From A Navy Family by Admiral Richard R. Pratt, USN (Ret.) and his wife Ann Virginia Pratt.

Captain Richard Rockwell Pratt

Capt. Richard Rockwell Pratt, USN.

Coming from the heat and humidity of the Solomons to Boston in the middle of winter was quite a change. Again we were involved with the commissioning of a new ship, training its crew and preparing for deployment to the South Pacific. I soon found out that being Exec and Navigator was quite a job. Hudson was a brand new 2,100-tonner which I think proved to be the finest type destroyer the Navy had in World War II. She was assigned to Squadron 45 in a nine-ship squadron. About half the ships were built in Bath and the rest in the shipyard at Charlestown, just next to the Mystic Bridge and Chelsea, not the best neighborhood. All the ships were commissioned by the Commandant of the First Naval District who lived in quarters at the Boston Navy Yard. Hudson’s commissioning went off without incident as well as her shakedown training at Casco Bay. We made several trips through the Cape Cod Canal before ending up at Norfolk where we made final preparations for distant deployment. Mom followed the ship as best she could and was in Norfolk when she deployed, again for the South Pacific.
ADM Richard Rockwell Pratt with Hudson's bell, Christmas 2004

Adm Richard Rockwell Pratt, USN (Ret.), Hudson’s first exec and second CO, with Hudson’s bell found “under the tree,” Christmas 2004.

Being Exec and two classes behind the Chief Engineer at the Naval Academy, a Reservist, was a difficult situation. He had left the Navy and had returned, so though I was senior he never accepted the fact. He undermined much of what I was trying to accomplish and I complained to the Captain that we didn’t need this kind of a morale problem what with everything else we should be thinking about while readying the ship for combat. One morning when we had completed a long all night transit of the Panama Canal most of the officers including the Captain were in the wardroom for breakfast. The Chief had obviously had a long rough night and in a very overbearing manner allowed as how he was really one of the few officers aboard who was doing his job. This was the last straw as far as I was concerned and I am glad the Captain felt the same way. The Captain went to his cabin and wrote a letter to the Bureau of Naval Personnel and gave me the letter to mail before we sailed. On our arrival in the New Hebrides we received orders to detach this malcontent. He was ordered back to the shipyard in New York where he stayed for the rest of the war. His assistant, Ltd.(jg) Tippen, a very capable reservist, relieved him and we had no more troubles of this kind. Thank Heavens!

It was now the Fall of 1943 and we were basking in the beautiful Havannah harbor, Éfaté, one of the New Hebrides. Many of the heavy ships were on hand including our newest battleships. It was a different situation from 1942 when our Navy was virtually on the “ropes’: there was an excellent system of assigning destroyers to “mother ships”—ours was the new battleship Alabama. Due to another fine policy the Navy had standardized equipment and spare parts so that what was needed by one ship could usually be found in another. The Alabama could provide just about anything we needed.

Our immediate assignment was to prepare for the amphibious landing at Bougainville. This involved hopping beyond many Japanese held islands such as Kolombangara, the Shortlands and Buin and landing our Marines not too far from the major Fleet base used by the Japs at Rabaul, where heavy Jap air support was also at hand. Following the customary rehearsal and pre-sail critique, our squadron joined a Transport Group as an ASW screen and escort to Empress Augusta Bay. Our charts were hopelessly inadequate; they were old British relics dating back to the turn of the century. The coastline was eight miles inland from that shown-on our charts and there were no useful soundings. To enter the huge bay we were advised to head for a large mountain, Mt. Balbi, on a course of 035° True, almost northeast. Despite this hair raising initiation, we all made it to the objective area though one of transports ran aground at that point. The initial landing was just after daybreak, on the first of November. Our Marines were opposed and a sizable Jap surface Force was intercepted by Task Force 39, Admiral Merrill and his cruiser division consisting of Columbia, Montpelier, Cleveland and Denver, with assigned destroyers. This Jap force could have played havoc with the amphibious ships. During an air attack I recall one torpedo plane which made a run on our part of the objective area. It was fairly close aboard and its torpedo hung below ready for launching; just in the final stage of approach, it received a direct hit from one of our ships. An explosion occurred and the plane disintegrated. Near our assigned fire support station there was a dead Japanese pilot who had been shot down. We put a boat in the water and recovered some of his belongings including his navigational chart showing his track from Truk South to the Empress Augusta Bay objective. Typical of all our landings our job at sea was simple compared to the Marine tasks ashore. After a couple of days unloading we would escort the transports and cargo ships back to their staging areas for replenishment. Generally we would have a day or two in port before returning with another echelon of cargo ships carrying whatever was needed to support our troops at Cape Torokina, Bougainville. Once we went into the Russell Islands, north and west of Guadalcanal where we had one of the first Seabee bases. Exiting to the South through Sunlight Channel we joined a convoy proceeding to Bougainville. While patrolling our station we hit a coral pinnacle which bent both propellers and reduced our speed though we continued as part of the screen. Our investigation convinced proper authorities that we had struck an uncharted coral head so there was no administrative action. When we returned from this convoy we had to make a trip south to Espiritu Santo to replace the damaged screws. Just before leaving, Daddles came over to the ship in Purvis Bay for dinner. He had been ordered as Commander Naval Base at Espiritu Santo which had become the most important base the Navy had supporting our operations in the Solomons. As the war progressed, these supporting bases were moved further North.

Arriving at Espiritu Santo, I learned that the Commanding Officer of the Combat Information Center school, Bill Wylie, was looking for his relief and that I had been earmarked. Fortunately Captain Smedberg interceded in my behalf and stifled this attempt. After a few hours in a floating drydock, we were ready to go again with our new underpinnings. About the end of November 1943, Hudson accompanied a large group of combatants to Sydney, Australia for our first week of relaxation. It was a welcome respite.

In December, I received a wonderful set of orders to “fleet up” and relieve Captain Smedberg in command of Hudson. This was a tremendous break, since I was the first in my class to have command of a 2100-ton destroyer; my good fortune was entirely because of a great skipper. I relieved in Purvis Bay on December 23rd, 1943 and kept command until the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, just before the war ended. Captain Smedberg relieved as Chief of Staff to Admiral Merrill in his flagship, Montpelier.

The day I took command we were sent out in the middle of the night in search of a submarine outside the harbor; no success. Then came an assignment to Rendova, across the Strait from Munda, which was now in our hands. Our job was to develop a coordinated Destroyer-PT doctrine, utilizing our superior search radar for controlling and vectoring the PTs into position for attacks on barges and smaller craft in water too shallow for our ship. On one occasion, before I took command, Hudson and Anthony were sent ahead of our Bougainville convoy to go after barges in the approaches to Empress Augusta Bay. My brother Bill was Exec and Navigator of Anthony and Whitney was the Division Commander embarked. An Army Air Force liberator sighted us and we were unable to identify ourselves by recognition signals. This plane made a few strafing runs on us. One bullet entered the Anthony wardroom just above the transom where the Medical Officer, Doctor Seal was reclining. Fortunately he wasn’t standing or sitting. About that time Captain Smedberg told the Commodore that the next time he was going to fire on this plane. Whitey Taylor replied, “Don’t, it’s friendly.” About that time the liberator dropped a bomb, estimated to be a 500-pounder close to both ships. The Captain got on the voice circuit again and said, “Some Friend.” This time we were carrying a very excitable correspondent as we headed into a very poorly charted area while making over thirty knots. He kept reminding me that we might very well be running a risk of going aground. He added that if we did when dawn came we would be right under the guns and within range of the many shore batteries. Trying to navigate and keep this character pacified was quite a job. He was right, too! Once while making our sortie and thirteen miles from the beach, Fullam, our squadron flagship, 1000 yards abeam, hit an uncharted coral head and suffered quite a bit of damage.

While Hudson was involved in the rather unglamorous milk runs to Bougainville and also Green Island where we landed New Zealanders, Captain Burke and Squadron 23, known as the Little Beavers, were conducting shipping strikes and night forays against destroyers and cruisers which were supporting their forces as we strengthened our hold on the Solomons. This was the era when Burke became known as “31-knot” Burke, as he used to run the legs off his ships in order to meet his commitments. We would hear of their exploits at the Iron Bottom Bay Club in Purvis Bay. This was the former home of the Bishop of Melanesia and the Seabees converted it to take care of a few hundred people. I have often wondered about the many similar clubs the Seabees constructed throughout the islands in the Pacific. Whenever we would move to a new island the construction of a proper 110” club might not have been officially “top priority,” but I can’t recall when such a hangout was not operational soon after the beach was secured. Admiral Halsey was Commander South Pacific and quite an admirer of Burke and his Little Beavers. The rest of us were a bit envious I guess. Finally Halsey decided to give Burke’s squadron a much needed rest. His message to reassign Burke’s squadron was classic, citing how magnificently they had performed over the past several months, and just as thoroughbreds it was now their turn to “stud in the lush green pastures.” The message added that Squadron 23 would be relieved by our squadron. We were delighted. By this time Whitey Taylor had moved up to command the squadron, relieving Ralph Earle. My brother Bill had been detached to command the Grayson, another destroyer. He had commissioned Anthony as Exec about the same time I became Exec of the newly-commissioned Hudson.

Soon after we assumed our new role as the fair haired squadron, we received a fascinating job of conducting a shipping sweep at night through St. George’s Channel between New Britain and New Ireland passing the heavily fortified Jap stronghold at Rabaul in the middle of the night. We were operating as a nine ship squadron and arranged to fuel at dusk in the tiny harbor at Treasury Island, a base used by our PT’s in the northern Solomons and the last point from which fuel was available. Leaving Treasury and heading towards Rabaul was quite a sensation. No other ships had made this passage. We were to engage any worthwhile targets but found nothing. The next morning we arrived off Kavieng, a heavily fortified base which was to be the area of one of our next major landings. I am glad this operation was canceled as it would have been very costly in terms of men and ships. We took under fire several small fishing vessels and barges. One of our ships received quite accurate fire from a shore battery at a range of about six miles. Following a long period of firing our squadron formed a scouting line patrolling East and West covering the northern approaches to the Jap bases at Buka and Rabaul. It was believed the Japs would make every effort to evacuate from the Solomons through the area we were patrolling. Our stay on this mission was ten days; one of our oilers rendezvoused to fuel and provision us. While we had little success one of the DEs in another group nearby happened to be in the right spot and accounted for several subs, more than any other ship in the war. She was the DE England.

The rest of the Spring of 1944 was spent in one odd job after another; it was possible to relax in the Solomons since we controlled the air and most of the key positions. Now our main object was to prepare for the invasion of Guam and Saipan. Daddles was now settled in very comfortable quarters in Espiritu Santo; each time I would enter port I had a chance for a nice visit with him. He ran a great base, better than any of the others. Once while heading South from Guadalcanal and making 26 knots enroute to Espiritu Santo, the excessive speed being authorized because of our impending deployment to Saipan, we sighted one of our subs, an 5 Boat on the surface; it was sending us a message by flashing light. As I recall the message read, “What are you doing Captain trying to get home for dinner?” I believe he was right, too, for food such as steaks with all the trimmings and heart of palm salad was hard to beat and a wonderful change.

Finally we headed for Saipan, one of our largest operations. The landing was in early June of ’44 and the scheduled landing at Guam was to be three days later. I shall never forget that for quite a while, it appeared we might not be able to hold our beachhead. The Amphibious Commander, Vice Admiral Kelly Turner, called Rear Admiral Harry Hill on a voice circuit which all ships guarded and he was clearly dissatisfied with the information he was receiving as to our “Front Lines.” He told Hill to send someone ashore and that he had to have this information immediately. The gist of the conversation impressed me that we were not doing well. After a day our situation improved. About this time word was received from submarine contact reports that the major portion of the Jap fleet was heading for Saipan and the hundreds of excellent targets in the Amphibious Objective Area. The planned landing on Guam was delayed and the combatant ships formed into four groups to counter the Japanese Fleet. Three of the groups contained all the available heavy carriers and the other all our newest battleships, heavy and light cruisers and a screen of about twenty-four destroyers. Our squadron was assigned to this surface action group and Whitey Taylor was the screen commander. He had quite a job. Our first requirement was to join up with this impressive force and fuel during an all-night replenishment. I have often marveled at how such an evolution as this conducted without any lights involving all our newest battleships, cruisers and destroyers could be handled so efficiently. Vice Admiral Lee was the surface group commander; Admiral Mark Mitscher had the carrier groups, each with a separate commander. On another occasion Lee positioned his heavy ships in the manner he desired and brought the entire group at some 25 knots into their replenishment position before releasing them to go alongside. Admiral Spruance, the Fleet Commander, was in the cruiser Indianapolis, his flagship, which operated with our group. One day with this formidable Fleet deck load strikes from the carriers were launched in late afternoon. Our planes literally blackened the sky as they headed towards the Japanese Fleet. I heard Arleigh Burke, the Chief of Staff to Admiral Mitscher, on the voice radio remark, “The Japanese have many bogies.” His reference was to the tremendous air strike we had just launched. Because our planes had to fly such a distance to reach their targets they were very late in getting back. About ninety ran out of fuel on their return before reaching their carriers. To assist the planes in finding the carriers, all ships turned on their most powerful searchlights, disregarding the danger to themselves. Planes would land on the first available carrier, but many didn’t make it home and landed in the water. Destroyers were quick to rescue the downed pilots. One of those in the water that night was Bill Kane, one of our closest friends. Bill was picked up by a destroyer and when transferred back to the Enterprise, his carrier, I understand that most of the crew were out on deck to welcome him back. Bill was highly regarded by everyone. While the carrier planes engaged and badly mauled the Jap Fleet in the Battle of the First Philippine Sea, we never came to grips with their surface ships. However, the Jap planes which survived reached us and damaged some of our ships including South Dakota steaming next to us. At the time we were in a circular Anti-Aircraft formation, with Indiana, a new battleship, in the center. Speed was twenty-two knots and we were maneuvering by emergency turns during the attack. At least one Jap plane got inside our formation and everyone had it under fire. We were hit, probably by one of our ships, and two men were killed on the port forty millimeter just below the bridge. A shell fragment hit the magazine below the bridge causing a hump in the deck and loss of steering control on the bridge. However, we were well trained and immediately shifted steering to steering aft in the steering engine room without losing our position in the radically moving tight formation. After the threat by the Jap Fleet had subsided, landing operations were resumed and our special task groups for action with the Japs were dissolved. At night we would be heckled by planes, mostly “Bettys”; Hudson was credited with shooting one down at night with a large explosion at about seven miles. The plane was hit several seconds after we had ceased fire.

I had tried to get ashore in Saipan to look up my brother John, who was an intelligence officer in a Marine Air Group, MAG 12. Because of the Japanese threat to our landing, I never made contact. He had been wounded at Roi-Namur in the Marshalls, had a close call in a jeep on Tinian, and that Fall lost his arm when a corsair careened off the runway at Tacloban in the Philippines. He ended up in the Admiralty Islands at Emiru and for a long while we had no word from or about him. Eventually he was hospitalized at Oakland and then transferred to Philadelphia, the West and East coast prosthetic centers.

There were a few interesting sidelights concerning Saipan that are memorable to me. The heavy transports and cargo ships remained at the objective area until unloaded; then a convoy would be formed with escorting destroyers to return to the bases for reloading stores and provisions. Until one of these convoys departed all the heavy ships would leave the objective area for night steaming to reduce the concentration of shipping at the beaches. Generally they would return at daybreak. The reason for this was that night air attacks could generally be expected. It was always quite a hassle joining one of these groups at the last minute, not knowing the base course and speed, the zigzag plan in effect, the identity of the screen commander as well as the officer in tactical command. But somehow there were few collisions or mishaps. However, I remember one amusing incident involving a confused destroyer captain who had joined late in the van of a large formation of maneuvering heavy ships, about 15 cruisers and support ships. The destroyer had arrived about dark and hadn’t picked up the zigzag, or so it seemed, and drifted back through the heavy ships narrowly missing one after another, but finally managing to extricate herself astern of the main body. Of course the poor Captain was being shouted at over the voice radio as she “threaded the needle,” and this didn’t help. Finally the screen commander wisely told the ship to stay where she was astern rather than regain her assigned station ahead.

The literally hundreds of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and other ASW ships occupied assigned screening stations around Saipan and the job of keeping track of their location, fuel, ammunition and provision requirements fell on a Destroyer Squadron Commander, Captain Ruthven Libby, formerly on Admiral King’s Staff. Libby had no suitable staff for being the screen commander responsible for such a great number of ships. I often marveled at how he kept track of all his “chickens” and arranged for whatever they required in such a timely fashion. (I later told him so when they lived nearby in Coronado many years later). As our Marines pushed North on Saipan, there were reports of Japs committing suicide by drowning, leaping from the cliffs from the North end of the island. Men, women and children were included. Even out on our screening station the smell of dead was nauseating. I remember seeing one bloated baby on what we called our floater patrol because of the numerous bodies in the water. There was a huge horsefly sitting on top of the baby’s forehead, a heartbreaking sight. Frequently we were called upon for close fire support for our Marines ashore. Our battery had to be in perfect alignment as we would fire in close proximity to our own troops. At night they would expect infiltration so we frequently provided star shell illumination, almost converting night to day. Occasionally an air attack over the transport area would call for a smoke screen from all ships with smoke screen generators. This made it difficult for the Japs to find us yet we had a hard time keeping track of each other.

Early in July we started the preliminary bombardment at Guam. The amphibious forces earmarked for Guam had been at sea for over a month since their landing had been delayed because of the movement of the Jap fleet towards Saipan. A few days before the landing Bennett and Hudson went in close to the beach to pick up a Chief Radioman by the name of Tweed who had managed to stay one jump ahead of the Japs who controlled the island. He broadcast frequently from one hideout after another and finally plans were made for his rescue from the beach North of the Crote Peninsula and Apra harbor. As scheduled, Tweed came down to the beach from the jungle vegetation but was reluctant to attempt to swim through the surf; Bennett sent in a motor whaleboat with a line to assist. He came out safely and told quite a story of how he had survived in the jungle. The Japs knew he was on the island but couldn’t find him. Returning home after a long absence he found his marriage had gone to pot as was the case of many others in World War II whose fate was unknown for months on end.

On the day of the initial landing at Guam, Hudson was assigned to Agana, and the landing beaches to the South of the Irote Peninsula. Our marines landed without too * much opposition; some of the natives on the South end of the island left the island in order to stay ahead of the Japs who were being pushed southward by our marines. A dugout canoe with three natives came to our vicinity, and to our surprise, one of the natives stood facing us with a sailor’s white hat in each hand. He sent us a message, “Request permission to come aboard,” in perfect semaphore. As the canoe came alongside, I noticed that the native amidship had a badly wounded knee. We lowered a man over the side to assist in rigging a sling so that he could be hoisted aboard. However, this Guamanian would have none of it; he took the - line and threw a quick bowline for his chair and signaled for us to hoist him aboard. We did. After treating his knee, which had been hit by a grenade, we arranged for his transfer to Appalachian, one of the amphibious command ships in the objective area. It had a long accommodation ladder and I’ll never forget the sight of this wounded Guamanian hobbling up this ladder, coming to attention at the upper platform, saluting the colors and then the Officer of the Deck before coming aboard. Obviously he was one of the old timers who had been around our Navy during our long tenure in Guam before World War II.

One day while patrolling north of Guam we passed close to the wreckage of a Jap Betty, one their most effective bombers, and noticed one survivor still with the plane. Putting our motor whaleboat in the water with a small well armed party we tried to encourage the Jap to surrender; he resisted and tried to swim away from the boat which quickly overtook him and picked him up. He was aboard for a week and at first seemed scared to death. We rigged a hammock for him forward of #1 stack and the torpedo tubes, stationed a guard with him and took good care of the young airman, about eighteen. Finally he was transferred by hi-line to one of the new battleships for interrogation—I might add we were trying out a new rig and he was the first to use it!

The shortage of food was a concern during the Guam operation. However, on one occasion while alongside an oiler, the battleship Tennessee was also refueling from the other side and her Supply Officer, Bob Northwood, was an old friend. Bob was carrying a large supply of meat so we took advantage of the opportunity to keep a steady stream of their boneless beef coming over to the tanker and then continuing to our after replenishment station. Usually, much of the meat was lamb from New Zealand so this windfall made quite a hit. I liked the lamb but couldn’t understand why the wardroom never had kidneys. I found out they were all going to the CPO Mess; we quickly took care of distributing the kidney input in an equitable manner. Another delicacy were the huge flying fish, 12-15 inches which would fly into the unlighted ship at night, hitting the superstructure, stunning themselves, and remaining aboard. Each morning my steward, Gilmore, who at one time worked in FDR’s mess, made a regular tour of the main deck each day; many times I had fresh flying fish for breakfast. During the Saipan-Guam operation Hudson remained underway for seventy-five days; we had run out of just about everything. Our storerooms were at rock bottom but we still had dehydrated eggs and an unusual surplus of canned peaches. I never had a desire for either after the war. When Guam was pretty well secured, although Japs remained in their hideouts for long after their organized resistance, Hudson returned to Espiritu Santo to prepare for the next operations—Palau and Yap. The latter was canceled. It was great to be back for another visit with Daddles and in a base which had everything we needed. He dined with about ten senior officers on his Staff and such visiting Flag Officers or dignitaries who happened to be in port. One night I remember meeting Lieutenant-Commander Harold Stassen, aid to Admiral Halsey. Stassen ran for President several times. I had never seen Daddles happier. Before the war ended I had visited just about all the bases in the South Pacific and none could compare with Espiritu due I think to his influence, I’m sure. When we came in with Wasp survivors, we used to send foraging parties to the old French plantations. There were no roads and nothing in the way of facilities excepting that afloat. In just a year all this had changed. There was even a large floating drydock in a nearby bay. Interestingly, Tennessee and California collided just off its entrance and the dock was required so the location of the accident was most fortunate. Espiritu had an officer’s club that was jumping every evening. It also had a good hospital with abundant doctors and quite a few nurses who were a new attraction. USO shows were being scheduled but Hudson never was around for these activities. After going ashore one evening, the Captain of our squadron flagship complained about an ammunition barge still being alongside his ship and not having been towed away when he returned. He sent a nasty message criticizing the support from the base which went all over the South Pacific. It said that the mission of the Forces Ashore was to support the Forces Afloat, echoing the words of Admiral King. This was a slap in the face to Daddles, Commander Naval Base. The next morning when Daddles saw the message he sent his car and driver to the pier and requested the Captain to report to his headquarters. The Captain apologized but Daddles insisted that he make his apology public by sending it to all the addressees in his ill advised message of the night before. There was never any doubt about who was running the Base. In Espiritu Santo, Daddles was in Seventh Heaven.

By the time Hudson was ready to deploy for Palau, Hudson had all new lines, all the provisions she could carry, necessary voyage repairs made, equipment peaked, and last but not least, a couple of beautiful long glasses for the signal bridge. These were on the allowance list for cruisers, not destroyers. The signalmen were delighted; they now could read flag hoists almost to the horizon.

The entrance to Espiritu, like all harbors, was netted for protection against submarines. The main ship channel, conventionally used in peacetime, was mined so access to the harbor was through a rather narrow entrance from the East, rather than the South. The presence of mines was disseminated by Notices to Mariners and Intelligence Bulletins. While in port all ships had to ensure that they were up to date on this vital information. The President Coolidge, which took us to China in 138, was remiss in this regard, hit a mine or two and sank in the deep water within about a hundred yards of the island. She was loaded with tons of badly needed supplies and because of the depth it was a long time before salvage operations were completed—a costly mistake.

An amusing incident occurred amidst a Fleet visit during Daddles’ tenure at “Santo,” as he called it. One of the senior officers on the Base was invited to a small carrier for dinner. Such ranking officers had their own assigned jeeps. Returning from the ship he saw his own jeep being hoisted aboard a barge for further transfer to one of the ships in the anchorage. Needless to say, this instance of “jeep napping” was nipped in the bud but there were others that were not.

I mentioned the unsatisfactory charts during the invasion of the Solomons, especially at Bougainville. Because of this, one of the first requirements at all the landings was an accurate hydrographic survey made by a hydrographic ship assigned to the operation. It was amazing how quickly such a ship could complete and issue very satisfactory field charts only a few days after a landing. Jap fishermen had been charting these waters for about fifteen years just in preparation for World War II and expansion of their empire to the South. Beginning with the Palau operation excellent Jap charts were issued to all ships. Such charts had about four times the number of soundings and much more detail than the charts with which we sailed. We understand the Japanese charts had been discovered during the occupation of one of the atolls and salvage of a Jap ship. We used Japanese charts for the rest of the war in the western Pacific.

On D-Day off Palau, Hudson’s assignment was in a fire support group of several cruisers and destroyers under Rear Admiral Hayler, father of a classmate. Our job was to support the landing on the small island of Angaur, across the channel from Pelilieu, a very costly operation for our Marines, under the legendary Chesty Puller, a close friend and shipmate from Augusta days on the China Station. In the approach before daylight it was obvious the destroyer screen of our formation would not clear another formation also headed for their assigned position in support of the landing. The screens became enmeshed and our squadron flagship, Fullam, collided with the old four stack destroyer, Noa, nearly head-on. The two ships side swiped one another, leaving one of Noa’s propeller shafts embedded in Fullam’s bow. The investigation involved the two Captains in the collision but I felt the fault was further up the line as the formations should have easily maneuvered to clear one another. Fullam’s speed was reduced to twelve knots and it wasn’t long before Whitey Taylor shifted his pennant to Hudson, and we became his flagship. Whitey had been an All American lacrosse player as well as being Captain of the football team which tied Washington in the Rose Bowl in 1924. Angaur is tiny and our ships almost encircled it; our prearranged fire resulted in shells landing fairly close to us from ships on the other side of the island. At Pelilieu many Japs took refuge in caves on the side of high cliffs. Small observation planes were helpful in finding these hideouts. One of our four stack destroyers, Bainbridge, commanded by a friend, Eldridge Baldridge, found herself in a minefield, with mines visible ahead and astern. She gingerly cleared herself without too much difficulty. More and more mines were found floating off the Jap held islands in the western Pacific. We found it was very easy to explode them using our forty millimeters stabilized and controlled by our main battery director. Hudson made a trip to Kossol Roads in the northern part of Palau. One of our destroyers, Wadleigh, had hit a mine and another destroyer had gone alongside, rigging lines fore and aft, keeping her afloat until assistance arrived. Returning from this visit, we tried to assist a large landing craft aground on a reef close in to the island. For a couple of hours we tried unsuccessfully to clear her; I felt further effort on our part was not warranted and might endanger the ship.

After Palau, our squadron headed for Manus in the Admiralties. There was a tremendous concentration of ships and many familiar faces at the evening “O” club rendezvous. I then learned I had been selected for Commander. It was only a few days until most of the ships headed for the Philippines while our squadron proceeded back to the States for overhaul in the San Francisco area, the Hudson at Hunter’s Point. We proceeded first to Vallejo where we off loaded our ammunition.

At the time Hudson was back for overhaul in the Fall of 1944, I was living with Nana in Twin Beeches in Newport. Through a very close friend in Washington I learned that the ship would be coming into San Francisco soon. Information on ships movements was extremely closely kept. However, I knew my source was absolutely reliable and I must get out to San Francisco immediately. The question in my mind was how to make travel arrangements. A close friend, Peggy Grey, daughter of Admiral Oldendorf, knew an influential priest in Providence who arranged for my travel with Rocky from Boston to Chicago. Nana had called Gene Tracy, President of Zenith and a close friend, to get us transportation from Chicago to San Francisco, so with this in mind Rocky and I were driven to the train in Boston. Gene Tracy met us in Chicago and we stayed at his home for a couple of days until our train left Chicago. I mention this for you should know how extremely difficult it was for civilians in wartime to make any travel arrangements. My next problem was to make hotel reservations which I did at the New Fielding near the St. Francis. The ship hadn’t arrived and not having a husband I would not be permitted to stay in the hotel more than five days. Another friend in San Francisco, Jane Hine, learned from her father, a senior Supply Officer, that Dad would be arriving in Mare Island in a day or so. He knew because he had arranged for supplies to meet the ship. So Captain Hine had one of his men go aboard in Mare Island (Vallejo) and tell Dad I was in San Francisco. There was no way I could get a message to him at sea as ships’ movements were strictly classified. The message was delivered to Dad as he was planning to make arrangements to fly East; he thought I was back in Newport. When the New Fielding hotel was informed that Dad was in town we were permitted to remain in the hotel until the ship completed her overhaul six weeks later. It was a great reunion and the highlight was our trip to Yosemite which in those days was completely unspoiled.

The return from San Francisco was another story. I was unable to reach Gene Tracy’s agent so I felt lucky to get aboard a train headed East. Rocky and I boarded a troop train which had a few cars for women and children. The service men were fed all during the day but the civilians had only one meal a day and that was dinner. It was usually about nine at night by the time we got into the dining car. As a result the mothers bought crackers and snacks wherever possible along the way. The children fought; the mothers were depressed at having to say good-bye to their husbands, not knowing when or if they would ever see them again and of course, some women were pregnant and ill. One woman spent all her time in her bunk, moaning, “Oh, I feel so nauseous.” Her ten year old son was a terror; he was the oldest and a bully. We called them “big and little nauseous.” One of the mothers finally had had enough of him. She grabbed him by the hair and marched him down the length of the car, nearly shaking his teeth out—no more trouble from that quarter.

While offloading, I was trying to make arrangements for a flight East. Someone got word to me that Mom was already on the West coast to meet me. I’ll never forget our race against the evening fog to get down to San Francisco. Leaving Vallejo, the fog was beginning to cover the mountains as it rolled in from the sea and it would be a very short time before we had zero visibility. We made much more speed than permitted. Whitey Taylor, looking over the side as we were making twenty-seven knots remarked, “Dick, I don’t notice much wake, do you?” That was my cue so we made it to our berth, South of San Francisco before the fog rolled in. We had been gone fourteen months and didn’t want to wait in San Francisco Bay, of all places, for visibility to permit us to go alongside.

Our stay in San Francisco was forty-two days, then a five day Readiness for Sea and off we would go again. Time passed much too quickly. But we made the most of our time going to Yosemite as well as taking in all the night spots and restaurants. Solaris on Maiden Lane was one of our favorites, and there were good spots along the Embarcadero with seafood a specialty. Considerable work was accomplished by the shipyard, and most significantly was our conversion to a radar picket. Bennett was similarly configured giving the ship an ability to determine a plane’s altitude as well as the basic equipment for control of assigned aircraft, known as a CAP (Combat Air Patrol). With this capability we were assigned a fighter director team of three officers, two especially trained as controllers and the third in electronic maintenance.

Earlier in the course of my command of Hudson one of the nuns who knew my mother at her school, St. Mary of the Woods in Indiana, sent me a small plastic statue of the Blessed Virgin which she hoped would help us through the war. The statue was only about three inches tall. I showed it to the bridge force and found a little corner in the overhead of the Pilot House for it. In late October, when we entered Hunter’s Point for overhaul, I noticed that it was missing. However, after overhaul, when we left for San Diego and Shakedown Training and another deployment to the forward area, the statue was back where it belonged. One of the signal gang had taken it upon himself to keep it in a safe spot while the yard force were working on the ship.

The timing of our overhaul caused us to miss the invasion of the Philippines and the major fleet actions including Surigao Strait where Admiral Oldendorf and his old battleships defeated a large Jap surface force. At the end of our forty-second day there were literally hundreds of electrical leads connecting us to the pier and the inevitable clutter and debris related to any yard period. It was almost necessary to cut ourselves away; though there was still work to be done, the war was on and we could stay only the time allotted, no more. One by one each ship wound up its overhaul and headed for shakedown training in San Diego under the Fleet Training Command and specifically the Underway Training Group headed by Captain Rodger Simpson, a real tyrant. Simpson inspected each ship as it arrived from overhaul. The trip from San Francisco to San Diego at sixteen knots takes about a day. Simpson and his staff would be waiting to come aboard just at the time the ship entered the harbor and moored to her assigned buoy. I mentioned how busy our forty-two day overhaul had been and during the five day period we were readying ourselves for sea we still had shipyard workmen aboard, as some hadn’t completed their work. There was no time to clean the ship for the kind of inspection awaiting us. But we did the best we could and held a Field Day all day after clearing the Golden Gate; the signal force were working after midnight I well remember. We entered San Diego at eight in the morning and Simpson came aboard immediately, as expected. When he reached the bridge, he remarked, “What this place needs is a field day.” I could have punched him in the nose. But we came through this nightmare better than some of the others. He reached the quarterdeck of one ship and said, “I’ll be back when this ship is ready for inspection.”

By this time we had a new Commodore, Whitey Taylor having been relieved by Captain Joe Daniel, a great friend and as I later found out an avid fisherman. When all nine ships had completed their required San Diego training he gathered all the Captains together at the Cortez Hotel the night before we deployed. Daniel knew, I guess, we all were licking our wounds when he told us all, “Well, gentlemen, tomorrow we are going to take this bunch of junk across the ocean.” Our squadron was as good as any and he knew it too! The next day we all sailed for Pearl Harbor.

We stayed in Pearl Harbor until after Christmas, 1944. Part of the time we were employed as Gunnery School ship, conducting shore bombardment training at the range on Kahoolawe, a deserted uninhabited island not far from Maui. We would carry thirty odd young officers at a time for indoctrination in the control of naval gunfire in support of an amphibious operation. One amusing incident comes to mind when we once had such a spirited group of reservists with us. One evening we were all waiting to hear a “live radio broadcast” of a fireside chat by the President, Franklin D. Roosevelt. All preparations had been made to pipe the address throughout the ship over the public address system. At the time Hudson was carrying the Division Flag and our Commodore was one Fondville Love Tedder, whose southern accent you could cut with a knife. One of the young visiting officers was a master at imitating FDR and while we waiting for the President he preempted the loudspeaker system pretending he was the President. Most of the officers were in the wardroom when he began, “Fondville Love Tedder, on your feet.” The Division Commander stood up and this young reservist, imitating FDR went through the most amusing dialogue as he recognized Tedder for his service above and beyond the call of duty. It was a riot and poor Tedder had swallowed the whole act longer than expected. Antics such as these helped during the long months away from home. After Christmas in Honolulu we headed for Saipan to rehearse for the invasion of Iwo Jima in February 1945.

Iwo Jima is about four miles long and Mt. Suribachi is at the extreme southern end. About four hundred ships were assigned to the operation and the milling around off the island from midnight until H-hour was unbelievable. It was like Times Square and 42nd Street. Our squadron was operating under Captain Charles Buchanan and was assigned to conduct a shipping sweep. In doing so, our main concern was avoiding collision. I recall there were a few. The island was heavily fortified and honeycombed with tunnels and underground installations. Volcanic sand on the beaches made it extremely difficult for marine tanks to clear the beach and this created a traffic jam as succeeding waves landed in the same areas. Casualties were heavy. Hudson’s job was fire support for the Marines and radar picket duty since we were now a specially configured ship for controlling aircraft. We happened to be close to the island during the assault by the Marines up Mt. Suribachi; I’ll never forget the sight of the destroyer Twiggs commanded by our close friend George Philip, so close to the beach she was almost aground, so she could use her 40mm battery ahead of the Marines as they inched their way to the summit. Shortly afterwards it was with great pride I noticed our flag flying from the top for the first time. We paid a great price for Iwo; we needed it for its use as an alternate. landing site for planes (B-29s) which took off from Guam, Saipan, or Tinian for Japan, and couldn’t make it back without refueling.

The other assigned picket in the squadron was Bennett, commanded by Jasper Newton MacDonald, commonly known as “hose nose,” because of a prominent proboscis. Rocky used to say he could hang by his nose as he picked from the cherry tree. One night Hudson and Bennett were on picket stations, about sixty miles from the island, with assigned Combat Air Patrol only during daylight for interception of Jap planes enroute to the transport area and the many lucrative targets off the landing beaches. Most of the air action came at night from the large bombers—“Bettys.” One of these grazed the Bennett missing it by only a hundred feet or so; Jasper shot it down as it was heading on in towards the transport area; in fact, Jasper claimed the plane as his almost before it hit the water! What he hadn’t realized was the “Betty” had scored a torpedo hit on the Bennett in the forward hold; the torpedo did not explode. A couple of nights later Hudson and Bennett were in company and retiring with a number of heavies for night steaming, due to return at dawn to the transport area. Bennett reported over the voice circuit that her forward hold was flooded and she would have to return to port. The only damage was a perfect 18 inch hole which was not discovered during normal soundings because the ship happened to be at General Quarters when normal soundings were taken. Jasper sent me a nice message a few days later saying that Bennett was now taking regular soundings, even when the ship was a General Quarters!

Generally, there was a strong North wind which was a problem for heavy transports and cargo ships close to the beaches. Holding ground was poor and one morning I observed a large cargo ship dragging anchor along the long line of anchored amphibious ships downwind. She had no steam to her throttles so she drifted to leeward, helplessly at the mercy of the wind. Her bow served as a huge cleaver as it rose ten or fifteen feet then sliced whatever was underneath. She collided with a smaller cargo ship as I watched; it reminded me of a bread slicer as she cut one deep gash after another, staying in contact with her bow against the smaller ship’s tender side.

The main Assault on Iwo lasted only a few days until the island was relatively secure, but mopping up operations continued for some time. Hudson left with a convoy about a week after the landing in mid-February. Enroute to Saipan about seven in the morning, I noticed a B-29 at a very low altitude just ahead of our screen. I could see one engine stop after another and the plane glided down to land close to our formation on our projected track. Realizing it was in trouble we headed towards it before it hit the water, and were alongside within five minutes. Despite what looked like a smooth landing it must have been a very rough one for the crew. Of the twelve aboard, we picked up only eight. The pilot and copilot were in the nose which was severed from the fuselage; the nose was down under the water. Most of the survivors were badly cut. This was one of the older B-29s and not as well equipped as the newer models. The only one who came out unscathed was a young petty officer in the tail section. Curiously he had worked in the Boston Navy Yard on the Hudson when she was being built. One of the dead was an Army Air Force Major whom we transferred at Saipan.

It was not long after our return to Saipan that we moved to the Philippines, to San Pedro Bay off Leyte. Here Hudson rehearsed with many others for the last operation of the War in the Pacific, Okinawa. One of the attractions was a thatched officers club on the beach, and as all the rest was teeming with old friends at cocktail hour. This was the place to find everyone.

My crew was fond of animals. We had dogs from time to time and a huge rabbit, so heavy it couldn’t make it over the combing of the entrance to a watertight door, as well as others. While in the Philippines, someone brought a monkey aboard. Other ships had done the same thing and word of this reached the boss, the OTC (officer in tactical command) during our sortie from San Pedro Bay. A message from him to all ships directed that those with monkeys had to get rid of them immediately. We were not far from land at the time so at the appointed time we slowed while a small raft was lowered from the stern, with the monkey aboard. I often wondered if our monkey made it back to the beach. The crew had been careful to help.

Okinawa was another of Admiral Turner’s operations as Amphibious Commander. In this, Hudson was exclusively a radar picket. There were originally some nineteen and our stations were about sixty miles from a promontory on the western side of the island, serving as a reference point, and known as Point Bolo. Incoming raids were located in terms of range and bearing from this point. It is close to le Shima where the famous war correspondent, Ernie Pyle, was killed early in the campaign. D-Day was Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945 at Hagushi Beach, on the southwest coast. Immediately we realized that one of the main problems would be from Kamikaze aircraft. When we would be relieved from a picket station it was in order to fuel, provision or replenish ammunition; it was always most interesting to find out our next station assignment. There were two located to the North closer to Japan which were always most active. Our pickets took a beating, sixteen of the original nineteen being hit, as I remember, including Hudson. We were very lucky as our damage was insignificant. It happened about five one afternoon just after we had released our CAP in time to permit them to make it back to their base for the night. Generally the planes came from nearby carriers. A Jap bi-plane of the oldest and most antique variety was sighted visually about ten thousand yards to the North of our western picket station where we were patrolling. The ship was at General Quarters and almost on signal this plane attacked at the same time several other Pickets were also hit. The plane headed for our stern zigzagging as she approached. We opened fire at eight thousand yards with the five inch battery and with our 40mm and 20mm batteries when she was within range. The plane passed over the stern at an altitude of not more than fifty feet; our quadruple 40mm astern jammed because the case ejection chute became clogged. From that spot its crew could almost touch the Kamikaze. Round the stern she came heading for the bridge area, the pilot in plain sight. I’ll never know why we never hit with our three hundred and fifty odd rounds of five inch but we could see we were hitting with the machine guns. This may have caused the pilot to miss his aim for the bridge. He landed on the focs’le leaving an entire wing aboard as he careened over the side carrying away the lifelines and snaking, which is the crisscross webbing below designed to keep people from being swept overboard. The plane was evidently carrying a bomb as there was an explosion similar to a depth charge when it hit the water. As I looked over the side there was nothing left of it larger than a fifty cent piece. The “souvenir hunters” were soon out on deck cutting up the wing. I was given the center of the meatball, which is the red circular insignia of the rising sun, as well as an aluminum strut. The former you have no doubt noticed to the left of the fireplace at “Woodside,” on Fowler’s Mill Road. After this unnerving experience, I felt the officers and men needed something for relaxation. Word was passed that anyone wanting a drink could get one in the forward messing compartment. Liquor is not served on Navy ships but all ships carried medicinal whiskey which we dispensed in a very short time. Replacing it was very difficult, I should add.

Logistic support from oilers, stores ships and repair ships was provided from Kerama Retto, off-lying islands some thirty miles southwest of Okinawa. In addition there were floating drydocks, indispensable because of the heavy damage inflicted by the Kamikazes. There were waiting periods for as much as ninety days at times. Damages were unbelievable. I recall one destroyer with much of its superstructure carried away and down by the stern, the main deck aft only a foot above water. Hudson had one man badly hurt by the Kamikaze which hit, a Chief Petty Officer, in the eyes of the ship. He was nearly scalped, requiring about thirty stitches. We transferred him to a large minelayer, Terror by name, in Kerma Retto and he was again wounded by another plane as he was convalescing in Sick Bay. Many of the ships didn’t make it to port and their losses were considerable. Twiggs was one; its Captain was Margaret Taussig’s husband. It was through Margaret that Mom and I met. George had orders from his ship at the time he was lost. Pickets were being assigned in pairs for mutual protection. Sometimes even smaller ships, such as Landing Support types, would be stationed with the pickets..

While on a picket station West of Okinawa, the first week after the landing, Hudson had two small boys, LCSs with her. We called them Pall Bearers as I think their main function was to rescue survivors. I placed one five miles North and the other five miles South. About twelve-thirty at night “Morning Five,” the northern LSC reported a radar contact in her vicinity which she said she was investigating. There were supposed to be no friendly ships and none of our subs in our area. A short time later, she reported the contact as a surfaced submarine at fourteen hundred yards and she was going in to ram it. The sub must have been larger that the LCS! Another report from the LCS told us the sub had submerged. She was starting to search with her sound gear. Meantime we headed to her vicinity at twenty-five knots, and then had Morning Five stand clear so we could make a more effective sonar search. After a very few minutes on a retiring search curve a strong radar contact suddenly appeared in our SG (surface radar scope). I knew it had to be the sub yet we wanted to make sure it was not a friendly contact. With our identification equipment, IFF, we had a friendly indication. Apparently this came from a friendly plane on the same bearing but at a greater range. Checking again we were convinced the contact was enemy; we headed for it. Our trackers determined the course as 150° True and the speed eight knots. We were slightly abaft her beam at ten thousand yards. We headed for a position on the bow from which we could effectively fire our torpedoes before opening fire. Meantime we were in contact with an ASW plane who was apprised of the situation and our intentions. About the time we had reached our firing position, without any warning or permission, the ASW plane dropped a flare right in the middle of our area. In thirty seconds, the sub had again submerged, no longer on our radar. Our Combat Information Center (CIC) marked the spot where the sub was last seen and we headed for it at twenty-five knots. At two thousand yards we slowed to seventeen knots which is good speed for echo ranging. Within a few seconds we had a solid sonar contact; we stayed with it for over four hours. I was still in a jump suit, sleeping attire, long after daylight when we were still in contact. We kept the same sonar operator on the Sonar Stack for fear we might lose contact if we gave him a relief. Hudson carried a total of about sixty-five depth charges which we dropped in patterns, usually of eleven set for optimum depth. As we were running short, we decided to run directly over the sub and determine its exact depth using the fathometer; we did, and had three good indications, 240 feet. Charges were set accordingly and we resumed our attack. Though there was no wreckage or bodies we were sure we had badly damaged or sunk the sub. We make sixteen runs over the sub firing only on the best approaches. A friend of mine, Dr. Tom Walsh, from Lansdowne, sent me a book accounting and listing all Jap warships in World War II. It confirmed the loss of their sub, RO-49, at that location on the day we made our attacks. Hudson was credited with the sinking.

The constant tension and necessarily prolonged periods at General Quarters were hard on the crew. One of the interesting effects was the increased line at Sick Call. Just about everyone was run down for lack of sleep; common colds were prevalent. I made every effort not to go to General Quarters until Jap planes came within fifteen miles. To my surprise, however, I noticed that when General Quarters was sounded, the crew was already at their assigned stations—this was true for any hour of the day or night. Finally, I learned the secret. The steersman on the bridge had a rudder angle indicator next to the wheel; it is normally used for him to signal to steering the rudder desired when control has been shifted to steering aft. The indicator is graduated from zero to thirty degrees in five degree increments. Steering aft is located just aft of one of the large crews living compartments. There was a speaker on the bridge for aircraft warning information and this was heard by all hands on the bridge. Our steersman on the wheel hearing the report of an incoming raid would use his rudder angle indicator to signal to steering aft that we had a plane at so many miles from the ship, and this before General Quarters had been sounded. Steering Aft was continuously manned and the watch would pass the word forward to the crew sleeping in the adjacent living compartments. The crew apparently was more interested in earlier information than the additional sleep which I had in mind for them.

One day we were assigned a southern picket station with a CAP consisting of four Marine Corsairs (F4Us). These Marines weren’t adept at flying precisely in formation but they were spirited and ready for anything. Our air search radar picked up a raid of eleven Jap planes coming in from the southwest, apparently Formosa. Our controller vectored our CAP to intercept and they shot down eight before the raid reached our area. One of the CVEs, Sangamon, was passing nearby, about five thousand yards from us. The last three Japs continued to close and one by one came out of the clouds at about three thousand feet, trying to hit the carrier. The first two dove and missed by a short distance but the third made a perfect bullseye, diving right into the flight deck. Fire immediately erupted and the carrier was soon enveloped in smoke. We closed the carrier with our fire and rescue stations manned and went alongside using our hoses to try to help fight their fires. In doing so we got too close and had three fires aboard Hudson too. One was a fire in a floater net just aft of the bridge, another was amidships, and a third was caused by a jettisoned plane which landed between our depth charge racks from the carrier flight deck. Somehow we were able to get rid of the plane and extinguish the fires, however the carrier seemed to be in a slight turn and we were on the inside so we damaged our superstructure and lost the port wing of the bridge by hitting the carrier’s overhang. Three of the Sangamon crew were trapped in a compartment next to us and simply stepped aboard Hudson unscathed. We made three passes alongside and sent our doctor over to assist with their wounded. She had lost fifteen but a number of others needed treatment. Alongside, the exploding machine gun ammunition sounded like firecrackers. Sangamon was able to control her fires and clear the vicinity taking our doctor with her. It was some time before we got him back. Having lost our port wing on the bridge required our being taken off the picket line. Before leaving for our repairs in Guam, we went into Kerama Retto where Picking, commanded by CDR B. J. Semmes came alongside and took all our ammunition. Hudson then proceeded to Guam in company with Arkansas, one of our oldest battleships.

Guam was a welcome respite after thirty-four days on the picket line. Its ingenious repair facility fashioned a new wing for the bridge from a B-29. I know we must have been the only destroyer so configured, and they performed a beautiful job of face lifting. One Fritz Gleim, a legendary character, was in charge of the weird assortment of ships requiring repairs. While in Guam, I tried in vain to get permission from the Fleet Gunnery Officer, under Admiral Nimitz, to replace my ten torpedoes with machine guns. At this stage of the war torpedoes weren’t much help.

Guam has a fine harbor at Apra which our submarines were now using for refitting after their war patrols, instead of making the long trek back to Pearl Harbor. The entire ship’s company would leave the sub when she returned from patrol and another would supervise the overhaul while alongside a sub tender. The crew from patrol would move en mass to Camp Dealey, on the eastern side of the island, for rest and rehabilitation. Dealey had a number of Quonset huts at the water’s edge, and a great swimming hole inside the reefs, which had been made by using explosives. Officers and men had their own retreats and this wonderful change in living did a lot to keep our submariners from going to pieces. The destroyers, and we pickets in particular, didn’t have this type of facility but I was invited by some of my submariner friends for a memorable weekend at Camp Dealey. About eight of the submarines were about to make a deployment into the Yellow Sea, the first of its kind and one fraught with all kinds of hazards, so there were no holds barred.

In June of 1945, a severe typhoon hit one our Task Forces in the vicinity of the Philippines. Three destroyers were lost, all low on fuel and unable to replenish due to weather. They had deballasted all salt water from their tanks in order to refuel and were consequently in a top heavy condition. Unfortunately there was a very heavy loss of life. After this typhoon, a carrier came into Apra with excessive damage to her flight deck. The cruiser Pittsburgh also entered minus her bow. A tug had gone to sea and returned, towing the hundred odd feet of bow, which she referred to on the voice radio as a “suburb of Pittsburgh!”

Our periods in port were great opportunities to see old friends and listen to their sea stories. In Guam I ran into an old shipmate from my first ship, the cruiser Chester, named Shady Gober, the center gun captain of my turret and coxswain while I was his division officer. Shady in those Chester days never left the ship and never wore shoes, except for inspections; his toes were tattooed and he had a rooster tattooed on one heel; the rooster was supposed to be insurance against drowning. He was typical of the old timers the Navy had before the war. His uniform was always spotless and he wore his white hat, no baseball caps then, down on the level with his eye brows. I haven’t seen too many of his type in recent years, I’m sorry to say. Shady invited me to dinner in the tremendous CPO club which had about two hundred members of which he was the senior Chief Petty Officer. He gave me a few cats eyes he had found on the beach and we had a great time reminiscing. We had put an “Ell on my turret when Shady was cracking the whip on the center gun. While in Hawaii I think the choice comment attributed to Shady was that he wanted to go back to the States where a “lei was a lay”!

After repairs were completed in Guam we never returned to picket duty. Now it was mid-June of 1945 and we had control of the air. We made one trip to Eniwetok with Fullam, the squadron flagship, Commodore Joe Daniels embarked. Daniels loved to fish as much as I and it was interesting Hudson was usually assigned an anchorage berth next to the flagship. Very frequently, as soon as we anchored, Joe would head our way in his gig and pick me up for a fishing trip along one of the coral rimmed lagoons in the many deserted atolls we used during the war. One day he needed a hasp for securing the heavy wire leader to his line and I provided what he required, but mine was a bit old and rusty. However, he reluctantly used it, and then proceeded to hook a tremendous fish which he played for quite a while before he lost it. Imagine my chagrin when we found out that the hasp I had provided had given away. I could have crawled under the floor boards, I was so embarrassed.

It was in early July while in Ulithi, one of the largest atolls used by our Navy during the war, that Hudson went alongside an anchored oiler to refuel. While backing away, the communications messenger came running to me with a dispatch telling me of Pam’s early arrival. She was expected in about three weeks. I was amazed, continued backing and came within a short distance of hitting a ship astern. The boatswains mate of the watch, an old timer and “plankowner” was one of the best men aboard but not the most astute. When he digested the fact that the Captain had a brand new daughter the wheels began to grind as he was mentally counting the months back to our overhaul in San Francisco. He said, “Gee, Captain, you certainly didn’t waste any time, did you.”

Later in August, I was to be relieved by Ray Zoeller, in the Class of 1939. The squadron was in Eniwetok when he arrived. I had been out with Doug Syverson for a day in his submarine. While aboard we learned of the first atomic bomb being dropped on Hiroshima. I was relieved in August and flew back via Pearl Harbor to San Francisco. Meantime, the second bomb had been dropped on Nagasaki. Our plane was over San Francisco when we had the word t he Japanese had surrendered.

You have heard the stories of how wild San Francisco was on VJ day and I believe much of what you heard is true. I stayed at the Clift Hotel and called the Bureau of Personnel asking for my orders, which came in about a week. I was being ordered to the Naval Academy after thirty days leave. I then flew East from San Francisco.

Source: USS Hudson home page.