SEA STORIES FROM OFFICERS & SAILORS
OF LCT GROUP 24
LEO CUMMINS - Skipper
"Here are some reminiscences:
. Shake down cruise of 939, December 1943.
. Shipped out before New Year's 1944.
. First LCT of Group 24 to New Guinea in February 1944.
. The 1st Officer was Beau (don't remember last name), officer on loan from Commander Wegert's pool. On one assignment, Beau stole the Navy base Captain's jeep and wanted to take it apart and store it in a hold aboard our ship.
. We installed machine guns on the bow of the 939 like the old LCTs under Wegert's command that we were working with. When Fred Ramin arrived, I was in trouble with him for installing the guns without approval by the Bureau of Ships. We removed them. Later Fred ordered all Group LCTs to install the guns but I held off for permission from BuShips. I was in trouble again!
. The crew had just washed down the deck and Fred Ramin arrived on a visit to the 939. He stepped on a fire nozzle and almost fell. Again, I was in trouble!
. I made the crew return the two movie projectors they found in the cargo we were moving. Word got to Fred Ramin about this and he instructed me to instruct a crew member to get a projector. I refused so Fred gave the order. Now, I am in trouble again! But Group 24 did have movies for entertainment from that time on."
JOE MARRON - Skipper (By your Editor from lovely note he received from Joe's wife Anne)
Joe is unable to answer your letter - he has been and is still ill with what we're not quite sure but the Doctors say we have every right to expect a full recovery. Joe is retired now after an active
and responsible career as the Chief of Veterinary Health for Los Angles County.
The Marron's hope that the crew appreciates all of the trouble Joe got into when he let them go 20 feet ashore to play basketball!
Anne met Joe on a blind date when Jim Young (Skipper of the 952) came home. Jim's wife was Anne's roommate in college. She arranged the blind date with Joe and one for Bill Dixon Skipper
RICHARD HUDELSON - Skipper
"Here are some reminiscences:
. The beautiful landlocked Hollandia harbor with its commodious anchorages, and the channel past native houses on pilings on the way to the beach at the foot of Sugar Loaf Hill.
. The coral reef at Noemfoor, and the technique of suddenly stopping engines to get over it.
. The swift current off Biak, making it hard to hold the beach, and the deep rock bottom in which an anchor could catch.
. The swollen body of a Japanese soldier floating off the beach at Biak.
. Underway in column to a distant invasion, with dirty clothes towed on line from the stern.
. The officer's poker games on convenient nights: the favorite dealer's choice was 'baseball'.
. The scenic solo voyage of the 940 counter-clockwise around Morotai.
. The welcomed first case of fresh meat (how obtained?) even if it was liver.
. Emanuelli's precious pints of 'medical' alcohol.
. The Group officer's day excursion to the Island of Japen for a rijstafel at the Dutch colonial governor's residence; a platoon of native patroller's goosestepping."
GARY CALDWELL - Electrician (Also on 942)
"With the help of an Olongapo Shore Patrolman (Subic Bay), a couple of the crew went up to Lingayen and somehow a CB jeep ended up on the 940. Within 24 hours it was painted blue with our "LCT 940" painted on it. We were the envy of lots of servicemen in Subic Bay until the Navy declared a gas shortage and called for the immediate return of all "unauthorized" vehicles."
"One interesting load the 940 picked up in Subic to haul to Manila Bay was a complete deckload of booze for the Navy Officer's club in Manila. The booze was piled 10 feet high and was guarded by five Marines. Not all of this cargo got to its destination even though all of the cases were unloaded, i.e., not all were full!
With some prying Clark Collison might just validate this caper."
EDITOR'S COMMENT: If Caldwell or Collison stood a watch hope it was as the 940 was leaving Subic and before their confiscation strategies were successfully put into effect!
JIM WALSH - Yeoman (Also on Staff)
"I will probably go down is history as the worst cook in LCT Group 24. Here is my story:
I came aboard LCT 941 as one of the replacements for the old crew which was sill aboard. As a S 2/c fresh out of boot camp where did I get placed? Of course, chipping paint! But, the cook Johnny, from Chattanooga Tennessee, was looking for help. I thought that sounded better than chipping paint so I became his "Can Opener Commando" and helped out in the galley. When Johnny left the 941 there was no one else aboard who wanted to cook so I got the post.
My food was so bad that the crew turned me into the skipper (I don't recall his name) that replaced O'Hara. But that skipper (or 2nd officer) was a super manager of people. He mustered a detail of the crew and myself at the food storage area in the hold below the crew's quarters. We took out every case of everything that was in that hold. Basically what we had was about 25 cases of spinach plus a few cases of figs - some day I'm going to ask Johnny why so much spinach, maybe Popeye was on board.
I kept trying to requisition food through Navy and found that the black market in Subic was so bad you couldn't get much food that way. But anyway, that officer (I sure would like to know his name) set it up with another LCT, when we unloading food supplies from a liberty ship, to feed the guard who was guarding the unloading operation on both LCTs. While that guard was being feed real good the officer and I "confiscated" about 25 cases of food in the pitch dark of night. It turned out to be fruit cocktail.
But that officer went to bat for us and got some better canned food for me to open. When an officer will assist his "so-called cook" in confiscating food in the night...he has to be ok.
But back to the crew's desire for a culinary artist. Whoever was in command of LCT Group 24 (LCDR Craig Fabian), was invited to come aboard and eat with us. He was probably trying to show our skipper that he could choke the food down with the best of them.
I remember the Group Commander as a jovial type man. He asked me if I intended to keep on cooking and, as I recall, I advised him that I was no cook, which was quite obvious, but since I had taken commercial courses, plus a few courses in a business college, I was ripe yeoman material. It wasn't long afterwards that he got me transferred onto his staff - about the time the process of closing down the LCTs started.
p.s. If you ever hear of who that commander of LCT Group 24 was at that time (probably January 1946) please thank him for me.
p.s.s. ....and, I am sure the 941 crew thanks him too! Maybe they did back in Subic in '46."
EDITOR'S COMMENT: The Group Commander was Craig Fabian and he promoted Jim Walsh to Yeoman 3/c on 15 February 1946. The Ship's Cook Jim Walsh is
referring to is Johnny Brooks.
"I do remember when Group 24 was being laid to rest. We enlisted chuckled out big when we noticed two distinct items that were missing from each LCT as it was being decommissioned - the ship's binoculars and 45 cal. sidearm pistol. We "believe" the officers got these items. But, I won't tell any inquisition about this chicanery.....nor about the many items we sent to the bottom rather than try to explain 'em."
"I don't know whether I was serving under O'Hara, or his replacement, when I saw the first taste of LCT justice given out. It occurred when two sailors got into a fight with paint brushes.
The script was just like as if you wanted to duplicate an Abbott and Costello "slap-in-the-face" routine.
The justice given out was really fair and got the skipper's position known. Each sailor was not allowed to clean his own self up.each had to clean up the other! I'm not real sure who the two sailors were but I think one was Lee Evans from Tennessee and I just can't recall who the other sailor was except he was tall."
HENRY WOHLTJEN - MOTOR MACHINIST
One day the 941 pulled alongside a tanker to take on diesel fuel but took on water instead.
Seems LCTs before the 941 had pulled alongside for water so the water line, instead of the diesel line, was fed to us. Discovery was made before engine damage but it was a messy job pumping out and getting inside the tanks to mop up every drop of water.
GARY CALDWELL - Electrician
I hesitate on offering the following sea story as I do not desire to name names, in the chance of embarrassing, but seeing the picture of the 942 in drydock. I will offer this story just in case some of my cohorts want to add to it some day.
"While in Leyte Gulf (Tacloben) the LCTs were used as ferry boats. One load the 942 took on was loaded with goodies for the PT Base at Manikani. A lot of this did not get unloaded at the PT Base.
Our #1 catch was a complete knocked down 220 volt AC 625 cu. foot walk-in freezer (Carrier). This found itself setup alongside the officer's quarters.
Hell, we had no 220V AC, but lo' and behold there in the load was a 220 volt AC generator powered by a jeep engine. This found a nest along-side the crew's quarters.
Well what do you know? An Eagle (Bendix type) washing machine capable of washing 60 pounds of dry clothes was in the cargo too. This was set up against the head.
Gollee', we spotted that ice cream maker with a freezing compart-ment and storage cans to hold 64 gallons of ice cream. This ended up next to the galley.
We left the generator and freezer exposed to the weather - and prying eyes. But to "secure" the washer and ice cream maker we somehow and somewhere obtained lumber to construct a house for the galley to the head and then topped it off with blue canvas.
Yes, we ended up swapping foods with other "Ts", and also gas to run the generator."
EDITOR'S QUESTION: What was left to unload at the PT base?
HAROLD FOOTE - Ships's Cook (Also on 949 and 952)
Special remembrances: * Not necessarily on 942 could have been on the 949 or 952
. Those lemon meetings, does anyone else remember? These had nothing to do with Ensign Elgin Lemon.
. Gary (Caldwell) that was the last heaving line available, which I had just finished making Ensign Lemon, saved you from receiving a big lip.
. Joe Lyons twirling the Skipper's pistol like John Wayne and then it went off! Everybody waited for someone to fall but fortunately the shot had gone between Lyon's legs. He returned the gun in silence.
* . The shipmate who use to dream of strangling someone.
* . One time we had 175 cases of beer and no water. It did not make good coffee.
* . Also, God rest his soul, one Exec was allergic to flour but he was good natured about it. It was tough finding something he could eat, mostly it was chili con carne.
* . The skipper that looked through coke bottles after he had thrown his binoculars overboard.
* . It was almost impossible to let any skipper or officer try to dock or tie up without very long heaving lines. Most of the officers did learn that the best handling came from inside the pilot house and let us do it.
EDITOR'S REBUTTAL: Hey, this guy is looking for trouble!
* . The LCT skipper who would yell across 'Hey Ace let's take a shit' and sure enough they would go into the double header and talk it out.
* . Speaking of 'Ace' there was the night we were underway on a long haul. A heavy squall came up and nothing could be seen. We were supposed to be in column but it had long been lost. The skipper ordered 'Stop all engines' and when all was silent he yells out 'Hey Ace where are you?'. The crew, in dead silence, took a couple of weird looks at each other but hesitated to question little from wonder boy. After several calls, out of the dark comes another LCT and crashes into our port side!
'Is that you Ace.' 'Yes' was the reply.
Next morning it took 8 hours to regroup LCTs. They were all over the horizon, with the exception of the 948 and a couple of other T's that traveled NNW in the day time but on some evasive course at night. The rest of us seemed to run, correct me if I am wrong, 10 days 300 NMI.
* . When in dry dock I was reprimanded for shadowing the bow numbers which stayed with the LCT because we had to leave the dry dock.
Interestingly, this artistic trend set in later. Now the U.S. Navy shadows all ship's numbers.
HERBERT BERNARD - Motor Machinist
These are reflections of some of the experiences that occurred aboard the LCT 943:
"Not many can claim that their LCT was mistaken for an airplane. We were going around one of the islands when we received a radio message from a female voice stating that we were coming in too low. After a second warning pleading with us to gain altitude, I picked up the mike and identified our craft. The radio was silent. No further communications were ever forthcoming concerning this incident."
EDITOR'S COMMENT: She was probably Tokyo Rose and got real scared when she learned that
you were an LCT.
"When we were in Hollandia, the 943 was one of the craft assigned to evacuate Army troops that were trapped by fire near and ammunition dump. I remember our men first laying hose down on the deck and then going in and getting the troops out. All were safely evacuated and soon after we were at a safe distance when the ammunition dump exploded, causing no injury to American Forces."
"Being bored with our diet of dehydrated potatoes, powdered eggs, span and vienna sausages, we has some Army personnel that obliged us by dropping a hand grenade overboard. That night we had a fresh fish dinner that was prepared by one of our crew - Bill Evans."
NOTE: For more on fish (and Bill Evans) see Sam Brown's second "sea story" on following page.
"Once we had a coral snake aboard and we got him (or was it her) off the 943 by lowering the ramp and then beating a sledge hammer on the deck. Somehow the snake didn't like all of this fuss and went A.W.O.L."
"The 943 transported, among other things, all types of vehicles, bombs and gasolines. Also involved were transporting Japanese prisoners and on one occasion some Javanese refugees."
SAM BROWN - Electrician (Also on 948)
"I was transferred to the 943 where I met my good friend Bill Evans. Every morning Bill would walk to the head with a bar of soap in one hand, a toothbrush in the other and his towel hung over his early morning stiff daddy."
"Bill invited me to a fishing party with some guys in the Army who ran the river boats (LCMs). We picked up a local group of natives from their village and motored out to the fishing grounds. The Army guy would toss out a grenade or some TNT and after the explosion the natives would dive down with a wire hoop, about as round as a basketball hoop, and would side the stunned fish onto the wire. When the hoop was full of fish the native diver would surface and toss us the hoop-full of fish and we would give him a new hoop to dive for another take."
EDITOR’S NOTE: The editor also remembers Bill Evans - but not for his early AM ritual - for his fishing parties with an Army LCM. One time I can remember going along and negotiating with the native village chief for some native divers and that we would split the fish between the natives and ourselves. We brought back enough fish to distribute and feed the entire Group! This was at Morotai and the fishing grounds that Sam Brown is referring to were some rather deep coral reefs located between the native island and Morotai itself.
Also at Morotai, Bos'n Evans taught this Ensign how to make wine from Australian dried currents. The newly learned skill was used to make some rather respectable dandelion wine in Maryland many years later.
KEITH MANARY - Skipper
"I was at Little Creek, Virginia, when the war ended, training with an amphibious group for the invasion of Japan. I recently obtained a booklet Top Secret, the story of the proposed invasion of Japan. If anyone doubts the invasion would have been difficult, they should read this terrifying account of what we would have encountered. The Japs had an ingenious system of defenses that defy the imagination!"
FRED HALKETT - 2nd/3rd Officer (Also on 943 and 949)
"Homer Abrams and I were sharing a watch one day underway. Homer and I often talked. But this day Homer asked me if I knew about how the USA was discriminating against the American Indian. I thought he was talking about the past and said so to him. He became very serious, teared and replied that prejudice and disparate treatment against the Indian still existed. It was then that this naive Ensign leaned that although Homer was required to serve his country in time of war, as we all were, he, unlike the rest of us and because he was an American Indian, was denied the right to vote.
I often have thought about Homer's statement and of its devastation to him. It brought back other incidences I had observed while in the Navy in WW II how the military discriminated against Jews and blacks. After the war and college, I saw the same thing happening in business and industry. In fact, as a personnel manager I implemented policies and recruitment/promotion actions that were in fact discriminatory against minorities and women. I am not proud of this part of my career.
But, I am grateful to have known Homer Abrams because he eventually did influence my direction. This came after I had read Bend My Heart on a Wounded Knee, which brought back a vivid recall of Homer's unnecessary pain, and when I had opportunities to redeem myself through equal employment opportunity programs, labor negotiations, training and in who I hired, recognized and promoted.
I only wish that Homer had lived so that I could tell him this story personally .... and of my personal satisfaction of having a part in and seeing integrated organizations compete and prosper."
SAM BROWN - Electrician (Also on 948)
"While in San Diego, taking the electrician's course, they let us know that if any of us did not study we would wind up in the Amphibious Forces. So, I broke my ass and studied as hard as I could and wound up with more than just a passing grade. I had visions of serving on the biggest and best battle wagons. But just like the Navy, I wound up on an LCT landing craft!
All I can say now is ... 'Thank you Navy' ... I met the warmest and nicest guys throughout all of LCT Group 24."
"Martin Murphy the cook, we decided to make some doughnuts. So, between Dutch Amstutz and myself, we made the dough and allowed time for it to rise and then we proceeded to roll the dough. But as we rolled out the dough it kept rolling back to us. At that point we had the guys hold the dough down while Dutch and I rolled it out. Then, we used a tin can to cut out the shape of the doughnuts. The center hole was no trick to make because in those days all crew members walked around with stiff daddies. We put the doughnuts in hot oil and waited to see them pop up to the top when done. Ours sank to the bottom and refused to come up!
So we tied a string to each doughnut and lowered them into the hot oil and then we pulled them out by the string when they were done. After putting sugar on them we ate them all up."
"One day, while passing canned goods from one LCT to another, a can of salmon hit me in the nose and set it at a crazy angle that I looked like a punch drunk prize fighter. So they sent me ashore to the base hospital. I came out with a huge bandage on my nose and was hitch hiking back to the jetty when a truck full of soldiers, just back from fighting in the mountains, stopped and gave me a lift. They pulled me up into the truck and gave me the best seat. Then they wanted to know how I got my 'war wound.' If I had told them the truth, that I got hit by a can of salmon, they would have booted me off the truck! So, I mumbled a few words and gestured some where out yonder. Fortunately by that time the truck arrived at the jetty so I hopped off, grateful for the ride but thankful that I wouldn't get anymore questions about my 'war wound' from those friendly but inquisitive soldiers."
"I was reassigned to the '48 when Frank Vincent was sent back to the states. One of my chores as an electrician was to run the evening movie. The other ships in our Group would constantly signal as they went by what the movie of the night was. My two favorite replies were:
.... 'Roy Rogers.' They would flash back - 'Roy Rogers in what?'
We would signal back - 'Roy Rogers in Who Shit is His Hat.'
.... 'Tonight it is a Shirley Temple film.' They would ask 'What's the name?'
Our answer was 'Shirley Temple in To Young to Come.'"
"So many memories keep coming back...Lonely nights on watch...Thoughts of home....Heartaches wanting to see and hold our dear ones...Wives left behind. But thank the Good Lord for those of us that came home safe and sound.. I am looking forward to the reunion."
ED DIVENY - Sigmalman
"The night raid in Biak, is similar to a night raid the 948 was in at Hollandia. The beach was well lighted and we were unloading heavy equipment, bulldozers, etc. I had just taken a blinker light message from the beachmaster's tower which was located aft of our port. I got about two feet from the well deck when I heard the noise. I dove to the deck, as I looked up I saw a soldier jump off the bulldozer leaving it on our downed ramp. Murphy and a couple of other crew members were on the ramp and they took cover on the beach. A soldier came and drove the dozer off so that we could leave the beach. I could see soldiers diving under the trucks for cover. The next day the soldiers said that the Japs dropped a couple in the water behind us as we left the beach."
"New Guinea excursion (non-combat): One day we took about 200 marines up a river and dropped them off near a village. After the marines went ashore we (948) got stuck on a sand bar because the tide had gone out. While waiting for the tide to come back we spent a few hours at the native village. There, all the women (young and old) were topless, except one well built girl who had a tee shirt on. The crew spent all the tide waiting time trying to get her to take the tee shirt off. No luck."
"Shortly after we arrived in Milne Bay, all officers, or most of them, came aboard the 948 to go across the bay to the officer's club. After a few hours at the club the officers returned feeling "no pain". They wanted to be enlisted men and one (other than Fred Ramin) wanted to be the Group Commander. Fred Ramin, the new Group Commander, took the conn while another officer became the signalman and had the blinker light flashing away. Two officers took over the wheel and the throttles. All commands from the conn to the wheelhouse were repeated with an emphatic "Sir!" at the end. After narrowly missing two liberty ships, we arrived at homebase. The ramp was not lowered all the way to the beach - it was about 2 feet above ground. Skipper Alteri, then at the bow, stated "Request permission to leave the ship Sir!" The acting Group Commander granted permission and Mr. Alteri saluted. He then made an about face and as he walked off the ramp disappeared from we observer's sight."
"I don't recall where we were but the 948 was alongside a liberty ship and the Army was transferring bombs from the ship to us. If you recall, the bombs had a couple of ropes attached to them and when they got close to the deck the soldiers would swing them to where they wanted the bombs to land and the bombs would be lowered to the deck. When the bombs made contact with the deck they made a loud banging sound. Just as one of our crew came out of the hatch a bomb, that was being unloaded, hit the deck. Our shipmate quickly reacted and covered both ears with his hands. A soldier told him that if one of the bombs goes off he would have to cover more than his "f...'n" ears."
"Again, I don't recall where we were but the air strip was close to the beach - after a while they all looked the same to me. It was a dawn Jap air raid, about six of their planes came in and strafed the liberty ships, including the one we (948) were alongside. While to attack was on our B-17s were coming in to land from their bombing mission. The armed guard crew aboard the liberty ship started to shoot at the landing B-17s. Skipper Jim Dougherty shouted to them to stop shooting at the B-17s. When they didn't he had our guns trained on the armed guard and told them to stop shooting or he would open fire on them. Then they stopped!"
"One afternoon at Hollandia, a report came in that Tokyo Rose had said in her latest radio report to the Hollandia GIs that the Japanese knew that LCT Group 24 was there and that they were coming in to get us. At dusk Group Commander Ramin took the Group out of the bay and had us loosen up and ready our guns. But the Japs didn't show up."
"At the Morotai invasion, after making our (948) drop, we proceeded to an LST that could not make the beach. She opened her bow and we dropped our ramp inside. They unloaded onto us and we took the cargo to the beach. Pictures were taken and a rumor circulated of a citation but none came."
EDITOR'S COMMENT: It was a National Geographic photographer who lost the citation for the 948. Seems he was a bit "gay" and reported that the LST and the LCT were sole kissing and copulating with the cargo.
JIM DOUGHERTY - Skipper
"My training crew never realized how sweet those Chesapeake oysters could be until one night while "invading" those oyster beds during night maneuvers. The fun came when we would console a poor fisherman by buying a bushel of oysters from him and then opening a 1/2 gallon of catsup...... and......"uhm".....indulging."
"I guess we were all questioned after the war about our experiences, i.e., 'Were you ever in fierce battle?' 'Did you get wounded and get the purple heart?', etc. With this I would show them the scar on my right calf where I was wounded at Noemfoor Island and gain their respect. Then "Honest Jim " would tell the truth - that he gashed his leg when he fell out of poorly prepared belly tank trying to ride a small wave!"
"As all the folks back home have told us - gas was short and rationed, butter unavailable, and corncobs in mode as markets never had any toilet paper. Just so happened on mail day as I appeared out of the hatch, the light being quite dim because the 948 was piled 12 feet high from bow to stern with cases of toilet paper. There was enough toilet paper to wipe every ass in the South Pacific. My wife's letter, that came that day, began with 'We're out of T.P. What a coincidence!"
"Credit the Ramin log for the date - December 23rd 1943 - the 948 was directed to sail to Pier 48A, San Francisco. The fog was so thick you could hardly see the bow from the con. But the courageous crew, and Skipper too, "believed" orders were orders so with an alert lookout on each bow we crept out of our slip at Mare Island and slipped out into Bay for a long foggy journey. We hoped that the other guy might have a fog horn and that we would miss any navigational pilings, etc. Finally got to Pier 48A and there were no collisions on the way. But, I often wonder if liberty in the big city, as an alternative to waiting until the fog lifted out of Mare Island, was the rationale that bolstered the crew's courage to get underway when we did.
p.s. Crew often complained to the Skipper that there were too many stallions and not enough mares in Mare Island."
DONALD "CHUBBY" MATROW - Motor Machinist
Taken from a Rochester, NY TV station's news report of LCT Group 24's reunion in Sodus Point, NY in August 1987:
STATION: Along with some of the tough times the vets said they always managed to have fun. One enlisted man recalled making his own version of moonshine when buying liquor at that time became too expensive. One day his concoction of coconut juice, raisins and dry yeast backfired in the kitchen.
MATROW: I left the cap tight on the bottle and Murphy one day while he was sitting there, he was our cook, while he was cooking, and the heat and everything, it (the bottle) blew up! Everyone was inside having their breakfast. Well, did you ever see a bunch of fellows try to all get out of a little 2x4 hatch together in your life?
FRED DEWALT - Quartermaster
"Sometime later in the war, I think in the Philippine Islands, found group 24 laying idle at anchor when Group Commander Ramin decided to pull a fleet maneuver. Our man on signal watch, an electrician's mate, didn't notice the flag hoist on the Flag LCT (948). I came on deck just in time to see all LCTs', except us, going out of the bay in formation.
We hurriedly started to weigh anchor and get underway when we discovered the anchor was fast on the coral. Relaying our predicament by radio to the Flag we were told to get underway immediately. In response to this direct order the 949 cut its anchor cable, after not a little effort, and then tried to catch up to the rest of the Group.
The code book was brought top side to decide the signals, if we ever got close enough to read them. Almost immediately a gust of wind blew it over the side!
All engines were stopped and a call for Motor Machinist Carl Lavo was made. Carl, a fine swimmer, dove overboard and luckily was able to retrieve said book and bring it to ship side. Clutching it to his breast, he looked up to Skipper Bob Stevens and said 'Skipper, am I off extra duty? He was pardoned on the spot - can't recall what it was Carl did or didn't do to get extra duty.
Proceeding again, we were ordered by radio to return to anchorage. This we did but our anchorless anchor cable dragging between our legs, so to speak.
Reflecting a bit, this may have been one of the reasons why, at a later date, Group Commander Ramin, who probably was frustrated and war weary, threatened to open fire on the 949 if it didn't make a more conscientious and serious effort to meet his 'war standards'."
"Aboard the U.S. Belasco, which was carrying the 948 and 949 and its officers and crews to New Guinea, seaman Bob Soderquist got 10 days on bread and water in the brig for some misbehaving.
But there wasn't a brig on the Belasco. LCT ingenuity came to the fore and Bob was closeted in the head of the stern section of the 948. Various enlisted personal stood guard by the make shift brig, 45 side arm and all, and kept Soderquist under constant surveil- lance when was permitted to relive himself in a Belasco head.
Funny thing though, I couldn't figure out then, or now, how Bob Soderquist put on 10 pounds while he was on a 10 day 'diet' of bread and water!"
TOM ROSSER – 4th Skipper/Exec.
"One Sunday morning I hitched a ride on a passing LCVP and went to church ashore at the Base in Subic Bay. I was wearing a pair of grays which I saved for special events. After church, with my hat folded up in my pocket, I became overcome with fantasies of what a great low hurdler I had been in school. I almost cleared the wooden picket fence which surrounded the church...actually I cleared it but my pants did not.
I was hiking back to the fleet landing to get a ride back to the 949 when a commander stops me to ask if that's the best uniform I possessed. He was not at all happy with my pants that were
torn wide open on the right side, from knee to hip, and flapping as I walked. But I thought he would be impressed when a produced a proper hat.
He wasn't and after a lot of constructive criticism the commander questioned the sanity of the captain who had dared to let me off his ship. Warming to that subject, he asked me what was my ship's name, who was the captain and what was his rank? The commander stood with his mouth wide open when I informed him that I was a LCT skipper!
Happily, the commander had heard about the great job the Group had done in and around Leyte and how primitive the living conditions were aboard an LCT. I added to his bewilderment by stating that things were so tough that we even had to scrounge bread from the LSTs which were beached nearby.
Obviously now empathetic, the commander said that I should go to the base bakery and use his name, if necessary, to get some rations!
The next week I took his advice but did not use his name. I didn't have to. There in charge was a jaygee who was one of my room mates in V-12 school. From then on the 949 was supplied with fresh bread and Jerry, my V-12 friend, got a cruise around the bay and numerous pictures of him in warlike poses with our small arms.
Happily, I never saw the commander again."
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Editor also remembers a commander who, while very drunk, threw him out of the officer's club one evening. Perhaps it was the same officer. and here is the story:
In the evenings we would go to the Olongapo Officer's club and buy a $2.00 book of 10 cent chits. In those days and place $0.10 would buy a can of beer or a drink of the hard stuff. All of us drank canned beer. When we had downed a can we would crush the empty by clasping our hands together and pushing the palms toward each other. But one officer, Willy (?), who played end for a Big Ten school, could crush a beer can with one hand.
When Willy got a load on he would become a silly drunk. This night he did and when he went to the head he proceeded to rip off all of the toilet seats. When your editor arrived on the scene and saw what Willy had just done he had no toilet seats to pull off to compete with Willy and to demonstrate his strength too. As an alternative he tried to punch a hole in the wall. But your editor's vicious left jab struck a sturdy stud instead!
In comes an unsober commander. He surveys the scene and asks Willy, if he was responsible for the damage and Willy says "No Sir!" Turning to your editor the commander asks - "How about you offisser?" and yours truly answers, while holding his sprained wrist and trying not to laugh - "Not I Sir!" It was then that this editor was proclaimed the guilty party and expelled from the club.
Sadly, and to this day, your editor is still held to blame.
"One day when we were beached over near NSD, I hitched a ride into the FPO and bumped into my MoMM Morrison who had gone ashore looking for some spare parts. On the way back Morrison suggested that we stop for a beer in an Olongapo bar. This sounded good to me. We were about through our second when three Coast Guardsmen took issue with my being there and added that they didn't think much of motor macs. As they sort of ambled over bad mouthing us, Morrison broke his beer bottle on the table, stood up, and reasoned so effectively with them that they acknowledged that it was time to leave. Two beers, or none, I was impressed with my motor mac!"
"Then, there was the "Jap suicide boat", as it was named by Williams. This was a skiff, 18 to 25 feet long, that the crew of the 949 rescued as it floated by gunNel down while we were anchored out in Subic Bay. It had a jeep engine in it.
Eventually the crew got the skiff bailed out and running. There was neither a reverse or neutral on the engine so the coxsun' had to not only gage exactly when to shut down the engine but to make a good approach. A lot of "coxsun's-to-be" gave us a lot of laughs when they were trying to bring the skiff alongside!
The shaft eventually broke and Morrison was able to trade the boat to some CBs for a new refrigerator for the galley."
RUSS SACK - Motor Machinist
"My brother Don was # 3 in the National Lottery for the Draft in 1939 and was in Australia when Pearl Harbor was attacked. Our mother was quite upset so I joined the Navy to find him. Later he was assigned to 41st Infantry Division which fought in New Guinea.
After LCT training with LCTs at Solomon's Island, Maryland I became part of the crew of the 949 and shipped out overseas with it on the David Belasco to Milne Bay, New Guinea. Shortly afterwards, starting at Hollandia, LCT Group 24 was attached to amphibious operations working with the 41st Infantry Division.
I saw my brother about 10 times. He came aboard the 949 several times, when Bill Dillon was skipper, and I stayed with him several times. In fact I went out on jungle patrol with my brother's Company "K", 186th Infantry."
FRED HALKETT – 3RD Skipper/ Exec./3rd Oficer (Also on 943 and 947)
"Tom Rosser's story about a Navy commander reminds me of when I first met Commander Ewald, who was in charge of the Navy's Supply Depot in Subic Bay, early one morning on the LCT jetty.
A few days before our meeting the 949 had picked up a load of wooden boxes that were to be unloaded and destined for the Navy Supply Depot. Several of the boxes were stenciled Magnavox Console Radio-Record players. Others seemed to indicate that the 949 had a hot cargo load aboard.
I was taking the day off to go over to the Recreation Base to play baseball. I left the 949 in charge of Exec Tom Rosser with explicit instructions to leave the cargo alone, i.e., no pilfering.
At that time I wanted to avoid any risks because I was getting close to going home. Also, with several flag-ranked Naval officers ashore, perhaps waiting for their console radio-record players, coupled with the fact that it was always harder to confiscate some cargo when it was being handled ashore by the Navy seemed a prudent course to take.
Upon returning aboard from my R&R I went to the galley for some chow. While eating I noticed that most of the crew and Tom Rosser were all in the crew's quarters. After eating my curiosity steered me into the crew's quarters....and guess what I found?
A beautiful mahogany Magnavox console radio-record player!
I called Tom Rosser out side and reminded him my earlier instruction. But it was to late to do anything because the crate was destroyed and the unloading crew had long before finished their work. Faced with this exigency, and more than a bit peeved, I got the 949 underway and when off the jetty instructed that the Magnavox be put down in a center hold and then it's two outboard holds flooded. Shortly afterwards, one of the crew came up to the con to advise me that the Magnavox would not fit down through the man-plate hole. I told him to unscrew the cabinet and store the radio in the hold piece by piece. A bit later he returned, with the saddest of looking faces, knowing what I would say, to advise me that the cabinet was glued together. Chop the cabinet up and throw it overboard I ordered - what, I guess, he had expected me to say.
Several days later the watch awakened me early because there was a full commander on the jetty who wanted to talk to the skipper. I rolled out of the sack and, dressed in olive drab Army under shorts and a baseball cap with my officer's insignia attached, climbed over the gunnel to see what the Commander wanted.
After introductions Comdr. Ewald stated that he had a report from one of his officers that I had refused to let him inspect the 949, after his crew had unloaded cargo from the 949. It appeared that some stainless steel cutlery was missing and his officer had surmised that the 949 may have confiscated it while the SPs were in the galley being fed - this was SOP by Ship's Cook Joe Zomnick whenever the 949 had a cargo-caper on!
When I advised the Commander that his information was true he wanted to know why. I proceeded to tell the tale of working 7 days a week 24 hours a day and being harassed by a accusations and/or allegations from every unloading organization (mostly the Army) from New Guinea, Biak, Noemfoor, Morotai and Leyte Gulf of thievery. All I did was to explain my position to his officer, i.e., that if he wanted to inspect the ship of another command he would have to do it according to Navy Regulations and obtain a "Provost Marshall's" order allowing him to inspect my ship.
Cmdr. Ewald was an alert listener and responded stating that I was doing a good job, that the Navy needed more officers like myself, and that the 949's crew had and was working hard! A "TVG" bygosh!
Relieved that the fear of confiscating a Magnavox console was over I allowed it to come out of storage - minus its cabinet-soundbox. We did enjoy better music though and continued to feast on Chef Zomnick's cuisine, but with our new stainless cutlery!
Later, I became Commander Ewald's First Lieutenant. This was at his supply depot after I decommissioned LCT 1037. A short-term duty assignment while I awaiting needed ‘points to be in the way back to the States. Comdr. Ewald even provided me with a very nice letter of recommendation when I left for home."
B E E R
"Several times, when there was tight security carrying a load of beer, we would use the center void and flooded outboards trick. It was always successful. For example, one Army 2nd LT, that I threw off the LCT when he alleged that we had stolen some beer, came back with a Provost Marshall's order that permitted he and his MPs to search the LCT. They did - from stem to stern including opening up the flooded outboard voids - but they could not find the 200 cases of beer. We enjoyed their frustration...and later the beer!
Also can remember the watch coming down to quarters on one beer load to say - 'Skipper, we won't be able to get any beer this load because they are stacking the cases evenly.'
My response was - 'Let's hope that they didn't count the rows and we will take one whole one.' It worked and we had more beer than we would have ordinarily taken had it been load aboard in the helter-skelter style our beer loads were before.
Then there was the night that Alvin Summers got caught stashing away some bottled beer into the star'bd heat exchanger void and had to "unload" his 20 cases back out. The cardboard cases got wet and Al "clumsily" dropped a few that enable him leave a few bottles for later. Summers would tie a string around his beer bottle's neck and lower it overboard to cool because the 949's refrig was real sick."
JOE SIMMONS - Electrician
"A day or so after reporting aboard the '49, 'the crew' invited me to partake in some of their refreshments. Seems they had recently acquired a 5 gal. can of medical alcohol and grapefruit juice. Being the young and naive person that I was, it seemed like a good idea. Some time later, I spent most of the night draped tummy down, topside over the anchor cable! Needless to say, my stomach was in bad shape both inside and out for some time. Still cannot look a grapefruit in the eye!"
EDITOR'S COMMENT: That was 180 proof "alkie" which, as the Skipper of the '49 at the time, I had forbidden the use of to both officers and crew.
I did allow beer to be consumed aboard. First after 1600, if no watch was on or coming up.
But then after finding a warm beer in the engine room coupled with the long wimping expression on "not-so-innocent" Reilly's face as well as being ever grateful for the good work all of the crew was putting out I allowed beer to be consumed any time after chores were done and no watch on or pending. And after all let's not forget that the 949 had just "acquired" an 8 cu. ft. refrig that was being used to keep a few cokes and about 3 cases of beer cold all of the time. AND THE WAR WAS OVER!
Yes, like the crew, I liked my beer too!
"Having just hit the sack about 5:00 AM after a 2400-0400 watch, at about 0600 or so GM Marcus determines it is time to 'test fire' the port 20mm mounted directly over the crew’s quarters! Did he ever do that with the starboard gun that was over ‘officer’s quarters?
EDITOR'S COMMENT: No. Ed Marcus didn't want to be court martialed!
"Along the same line, I have never been a late sleeper due to having been introduced to 'rise early' by Alvin Summers standing spread legged in the center of the Crew's Quarters shouting...'I'm up. Now you get up!"
"About the time we acquired the Magnavox, we also had the good fortune to come in possession of an amazing machine. We could pour one of Cook Zomnick's mysterious mixes in one end and lovely soft ice cream would flow from the other! I know the '49 was more deserving of this than any shore installation."
EDITOR'S COMMENT: Joe Zomnick went into industrial real estate. We all thought it would be a yogurt franchise.
JOHN WAAG - Motor Machinist
"My encounter with severe weather during one of our many convoys to a new invasion location, caused an unexpected attack of sea sickness which lasted several days. During this trip we experienced a blown piston on one of our main propulsion engines which caused the 949 to fall behind the rest of the crafts.
Orders from Group Commander Ramin were to expedite repairs and catch up as quickly as possible. Since I was responsible for the engine room, Skipper William Dillon requested the progress of repairs. When sea sickness occurs 'who cares!'
I informed Mr. Dillon that I quit the Navy and I no longer worked on engines.
After a lot of bantering about 'Can't quit...Can quit'...it was suggested I report to Group Commander Fred Ramin after arriving at our destination.
When Fred was informed of my encounter with sea sickness for several days he just smiled and suggested I return to duty. Good evidence, I'd say, of a compassionate Group Commander."
HAROLD FOOTE - Ship's Cook (Also on 942 and 952)
. Connors (Beaver) should recall Reilly, who bunked under him, was dreaming of being in dry dock and the LCT falling on him. With one last lunge Reilly bounced Beaver off the overhead onto the deck. After all the commotion Reilly said 'I suppose you'd let it fall on you' and politely went back to sleep.
. Our still was going good when during a landing the pilot house received a message from the Flag - 'Are you hit? Are you Hit?' It was the smoke from the still heating up the converted Jerry can that was making a lot of smoke. After a couple of smokey trips ashore, a Group Commander from the Flag comes aboard via small boat and strolls down the deck, leans over the stern bulkhead and with a spoon he had picked up catches some drops from our still, tastes it and said 'Not bad, not bad at all!' He then returned to the small boat and headed back to the Flag.
That was an exceptional guy!
The Court Martial
"Shortly after I had been transferred to the 949 we had to make a beaching for a New Guinea invasion Beachmaster. My station was at the cat walk. At the time of the beaching I said to the skipper 'if it were my ship I wouldn't bring in here' - the particular spot where the surf was heavy. I was politely told 'Who do you think is running this Ship?'
My grin, which has often gotten me in trouble, was not appreciated when the stern bulkhead, as well as the center engine room hatch, started to bend by the pounding of the surf. After much surf pounding the engine room became flooded and we had to be pulled off the beach.
Some one had to pay and we did. Basil Reilly, Harold Foote, another Motor Mac and an Electrician got axed. I lost my SC 3/c rating and got 10 days in the brig. Cant remember what the others got but I think Reilly was acquitted because he hadn't left the hatch ajar as had been alleged.
Upon returning to the States after the War I was told, from higher authority, that you could not have a court martial over seas. I wished then that I could have retained my rating and received back pay. But, being young and anxious and without any leave in three years, I parted the service honorably with no regrets and thankful to a great country and, as it happened, to Rose my bunk buddy since then.
MIKE ALTERI - Skipper
Two short stories from the Biak's Officer's club.
"From some place some one kept a goat at the club. And this goat became very found of peanuts and it wasn't to long before the goat became found of beer too. Needless to say, the goat would eat peanuts from your hand and drink beer from your bottle. Before long on every afternoon we had a drunken Billy Goat."
"At the Club one afternoon a Navy Captain was saying good byes to his friends before leaving to return to his home in the States. While the Captain was sitting under a palm tree, having drinks and engaging in light chatter with his buddies, a large coconut dropped off the tree and hit him right on top of his head and he died there at Biak."
EDITOR'S COMMENTS: Now we know why the Navy has an alcoholic rehabilitation program for the Naval Academy's mascot and why the Alteri's never serve peanuts at cocktail parties or sit under coconut trees.
Taken from a Rochester, NY TV station's news report of LCT Group 24's reunion in Sodus Point, NY in August 1987:
STATION: Alteri was the skipper of a landing craft that was part of one of the most famous images of World War II - General MacArthur's return to the Philippines.
ALTERI: We dropped the ramp on nice firm ground and a press officer - Eichleberger - came aboard and says 'the General wants to walk ashore in the water' - for the news reels. Then the aide ordered the ship (LCT 950) to back up so the General could splash his way into history.
STATION: Alteri is still bent.
ALTERI: The trick in getting anybody ashore is to get them on dry land and I thought I did a hell of a job. But he didn't like it because he wanted to wade ashore in the water. I think he walked on water...except it took us to get him there.
RUSS SACK - Motor Machinist (ALSO ON THE 949)
"I was the the' little old still maker of the Group...just ask Mike Alteri and Louis Menand!"
EDITOR'S COMMENT: Occasionally, while I was on the 949 and before Russ Sack was transferred to the 950, Russ would ask me to sample his latest still batch -usually some new charcoaling technique he was testing. 'Not bad' I would tell him and then waited for his departure to spit out what I could. For a long time afterwards, this experience convinced and made me determined to stick with beer.
Steve Frost informed me that he was on the con with Skipper Mike Alteri when Russ Sack was first reporting aboard the 950. Mike commented to Steve at the time - "Look Steve, our new Motor Mac is carry aboard his own tool box." It was only later when Mike (and Steve) found out that the only useful gear that was in Russ's tool box was for distilling purposes!
JACK WOOD - Coxswain
"We were anchored off shore after a busy day of unloading Liberty ships a few days following the invasion of Hollandia. Several of the fellows on the 950 as well as myself were playing catch on the deck. One of the guys threw the ball to me but I missed it and the ball sailed into the ocean. As most of you know, all we ever wore was those old green shorts that we "lifted" from the Army. Well with these "drawers" on I just jumped overboard to retrieve the ball. I thought I was a good young swimmer at that time. That was until I experienced that Hollandia tide. It was going out and was very swift. I tried to get back to our ship but is was impossible.
The tide was taking me away from the 950 our ship very rapidly.
I think it was Steve Frost or Earl Cupp, who were both signalman, rushed to the bridge and, fortunately for me, contacted a LCVP which was in the area. Thank goodness the coxswain was able to read the distress message because the LCVP picked me up and saved my poor little hinie."
"I don't remember where we were, but one time some one got a great idea that all of our ships needed to have the barnacles scraped off the bottoms. There was a dry dock where we were. I am sure that some one else remembers this because I don't believe I was the only one who was assigned to this type of "working party". Anyway, each morning when the LCVP picked me up from the 950 my shirt was stuffed with cans of beer. Needless to say I did very little work but drank a lot of beer!"
"Speaking of drinking beer, which I enjoyed very much, all ships in the Flotilla were always interested in what each other were unloading from the Liberty ships each day. This was because who ever was lucky enough to be unloading beer that day seemed to think, and rightly so, that there might be a hell of a beer drinking party going on.
Most of us would grab a CO2 fire extinguisher out of the engine room and smuggle it aboard the LCT that had unloaded the beer and hope the extinguisher would cool down the beer we could get our hands on."
"On the 950 I was noted to love to play poker, better than anyone in the world, which I did then and still do. All of my ship-mates who have called me at home that's the first thing they say –
'Jack Wood, I remember you from all the poker games...rather play poker than go to battle station'."
BEN NEMECKAY - Quartermaster
"One day we were tied to a freighter loading supplies to go ashore at Morotai (or Leyte), can't recall exactly where the following event took place. I and Paul Runion were playing ping pong on an old board we placed on top of a 55 gallon drum. We were wearing the 'uniform-of-the-day' - Army underwear, T-shirts and Army cut-up shoes - when a elderly gent pulled up in a LCM with 15 or 20 colonels, majors and lieutenants all armed to the teeth. He jumped on our boat, told us to keep playing ping pong and proceeded to go up the ladder to the ship we were unloading. Unknown to us, we learned later by asking questions that this man, with stars on his shoulders and guards all around him, was General Eichelberger of General MacArthur's staff - Southwest Pacific Area. Very interesting I thought."
EDITOR’S NOTE: Lt. General Robert L. Eichelberger eventually was assigned to command the U. S. Eighth Army under the overall command of General MacArthur as part of his General Headquarters staff.
"While loading up a PT boat outfit to get to Hollandia the natives were recruited to help load our boat. Four of them were carrying a wheelbarrow onto our ramp when I stopped them and had them turn the wheelbarrow over and wheel it aboard. When the natives saw that it only took 1 man, not 4, to get the wheelbarrow aboard they all broke out laughing. So did we!"
DAVID DURR - Electrician
"At Mare Island on the ways:
Boat shaken down and christened - but the dinghy was neglected. Harold Foote, Zane Goode and myself decided to give it a test run at midnight in San Francisco Bay.
On the beaching test we just happened to land behind a bar room across the Bay. We then proceeded to take our daily exercise by going up the shore to the gin mill to check on the morale of civilians engaged in war work. All was well so we joined them in their happy hour.
Returned to the ship later that night. The dinghy passed all Naval tests as to sea worthiness and Bureau of Ship's specifications!"
HAROLD FOOTE - Ship's Cook (ALSO ON THE 942 AND 949)
"At Solomon's Island, Maryland aboard a Mark 5 a young officer got sick from the seas in Chesapeake Bay and upchucked in my galley which was also the crew's quarters. I got put out and in no proper manner suggested he clean up his mess. He did.
Not until a couple of years later in the south Pacific did I meet the officer again. This time he was a full Commander and he remembered."
"While in Oakland one item of interest was inheriting a dog from a sub crew. Every PM he would leave with the first of us and drink until the last of us returned and sleep it off the next day. This was his thing while we stayed at Oakland. He was quite a friend.
We were asked to get rid of the dog so we gave it to a deserving crew. Several days later the Skipper brought a cat aboard. This did not set well with some of the crew...so.......a ceremony in full Naval tradition of walking the plank was conducted in the Oakland Bay ooz at the Air Base.
"Durr, Zane Good Murray, Percell, Shedlock, Guinian, Hatchett and myself worked diligently on our trip overseas on a port hole for the galley so that when anchored it would vent the galley and the mess. Many drill bits and numerous hours of drilling a thousand holes for the port hole evolved. Believe me that steel was tough!
We had to cover it up as soon as we reached New Guinea per order of the Group Commander.
No More than a month later the 948 had a port installed where we had to cover the 952's. I guess it was a good idea after all."
"Lastly, Some Remembrances:
. When on one of our first assignments - salvaging the President Grant - I remember taking the dinghy and scanning the beautiful coral bottom of the reef. The word snorkeling had not been coined as yet as we use it today, but those were beautiful times. I really enjoyed most of the time that I spent in the South Pacific. I know that, at the time, I could not have afforded such a trip.
. Did you know that Fred Wolford was 14 years old when he was with us and it wasn't until the Philippines that the Navy found out and sent him home. Lacy Wiley and Fred respected each other, but had very little dialogue because they were from opposite hills of mountain country.
. David Durr was a good shipmate. Without Durr we would not have the nicknames like:
. CATHOUSE . BOOKS
. ICKABOD . DIRTY REAR RIVER
But to this day I do not know who SHIT EYE was. Will the real SHIT EYE stand up and step forward.
These, as well as my remembrances while on the 942 and 949, are from many. It has been fun remembering again and sharing them with you.
Joe Geboy – Coxwain
I was picked up by the SPs in Deluth Wisconsin after jumping ship (BB WASHINGTON) because my BB was headed for the South Pacific and I hadn’t had any leave after lots of North Atlantic sea duty. My punishment was - "we’re going to assign you to one of those suicide amphibious boats!" That was the 953 and I have been ever grateful thereafter. It was the best duty and a great bunch of yuys to woirk with. Thanks navy – I liked your discipline.
JOE GEBOY - Coxswain
"I was picked up by the SPs in Deluth Wisconsin after jumping ship (BB WASHINGTON) because my BB was headed for the South Pacific and I hadn't had any leave after lot's of North Atlantic sea duty. My punishment was 'we're going to assign you to one of those suicide amphibious boats!'. That was the 953 and I have been ever grateful thereafter. It was the best of duty and a great bunch of guys to work with. Thanks Navy - I liked your discipline."
GEORGE HOUSEHOLDER - Electrician
"Remember when we were allowed two cans of beer in the refrigerator. We would put our initials on the cans for identification when it came time for consumption. Funny, after being stored for days it was still warm beer."
EDITOR'S COMMENT: If George's story happened while he was on the 949 I can attest to it. If you put a can of fruit cocktail in the refrigerator two weeks later the dam stuff was only 3 degrees "cooler" than when it was put in.
"Shortly after arriving at Morotai Island we were assigned to take an infantry company of black 'GIs' to the North side of the Island. They were supposed to clean out the Japs that were directing (PISS CALL CHARLIE) over the airfield.
Two of us were standing on the bow directing the beaching. When the ramp was dropped a shot was fired at the infantry. It proved that my time was not up."
"While we were beached at Hollandia the cook and I were peeling spuds right on the middle of the tank deck someone, from a group of Army officers that were behind me, said 'Do you mind if I take one?'
He did and later in the day we found out that the officer who got a free spud was none less than General Eichelberger!"
"The crew had been bugging Ship's Cook Halverson (Dale) to make some doughnuts for quite a while. He said he would not stand in front of a hot stove cooking them - he was already suffering from heat rash. I told him that if he made the dough I would do the cooking. By the time we finished we had over a bushel basket of doughnuts.
We ended up having coffee and doughnuts for the whole crew and even fed the Army unloading group. But...we found out that Halverson was right and never did that hot cooking again."
THOMAS ELBE - MOTOR MACHINIST
"The 951, 952 and 953 were left at Morotai while the rest of the Group went back to Biak and/or Woendi for repairs and R&R. We went back about a month later. But instead of repairs and R&R we went right back to work loading up ships for another invasion. Don't remember if we were suppose to go or not.
We really didn't appreciate those orders and one evening, while taking on a load from the beach, we pooled our party goodies while Skipper Joplin was ashore and proceeded to party. We forgot everything - including the tide going out. This we found out later when the Beach Commander called up the watch and said all loaded. Lo and behold we were high and dry - what confusion!
We all thought here comes a Court Martial but the Commander must of felt for us. If I remember correctly we did get our repairs and a few days off."
TONY GROSSI - ELECTRICIAN
After the Hollandia invasion I was transferred out of LCT Group 24 and ended on Mark 5's. I was in on the invasion of Biak on LCT 259. We played an active offensive role in that invasion with each Mark 5 carrying 3 Sherman tanks, lined up end to end on the deck, to the beach. This occurred at D+2 or D+3.
Later after the DD's departed there was no available naval gunfire to shell the beaches for subsequent infantry operations. That is when our LCT's became gunboats!
This occurred when the fall of the East Caves left the Ibdi Pocket as the only remaining center of organized Japanese resistance on Biak. Generally, from 7 thru 11 June, only moderate pressure was maintained against the pocket. New infantry pressure from the west against Parai Defile began on 7 June. By dusk on the 8th the Japs still controlled some 300 yards of ground in the defile.
On the 9th three Sherman tanks of the 603d Tank Company were placed aboard our LCT's and fired their 75MM canons on the cliffs in the defile for an hour. During this gunning attack I was on the port bow 50 caliber machine gun firing/strafing the Jap pocket ashore while the Sherman tanks were each firing about 100 rounds into the Japanese resistance. To this day, when I think about it my ears start to ring again.
Afterwards the Army, in an expression of gratitude, gave us a couple of cases of beef. We had a big steak "cook out" - the best meal I had in a long time.
LCT GROUP 24 STAFF
FRED RAMIN - Group Commander
"None of the replacement crews had the prior training we had in the Chesapeake Bay. There the problem was getting off the beach!
Here are a few recollections about this time and area:
1. While in training at Little Creek one of the O-in-C's was from a well known Louisiana family. He was later to become Senator Russell Long. Well, the harbor entrance at Little Creek was shared by the Navy and the Little Creek car ferry. Sometimes both would want to use the entrance at the same time. Russell Long never did learn to wait his turn.
Instead he would order "all ahead full". His old LCT (5) would get up to speed and as he passed the first pier (LCTs had to make a 90 degree turn to starboard to go alongside the pier) skipper Long
would order "starboard stop full astern", then "stop midships engine", then "all stop - full astern" and finally "stop all engines" as he hit the forward bulkhead. The crew would tie off fore and aft and then everyone left the ship.
You missed a lot if you missed Little Creek.
2. The LCT (5)s had to learn to drop anchor (at a proper distance out) and beach and retract. So, what place could be better than Virginia Beach in the summertime?
Usually six or eight boats would go out into the Atlantic turn South and then turn in formation for the beach. It was not at all unusual to have 1 or 2 drop their hook too late. They would broach and often spent a miserable nite or two, or even three, before another boat would go out on a calm day and tow them off on the tide.
3. After arriving at Solomon's Island, Maryland it was all different.
We had to watch out for the old skip-jacks sailing out to get oysters in the Chesapeake Bay.
In bad weather we were shallow enough to take a short cut out of the channel getting back to Base. The Maryland Fish and Oyster Commission contacted the Navy to get them to stop the LCTs from using this short cut. The Commission informed the Navy that "we were disturbing the sex life of the oysters in their beds off of the channel." Naturally, with this data, we had to stop using our short cut!
4. One very sad and unforgettable incident happened out in the Bay. One new officer and crew was on one of the boats learning how to do it. the officer had seen a hat or two blown off and lost overboard due to high winds. He was heard to say "the next time that happens I will go after it." Well, as fate would have it his cap was the next to be blown overboard. True to his word he jumped over the side, fully clothed, and was lost in the steep chop of the Bay. Several boats looked for him until Midnight but he had drowned. That was a tough lesson. We had to meet his pregnant wife the next day when she arrived for a planned visit with her young officer husband. It was very sad."
"One time several of the boats were anchored with their bows down for swimming and fishing between some of the Islands off Biak. Some crew jumped in without checking the current and were swept away. Alertly the crew threw out life rings and fortunately the anchor winch started. By the time we could go forward to reach them they were a quarter-of-a-mile from the ship.
This experience had a happy ending though. We had an alert crew and the swimmers were saved."
FRED EMANUELLI - CHIEF PHARMACIST MATE
"I returned to the United States after two years on the Naval Operating Base, Advanced Destroyer Base No. 1 in Londonderry Northern Ireland. All around me were new and almost new destroyers. Other Capital ships were also moving in and out of the base.
When I arrived at Pier 92 in New York, I was quickly assigned to 7th Amphibious Forces and sent to ATB Little Creek, Virginia. Not long after arriving I was assigned to LCT Group 24.
I had never seen an LCT and was curious to see what one looked like. I went down to the jetty and saw a seaman hosing down a garbage scow and went aboard and asked him if he could direct me to an LCT. 'Don't move an inch, you are standing right in the middle of one', he said. My heart sank. He looked at me and said 'don't get discouraged, this is a Mark 5 and the new Mark 6 is a lot nicer.
Little did I know then that this was to be the best assignment the Navy ever gave to me."
"Everything moved so quickly. When I got to San Francisco, I had yet to have any leave and was a bit miffed about it.
I went over to Mare Island Shipyard and asked one of the foreman if I could see LCT 948. 'Hell Mac, we haven't built her yet' was his reply. 'We are only up to 906.'
My joy must have been apparent. Boy, leave at last! Why it would take months before the ship would be ready.
'Of course,' the foreman said, 'we are building twenty (20) a day.'
Three (3) days later old 948 slid down the ways!"
GERRY LEBLEBOOJIAN - Staff Radioman
"As staff radioman my duties were limited, therefore I stood signal watch along with the other signalman (Kelly) and the quartermaster (Kopeck) aboard the 948. We got to see and hear about a lot of going ons - so to speak.
Some interesting events that come to mind and as I remember the details of the events are:
1. After D-Day at Hollandia we were working the Liberty ships late into the night. Jim Dougherty, LCT 948 skipper, and myself were topside on duty when the order was given to the helmsman (who shall remain nameless) to come about and steady up on the mountain ridge across the bay. We noticed that the helmsman had passed his mark and continued turning to starboard. Jim realized that he mistakenly was steadying up on the starboard gun mount and therefore made a complete 360 degree turn before he was corrected. It helped break the monotonous routine and long hours - 6 on and 6 off after D-Day.
2. When we left Morotai to go to the Leyte in the Philippines all 12 LCTs of Group 24 were running against a rough sea all the way up. Along the way the Group Commander asked me to contact the air base and request a fix on our position. I turned the radio to the base frequency and repeated what I was asked and the reply was - 'You are on course but flying too low'
I don't recall if I identified our self but I believe I did because this was normal procedure. Anyway, later a PBY was sent out to intercept us. Communicating with the blinker was next to impossible due to the modulation of the light caused by the plane's motion...but I guess he was satisfied that we hadn't crashed into the sea!
3. That reminds me of another time in Hollandia, when I wasn't as proficient with the semaphore flags as I was with the blinker (remember I was trained as a radioman) and this Australian cruiser was trying to contact the 948 by semaphire flag. I was flashing the blinker indicating let's use the light and we did this back and forth for a while until finally the big Aussie cruiser practically came alongside. Then he used his bull horn to talk with our Group Commander.
4. Another event that was scary was when we were going up the coast of Morotai. The Japs were cut off on the larger island of Halmahera and we were told to be alert for small boats, etc. It was a very dark night, no moon or stars, and black as can be. I was topside on signal watch when suddenly a signal light broke out of the 'silent' black of the night, it was sending .___, . ___, . ___ (A, A, A), the challenge code address. I was shocked by both the sudden light out of the black and that I did not have the reply code for the day. I quickly sent back . ___ ..., . ___ ... (AS, AS) which if I remember correctly means wait. Then I quickly went down below to the officer's quarters to get the reply code.
On the way back topside I could see the gun boat with its guns trained on us. But after I gave the correct reply it went away. Yes, it was one of ours!
5. After we left Morotai and were out in the open sea headed for the Philippines. We were a compliment of 12 LCTs and a mine sweeper on pilot. We all started out in good formation but over night the LCTs were all over the horizon with some out of sight. Well that was the general scenario when one night while I was on signal watch I would get the same message from one LCT during the night - that LCT 'XYZ' lost an engine - and the command's reply was to get the nearest LCT to take it in tow in order to keep up with the convoy. Well after a couple of these calls from the other LCTs and waking up the Group Commander, as requested, he finally said your in charge. I don't recall if the other LCTs' problems continued after that so that I could have exercised my 'Group Command' while still on that night's watch.
6. I wonder how many remember the day LCT Group 24 volunteered to out the fire out on White Beach at Hollandia after the invasion. We all started in a nice formation running in line and parallel to the beach. As we put up the 'starboard turn 90 degree' flags my thought were ... this is not a good idea. The beach must contain left over Jap munitions, bombs, etc. After the last LCT received the flag signal and everyone topmast their flags the order to turn was given by rapidly putting the flags down. We all turned 90 degrees starboard and headed for the beach. When we were about 100 yards off the beach we felt this great explosion. Sure enough a bomb had gone off. We all tailed ass it back after being given the order to do so.
EDITOR'S QUESTION: Was this order communicated by flags too?
7. As veteran sailors we all knew that if you put the ramp down to go for a swim that before diving in you would check the current to see how fast it was running so that you could get back to the boat.
Well don't you know that two young replacements we picked up in Samar saw us put the ramp down and go for a swim before chow. The next day these two swabbies did the same thing and after diving in they came up 100 feet away from the boat and could not get back due to the strong current. We told the Skipper and was ready to get underway when a passing LCVP picked them up.
No we hadn't told them about checking the current.
8. Not being trained or informed reminds me of an incident I had on the 50mm that could have been disastrous, to me at least.
This happened in Hollandia when, after D-Day, we would be getting many Red Alerts... or since they happened early morning, 0400 perhaps, we called them 'piss-call Charlies' for obvious reasons. After a while we were given the order that the two sailors on watch would take the covers off the 50mm's and stand by the guns - but not to fire until given orders. Well one night we had this 'Piss-call Charlie" when gunner's mate Madeiros and I were on watch. I went to the starboard gun mount and Medeiros went to the port gun mount. The 948 was anchored off the beach and the beach guns were firing at the Jap aircraft when suddenly I heard a Jap plane diving and it sounded like he was diving at us. I was concerned for two reasons:
1. my view was blocked by the bridge, and
2. I did not know how to load the magazine into the machine gun, in fact I felt that I had not loaded it properly.
Well anyway, a Jap plane (a Zero) came low from the stern to pass broadside on our port side. Just about that time the Skipper came out and gave the order to fire. Medeiros did fire but by the time I figured out why the gun mount would not come around to the right without first elevating it (the cam action prevented the gun from shooting the bridge) I did not fire. Also the Zero was so low I instinctively realized it would put down range LCTs at jeopardy if I opened fire. It was later determined that my magazine was not loaded properly.
By the way the Zero was close enough to see the pilot sitting in the cockpit - his plane was only about 50 feet above sea level.
9. Does anyone remember that day we ran into a school of hungry blues? Can't remember where we were but it may have been off Biak. The fish would bite at anything and as fast as you could get a line overboard you got a fish. Murphy was busy all day after that encounter!
10. Woendi was a beautiful island, the anchorage would be so still in the mornings that a PT boat would have to run across to break up the surface tension and permit the PBYs to be able to take off. Sunsets were really beautiful on this small island. You could see the sun go down on the opposite side of the island through the coconut trees.
EDITOR'S COMMENT: Also Morotai sunsets and the color and beauty of the sun sinking below the distant mountains of Halmahera as they turned from blue to purple.
I believe we saw the picture Laura with Gene Tierney and Dana Andrews at Woendi. Do you remember who did it? It was Waldo (Clifton Webb) of course.
How about the swimming over the coral reefs and gathering those beautiful colored shells - did smell awful until they were all cleaned out.
Diving off the LCT bridge was a thrill. Wonder how high it was. Can remember you had time to think on the way down.
Do you remember the time when the Skipper asked the electrician's mate why the light was hanging over the bow? He was told that it was difficult for the movie party to locate the 948 on their return from shore. I learned that it wasn't for the movie party but for another kind of party - promise not to tell.
How about the time we were in Hollandia about Christmas time and were hauling beer ashore for the Army. We 'acquired' about 50 cases which were quickly put into the crew's quarter's void. The Skipper wondered why the ballester bag, which held our drinking water, was empty for more than a week.
That brings me to the time we had a party with Fred Emanuelli's medical alcohol and Murphy's grapefruit juice, etc., mixed to give us a lift. The story goes that the Skipper went topside to get some air and spent the night up there instead of coming back down the vertical ladder from the bridge.
The beer parties on Samar after the War were great. We resourceful enlisted men saw to it that the officer's note stating the number of men for the beer rations was always doubled prior to its redemption at the base ashore. The first gulp was so.....good after another hot day in the Pacific heat.
Finally, I would like to know if the guy who coined "Murphy's Law" is related to our ship's cook Murphy. His law certainly has been getting me all of the time."
© 2000 LCT Flotillas of World War II ETO PTO