We were pretty well beat after the submarine episode and were proceeding toward the landing area off the airfield on Guadalcanal, when we spied men on a small islet waving frantically to us. We lay to, launched a whaleboat and recovered a TBM crew who had ditched near the island after being shot up by a Japanese fighter. They had ditched near the islet, because they did not know whether Henderson Field was in our hand or the Japanese. They were in good shape except for severe sunburn on the tops of their feet!
While we were picking up the air crew we received a message from COMSOPAC (Adm. Halsey) to “Sweep Lengo Channel for Mines.” We immediately responded with “Submit we are a Minelayer, NOT a Minesweeper. Have no sweep ‘gear’.” After a short delay COMSOPAC responded with "Repeat, Sweep Lengo Channel for Mines.”
Our skipper Steve Tackney, ordered all hands (except the engineering watch) on deck, set speed at twenty knots, and we proceeded to transit Lengo Channel from the east to its end off Henderson Field.
Our newly-rescued air crew were not particularly overjoyed when they realized what was going on. On arrival off Henderson Field we sent a message to COMSOPAC “Have traversed Lengo Channel at twenty knots, encountered no mines, presume Lengo Channel clear.”
I told this story at our Tuesday Luncheon group some time back. Bill Simmons, who had been in O’Bannon at the time, looked at me in amazement. “Is that how we got the word that Lengo Channel was not mined?” he exclaimed.