Kamikaze, April 11, 1945

Kamikaze, April 11, 1945

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On April 11, 1945, ten days into the Battle for Okinawa, sixteen Tokkō Tai (Kamikaze) pilots take off from their base at Kanoya, Japan.

At noon, Battleship USS Missouri is northeast of Okinawa.

“Air Defense” is sounded at approx. 1430 as an incoming “bogey” is picked up on radar and spotted by binoculars 7500 yards out.

Anti-aircraft fire commences immediately and hits are observed, the “Zeke” (Mitsubishi A6M Zero) is smoking and losing altitude.

At 4000 yards the incoming aircraft is hit again, losing altitude rapidly and appears about to splash.

The pilot fights to regain altitude and keeps coming through the hail of anti-aircraft fire.

Missouri’s gun crews stand their ground, continuing to fire as the low-flying ‘Zeke’ bears down upon the ship, the Japanese pilot fighting to maintain control and lift his damaged aircraft.

At 1443 the left wing of the ‘Zeke’ strikes Missouri barely inches below the main deck, deflecting the nose hard into the steel hull of the ship at frame 160, the propeller cutting the main deck heading as wreckage is strewn on deck.

Upon impact, the right wing is torn loose and catapults forward, landing on the 01 level above the starboard boat davit where fire erupts.

The Damage Control crew rushes to extinguish the flames as billowing black smoke is drawn into engineering spaces below.

The fire is quickly put out and no serious injuries are reported.

After the attack, as the crew hoses down the deck and sweeps debris from the ship, the pilot’s remains are discovered among the wreckage.

Missouri’s commanding officer, Captain William M. Callaghan, is notified and issues orders for the ship’s medical personnel to receive and prepare the body for burial at sea.

Missouri remains on alert, steaming as before.

A Burial At Sea

At 0900 on April 12, 1945 in waters northeast of Okinawa, as the last major battle of World War II rages at sea and ashore, the body of a Japanese pilot, who attacked the battleship USS Missouri the day prior, is readied for burial at sea.

The pilot’s body is placed in a canvas shroud and draped with a Japanese flag sewn by Missouri crew.

Members of the ship’s company stand by as the flag-draped body is brought on deck from sickbay and carried by a 6-man burial detail toward the rail near to the point of impact.

Those present come to attention and offer a hand-salute as the Marine rifle detail aims their weapons skyward to render a three-volley salute over the remains.

As the battleship USS Missouri continues on through gentle swells, a bandsman steps forward, his bugle raised and the lingering notes of “Taps” drift out across the sea.

Senior Chaplain, Commander Roland Faulk, steps to the head of the burial detail and concludes, saying simply: “We commit his body to the deep.”

The burial detail tilts the flag-draped body, the weighted white canvas shroud slipping over the side, disappearing into ocean depths below.

As Missouri continues on course, the burial detail gathers and folds the Japanese flag.

It was concluded that 19-year old, former railroad worker, Petty Officer 2nd class, Setsuo Ishino from the squadron that attacked the American task force on April 11, was very likely, the pilot of the Zeke who crashed Missouri.

(Photo taken by the Ship’s baker “Buster” Campbell)


Ode to a Navy Career

Ode to a Navy Career

By Jerry Juliana

When I was but a young lad

Of 16 years plus one

I decided to join the Navy

For adventure and some fun.


They handed me a train ticket

Told me to get onboard and go

Learn to be a sailor

In the Navy town of San Diego.


For nine fast weeks, I marched

While carrying a Garand M-1

16 count manual, 5 and dive, and screw that white hat down,

Squared away before I was done.


Learned how to roll a neckerchief

And pack a green sea bag.

Stand rigidly at attention

And proudly salute the Flag.


Learned to speak like a sailor

Bulkhead, overhead, hatch, and deck.

Graduated and sent to school

And became a SONAR tech.



From Adak, “The Birthplace of The Winds”

To Keflavik, “Land of Fire and Ice”

From the sunny beaches of Hawaii

To three year tours in Japan, twice.


From The Land Of the Rising Sun

To the back alleys of Olongapo

Loved the nightlife on the Honch

Tasted the kimchee in Seoul


For years I proudly served

As a crewmember in a P-3

Surveilling the world’s oceans

Indian, Atlantic, Pacific, and Japan Sea.



Flying high above the waves

Monitoring sonobuoys patterned in rows of three

Searching for Soviet submarines

Cruising quietly beneath the sea.


Those glory days of long ago

Alive only in my mind

The days a lad would ask me

“Hey Chief, is this the kind?”


The memories of a career sailor live on

Captured on crusty old coffee mugs,

And with the help of friends old and gray

Passing around amber liquid jugs.



The “I shit you not” stories that are told

Each one saltier than the last,

Paint a life portrait of an old sailor

Lovingly reliving his past.


When my watch is over

And they lay me in my grave.

Taps will be played softly, while

Over my head, the Flag will proudly wave.


I’ll be met at that Golden Gate

St. Peter will smile and say

Welcome Aboard Chief, and relax

You’ve been relieved this day.


“Constitution vs Guerriere

“Constitution vs Guerriere”

by Patrick O’Brien

On August 2nd, 1812 the “Constitution” set sail departing from Boston and sailed east in hopes of finding some British ships. After meeting no British ships, the “Constitution” sailed along the coast of Nova Scotia, and then Newfoundland, finally stationing off Cape Race in the Gulf of the St. Lawrence. It was here that the Americans captured and burned two brigs of little value. On August 15th the “Constitution” recaptured an American brig from the British ship-sloop “Avenger”, however, the British ship managed to escape. Captain Isaac Hull put a crew on the brig and they sailed it back to an American port.

At 2:00 p.m. on August 19th the crew of the “Constitution” made out a large sail which proved to be the British frigate “Guerriere” captained by James Dacres. At 4:30 p.m. the two ships began to position themselves and hoisted their flags (colors). At 5:00 p.m. the “Guerriere” opened fire with her weather guns, the shots splashed in the water short of the American ship. The British then fired her port broadsides, two of these shots hit the American ship, the rest went over and through her rigging. As the British prepared to fire again the “Constitution” fired her port guns. The two ships were a fair distance apart, and for the next 60 minutes or so they continued like this with very little damage being done to either party.

At 6:00 p.m. they moved closer, at 6:05 p.m. the two ships were within pistol-shot of each other. A furious cannonade began, at 6:20 p.m. the “Constitution” shot away the “Guerriere’s” mizzen-mast, the British ship was damaged. The “Constitution” came around the “Guerriere’s” bow and delivered a heavy raking fire which shot away the British frigate’s main yard. The Americans came around yet again and raked the “Guerriere”. The mizzen-mast of the British ship was now dragging in the water and the two ships came in close to each other. The British bow guns did some damage to the captain’s cabin of the “Constitution”, a fire even started there. An American officer by the name of Lieutenant Hoffmann put the fire out.

It was about here that both crews tried to board the others ship, or at least thought about it. And it was also here where most of the “Constitution’s” casualties were taken. In fact, both sides suffered greatly from musketry at this point. On the “Guerriere” the loss was much greater. Captain James Dacres was shot in the back while cheering on his crew to fight. The ships finally worked themselves free of each other, and then the “Guerriere’s” foremast and main-mast came crashing down leaving the British ship defenseless.

At 6:30 p.m. the “Constitution” ran off a little and made repairs which only took minutes to complete. Captain Isaac Hull stood and watched at 7:00 p.m. as the battered British ship surrendered, unable to continue the fight.

The “Constitution” had a crew of 456 and carried 44 guns. The Guerriere had a crew of 272 men and carried 38 guns. The American casualties were 14, which included Lieutenant William S. Bush, of the marines, and six seamen killed. And her first lieutenant, Charles Morris, Master, John C. Alwyn, four seamen, and one marine wounded. Total seven killed and seven wounded. Almost all the American casualties came from the enemy musketry when the two ships came together. The British lost 23 killed and mortally wounded, including her second lieutenant, Henry Ready, and 56 wounded severely and slightly, including Captain Dacres for a total of 79. The rest of the British crew became prisoners.


Vice Admiral John D Bulkeley

Vice Admiral John D. Bulkeley

This post is for my shipmates from the U.S.S. Luce sailor. Remember when the ship had a stores replenishment when we were in Gitmo and one of the sailors ate some ham he had swiped and opened the can and a couple of days later made a sandwich and got food poisoning.

The Captain went all ahead full into Gitmo to get the guy some medical help. These pictures are of John D. Bulkeley Vice Admiral who was the commander of Gitmo and had sent there by President Kennedy.

The Admiral had strict rules about entering and leaving the harbor at safe speeds. He sent the Captain a message castigating him for the reckless way he had entered port and approached the pier. The line handlers on the dock were about to run away because they thought the ship was going to hit but the Captain stopped on a dime.

When the Captain messaged the Admiral the circumstances of his entry, the Admiral replied, “Finest example of ship handling under emergency conditions I have ever seen.”

I was telephone talker to CIC on the bridge that day and I never forgot the Admiral’s name. I was thinking about this and decided to Google the Admiral’s name and what a sailor he was. He was commander of PT Boats during WW2 and was responsible for rescuing MacArthur his family and staff and transporting them 600 miles in open waters. He received the Medal of Honor. He was also in the Normandy invasion and just after got his first big ship, a destroyer and charged two German ships with only one 5 inch gun working on his ship and sunk them both! He had a book written about him ( see picture). Also, check out the ribbons he earned and note that he had a DDG named after him. The Movie (They Were Expendable) was based on him in WW2. He died in 1988 he was 84 years old. What a Great American!!!!

Medal of Honor citation

Bulkeley’s Medal of Honor citation reads:

For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty as commander of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, in Philippine waters during the period 7 December 1941 to 10 April 1942. The remarkable achievement of LCDR Bulkeley’s command in damaging or destroying a notable number of Japanese enemy planes, surface combatant and merchant ships, and in dispersing landing parties and land-based enemy forces during the 4 months and 8 days of operation without benefit of repairs, overhaul, or maintenance facilities for his squadron, is believed to be without precedent in this type of warfare. His dynamic forcefulness and daring in offensive action, his brilliantly planned and skillfully executed attacks, supplemented by unique resourcefulness and ingenuity, characterize him as an outstanding leader of men and a gallant and intrepid seaman. These qualities coupled with a complete disregard for his own personal safety reflect great credit upon him and the Naval Service.


Who Packs Your Parachute


Captain Charles Plum, a US Naval Academy graduate, was a jet fighter pilot in Vietnam.

After 75 combat missions, his plane was destroyed by a surface-to-air missile. Capt. Plumb ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. He was captured & spent six years in a Communist prison.

Capt. Plumb survived that ordeal and now lectures about lessons learned from that experience.

One day, when Capt. Plumb and his wife were sitting in a restaurant, a man at another table came up and said…..

“You’re Capt. Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam from the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk. You were shot down!”

“How in the world did you know that?” asked Capt. Plumb.

“I packed your parachute,” the man replied.

Capt. Plumb gasped in surprise and gratitude.

The man pumped his hand and said, “I guess it worked!”

Capt. Plumb assured him, “It sure did-if your ‘chute hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Capt. Plumb couldn’t sleep that night, thinking about that man.

Capt. Plumb says, ‘I kept wondering what he might have looked like in a Navy uniform-a Dixie cup hat, a bib in the back, and bell bottom trousers. I wondered how many times I might have passed him on the Kitty Hawk. I wondered how many times I might have seen him and not even said good morning, how are you or anything because, you see, I was a fighter pilot and he was just a Sailor.

Capt. Plumb thought of the many hours the Sailor had spent on a long wooden table in the bowels of the ship carefully weaving the shrouds and folding the silks of each chute, holding in his hands each time the fate of someone he didn’t know.

MORAL OF THE STORY: Sometimes in the daily challenges that life gives us, we miss what is really important. We may fail to say hello, please, or thank you, congratulate someone on something wonderful that has happened to them, give a compliment, or just do something nice for no reason. We need to recognize people who pack our parachute.

NOTE: Captain Charles Plum is now a popular motivational speaker, and was asked by the media and several other organizations if this story was true. Captain Plum assured them that it was.


The greatest joy, the deepest sorrow – Remembering the Thresher

I had a shipmate who was lost on Thresher, CS2 Ronald Muise.


The greatest joy, the deepest sorrow.

As we approach the anniversary of the loss of the USS Thresher, I am once again reminded that the world of Submariners and their families are consumed with the greatest of joys and the deepest sorrows.

The joy comes when a boat has completed her mission and returns safely home. As the small black object on the horizon starts getting bigger and bigger, you can almost feel the joy of the wives and children. Dad has been gone for so long and so many things have changed. Holidays were missed, special school events were not seen and so many of life’s little blessings were passed by. But in this moment, that magnificent hull is coming closer and closer. Maybe there is a band. Certainly there is anticipation. What will they say to each other after so many months of long separation?

There is the…

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