Sunday, October 05, 2008

View From The Bobolink

(This article reflects the memories of ChMM Jack Simpson & WT2/c Walter Conner, crew members of the USS BOBOLINK (ATO-131) together with various official navy logs & documents.)

The date was November 1, 1943. The place was approximately 60-miles up the “Slot” north of Guadalcanal where the USS BOBOLINK (ATO-131) was anchored in a small cove at Russell Island. Orders were received instructing the BOBOLINK to get underway and proceed up the “Slot” on a designated course and specific speed until receiving further orders. We passed Munda then Rendova and on north past Vella Lavella, where a few days earlier, we had pulled two bombed-out LSTs off the beach. The next main island, is held by the Japanese. As we made way toward Bouganville, we were suddenly being passed by destroyers on both sides.

One of the destroyers, using their directional loud speaker system (because of radio silence in effect) instructed us to lay-to and stand-by. To those of us on the BOBOLINK, sweeter words were never heard, because we were heading into Jap country.

The time now is approximately three hours past midnight November 2, 1943 and the destroyers that passed us had made contact with an enemy force and a melee ensued. The crew of the BOBOLINK were on their battle stations and those topside had a grandstand view of the battle. We had never witnessed such display of fire power, amplified by the darkness. While we could not tell how the battle was going, we continued to stand ready to respond to a call for assistance.

A Japanese Long Lance torpedo had exploded under the stern of the USS FOOTE (DD-511), taking the lives of 19 men and leaving 17 wounded.

For a period of time it was touch and go with shells and flares turning night into day around the FOOTE, but a friendly destroyer moved in and laid a smoke screen around the crippled ship and departed the scene, at flank speed, in pursuit of the enemy.

At dawn our task force came back over the horizon and the USS THATCHER (DD-514) passed a tow line to the FOOTE and began to move south at about 5-knots. About this time approximately 60 enemy planes appeared and two or three made a token pass at the FOOTE and THATCHER who opened up with a combined total of eight 5-inch and 6-40 MM guns. Their attack was half- hearted and they pulled up to join the other aircraft who went for the cruisers. The cruisers and screening destroyers drove off the attack without damage and after the Bogies cleared the area, a fleet tug, the USS SIOUX (AT-75) moved in alongside the FOOTE and took the tow from the THATCHER. This would free the THATCHER to maneuver and fire in the event of additional air attacks.

Since there were no other damaged American ships, the BOBOLINK was ordered to go ahead to Purvis Bay in the Florida Islands and stand-by to assist in handling the FOOTE when the tow entered port.

The SIOUX arrived at Purvis Bay with the FOOTE in tow mid-afternoon on November 4th. Together, the SIOUX and BOBOLINK moored the crippled FOOTE alongside the destroyer tender USS WHITNEY (AD-4). The FOOTE had no screws, no rudder and all the fantail 20-MM Guns and depth charge racks were gone. The five inch gun No. 5 was jammed in train.

Everything up to the base of the No. 5 gun mount was missing (Approx. 55-ft. of the stern) and the remainder of the ship was buckled like a “tin can”.

The destroyers USS O’BANNON (DD-450) and the USS SELFRIDGE (DD-357) were also in port along with two or three other destroyers with battle damage. The BOBOLINK would soon have a further relationship with the FOOTE and SELFRIDGE.

Twenty four days later, (November 28, 1943) after temporary repairs, the FOOTE got underway for Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides towed by the BOBOLINK and escorted by the SELFRIDGE. The SELFRIDGE had everything blown off forward of the bridge in a running battle with some Japanese destroyers. It must have been an odd sight with a old WW-II auxiliary tug towing the FOOTE with no stern and a crippled destroyer with no bow for an escort. But, it made sense to the navy, because the FOOTE had working sonar with her bow undamaged and the SELFREDGE had her depth charge racks and K-guns in case of a submarine contact. At least, that was the logic.

This pitiful convoy arrived in Espiritu Santos on November 31th for dry dock availability and FOOTE wasn’t sufficiently patch up for the trip to the States until January 20, 1944. The BOBOLINK was in port undergoing general maintenance and we were told if we could complete repairs in 48-hours we could accompany the FOOTE back to the States. We had spent almost a week taking things apart in the fire-room, sometimes deliberately misplacing some items. Most of our crew had been out there for about a year prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor and they were about as Asiatic as a crew could be and those that were not Asiatic were trying to recover from malaria. All hands turned to and helped make the BOBOLINK ready for sea. Even the Yoeman and Pharmacist Mate helped reline the boilers with fire-brick and 48-hours later we received clearance to get underway, with one boiler on line and all hands still feverishly working to make the old tug sea worthy. We did not want to be relieved and returned to port.

Before noon on January 21st the FOOTE cleared the harbor at Espiritu Santos assisted by yard tugs and by 1:40 P.M. was under tow by the old merchant tanker SS GULF STAR built in 1919 with the BOBOLINK

(ATO-131) in tow astern with 100 fathoms of towing cable. The BOBOLINK was to be the FOOTE’s rudder on the trip to the States. We moved along at a speed that varied from 3 to 6 knots until we ran into rough weather, the tail end of a typhoon, and snapped out tow cables. The FOOTE was adrift and she rolled around helpless for three days while attempts were made to re-establish the tow. In the heavy seas, the normal approaches by the BOBOLINK to reattach proved unsuccessful. Our skipper was Ensign Fulton Reed, one of the best tug captains in the Navy, decided he would have to put the BOBOLINK in the same trough with the FOOTE in order to pass a line. This he did, and one minute we would be looking at the bottom of the FOOTE and the next instant we would be looking down her smoke stacks. Once in the same trough (between waves), we started riding together and were able to get a couple of lines across. However, the going was too dangerous. We were in danger of being sunk by the FOOTE and had to use fire axes to cut ourselves free. I (Walter Conner) was Water Tender on duty and each time the FOOTE came in contact with us the Fire Room bulkheads seemed to flex six or eight inches. Being below deck on the BOBOLINK during this time was not a comfortable feeling. The BOBOLINK was taking a 56-degree roll at one time during the night. Shortly after dawn the next day the GULF STAR was able to take the FOOTE in tow and make way for Pago Pago, Tutvilla, American Samoa to await the arrival of new cable.

When new cable arrived we continued our journey on February 4, 1944 and after 43-days and approximately 8,000-miles the saga of the FOOTE ended at Terminal Island, San Pedro, California.

After giving docking assistance to the FOOTE, the BOBOLINK went to Long Beach for overhaul and refitting. Three months later we were on our way to Pearl Harbor where we would spend the remainder of the war towing target rafts and running anti-submarine patrol. Our toughest assignment during the war was the trip home with the FOOTE.
(Written by: Wilbur V. Rogers; cartoons by Gene Schnaubelt)

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Army Pigeon Lays Egg on Destroyer

The USS FOOTE (DD-511) was patrolling the entrance to Lingayen Gulf and it was a little over two months since I-Day (Invasion Day) of Luzon at Lingayen Gulf on January 9, 1945. Most of the invasion ships have gone back south - approximately 1,200 of all types.

During the night of March 12th the seas get pretty rough. The Quartermaster of the watch said they logged fifty knot winds. That would be about a Force-5 storm with moderate waves, becoming longer with white caps. By reveille on the 13th we wake up to a sea that is deceptively rough - not choppy - just long smooth swells that set these top-heavy tin cans rolling like an empty barrel, particularly at this 12-knot patrol speed. At breakfast the Mess Deck is a shambles.

Shortly after the 8 AM watch is relieved a pigeon landed on the port side splash shield of the bridge - that is strange since we are out of sight of any land. The bird appeared oblivious to all the activity on the bridge and showed no inclination to fly away. Captain Ramsay was intrigued by the bird and thought it was a good omen. The subject of what to feed the pigeon came up. Either Seaman John Kearns or Quartermaster Bill Patsos told the captain that Radioman Frank Nelson was a pigeon expert - he raised carrier pigeons before the war. The word was passed for Frank to report to the bridge. Frank walked directly up to the bird and picked it up - he knew exactly how to place his thumb and forefinger around the birds legs that was normal, comfortable and familiar to him or her. There was a U.S. Army band on the pigeon’s leg and it was obvious this was not the first time it had been handled.

Speculation on the bridge was the pigeon was blown off course by the foul weather and found itself at sea - became tired - the FOOTE was the nearest solid place to land. The question of the bird’s sex was discussed and since Frank was the expert the captain asked him and Frank said it really wasn’t easy to tell but he thought it was a “cock”. Someone immediately named him Paddy. Frank crushed some dried peas and corn for feed and provided a bowl of water. It appeared the bird had found a home and never ventured from the ship’s bridge day or night. Frank lost considerable credibility when “Paddy” laid an egg on the bridge during her third night aboard. So much for our pigeon “expert”. Guess the name is now “Pattie”.

It was amazing how much refuge came out of that pigeon from the small amount it was fed and she was completely indiscriminate about where she made deposits. There was always an abundance of rags on the bridge available to all hands to police the area. The pigeon liked to perch on the captains chair on the port side of the bridge and anyone present would be ill advised to let a deposit remain on that chair too long. In reality, the pigeon wasn’t winning any popularity points with the bridge watch, but the captain liked that bird, so what could they do. The lookouts spent about as much time looking for pigeon deposits as they did looking for “bogies”.

Maybe the bird would turn out to be an asset after all. The next time Kamikazes threatened our illusions of immortality we could send Pattie up as a diversion and maybe cause some confusion.

Or if we are near land she could be sent up to retaliate on the Jap ground troops. This may give the clean-up crew on the bridge a little relief.

Pattie remained on the ship apparently with no desire to leave, but we have not had occasion to fire the guns since she reported aboard. We don’t know how she will react to combat.

On March 24th we are relieved of the patrol duty at the entrance of the gulf and steam into Lingayen anchorage and drop the hook. Part of the crew got Liberty ashore with two cans of green beer each - what a deal. Pattie didn’t go ashore. Four guys missed the last boat back to the ship and one “Asiatic” dope is reported to be bound south for Manila. It was a disaster. Captain Ramsay spent about four hours with the S.O.P.A. (Senior Officer Present Afloat) trying to explain the unexplainable crew conduct. He was not a happy sailor. No more liberty for the FOOTE crew at Lingayen - not a big loss.

We weigh anchor on March 26th and sail south for Subic Bay on the west coast of the Philippines just north of Bataan Peninsular. We stay at Subic Bay two days and on March 29th we are underway for Leyte - escorting the Amphibious Force Flagship, USS ROCKY MOUNT (AGC-3).
At mid-morning on March 31st we enter San Pedro Bay, Leyte Gulf, and tie up alongside the Destroyer Tender, USS WHITNEY (AD-4) for about thirty minutes availability.

When the lines were singled-up in preparation to leave the WHITNEY the captain asked where Pattie was. No one on the bridge knew. The captain gave the order to make the lines fast to WHITNEY again because the bird may have changed ships.

Probably one hundred crew members on the FOOTE and a like number on the WHITNEY were looking for Pattie. The search went on for about forty minutes with no luck. The WHITNEY is very busy and has ships waiting to get alongside. We cast off and head for our assigned anchorage.

There was a lot of speculation about what happened to Pattie. The two most popular was that the mid-watch in the Fire Room on the WHITNEY would be dining on squab this night or while the bridge crew was occupied getting alongside the WHITNEY and since we were near land, Pattie simply took her leave and flew away - unnoticed. I subscribe to the latter.

If any of you have access to a FOOTE Cruise Book you will find a picture of Pattie and Frank Nelson on Page 66, second photo down on the right side.
(Written by: Wilbur V. Rogers; Cartoons by: Gene Schnaubelt)

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Freddie John Falgout

It was August 21, 1937, Raceland, Louisiana native Freddie John Falgout’s 21st birthday. Daily newspapers across America featured Falgout’s name and sometimes his photograph, prominently on their front pages. Falgout, a Seaman First Class on the Cruiser USS AUGUSTA (CA-31), had been killed the day before in Shanghai, China when an anti-aircraft shell fell on the deck where he was sitting. Shrapnel from the shell also injured 17 or 18 other sailors, but none critically.

Falgout’s death aboard the AUGUSTA was the top story on the New York Times front page; his photograph and a picture of the AUGUSTA was featured on the third page.

The United States was not at war, but the AUGUSTA had ventured up the Whangpoo River to Shanghai to help in evacuation of American citizens. Their lives were threatened by escalating battles between defending Chinese forces and the invading Japanese army for control of the internationally important city.

Despite Falgout’s death and the other injuries, the AUGUSTA did not return fire, a New York Times story said, “because the officers were unable to determine whether (the shell) came from an airplane or from Chinese batteries nearby.”

Three American civilians had already died in Shinghai fighting, but Falgout was the first United States military casualty. And, since the Sino-Japanese War raged on for four more years until the attack on Pearl Harbor finally drew this country into World War II, historians acknowledge that Raceland’s Freddie John Falgout was technically the first U.S. military death in what became to be known as WW-II.

Even after it was determined that the fatal shell came from a Japanese anti-aircraft gun, the New York Times reported that President Franklin D. Roosevelt regarded Falgout’s death as “an unfortunate accident, which would not alter the determination of the government to keep the guards and warships in and near Shangai, at least for the present.”

Back in Louisiana, the August 21, 1937 New Orleans Times Picayune front page featured Falgout’s photograph in his Navy uniform, along with a picture of his father, two brothers and two sisters and a photograph of the family’s farm home. An accompanying story was written by Meigs O. Frost.

“Through this town of some 500 souls, on Bayou Lafourche, today, swept like prairie-fire in a dry autumn day the news ‘Fred Falgout, he got shot and killed at Shanghai over in China.”

In October, Falgout was buried with full military honors with an estimated 10,000 people from surrounding parishes attending the funeral. Later the Raceland Veterans of Foreign Wars post was named in his honor.

In the years since, the significance of Falgout’s death has slipped into obscurity, until recently, when Raceland accountant and American Legion officer Murphy Pitre discovered that Falgout’s fiancée, the former Louise St. Germaine, was still living, having married and raised a family in Napoleonville, Louisiana. Pitre and others from the American Legion, supported by the Raceland VFW post that bears Falgout’s name, led a drive to memorialize his death with a monument to be placed at the Lafourche Tourist Information Center on U.S. Highway 90 at Raceland.

Among the stories of Falgout’s death Pitre has collected is an eyewitness account by the dental officer on the AUGUSTA which was published in the October 1978 Sea Combat Magazine. Then Commander C. W. Schantz was interviewed by a writer for the magazine.

“If you haven’t heard it, and many haven’t,” Schantz said, “it is a good story to know.”

“On board the AUGUSTA, discipline and routine set the pace and although the ship and crew stood ready to meet any emergency, the patter of shipboard life was otherwise normal…..”

“The morning of 20 August was typical…At 0520 (5:20 a.m.) two Japanese shells landed fifty yards astern of the AUGUSTA. It was my thought then, my conviction now, that the Japanese, in many instances deliberately practiced ‘near misses’ on all foreign ships in the river.”

“At 1710 (5:10 p.m.) that afternoon, we spotted British troops erecting sandbag barricades on the shore. Two Japanese seaplanes hovered overhead. It seemed to us they were interested in us.”

“Shortly after evening chow, the crew began assembling on the well deck. An open-air movie had been scheduled, epilogue to a day of strenuous duty. Laughter and good-natured ribbing was the order of the evening as enlisted men scrambled for places from which to view the silver screen.”

“There was a sudden, nerve shocking, out-of-nowhere intrusion! A blinding flash! A rush of air! Screams - a low moan!”

“The intrusion was a one-pounder shrapnel shell landing and bursting in the midst of the gathering. Seventeen men were injured. As the smoke cleared, Freddie J. Falgout, S1/c, of Raceland, Louisiana, rose from the bench on which he had been setting. Slowly, as though in a trance, he began walking. Twelve steps. With each step blood spurted from a hole in his heart. He was dead as he walked – the first American blue-jacket to meet death by Japanese gunfire in their current war of world conquest.”

“A catapult silo shielded me from the blast that killed Falgout. A few inches one was or another and the first casualty of World War II, as in World War I, might well have been a dental officer.”

“On the following day, with a grim, tight-lipped crew in attendance, I marked off the stained deck area where Falgout died. With hot silver alloy, the shell-burst scar was preserved, a burning memorial to an American boy, a prophetic forerunner of mass murder to come.”

“The die was cast then in Falgout’s menorial; it was just a matter of time.”

Schantz was clearly unaware of the news accounts of the Shanghai incident; unaware that Freddie John Falgout’s August 20 death aboard the AUGUSTA had been August 21 front-page news across the nation.

“As a news story,” he said, “the death of Falgout was buried in the back pages. Our Navy had an important job to do – the Japanese were ‘so sorry,’ but disclaimed liability for the ‘accident.’ It was a tough ‘accident’ to prove, but not a man aboard the ship accepted the explanation.”

(By: Billy Ellzey)


Chief Radioman Charles Zobie was one of the “old salts” aboard the destroyer USS FOOTE (DD-511). He joined the Navy on November 11, 1934 and had a fantastic memory for places, events and people. His recollections were legendary and sounded like “who’s who” in the Navy. Zobie believed “a story untold is a story lost forever.”

After radio school, Zobie boarded the ammunition ship, USS NITRO (AE-2) for transportation from the east coast, through the Panama Canal, to the west coast for assignment to the flag on the Cruiser USS LOUISVILLE (CA-28). After Pacific fleet maneuvers in 1936 he crossed the equator for the first time when the LOUISVILLE was en-route to Peru for liberty and recreation.

He was then transferred to the Asiatic Fleet for duty with the flag on the Cruiser USS AUGUSTA (CA-31) - CinCAF (Commander in Chief Asiatic Fleet). While on AUGUSTA, they made a trip to Vladivostok, Russia, then down to Tsingtoo, North China at the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war.

The AUGUSTA steamed into Shanghai on “Bloody Friday”, August 13, 1937 to help in the evacuation of American citizens. They were accidentally bombed by three Chinese (friendly) bombers, but sustained no damage from the near misses. The AUGUSTA stayed at Shangai for five months during the struggle between the Chinese and Japanese for the city.

It was on August 20, 1937 that shrapnel from an anti-aircraft shell fired by the Japanese fell on the deck of the AUGUSTA killing Freddie J. Falgout, S1/c , Raceland, Louisiana and wounding seventeen other sailors, none critically. So, Freddie was the first member of the U.S. military killed by the Japanese before the declaration of WW-II and I had just had my twelfth birthday and was in the sixth grade.

Zobie was on the controlling radio circuit when the River Gunboat USS PANAY (PR-5) was bombed and sunk by Japanese aircraft, on December 12, 1937, in the Yangtze River and copied her last message before she went down. He was then transferred to Manila for a couple of months shore duty with the flag and it was there he got his orders for duty at the American Embassy in Chungking, China. He traveled across country from Hong Kong to Hangkow by train and from there to Chungking by gunboat.

Zobie and two other radiomen installed and operated the original radio station at the American Embassy in Chungking. He spent nineteen months there during which he experienced sixty-three Japanese bombing raids, eight in one week. The American Ambassador gave Zobie a commendation countersigned by Secretary State, Cordell Hull and Acting Secretary of the Navy, Edison. In addition, when he was transferred back to the states, he received a commendation from Admiral Yarnell, Commander in Chief of the Asaitic Fleet.

The Next ship assignment for Zobie was the USS FOOTE (DD-511), a new Fletcher Class Destroyer. He reported aboard as Chief Radioman in Boston, Massachusetts on December 22, 1942, the day the FOOTE was placed in commission, as one of the oldest crew members and remained on her until she returned to the states after WW-II.

Knowing I was from Louisiana, Chief Zobie told me the story of Freddie J. Falgout’s end at the Cincinnati, Ohio reunion of the FOOTE crew in 1988.

He wondered about the return of Freddie and I promised to look into it since Raceland wasn’t far from Baton Rouge.

After I returned to Baton Rouge, I went to Thibodaux, Louisiana a town on Bayou Lafourche about 15-miles upstream of Raceland and visited the local newspaper. Searching their archives I found their story covering Freddie. Then I went to Raceland and asked a few questions and found out that one of his two sister still lived there. I visited with her, but she was not well, so I didn’t stay long. I visited the cemetery and found Freddie’s above ground vault. As far south in Louisiana as Raceland is most internments are in vaults above ground, due to the water table.

I understand that a monument to honor Freddie was placed at the Tourist Information Center on U.S. Highway 90 at Raceland and dedicated on a bright, hot day in August 2001. Chief Charlie Zobie passed away on December 12, 1991 shortly after the USS FOOTE had their annual reunion in Denver, Colorado.

So, this is the rest of the story.

(Written by: Wilbur V. Rogers)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Saga of Joe Burt

William O. Foss, who was Chief Yeoman in the USS FOOTE (DD-511), recalled this story to me 16-years ago. I had heard some details of the incident from people who were involved, but not in this detail and by the main author of the event. I will tell the story as “Willie” Foss told it to me. The Executive Officer on the FOOTE at the time was Lieutenant Max S. Schmidling, USN, a mustang from Minisink Hills, PA. He was a very capable, tough officer, but fair. Here is the story as remembered by Willie:

I liked Max. When I was up for advancement from Second Class to First Class Yeoman, he called me up to his stateroom and said, “Foss, I don’t know whether to make you First Class Yeoman or bust you to Third Class.” “Sir?”, I replied, looking puzzled at the grinning Exec. Then he said, “I know all about the Joe Burt charade.”

The Joe Burt story is about the sailor who wasn’t. If you haven’t heard it or don’t recall it, I’ll try to recap some of the unsavory facts. There are a lot of players in the story, including an Engineering Officer whose name I have forgotten; there were cohorts Frank Forte, Hub Finger, John Gallagher, Gene Schnaubelt, Bill Stone and other shady shipmates I can’t remember.

The FOOTE was in Boston and the Executive Officer, Lt. Max Schmidling, told Chief Yeoman Joe Agnes that the crew would get three days leave - port and starboard sections - and since the Shore Patrol would not accept liberty cards for three day passes, the Yeoman force had to write leave papers for all hands (Approximately 300 sailors). Chief Agnes decided that he was in the first section, so he wrote his own leave papers, had the Exec. sign them and told me I was in charge - then he left the ship. Well, it was a mad scramble. We got the leave papers made out, signed by the Exec. and took them to the O.O.D. (Officer of the Day) and crew members picked them up on the Quarter Deck and beat it ashore post haste.

By supper time most of the first section had gone ashore; those who remained fed their faces first or was still waiting for me to turn out their leave papers. The ship’s office, as you recall, was a regular hang-out for all sorts of characters - few of them Yeomen. Among those lolling around were the Fire Controlmen from across the passageway. I made the brilliant statement that the Exec. Was signing anything I put in front of him without looking at the document. We could give him phony leave papers and he would sign his approval.

Hear! Hear! Instant approval came from the fun lovers and egged on by their enthusiasm, I like the fool I was, set in motion the necessary paperwork. We came up with the name Joe Burt - made him a Fireman First Class - assigned him to the proper division - used a leave address at some shady Main Street number in Norfolk, VA - made up a service record with phony finger prints (real, but from ten different fingers from ten different FOOTE sailors), and so on and so on-----

I placed the bogus leave papers amongst other legitimate leave papers to be signed by the Exec. and sure enough, he signed everything and wished me a nice evening. Phew! Back at the Yeoman’s office, glee exploded from my cohorts. The O.O.D. called out the names on the Quarter Deck and somehow, Joe Burt got his leave papers and left the ship a happy sailor.

Now comes flashbacks - - as the third day of the leave was up, we received a telegram from Burt asking for an extension of his leave. The Exec. told me to grant the extension and I concocted the necessary papers, which he signed and I promptly put in the “burn basket”.

By the way, the Engineering Officer who was in on the charade, accounted for Burt being on leave at every muster. He knew, of course, that Burt was the sailor that wasn’t.

Ship routine goes on. The leave period is over and the ship sails for training off the chilly coast of Maine. As always, some sailors are AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) - Burt was one of them.

It was so cold and the seas so rough off the coast of Maine it was impossible to have any meaningful training exercises for this green as grass crew - saltwater spray covered the ship in ice. Rough weather caused us to leave some sailors ashore on liberty in Casco Bay unable to get back to the ship heading south for gunnery practice and other training out of warmer Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Stranded sailors in Maine are told to hitch a ride on anything headed for Guantanamo.

At morning muster Chiefs dutifully list absentees - Burt among them.

When ships began bringing FOOTE stragglers back to the old (DD-511), our beloved Burt is not among them. After being absent for 30-days, Burt is declared a deserter and an Official Deserter Warrant is issued. I prepare the proper documents, the Exec. signs them and I place them in the “burn basket” for destruction, making sure office copies remain on file. I am sweating as I realize how foolish I was - this thing is getting out of control. All sort of things began to run through my mind - falsifying Navy records, Naval prison Portsmouth, etc.

Life goes on - fade to my original mention of Joe Burt.

I did get my promotion, but always felt I was living dangerously. Well, what do you know? One day, many months later, somewhere in the Pacific, now Lieutenant Commander Schmidling shows up in the ship’s office, grinning from ear to ear. He said, “Well, Foss, your friend Joe Burt finally showed up.” Then he shows me an edition of TIME magazine that contained a short item about Lieutenant Junior Grade Joe Burt. Our bogus sailor had come alive and was a real Naval aviator, having shot down a number of Jap planes (My mind was racing - I don’t recall the details - I’m in shock). All I can think is I’m glad I put that Arrest Warrant in the “burn basket”.

Maybe at the next FOOTE reunion you can check some of the other “sources” and get their version of the Joe Burt saga. Looking back, it was a lot of fun.

Written by Wilbur V. Rogers as recounted in 1992 by William O. Foss, Chief Yeoman, USS FOOTE (DD-511).

Friday, November 30, 2007

USS William D.Porter (DD-579)

There are many stories from WW-II that have not been told and some out there have gotten limited circulation by order, neglect or lack of detail to do the story justice. The story about the ill-fated USS WILLIAM D. PORTER (DD-579) is one of those. Kit Bonner, Naval Historian, researched and wrote this story in the mid-nineties about the Willie Dee.

From November, 1943 until her bizarre loss in June 1945 the American Destroyer USS WILLIAM D. PORTER (DD-579) was often met with the clever greeting, “Don’t shoot, we’re Republicans!” when she entered port or joined other naval ships. The significance of this expression was almost a cult secret of the United States Navy until the story resurfaced and received publicity after a ship’s reunion in 1958.

Almost 64-years ago, the “Willie Dee”, as the WILLIAM D. PORTER was nicknamed, accidentally fired a live torpedo at the Battleship USS IOWA (BB-61) during a practice exercise on November 14, 1943. If this wasn’t bad enough, the IOWA was carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Secretary of State Cordell Hull and all of the country’s highest WW-II military brass to the “Big Three” conference in Cairo and Tehran. President Roosevelt was to meet Stalin of the Soviet Union and Churchill of Great Britain and had the PORTER’S successfully launched torpedo struck the IOWA at the aiming point, the last 64-years of world history might have been quite different. Fortunately, the PORTER’S warning allowed the IOWA to evade the speeding torpedo and historic events carried on as we know them.

The PORTER was one of 175 war built assembly-line Fletcher Class Destroyers. Although much smaller than modern-day destroyers, they were powerful and menacing in their day. They mounted a Main Battery of five dual-purpose 5-inch 38-caliber guns and an assortment of 20-MM and 40-MM anti-aircraft guns, but their main armament consisted of ten 21-inch torpedoes that carried 500-pound warheads.

The PORTER was placed in commission on July 6, 1943 under the command of Lieutenant Commander Wilfred A. Walter, a man on the Navy’s career fast track. In the months before she was assigned to accompany the IOWA across the Atlantic in November 1943, the PORTER’S crew learned their trades, but not without experiencing certain mishaps that set the stage for the “big goof”.

The mishaps began in earnest with the order to escort the pride of the fleet, the big new Battleship USS IOWA (BB-61), to North Africa. The night before it left Norfolk, Virginia the PORTER successfully demolished a nearby sister ship when she backed down the other ship’s side and, with her anchor, tore down railings, a life raft, the Captain’s Gig and various formerly valuable pieces of equipment. The “Willie Dee” suffered merely a slightly scratched anchor, but her career of mayhem and destruction had begun.

The next event occurred just 24-hourd later. The four-ship convoy, consisting of the IOWA and her secret passengers, the PORTER and two other destroyers, was under strict instruction to maintain complete radio silence, since they were going through a known U-boat feeding ground where speed and silence were the first defense. Suddenly, a tremendous explosion rocked the convoy and all the ships commenced anti-submarine maneuvers. The maneuvers continued until the PORTER sheepishly admitted that one of depth charges had fallen off the stern and detonated in the rough sea. The safety had not been set as instructed. Captain Walter’s fast track career was fast becoming sidetracked.

Shortly after this incident a freak wave in the heavy seas inundated the PORTER, stripping everything that wasn’t lashed down and washing a man overboard who was never found. Next the Engine Room lost power from one of its boilers. During all these events Captain Walter had to make reports almost hourly to the IOWA on the “Willie Dee’s” difficulties. At this point, it would have been merciful for the Force Commander to detach the hard luck ship and send her back to Norfolk.

But. This didn’t happen. The morning of November 14, 1943 dawned with moderate seas and pleasant weather. The IOWA and her escorts were just east of Bermuda when the President and his guest wanted to see how the big ship would defend herself against an air attack, so the IOWA launched a number of weather balloons to use as anti-aircraft targets. Seeing more than 100 guns shooting at the balloons was exciting and the President was duly proud of his Navy. Just as proud as the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Ernest J. King, large in size and by demeanor, a true monarch of the seas. Disagreeing with him meant the end of a Naval career. Up to this time no one knew what firing a torpedo at him would mean.

Over on the “Willie Dee” Captain Walter watched the display with admiration and envy - thinking about career redemption and breaking the hard luck spell. He sent his impatient crew to battle stations and they began to shoot down the balloons that, missed by the IOWA, had drifted into the PORTER’S vicinity.

Down on the torpedo mounts the PORTER crew watched, waited and prepared to take practice shots at the big battleship, which, even at 6,000-yards, seemed to blot out the horizon. Torpedoman Lawton Dawson and Tony Fazio were among those responsible for the torpedoes and for ensuring that the primers (small explosive charges that launched the torpedoes) were installed during actual combat and removed during practice. Dawson, unfortunately, forgot to remove the primer from Torpedo Tube Number Three.

Up on the bridge a new Torpedo Officer ordered the simulated firing and commanded, “Fire One”, “Fire Two” and finally “Fire Three”. There was no “Fire Four”. The sequence was interrupted by a whoooosssshhhh----the unmistakable sound made by a successfully armed and launched torpedo.

Lieutenant H. Seward Lewis, who witnessed the entire event, later described what hell would look like if it ever broke loose. Just after he saw the torpedo hit the water on its way to the IOWA, where some of the most prominent figures in world history stood, he innocently asked Captain Walter, “Did you give permission to fire a torpedo”?

Captain Walter uttered something akin to, “Hell, no. I, I, I, iii, aaa, iiiii ---- what???? Not exactly in keeping with some other Naval quotes, like John Paul Jones’s, “I have not yet begun to fight”, or even Civil War era Rear Admiral David Glasgow Farragut’s, “Damn the torpedoes----full speed ahead!” although the latter would have been appropriate.

The next five minutes aboard the “Willie Dee” were pandemonium. Everyone raced around shouting conflicting instructions and attempting to warn IOWA of imminent danger. First, a flashing light attempted a warning about the torpedo, but indicated the wrong direction. Next, the PORTER signaled that she was going in reverse at full speed.

Despite the strictly enforced radio silence, it was finally decided to notify the IOWA by TBS (Transmission Between Ships). The radio operator on the PORTER yelled, “Lion, (code word for the IOWA) Lion, come right -- Lion, come right!” The IOWA operator, more concerned about improper radio procedure, requested that the offending operator identify himself first. Finally, the message was received and the IOWA began turning to avoid the speeding torpedo.

Meantime, on the IOWA’S bridge word of the torpedo firing had reached President Roosevelt. He only wanted to see the torpedo and asked that his wheelchair be moved to the railing. The IOWA began evasive maneuvers and trained all guns on the PORTER. There was some thought that the PORTER was part of an assassination plot. Within moments of the warning a thunderous explosion occurred behind the IOWA. The torpedo had been detonated by the wash kicked up by the battleship’s increased speed. The crisis was over and so were some careers. Captain Walter’s final utterance to the IOWA was in response to a question about the origin of the torpedo. His answer was a weak, “We did it”. Shortly thereafter, the new state-of-the-art destroyer, her ambitious Captain and seemingly fumbling crew were placed under arrest and sent to Bermuda for trial. It was the first time in the history of the United States Navy that an entire ship and her crew had been arrested. The PORTER was surrounded by Marines when it docked in Bermuda and was held there for several days as the closed-session inquiry attempted to find out what happened.

The outcome was delayed a couple of days until Torpedoman Dawson finally confessed to having inadvertently left the primer in the Number Three Torpedo Tube, which caused the launch. Just after the torpedo left its tube Dawson had thrown the primer case over the side to conceal his mistake. The truth was eventually pried out of him and the inquiry drew to a close. The whole incident was chalked up to an incredible set of circumstances and placed under a cloak of secrecy.

That is not to say the Navy took no action. Captain Walter and several PORTER officers and sailors eventually found themselves in obscure shore assignments and Dawson was sentenced to 14-years at hard labor. President Roosevelt intervened, however, and asked that no punishment be meted out as the near disaster had been an accident.

The PORTER next found herself in the upper Aleutians on patrol. It was probably thought that the Aleutians was as safe a place as any for the destroyer and those around her. But, before being reassigned to another area in the Pacific, she accidentally lobbed a 5-inch shell into the front yard of the local American Base Commandant.

When the PORTER later joined other ships off Okinawa the destroyer did distinguish herself by shooting down a variety of Japanese aircraft and, reportedly, three American planes. She was generally greeted by, “Don’t shoot, we’re Republicans” and the crew of the “Willie Dee” had become accustomed to the ribbing. However, the crew members of a sister ship, the USS LUCE (DD-522), were not so polite in their greeting after the PORTER accidentally riddled her side and superstructure with gunfire.

On June 10, 1945 the hard luck ship met her end. A Japanese “VAL”, constructed almost entirely of wood and canvas, slipped through her defenses. As it had very little metal surface the plane was not unlike our present-day stealth planes. It did not register on radar. A fully loaded Kamikaze, the plane headed for a ship near the PORTER, but at the last moment, veered away and crashed alongside the unlucky PORTER. There was a sigh of relief as the plane sank out of sight without exploding. Unfortunately, it then blew up underneath the destroyer and opened up the ship’s hull in the worse possible location.

Three hours later the last man, the Captain, jumped to the safety of a rescue vessel, leaving the ship that almost changed the face of the world and national politics to slip stern first into 2,500-feet of water. Miraculously, not a single soul was lost in the sinking. It was almost as if the ship that had been so unlucky chose to let her crew live. The saga of the USS WILLIAM D. PORTER (DD-579) was over.

Ever so often the crew of the hapless “Willie Dee” gather in reunion and remember their ill-fated ship. They remember the good times, and now, some 64-years later, the notorious torpedo incident elicits amusement rather the heart-wrenching embarrassment it caused in November 1943.

(Thanks to Kit Bonner, Naval Historian)

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Home Sweet Home (September 1945)

I had spent some time getting my seabag supplied with just enough clothes to comply with the Navy uniform of the day requirements because I hope to retire this “monkey suit” in the near future.

The latter part of August was spent in endless mornings assemblies on the parade grinder at Farragut for muster and presentation of awards, but the afternoons were usually free. I made one liberty to Spokane - really, nothing there and it was a waste of time.

Finally, I got my leave orders and the clock started running on my thirty days plus eight days travel time on September 2nd (VJ-Day). I had to go back to Spokane, Washington from Farragut, Idaho to catch the Great Northern Railway to Chicago, Illinois. Going back to Spokane was the wrong direction to go home, but fortunately it was only a two hour bus ride.

At the train station in Spokane, I was able to purchase a ticket all the way home with only two train changes. The Great Northern would take me across Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota down to Chicago; then a change to the Missouri Pacific south to Little Rock, Arkansas and finally, the Rock Island (one day coach plus a mail/freight car - the “Doodle Bug” ) to Jonesboro, Louisiana (Home).

My 78-year old father met me at the train station and we walked the length of Main Street with him stopping in front of every store and announcing to clerks and customers alike, “you’ll come see - my baby is home.” In five minutes time I was reduced from a returning salty combat veteran to my father’s baby. Only today (at age 82-years) do I look back and realize how profound that was. I was the first and the youngest of four boys in the family to come home from the service. By the time we got to the west end of Main Street, to catch the Mill Bus home, everyone in town knew I was back.

It didn’t take me long to learn that Ona Vee was still in town - most of the girls her age had gone to the city - Shreveport or Monroe - to work, so I called her and made a date. We had known each other all our lives - she sat behind me in the first grade and we had dated occasionally over the years. On one of our earliest dates in grade school I pumped her to a birthday party on my bicycle.

I hadn’t been home very long before I decided I needed a little more time to cultivate my relationship with Onnie. My leave orders directed me to report back to the Navy Receiving Station in Seattle, Washington at the conclusion of my thirty day leave plus eight days travel time. So, I sent a telegram to the Seattle Receiving Station requesting a ten day extension. A few days later I got a telegram granting my request.

That forty days at home definitely set the tone for the rest of my life. By the end of my leave Onnie and I had made some firm plans for the future.

The government had announced a couple of programs for returning service personnel . One program provided for a government payment of $20 a week for 52 weeks as a transitional payment until the veteran found employment. It immediately got the name of “The 52/20 Club”. I wasn’t interested in that, but there was a program called the “G.I. Bill of Rights” that financed a college education and paid you $75 a month living expenses if you were single, $90 if you were married and $120 a month for a married couple with a child. Now, this was something I was interested in - it would fit very nicely into my plans for the future. All I have to do now is get out of this man’s Navy.

My leave time ended far too soon and it was time for me to start the journey to Seattle, Washington. So, on October 16th I boarded the afternoon train going north out of Jonesboro and essentially reversed my route home from Spokane, Washington, except on this trip I would end up in Seattle, Washington at the Navy Receiving Station.

On the trip west through North Dakota we ran into some heavy snow and pretty cold weather, but we would make it to Seattle on time.

I reported in at the Navy Receiving Station with barely five hours to spare - cutting it pretty close. I really had no duties except to check the “draft board” every day to see what they had planned for me next. I had enough “points” (Length of service plus overseas service.) to get out or they could discharge me based on my “minority enlistment” (Enlisted at 17-years of age with parental consent.) or worst nightmare, they could keep me until I was 21-years old under the terms of the “minority enlistment”. Surely the Navy wouldn’t do that - I think they will discharge me based on my “points” or convenience of the government. Whatever, lets get moving.

I had a brother stationed in Seattle as Flight Operation Officer assigned to the 13th Naval District, so I was able to spend some time with he and his wife at their home. Not bad duty, but I had other plans. I was advised that the Navy V-12 Program had been terminated and I would be placed in line for release from the Naval Service.

On November 17th I received orders to report to the Naval Training and Discharge Center, Shoemaker, California - about 700-miles south, just a short bus ride east of Oakland, California. I don’t know why the Navy couldn’t have let me stay home when I was on leave and just mail me a discharge - that would be too simple - we have to do it the Navy way.

It was cold and misting rain when I arrived at Shoemaker. This place must have been built in a lake they drained - there were elevated board walkways between buildings and the “head” was located in a separate building accommodating several 50-man barracks. Each barracks had an oil-burning furnace in the middle of the building - if your double deck bunk was close to the furnace you were uncomfortably hot and if it was very far away you had to sleep clothed to keep from freezing. It was a miserable place - a light, cold rain seemed to fall all the time. The idea was to get your name on a draft going to your home Naval District for separation from the service. Until your name appeared on a draft you were generally free to go on liberty into Oakland or San Francisco, but you needed to be back every morning to check the draft board.

We were well into December before my name appeared on a transportation draft to New Orleans. Once your name appears on a draft, there was no more leaving the base, you got up at 5:00 AM every morning for breakfast and reported to the “Draft Shed” at 7:00 AM with all your gear ready to travel. The “Draft Shed” was a large covered area with no sides, but a nice warm glassed-in office in the center manned by some very obnoxious Navy “lifers”. You stood or sat in a very crowded (Usually about 500 sailors with their seabags.) condition under the “Draft Shed” and froze while you waited for your draft number to be called over the public address system. If you were lucky, and your draft number was called, you boarded a waiting bus to start your journey - you waited until about noon and if your number wasn’t called, you were released until the next morning when the protocol was repeated.

This went on for about ten days - I’m not going to leave the Navy with happy memories. But, finally, that day came when they called my draft number and I boarded that nice warm bus and headed for the train station.

Our train was a troop train that surely saw its glory days during World War One. There was a mail car with sliding side doors that had been hastily converted to a rolling galley. At meal time the occupants of one passenger car at a time was allowed to go back to the galley car and get their meal and bring it back to their seat to eat. A receptacle was positioned at the end of each passenger car to collect anything that was left over plus the disposable serving box.

We traveled south to Los Angeles and then on the Southern Pacific tracks to New Orleans. Apparently the train had the lowest priority, because it seemed to sit on a side track about half the time. But, the weather was warmer and we were going home.

After six days on this torture train we arrived in New Orleans on the day after Christmas and went through another physical and some lectures on benefits. Finally, I got my discharge on December 28th and caught a bus for the 250-mile ride to the north central part of the state and home. Now, to begin the remainder of my life.

Louisiana Tech was on a trimester schedule and a new session would begin in April. If I could get all the paperwork done that was required by the Veterans Administration G.I. Bill I would enter their School of Engineering.
(Written by: Wilbur V. Rogers)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

From Panama to New York (October 1945)

The FOOTE got underway at 1100 on October 8th in accordance with orders of ComPanSeaFron (Commander Panama Sea Frontier) and entered Miraflores Locks at 1251 - departed Miraflores Locks at 1330. We dropped the anchor at 1650 in the anchorage basin waiting for the Gatun Locks to be cleared by the ships ahead. The Foote weighed anchor and entered Gatun Locks at 1920 - cleared Gatun Locks at 2017 and proceeded to Berth 1-B, Coco Solito and moored port side to USS CONVERSE (DD-509) at 2117.

The Panama Canal Zone cuts across the narrowest section of the Central American Isthmus. The Zone was created in 1903 by a treaty signed between Panama and the United States. According to this treaty, the Zone remains Panamanian soil, but the United States holds, in perpetuity, the use of and the right to act as sovereign within the 10-mile wide and 50-mile long strip of land. The original price paid to Panama was $10-million plus a yearly rental. Thirty-six thousand United States citizens live in the Zone, which has a population of 45,000. The Canal Zone is administered by a Governor who is appointed by the Secretary of the Army. The Governor is directly responsible for Zone affairs to the U.S. President. The Governor is traditionally an officer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - the Corps originally supervised the digging of the Canal.

The FOOTE crew has one more hurdle before returning to the States safely - that is liberty in Panama. We received on board an additional 27 passengers from the 15th Naval District for transportation to New York.

On October 10th there was a news report that an incredible 110-year old edition of the New York Daily Mirror newspaper of 1835 has been found with an anonymous editorial predicting that gunpowder eventually will become obsolete and a powerful new destructive force will be developed capable of killing a million people in an hour. Other predictions include stratosphere flying in pressurized cabins, a huge bridge will be built across the Hudson River and New York City’s population will be over 10-million, all by the year 2000. CBS announced today they had achieved a television miracle. They told the FCC that they sent a color television signal from the Chrysler Building across town to the CBS Building. They said the color was bright and the picture clear. CBS expects to publicly demonstrate color television next year.

Men’s wool and camel-hair top coats are selling for $48.25 at Macy and men’s Oxford shirts at Franklin Simon’s are $2.50.

In accordance with CinClant (Commander in Chief Atlantic) Dispatch 022039 Task Force and Task Group designations of this force are changed to Task Force 62 and Task Group 62.1 at midnight of October 11, 1945. Forget all the paper work, let’s go home.

The FOOTE got underway at 0528 on October 12th in accordance with CTF-62 Dispatch 110432, as a unit of Task Group 62.1 in company with Task Force 62 en route from Coco Solo, Canal Zone to New York City, via the Windward Passage - the last leg of a voyage that started a half world away. At 1445 the USS RANGER (CV-4) and USS MISSISSIPPI (BB-41) left the formation to proceed to New Orleans, Louisiana for Navy Day celebration.

The Task Force is steaming across the Gulf of Mexico on a course that will generously clear the Florida Keys and put us in the Atlantic Ocean. The first night underway in the Gulf of Mexico the Task Force sailed under low patches of clouds, a moderate sea and after about 2000, a bright moon diffusing its light through the clouds.

The crew’s feelings and actions covered the full range of emotions - they were trying to adjust to the thoughts and dreams of the future. First, they must adjust to the fact that they really have a future and it’s not just a dream, but reality - a life to live in peace, with wives, families and friends. There is a lot to think about and the thoughts are all beautiful and deeply satisfying.
With the moonlight, we could see the other ships in the formation slashing along - the water passing between us like a 16-knot river and to know our course was taking us home was nothing short of pure joy.

On October 13th the morning light and evening twilight are perfect, with the first magnitude stars bright points of light, each by itself very clear, blue-gray dusk, the horizon a clean, ruled line between sea and sky - during the night, as we pass the Florida keys, we find the Atlantic is calm and pleasant. We are able to pick up many stateside radio stations now without any difficulty.

We are steaming north with Grand Bahama abeam to starboard. At 1735 on October 14th the USS McKEE (DD-575), USS GRAYSON (DD-435), USS KENDRICK (DD-612) and USS MULLANY (DD-528) were detached from this Task Force and are proceeding to Charleston, South Carolina for Navy day.

Washington, D.C. announces that 4.75-million men will be out of the service by year’s end. It has been announced that secret railroad car, #140, that was used by President Roosevelt and then by President Truman, contained equipment for telephone calls anywhere in the United States and radio-teletype with unbreakable code transmission at 100 words per minute. Those transmissions could be sent around the world and they also had the capability to send and receive messages from ships at sea.

Admiral William F. “Bull” Halsey was standing on the bridge of the Battleship USS SOUTH DAKOTA (BB-57), as his Third Fleet steamed into San Francisco Bay today while over 100,000 people looked on and cheered. I hope San Francisco can survive the onslaught of sailors on their first Liberty in months - in some cases, years.

With the lifting of all priorities on airlines, all flights are booked solid. Delivery on surplus C-54’s by the Army will increase capacity from the DC-3’s 21-passengers to 44-passengers. When the Douglas DC-6 is delivered the capacity will be 52-passengers.

The incredible Byron Nelson continues his domination of golf by winning the $10,000 Seattle Open.

On October 15th the Task Force is steaming north at 16-knots and at 1346 Task Unit 62.1.4, composed of the USS IDAHO (BB-42), USS RICHMOND (CL-9), USS CHARLES AUSBURNE (DD-570), USS CLAXTON (DD-571), USS DYSON (DD-572) and USS CONVERSE (DD-509) left the formation en route to Norfolk, Virginia for Navy Day. At 1348, Task Unit 62.1.2, composed of USS NEW MEXICO (BB-40), USS NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55), USS CONCORD (CL-10), USS JOHN RODGERS (DD-574) and USS HARRISON (DD-573) left the formation en route to Boston, Massachusetts to observe Navy Day.

Task Force 62 is now composed of USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6), USS BATAAN (CVL-29), USS WASHINGTON (BB-56), USS PORTLAND (CA-33), USS ZELLARS (DD-777), USS YOUNG (DD-580), USS DOUGLAS H. FOX (DD-779), USS AULICK (DD-569), USS STERETT (DD-407), USS MURRAY (DD-576) and USS FOOTE (DD-511).

At 1610 on October 16th the USS WASHINGTON (BB-56) and USS MURRAY (DD-576) left the formation and proceeded to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for Navy Day observance. The remainder of Task Force 62 passed Barnegat Inlet Light at 0200 - bearing 267-Degrees True, distance approximately 22-miles. The FOOTE is steering various courses and speeds to take position in special column to enter port at New York. At 0315, execute signal to enter port - on station 500-yards astern of AULICK. Passed Navesink Light abeam to port at 0447, distance 10-miles. Passing between Buoys #17 and #18 at 0543 - Captain took the conn. Set the Anchor Detail at 0549. At 0628 the FOOTE anchored in New York Harbor off Tompkins in 9-fathoms of water with 25-fathoms of chain to the port anchor - awaiting orders to proceed. Weigh anchor and got underway at 0731 in accordance with verbal orders. Captain has the conn - Navigator on the bridge - using various courses and speeds through the channel. Passed Robin Light abeam to port - distance 1250-yards. Passed the STATUE of LIBERTY abeam to port - distance approximately 150-yards.

At 0841 the tug W. F. DAIZELL came alongside to starboard with the pilot. Pilot J. B. Doran came aboard and took the conn. At 0918 the FOOTE moored port side to Pier #42 New York City, New York. THE FOOTE IS HOME.

All enlisted passengers and ship’s company eligible for discharge were transferred ashore pursuant to ALNAV 252-45 (All Navy) directive. One hundred seventy-one enlisted personnel were transferred to the Receiving Station at Pier-92, New York City for further transfer to various Personnel Centers for discharge from the Naval Service. The process of making civilians out of these warriors began as former comrades scattered to all corners of the United States where they would change the fabric of society for generations to come. Some of the FOOTE’s officers, officer passengers and special rates left the ship with their individual orders.

The ship remained tied up to Pier #42, North River, New York City for the next week. Captain W. B. Moore, USN, relieved Captain H. H. McIlhenny, USN, as Commander of Destroyer Division 46 (DesDiv-46) on 20 October 1945. CONVERSE remains the flag ship.

The FOOTE cast off all lines and got underway at 1408 on October 26th in accordance with ComTHREE letter Serial DHQ-5, A71(45) of 15 October 1945 and proceeded to Anchorage #17, North River for Navy Day ceremonies.

Anchored in the North River, New York City on October 27th the FOOTE rendered a 21-gun salute to the President of the United States to celebrate Navy Day. President Truman was reviewing the fleet from the decks of the USS RENSHAW (DD-499). This would be the last time the guns of the USS FOOTE (DD-511) would be fired.

(USS FOOTE Deck Log, USS FOOTE War Diary and Gene Schnaubelt’s cartoon.)
(Written by: Wilbur V. Rogers)