I served on the Essex in March of
45 until the end of the war. After boot camp in Newport Rhode Island
I went to radio school in Bedford Springs, Pennsylvania. After that
I went to Memphis, Tennessee for naval air technical training and
then on to gunnery school in Hollywood, Florida.
I was assigned for training
in torpedo bombers at Jacksonville, Florida. Then I went to Quonset
Point, Rhode Island and joined Torpedo Squadron 13 for training to
be the first air group to board the USS Franklin. After the shakedown
cruise on the Franklin I was transferred to another squadron. Torpedo
Squadron 83, and eventually boarded the Essex in I think March 10,
1945. I made Aviation Radioman first class and flew missions until
the end of the war. As a matter of fact, on my last mission when we
were about forty-five miles from the target we were called back to
the ship and told the war had ended
I flew 25 missions. I remember
August 9, 1945. The day the bomb was dropped on Nagasaki. After a
bombing mission on Northern Honshu we developed a problem and had
to ditch at sea. We had a two man life raft and three of us. The pilot
was Lt. Dewey LeClair, the gunner Joe Fitzgerald, and myself.
We floated around for several hours
and then were picked up by the destroyer USS
Wedderburn DD684. Two or three days later we were transferred
back to the Essex and I flew some more missions until August 15.
During the combat period I was
awarded four Air Medals and the Distinguished Flying Cross. Of these
I am very proud. Many others did a great deal more than me, but I
like to think my little bit helped.
This photo was taken on Okinawa
after we landed on Yontan airfield for a briefing by field officers.
After the photo we took off and bombed Jap positions within 150 yards
of the American front line. After the bombing the troops
captured the enemy stronghold without losing a man.
In the photo John Eberhart is standing
next to me with his arm around my shoulder. The young man kneeling
in front on the right with the dark hair is a fellow named Bray. Just
before we left the carrier he was notified that his brother had been
killed in action.