The O’Bannon was back on the West Coast for repairs by December and received the Presidential Unit Citation for the period of October 7th, 1942 to October 7th, 1943. The ship again sailed to the Pacific and was soon back in action at New Guinea. Much of the original crew remained aboard. Although not involved in as much action as earlier days, no one seemed to mind and the ship finally got to steam into Tokyo Bay with the other remaining destroyers of the Cactus Strike Group leading the USS Missouri. Our Captain, Commander Donald J. Macdonald was one of the most decorated officers in the navy and was eventually promoted to Rear Admiral.
Many of the O’Bannon’s officers and crew were transferred to other newly commissioned ships and facilities when the O’Bannon arrived on the West Coast. I was one of those transferred and after a month’s leave, returned to the Pacific as a Chief Radioman onboard an aircraft carrier. This duty differed so much from the destroyer duty that it seemed like I was serving in a different navy. I don’t think anyone ever heard me say that I longed for the good old destroyer days. The kind of excitement that one experiences on an aircraft carrier is quite different than those experienced on a destroyer, but that’s another story.
One of the many experiences that left a lasting impression on me occurred after the battle of November 15th. A few days after the battle, our ship tied up along side of one of the surviving destroyers and I had a chance to see first hand the effects of 14-inch shell hits. The holes were much larger than you might expect but there was not much damage as the shells went through the quarter inch aluminum top deck without exploding. They did clear everything in their paths, however. A pair of sound power phones dangled from a mount, their wearer having disappeared along with the 14 inch shell that struck there. No one was shedding any tears for their lost shipmates but a very respectful silence was being maintained throughout the ship.
A similar case is that of Admiral Callaghan and many of his staff where no bodies were ever found. In the case of Admiral Scott, no body was found either but an arm was found and on the finger was the Naval Academy class ring of the year 1911, the year Admiral Scott was graduated.