Today I got the good news that I was to become a mess cook. Mess cook
Is the Navy name for KP or kitchen duty. It will be a three-month assignment. Even though it was long hours, there were many benefits such as you got plenty of very good food to eat.
The crew was kept busy taking on fresh provisions. Lots of extra fuel,
Ammo and so fourth. On May four we got underway for someplace. Our
squadron consisting of four destroyers. The Caperton DD650, the
Ingersol DD651, the Cogeswell DD652 and the Knapp DD653. We had been assigned escort duty for 14 APA, AND AKA’s loaded with troops and
Supplies headed for someplace and somewhere. We were never told until
we got out to sea and the Captain would give an announcement over the PA system.
Today is May 5, 1945 and it is payday. We are at sea and no place to spend it. I have a months pay coming, a whole $21.00, so I let it on the books. Later that day we found out where we were going. We are headed for the Island of Ulithie. Approximately 90 miles from the Jap held Island of Yap. The Captain demanded and got the Caperton in combat readiness in three minutes, or else you dam well better wish you had. Sometimes we did it in less than that and our reward were, "now we will do it again, and again, and again. Sometimes between readiness drills we had gunnery practice. This went on day after day. Night after night. The fun part was at night when we were at darken ship, "which darkness." No even a cigarette glow was allowed topside.
About sixteen hundred when we would get secured from this drill, get undress and closed your eyes. It seemed to always happen if you were lucky enough to start dreaming about a naked woman, then the dam PA system would blare out so loud it would wake up the dead. THIS IS A
DRILL, ALL HANDS HIT THE DECK AND MAN YOUR BATTEL STATIONS.
It is pitch dark and you must find your shoes, socks, and shirt and pants. Get dressed and get to your GQ station within three minutes. If not we all had to do it again and again. We learned to sleep with both ears and one eye open. All of this paid off in the end for the Caperton never lost a man in combat.
It took us ten long days to get to Ulithie. Too see any land was a welcome sight even though it was just another flat island with a bunch of palm trees. No more drills and even a movie in the mess hall at night. We stayed in combat readiness #1 and darken ship at night. There was no air condition and it was so hot you would drown in your own sweat. The best part was we actually got mail from home. We were at GQ a good part of the time and usually at sea during the ten days we were there doing picket duty.
Additional training consisted of aircraft recognition classes. Is that a Jap Zero or a torpedo bomber Bteey? You have to know at a glance if it is one of our airplanes like a Courser or a Hellcat.
On May 22 we received fifteen fifty caliber Machine Guns. They were mounted at various places on the main deck and 01 level. There were two
boxes of ammo lashed to each gun with more in the magazine.
May 23 with our new guns in place, we left Ulithe with a group of
destroyers and destroyer escorts plus one troop ship. Our flotilla
consisted of five destroyers, one destroyer escort and fifteen troop
ships going someplace. Our mail was now being censored both coming and
going. Our destination was still a secret to us.
May 25 we are still underway. Today we were issued Green Fart sack covers. They are suppose to be both flash proof and fire retardant.
They were a pain the ass so we sleep on top of them. There was no more rolled up shirtsleeves. The white hats now became dark blues. We were getting the camouflage treatment. The button down collar was the only thing we could relax with unless you were at GQ. Then collars were buttoned, sleeves were rolled down and pant legs were tucked in your socks.
May 26 GOOD MORNING at four thirty AM we had GQ. Ate breakfasts in shifts as the bogies were quite a distance away. Stayed at GQ until
May 27 GQ at five am. Still at sea but on our way to Okinawa. The island of Okinawa became visible at 0600am. Refueled from one of the transports.
May 29 still at sea nd had a Sub contact. Dropped eleven depth charges that made it feel like our ship was going to split in half but we did not get him.
May 30 another sub contact. Dropped more depth charges in a pattern.
Still no luck. We are about twenty miles of shore with the transports.
May 31 W refueled from another transport, went to GQ, and stayed at that while we were entering the harbor at Okinawa. There were lots of ships there. The big guns were alive bombarding the island. Planes were strafing and dropping bombs. Lots of smoke and explosions. We stayed at GQ until after dark. At night the island was all lit up with flares and gunfire. I stayed up until two thirty because it made me feel important. I don't know why I felt that way, as I knew that people were dying just a short distance away.
June 1 we left the transports and Okinawa and proceeded to picket station 15. Bogies are in the area. We stayed at GQ all day but no action. We are now about 360 miles from Japan in the China sea.
June 3, 1945 0500am GQ Bogies in the area but they did not come in for a visit until 1330. The first one was shot down by a LCI with the help of a Coursier fighter plane. The second lucky Kamikaze cam at us off the starboard beam. He was spraying us with machine gun fire. He
missed us with most of his shots and crashed into the sea about thirty feet off our fantail. We could see the pilot. The third came in on the portside and se shot him down. That is all we got today. Slept with cloths on.
June 6, we got relieved and went into wise mans cove Naha Okinawa.
Refueled more ammo and got some sugar reports [mail]. At 2100 we had GQ. We thought it was a jap suicide boat but it turned out to me a loose sea buoy. We had reports of Jap swimmers who would swim out at night and sneak aboard, kill as many of the crew as possible before some one got him. The duty watch was issued machine guns.
June 7 another GQ, we laid a smoke screen and nothing happened.
June 8 back at radar picket station and had GQ eight times this night.
Jap planes were now dropping flares and tin foil to disrupt the radar signals. Then the Bogeys would sneak around and try to get in without us seeing them. It did not work very well but our Radar crapped out later that night.
June 9 we went back to Wise Man's Cove to do Radar repairs. There were many damaged ships there.
June 10 at about 1000 we get the message that the William D. Porter was hit and sunk by a Jap Kamikaze. The Porter was our relief ship that took our position. It took only two hours for her to sink. Sixty men were hurt and one killed.
June 22 Okinawa is secured but the Jap Kamikaze planes kept coming.
They were sinking a ship a day.
June 23, we refueled and went to radar picket station #5. On the way we passed Eno Shima where the famous war corroespondent Ernie Pyle was killed. We sunk a floating stry mine, then returned to our favorite duty station picket station # 15. We are to join task group 38.1
June 29 we gained the 3 rd fleet task group 38.1 in Leyte Gulf. We got mail and had a movie in the very hot mess hall.
June 30 we got underway for the third fleet, again going some place. I never seen so man ships. Every where you looked and as far as you could see were ships. There were troop ships, hospital ships and every type of war ship in the world. The hospital ships kept away off in the distance for they were neutral ships so they were allowed to sail with their lights on. We started to figure out were we may be going. July 1 holiday routine, the word came over the loud speakers that we would be the ships that bombarded Japan. It will be a sixty-day mission. We will be within six hundred of Japan by daybreak.
July 2 precautionary GQ. Tonight we are two hundred miles from Japan.
The waters are full of mines. We are at 1 able alert and condition 1 at night.
July 3 had GQ this morning the fleet had made its first air strikes against Japan. We sent off one thousand planes. The sky was black with aircraft. I hope that we never get attacked by so many at one time. When they came back we went to GQ again. No Bogies tried to sneak in. It was just a month ago today that the Japs tried to raise hell with us at Okinawa.
July 4, 1945 Old Toe Joe will be sorry he ever messed with us for most
of the BB, Heavy Cruisers and nine destroyers plus one thousand airplanes are celebrating our Independence day with him.
July 5 another one thousand planes went into hit Japan. We had a sub contact and dropped ten aish cans. No sub, but stayed at GQ all day.
July 6 had GQ but no action. The British got four Jap planes.
July 8 More GQ but no action. The picket ships got two more planes.
July 11 We are now just 90 miles from the mainland of Honshu Japan.
No bogies, and no action.
July 11 made another strike on Japan. Had a sub contact and dropped eleven ash cans but no oil slick. Sea is very rough and we expecting a typhoon.
July 13 today we were to make another strike but it was called of due to bad weather. We were to refuel the USS Hancock but parted a fuel line because the water was so rough. We did refuel off the USS Indiana. Boy this sea is getting rough. [hey redhead do you remember Ens. Waldo going ape-shit when we parted the fuel line?]
July 14 another strike of one thousand airplanes. Fourteen BB's and four destroyers made the raid six miles from off shore.
July 16 the cruisers and destroyers made the raid today. We refueled off the USS Lexington. One thousand airplanes made the strike also. The British joined the fleet today. A British destroyer came alongside and said it is a Blumen shame that the weather is so foul. 1500 aircraft the British Wagons and Cruisers along with u US Cruisers struck Japan during the night. It rained most of the day.
July 18 seas are to rough to launch aircraft. No strikes today.
July 19 left for the refueling station, refueled and got more stores.
July 20 Today we worked real hard. We received both US and Guard mail and it was our duty to deliver it to the other ships. When we came long side the command ship of Admiral Hausly some one gave him the finger. Was that you Hawkins? I got 23 letters the first mail in a month.
July 22 we delivered more mail to various ships. The whip on the USS
Daytona broke and we lost all of her mail. We did break away and retrieve it but in doing so we ran into a school of whales. We hit one and it was so big that it actually shook our ship. The last time we saw the whale it had a white gash in his side. We also transferred 39 men to the USS Indana, the South Dakota, The Mississippi and the Minnesota.
July 24 we made another strike with 1200 planes. This time they brought the bogies back with them.
Now things are about to really get hot. We got the word that tomorrow nine destroyers including the Caperton will go in close. We are one hundred miles off the coast. About six hundred B29 go over us each day making their strikes.
July 26 we are going to hit them up close, but this was called off because the information was they were waiting for us. We did have GQ all day and most of the night. We shot down five enemy aircraft today. It was just a month ago today the we were at GQ all night every night at Okinawa. Now B29 fly over all night.
July 30 another air strike of 1000 planes.
July 31 we refueled and took on stores and ammo. Captain Starnes held a trap shooting punishment drill for the restricted men. They threw the clay pidgins and he shot them. He was pretty good. Earl said it was because he was from Miss. also, and shot ever bird he could find during the depression to eat.
Aug. 2 THE US DROPPED THE FIRST ATOMIC BOMB ON JAPAN.
Aug. 3 Strikes called off today because of smoke and fog. It cleared
about noon so we launched another. The sea is very calm.
Aug. 4 Today another strike was launched. It consisted of the Battleships Wisconsos, South Dakoto, Indiana and the Michigan.
The destroyers were the Caperton, Cogswell, Ingersal, Knapp, Willingsberg and the Roberts. The destroyers fired fifty rounds per gun. We fired 250 rounds of five inch and 35MM. We were six miles off the coast. The BBs were ten miles away. There were lots of fire and smoke when we left.
Aug. 5 another strike this morning, only further North. We had GQ with tow groups of bogies coming in one was eighteen miles away and another twenty two. They never came in closer the 1500. The USS Wasp got two
of them. They were the Zeke's and our fighters got the rest.
Aug. 2 The Russians declared war on Japan. That was music to our ears
so we launched another strike.
Aug. 7 Today we dropped the second atomic bomb on Honshue at 1200. We could hear it go off. We were almost two hundred miles away, saw the cloud but did not feel anything. Another air strike was launched.
Aug. 8 Today we changed task groups. We were with Commander Space of task group 38.1 no we are with the Bull. Admiral William Hausley of task group 38.4. Our new division becomes 100.
Aug. 9 We turned two with task group 38.r and we are now with the USS Missouri.
Aug. 10 to 15 made more air strikes but no action.
Aug. 16 We were scheduled for bombardment but it was called off because the Japs wanted to surrender.
Aug. 17 and 18 Refueled from a tanker and was assigned tanker escort until Sept 1.
Sept 1 GQ at 0500 and we could see Mt. Fugie. We were the second can to enter Japan. We could see the town all around us. Most of the houses flew or draped a white sheet. All gun mounts flew white flags. There were a lot of wreckage on the beach, shore lines and floating in the water. That included floating bloated human bodies. We tried to avoid them but we did hit one. God what a smell. at 1600 we were escorted by a Jap Destroyer into Eno Sima harbor and anchored 1000 yards from the beach. A eight inch gun was trained on us all the time we were there and the Japs swarmed the beach I guess just to see us. We darkened ship and stood machine gun watches.
Sept. 2 We had picket duty outside the fleet. Darken ship.
Sept. 3 Lots of Japs on the beach. Went to condition 1 able all day. We could smoke topside for the first time at night.
Sept. 5 Still at condition able able but we left with part of the fleet for Tokyo.
Sept. 7 arrived at Tokyo.
Sept. 8 Left Tokyo with the USS Ingerdal and Knapp to join the curser
Boston for Katawan.
Sept. 10 I went ashore with the working party. we were a demolition party. Our mission was to destroy Jap suacide boats. They were stored in caves. We were told not to pull on any of the hanging roots as the whole damn cave would come down on top of us. There were fifteen to twenty boats in each cave. They made of plywood with either a Ford or
Chevy engine in them. They were a one way boat. The bow was empty for storing explosives. One man and ten gallons of gas. We drug them out of the caves along with the help of many Japs and chopped them full of holes, took them to sea and sunk them. That is all but one which we took back to the Caperton. It was to be used for a mail and recreation boat. In other caves we found radio parts which were inspected by the radioman. He kept what he wanted and threw the rest of them in the ocean. The last cave had food stored in it (canned food). When we left the ship the cook gave us both Spam and Horse Cock sandwiches. This cave had a lot of canned fish in it. We threw away the Spam and Horse cock and ate the canned fish. It was pretty damn good. I brought a can of the fish home and I still have it. I have taken it to many reunions.
Sept. 12 We left the Island of Katswan and are now underway for Tokyo.
We are glad this detail is over for our working party hasen't worked that hard in a long time. We had movie topside on the fantail.
Since we don't have to worry about the Japs shooting at us this was one
we could enjoy.
Sept. 25 We got our first fresh fruit since June. The crew sure made pigs of themselves. We also got our first liberty in Japan. The other
Red (Earl Hawkins} and I went ashore. We got searched by the shore patrol for candy bars and cigarettes anything over two packs were prohibited for you could trade them for pussy. The way they would approach you was jap words like "skivvi-skivvi-pom-pom," one pack cigarettes. We walked all over the town of Yokohama what there was left of it after all the bombing. Got back to the ship at 1900.
Sept. 26 through Oct. 20. We left Mi Shima for Tokyo for fuel and mail.
As we entered Tokyo Bay we got to see the remaining Jap Navy. All they had left was one cruiser, two destroyers, one merchant ship and a hospital ship. Each had a red meat ball painted on it's side. They also had a BB left but it was not with this group.
Nov. 14 This morning at 0530 Barker a yoman striker got acute
appendiance. The Caperton does not carry a doctor so they had to get one from another ship. The operation was done on a ward room table.
Nov. 15 Well we lost my pal the other red head (Earl Hawkins} today.
He got transferred to a CVE for further transfer to the US and separation. I sure will miss him. He was like a brother to me.
Nov. 23 It sure does not look like Thanksgiving. We had a holiday routine and mail. I got a fruitcake from Grandmother. For our
Thanksgiving dinner we had fried turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, peas, corn and fruitcake. Not like Grandmothers.
Dec. 3 ,1945 We got our orders today to return to the good old U-S-A.
On Dec. 5 the Caperton will go to Enewtalk, Pearl Harbor, San Diego and then through the Panama Canal to Boston Mass. I was informed that I would be taking the Caperton home. It was rumored that I would be catching another ship back to the U.S. Good by Japan. I HOPE I NEVER
SEE YOU AGAIN.
I mashed my thumb on a gas bottle today. Boy did it hurt. This is a heck of a thing to happen when you are going home. The sea is pretty rough. We set condition four watch. We have a couple of real seasick doggies.
Dec. 8 We are three days out of Japan and the other destroyer Cogswell crapped out. It took four hours to get her underway again. The sea is still rough and the weather is getting warm. It's to hot to sleep and too rough to work.
Dec. 9 We got to Enewtalk at 1600 today. Refueled and had a movie on the fantail.
Dec. 12. Tonight at midnight we crossed the International Date Line, so tomorrow will be Dec. 12 again.
Dec. 14 We had quarters for muster at 1330 today. They gave us cards on the battles that we were in. I rated four stars with the third one and a fifth fleet star. It was also pay day. I got 96 dollars and that was to be the last payday until Jan. 5 1946.
This was the last entry in my diary that I can find. I do not know where the rest is. Probably in some of my junk.