Great Story of a Navy family

Great Story of a Navy family

The Patten brothers from rural Iowa began joining the US Navy in 1934. By January 1941, seven brothers – Gilbert, Marvin, Bick, Allen, Ted, Ray, and Bruce – were serving in the engine room of the USS Nevada (BB-36). In September of 1941, their father, Floyd, joined the Navy and the Pattens became the Navy’s largest serving family. On the weekend of December 7th, 1941, the USS Nevada was coming into port, but was directed to wait until the aircraft carrier, Lexington, cleared the entrance to Pearl Harbor as she left port. When Nevada reached its docking place on Battleship Row, Arizona was moored where Nevada normally docked. For that weekend and eternity, they traded places.

Allen’s recollection of that morning was later published in their hometown newspaper, the Lake City Graphic. “I got up and showered about 7 a.m. and at about 7:45 a.m. I sat down to breakfast. I remember it was a ‘dog’ sandwich and beans. Then some of the other B Division sailors and I sat around drinking tea and coffee and discussing the Rose Bowl and who would win the football game, Duke or Oregon. Then something strange started happening and we couldn’t figure out what was going on. It was just past 8 a.m., we were three decks down and Nevada started shaking like a three or four scale earthquake. The porthole was open and I heard a rat-a-tat-tat sound like a machine gun. We were all very confused; it had been such a nice serene morning. We thought it odd that someone might be practicing with their guns. Then the B Division mess cook, Henry, he was just a kid, 18 years old yelled down to us. ‘Hey, you guys, we’re being attacked.”

Years later, Bruce recalled the beginning of the eventful day to a Battle Ground, Washington newspaper, the Reflector. He was a Boiler Tender three decks down on Nevada when general quarters sounded before 8 a.m. “All hands man your battle stations!” ordered a voice on a loudspeaker. “On the way to my battle station, I found one of my brothers arguing with a Chief Petty Officer,” said Patten. His brother was insisting to the Chief that Japanese planes were overhead. The Chief was yelling that he was tired of all the rumors about an attack. “Then the first bomb hit and ended the argument,” Bruce said.

With a large hole blown in Nevada’s side, Lieutenant Ruff, the officer in charge, ordered Nevada to prepare to get underway. Due to its proximity to Arizona, he feared the explosions and fires would spread to Nevada.

Again, Allen recalled. “Part of the crew was on liberty, and only one of the ship’s six boilers was lit and online. Thick ropes held the ship tightly in place. An ax cut through the hemp mooring lines, and by 8:18 a.m., we had all six boilers off in ten minutes – record time. Nevada was underway in 18 minutes, steaming through billowing smoke, which was pouring from Arizona.”

Lieutenant Ruff directed Nevada to proceed and she steamed toward the open sea to escape further attacks by Japanese planes. The sailors on the other ships cheered as they witnessed the Nevada pull out of its berth in Battleship Row. It was a morale boost for them to observe one of their ships underway.

Allen continued. “Our skipper was making a run for the channel at 18 knots, but when the Japs spotted us we really took a pounding. The first of three 500 pound aerial bombs struck the Nevada mid-ship. It sounded like a big stick of dynamite going off with a thundering noise, and then a torpedo struck the port side and Nevada came out of the water two feet just like somebody lifted it up.”

Lieutenant Ruff soon realized Nevada’s foray to escape would fail due to her additional damage. He ordered the ship to run aground before she sank. Except for his quick decision and action, crewmen below deck, including the Patten brothers, would have suffered the same fate as the sailors trapped below deck on Arizona when she sank. Lieutenant Ruff saved their lives and the lives of all the crew members below deck.

Later, Allen recalled the scene. “I went topside for the first time an hour after the Japanese attack began and I couldn’t believe my eyes. We had been tied up next to the USS Arizona and as I looked across Pearl Harbor to Battleship Row, the sight was incredible. Ford Island was engulfed in fire and smoke. I saw a nightmare. Arizona had sunk, California was ablaze and sinking, Pennsylvania was in dry dock and burning, the Oklahoma and Utah were capsized. The Japs had left and the fleet was in ruins.”

In June 1942, the eighth Patten brother, Wayne, joined the Navy and they continued to serve their country during WWII. They served aboard ships that were involved in the Battle of the Coral Sea, Battle of Leyte Gulf and Battle of the Philippine Sea (the “Marianas Turkey Shoot”). The eight brothers and their father’s Navy careers totaled 124 years of service to their country.

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Winning the Dollar Bet – Every Submariner Understood What Losing Meant

theleansubmariner

Buried Treasure

One of the great things about researching old books and documents is finding the odd story buried in one of them. Taken by itself, the fact or story would not mean much but pulled out and given perspective, it gives an insightful vision to something that happened along the way that would have greater consequences.

In 1906, the US Navy and many of the world’s Navy’s were still focused on projecting power through the building and utilization of battleships and other supporting ships that supported them. Coal was still king in 1906 and the Navy still possessed a number of sailing ships that were modified with some steam systems but still made largely of wood.

The very first US Navy submarine of the modern age was purchased in 1900 so it was still going through its birth pangs. Small, uncomfortable and limited in its operating scope, the Navy…

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LITTLE KNOWN NAVY HISTORY

LITTLE KNOWN NAVY HISTORY!
REMEMBERING OUR HEROES! NAVY HERITAGE!

Trivia: What ship during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 had the most “Medal of Honor” recipients?!
ANSWER: USS California BB-44…..four!

On 7 December 1941, anchored a short distance behind the other battleships was the USS California, a ship considered to be behind not only in positioning at anchor but in its readiness for war.

Other Sailors joked that the USS California couldn’t pass an admiral’s inspection.

On a day full of the unexpected, more men aboard the USS California would earn Medals of Honor than any other ship.

The big guns of the USS California were firing back at the enemy planes targeted her and continued to strafe her decks with bullets.

MM1 ROBERT R. SCOTT:


Machinist’s Mate First Class Robert R. SCOTT was assigned to work in the compartment containing the air compressor.

Suddenly he felt the USS California tremble as an enemy torpedo ripped through her side.

Water rushed into the gaping wound in the USS California’s side, making its way to the compartment where MM1 Scott worked.

Above he could hear that, despite the severe damage to the USS California, the big anti-aircraft guns were still firing.

The flooding in the compartment was swift and dangerous. The other crew members turned to flee to safety, urging MM1 Scott to follow them.

He replied, “This is my station and I will stay and give them air (the men above) as long as the guns are going.” The guns kept going, MM1 Scott kept supplying air, and the water continued to flood the ship. Machinist’s Mate Robert SCOTT died at his post.

CHIEF THOMAS REEVES:

Chief Radio Electrician Thomas REEVES felt the tremor as the USS California took its fatal hit.
The damage destroyed the mechanized hoists that moved ammunition from below deck to the huge guns that were now firing back at the invading Japanese.

Quickly the 45-year-old career Navy Chief began passing ammunition by hand, up the corridor to the big guns.

A fire erupted and smoke filled the hot corridor, but Chief Reeves refused to give up his post and leave the anti-aircraft guns without a supply of ammunition.

Sweating with exertion, fighting back any fear or concern for himself, he continued to pass ammunition forward until the smoke and fire in the corridor stole the last signs of life from his body. He died, two days before his 46th birthday.

ENSIGN HERBERT C. JONES:

Ensign Herbert Charpoit Jones had organized and led a crew of Sailors in a similar ammunition supply effort for the anti-aircraft battery.

Just six days earlier he had celebrated his 23rd birthday. It would be his last.

As he directed the supply of ammunition towards the guns, another bomb exploded, seriously injuring the young Sailor.

A fire erupted in the compartment where his broken body lay, deadly smoke quickly filling every airspace.

Two sailors bent to recover the body of the wounded officer. It was a valiant act, spawned by the desire to save their Ensign before seeking safety themselves.

Ensign Jones knew he was dying, knew their efforts might only cost them their own lives.

Gritting his teeth against the horrible pain, he ordered, “Leave me alone! I am done for. Get out of here before the magazines go off.”

LIEUTENANT JACKSON PHARRIS:

Lieutenant Jackson PHARRIS was leading an ordnance repair party on the third deck when the first torpedo hit the USS California.

The explosion occurred directly below him, throwing his body into the air to crash hardback on the metal deck.

The Lieutenant was badly wounded but struggled to his feet to organize the passing of ammunition back to the guns. Water and oil continued to rush in where the port bulkhead had been torn apart by the explosion.

The heat of the fires was intense, and the acrid smoke quickly damaged lungs. Despite his pain and heedless of the dangers around him, he still directed the effort to maintain a hand supply train to the guns.

It was evident that the USS California was sinking, but her crew refused to go down without a fight.

With the demise of the USS California beyond doubt and with nothing left to use to return fire,

Lieutenant Pharris refused to leave behind any man that could be saved.

Repeatedly he ran into flooded compartments to rescue unconscious Sailors and drag them to safety. Twice, he was overcome by smoke himself and fell unconscious.

Each time, upon regaining consciousness, he fought back the pain of his wounds to return for more injured Sailors. His example inspired panicky Sailors around him, encouraging them to not only try and get out themselves but to render life-saving assistance to their shipmates.

When at last USS California sank into the mud of the harbor, her crew had given a grand account in her final moments of service.

Of fifteen Medals of Honor awarded for heroism at Pearl Harbor on that Day of Infamy, four went to Sailors of the USS California-more than any other ship in the harbor.

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Tell Your Story

Tell Your Story

“Asia Sailor.

Tell your story.

Shout it. Write it,

Whisper it if you have to.

But tell it.

Some won’t understand it.

Some will outright reject it.

But many will

thank you for it.

And then the most

magical thing will happen.

One by one… your tribe

will gather.

In Branson, you will never

feel alone again.”

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the silent veteran

the silent veteran

“yes, the silent whispers, like wind,

doth speak of heroes, here and gone.

echoing sharply through mans souls, and

making those humble who live on…”

“hinting of dark things left unspoken.

expressed most often with deign.

and never to make others understand,

should they ever take time to explain.”

“it’s known only by men such as these;

those that bear their scars like medals

and pain, like a cloak to shield them;

from stares of those with less mettle”

“grievous nightmares, embedded deep;

awake those afflicted with a sharp jolt.

the sweating of hot blood from their souls,

as fever tears through them like a bolt.”

“the sacrifice made by soldiers like these,

where payment could include their life.

hidden in the deep reaches of their souls.

and only shows as angsts and strife .”

“they deserve so much better than this.

drowning in a sea of pain and regret.

living what lives they can garnish

from skills that are now no help to a vet.”

“with their lives so cruelly deep in debt,

and interest for them to great to pay.

they must find someway to buy with honor,

an existence fraught with despair to stay.”

~© Copyright 2018 Drew Cardwe

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I never planned on becoming an old veteran

theleansubmariner

As Veteran’s Day approaches once more, my thoughts turn to how many veterans I have known in my life. My Dad, of course, comes to mind immediately. He served during the last year of World War 2 in the Navy and returned to an America that was fundamentally changed from the country he had grown up in. His father served in World War 1 and his grandfather served in the Civil War. All of them were volunteers and each came home and participated in veterans groups until they passed on to the next reunion.

Growing up in my hometown, veterans always seemed to be really old.

Their original uniforms were ill-fitting and sometimes they had to wear the uniforms of the organizations they belonged to like the Legion and the VFW. Any attempt to get into one of their original uniforms for many was a struggle that got harder as…

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