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Harry Meister, Engineering Officer, LCS 27


LCS 26 was commissioned on August 26, 1944 at the Commercial Iron Works, Portland, Oregon.  She was assigned to Flotilla One, Seventh Fleet, Task Force 78.3.8, consisting of LCSs 7, 8, 26, 27, 48 and 49.  Her shakedown was conducted in September 1944 in San Diego, California

          On January 29 1945, LCS 26 made Landings at San Antonio, Luzon, Philippine Islands.  There was no resistance to the landings.  On January 31 landings were made at Subic Bay and Grande Island, Luzon, P.I.  There was no resistance to these landings either.  The Japanese were retreating.

          On February 13, pre-invasion mine clearing operations were conducted in Manila Bay, Luzon, P.I. In company with LCS 27, the 26 followed the mine sweepers to destroy all floating mines cut loose by the sweeps.  February 14th continued the mine clearing support with LCS 27.
In these two days LCS 26 destroyed 30 mines.  At one point she came under fire from a Japanese battery on Corregidor, which was promptly put out of action with help from a destroyer. Later in the day, LCS 26 came to the aid of two destroyers which had struck mines near Mariveles. The two destroyers were able to proceed on their own power although badly damaged. 


On February 15, Flotilla One provided inshore fire support for the landings at Mariveles Harbor.  Only minor opposition was encountered, but one LSM struck a mine. At the end of the day, LCS Flotilla 1 anchored as a screen across the mouth of Mariveles Bay.

          On February 16, at approximately 0320, the flotilla was attacked by about 30 suicide boats, and by heavy shore-based gunfire that appeared to come from Cabello Island.  In a matter of minutes LCSs 7, 26 and 49, after receiving multiple hits, were sunk with the loss of 73 lives, and many more wounded.  Swede Swenson, the engineering officer on LCS 26, was able to free himself from the sinking ship by swimming out through the hole caused by the suicide boat.  As he left, he saw a shipmate’s severed head lying on the deck. 


LCS 27 managed to sink 5 suicide boats before the sixth blew up along her port side causing extensive damage resulting in flooding.  The ship was saved from sinking by beaching it in Mariveles Bay. Since LCS 8 and LCS 48 were not in the immediate area at the time, they did not come under attack by any suicide boats.


The following men of the LCS-26 lost their lives in the action:

          Alvie C. Arnold

Milton N. Bachman

Casper A. Bacrowski

Richard L. Bartz

Edward A Bayus

Donald V. Bearison

Alvin F. Beczynski

Howard W. Bedford

Ulysses M. Bendy, Jr.

Albert S. Bellofatto

Horace E. Blair

Norbert H. Bleau

Paul E. Boyer

Arvel B. Clark

Harold L. Clark

John E. Cooper

Vernon H. Frey

Calvin R. Jones, Jr

James H. Nix

Chester A. Oddell

Carroll D. Pipes, Sr.

Howard T. Priest

Arlo R. Schellhardt

Walter E. Smith

Stanley Swierk.

The most vivid and expressive account of this tragic event and the feelings it generated was given by W. M. (Marty) Kingwell, crew member and survivor of the 26:


Tonight we're placed at Harbor's mouth,

Five ships in line from north to south.

I'm standing watch, t'ween three and four,

There comes a flash, an awful roar.

We stand in awe, we hear men scream,

It seems unreal as if a dream.

Another flash, they've hit one more,

It lights us up, the flames now soar.

We look in vain, we cannot see,

What caused all this, what can it be?

I see them now, just two grey shapes,

They're coming fast, I see their wakes.

Torpedo-like boats, suicides,

A crazy Jap in each one rides.

The one hits near, we feel the thud,

It don't explode, it is a dud.

It was God's will, I'm satisfied,

He interfered or I'd have died.

Toward the bow, the other hit,

A blinding flash the sky is lit.

Our ship's in flames, men run about,

Trapped men now scream, others shout.

I turn to leave, a blow I feel,

My forehead stings, it makes me reel.

I keep my feet, I gain the rail,

I can't give up, I must not fail.

I hit the sea, I head for shore.

Some mates are near, there’s three or four,

We swim awhile, then turn to gaze,

The ship now sinks, the sea’s ablaze

From burning oil, which soon burns out,

Once more it’s dark, men swim about.

Jap snipers fire from off Bataan,

I’m glad it’s dark, three hours till dawn.

They say at dawn the trees bore fruit,

Jap bodies hung, quite limp and mute.

I reach the shore, I utter thanks,

Then stagger up the rocky banks. 

At dawn they come to rescue us,

We’re cold and grim, there’s little fuss.



                   Concerning the tragic loss of men from this ship and the other two LCSs at Mariveles Bay, Richard Rhame, Flotilla One Historian, has written these lines:  “Left behind beneath the blue-grey waters of Mariveles Bay were those 73 brave men who had given their lives in the best tradition of the Navy.  Their sacrifice will live forever in the hearts and minds of their mates.”

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