Sonar men told them the depth and location of Submarines and Torpedoes so that they could shoot the Mouse Trap Rockets & "Ash Cans" (Depth Charges).
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