Twenty years ago this month, my Dad finally lost his battle with heart disease and went to be with his Lord. The week after his death, I found a box in the basement of our old house that had all of his letters home from World War 2. Over the next ten years, I plugged away and tried to craft them into a story format. That work resulted in the project I called “Love Your Son Butch” named after the way he signed many of those letters to his Mom and Dad.
He was born on April 19, 1927 and died on April 27 1993.
This is his story…
Chapter 1 Boot Camp – Life 1945
August 1 2005
I got the address from your Mom today so I decided to drop you a short note. How are things in Great Lakes? Is it what you had imagined (harder or easier)? I remember my first week in boot camp. I was with a rifle company when I first arrived, but they asked for volunteers that could play musical instruments and I volunteered. What I did not realize at the time is that it would add a few weeks to my boot camp time since the band required extra time to get you through the musical portion of your training. But I had a lot of fun with it and it gave me another experience to put in my life folder.
One thing I wish I had access to was some of my letters home during boot camp. I don’t know if I told you or not, but I have all of grandpa Mac’s letters to his parents from the whole time he was in the Navy. There are some really interesting insights into who he was as a person in those letters. I have been working on a project for a number of years to try and get the letters into a format that would be readable for your generation. I am going to send you some of the work over the next six weeks. He had an interesting time in Boot Camp and the letters show some of the struggles he went through.
John C. MacPherson, Jr.
John Charles MacPherson, Jr. was inducted into the Navy on March 8, 1945 (more than a month before he turned 18). He did not have a great time in school and was not known as a strong student. But I think from reading his notes, he did not want to miss out on the chance to be in World War 2. The news in the winter of 1945 was heavily filled with stories of advances in Europe and the Pacific. Our forces had survived the Battle of the Bulge and were rapidly advancing into Germany. The famous battle at the Bridge at Remagen occurred on March 7th and the American armor forces were racing into Germany over the undestroyed bridge. The McKeesport Daily news carried stories of many home town boys who were serving America in places as far away as the South Pacific and young John (as well as many boys his age) probably thought the whole thing would be over before he could get his turn.
So on the afternoon of March 8, he departed on a very long train ride from Pittsburgh to the US Naval Training Center at Sampson New York. The camp had been built specifically for the purpose of training large quantities of men for the massive build up that was required to fight a truly world war. The camp was constructed on the shores of Lake Seneca and could train up to 20,000 men at a time in its 300 acre facility. John and many other weary travelers arrived on March 11 1945 to start his journey. There are two postcards and a short note that he somehow managed to get off the train on his way there postmarked March 9.
March 9 Letter to mother Helen:
What say Mom and Pop
Well we are laying over and nobody knows where but some place. Its 5:30 and I didn’t sleep all night. There were three cars of sailors and OH BOY whats left of those cars wouldn’t make a good cattle car. Everybodys been seasick on the train. I certainly had a good time last night. We’re in for a big day and I can’t think of much more to say
(John’s nicknames during high school were Butch, Foo, Goofer and Sonny)
Of course in WW2, there was no airline that was capable of moving large quantities of men around the country so the train systems were tasked with delivering new recruits to the training facilities and graduates to the various ports of embarkation to join the war effort. In addition, the factories were building tanks and trucks and airplanes at a tremendous rate to help our troops already in the fight. Between the raw materials and the finished goods requiring shipment to the seaports, troops trains often slipped to the lower end of the priority scale. That explains why a train leaving Pittsburgh would take three days to travel 250 miles (a trip that would only take 3-4 hours in today’s travel environment.)
On March 11th, an official Navy Department post card was sent to Boston PA informing the MacPherson family that their son, AS John C. MacPherson had arrived safely and a letter would follow. That letter was from Commodore H.A. Badt, the Center’s Commander. Here is what he had to say to my grandparents:
US Naval Training Center
Sampson New York
My dear Madam or Sir:
We are happy to inform you that a member of your family has reported to this center to begin training for the United States Navy. The Navy has gladly accepted the responsibility for his welfare and security.
When a man enlists in the Navy, he is assigned to a Naval Training center for fundamental recruit training. During this period, the Navy endeavors to produce a future leader of men, a man of whom his family, his community and the Service will be proud. The Navy guarantees you that the recruit will receive the best medical and dental care possible, and his metal and moral welfare is assured. Religious counsel and opportunities for worship are ever present. Men of all faiths are under the constant supervision of the Chaplain Corps, and services are conducted on the Center on a weekly basis.
The first twenty-one days at the Training Center are spent in detention, which is necessary as a health measure. Good health, a Navy tradition, is furthered by prohibiting visitors during the detention period. Entertainment, recreation, library and store facilities are all available to the recruit through his training to help overcome homesickness.
While visiting is not prohibited after this detention period, it is restricted. Your attention is particularly invited to the total lack of hotel and restaurant accommodations, as well as transportation facilities in this vicinity. Recruits are here for a comparatively short period, and will ordinarily be granted leave at the end of their recruit training. You can save rubber, oil and gasoline, or space on a train vitally needed for troop movements, thereby contributing your part to the war effort, by remaining at home with positive assurance that he is busy, healthy and happy.
If you desire to visit a member of your family at this Center, it will be necessary to have him request a pass, which he will mail to you. Each pass is good for the date specified only. Passes are available during his sixth, seventh and eighth weeks of training. Since visiting is restricted to immediate members of the family, this pass is necessary to identify you as an authorized visitor. Visiting under these conditions is limited to Sundays from 1:00 P.M. until 4:30 P.M. Patients at the Naval Hospital may receive visitors on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday between 2:00 P.M. and 4:00 P.M.
Cheerful letters from home are of real benefit to the recruit, and are the best means of encouraging him to correspond frequently. Although the recruit is instructed to write home often, he sometimes fails to do so. This should not be cause for alarm, however, for you will be notified immediately in case of serious illness. Letters addressed to him at “U.S. Naval Training Center, Sampson, N.Y. Company 510 will be delivered promptly to him while he is in training. You should instruct him to keep you informed of any change in his address, so that his incoming mail will not be delayed.
In the event of serious emergencies arising at home, the recruit should be notified by telegraph as incoming telephone lines are required for official use. If a return call is requested, public telephones are available.
Inquiries regarding recruits should e addressed to:
Recruit Training Command
U.S. Naval Training Center
H. A. BADT
“Stay in Line and March inside”
From Frederick W. Box, Company 115, Sampson Naval Training Center:
“That was the first of many orders we received upon arrival at the Sampson Naval training Station receiving center on a cold winter afternoon… Several hundred recruits from New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey followed their first order that day and formed lines against the wall on the main deck of the large building. A number of Petty Officers and seamen were in charge of the detail.
A chief petty officer bawled out our names and assigned each man a number. With that number in ink on our wrist, we lost our civilian identity. In a short time we had changed from civilians to “Bluejackets” at least in appearance.
Most of the men traveled long distances and had been without food since breakfast. So the receiving routine was momentarily halted while the recruits were given their first Navy meal. The meal consisted of ham loaf sandwiches, with no butter on the bread, a hot cup of coffee and an apple.
Fifteen minutes later we started filling out clothing, express and dental examination “chits” the Navy term for slips (of paper). Then the Yeoman’s section filled out our medical examination forms. A seaman guide took our medical and clothing forms and ordered us topside (second floor).
After we climbed the “ladder” to the top deck, the men with singing or instrumental experience were interviewed by two chaplains. Later, we learned that men with choral experience were assigned to a “choir company,” the second to be established on the station.
Examinations and Inspections:
After the dental examination, the men disrobed preparatory to moving through the line of medical experts. Clothes were packed in boxes for shipment home, and only watches, rings, toilet articles, pocketbooks and money belts were retained. These few items were placed in a pillow cover and carried during the physical examination.
A station system is used for the physical. Specialist examine the eyes, ears, throat, chest, heart, legs and arms, and every other part of the body. The doubtful cases received an ink questions mark or cross mark on their chest and are given a re-examination before being fully accepted for Naval duty. Few if any men “flunked’ that day.
Every man will remember the first day in the Navy for many reasons. One is the typhoid and tetanus injections, the cowpox inoculations, and the blood test. Several of the less hearty, who let their imaginations run away from them keeled over after receiving their shots. For the most part, however, the men took it in stride. Full effect of the shots were to come later in the day, we were to learn.”
Letter from John, March 12th 1945
Dear Mom Pop
Jack and Ixxy
I’m sorry I can’t write more but we are awfully busy. I got my shots and my arms pretty sore. I got my haircut and head shaved. This isn’t what I call a good life but it will only be for a little while. Tell everyone hello and I’m feeling fine. I’m a little tired from that train ride but we slept well last night. Ben and I got separated. I don’t know any kids except Moser whose bunk is right next to mine. Well, I’ll write later.
Your son and brother
Mose says hello Mom and Pop
Say Hello to Nancy
After the shots and medical examinations, the recruits were issued their clothing. The cost of a full sea bag at that time was $113.95. If you put it into comparison with today’s dollars, that was an enormous amount of money. The men walked down long lines and had their clothing thrown at them by the issuing storekeepers. Then the items were placed in their mattress covers. Included in the issue were: undress blues, dungarees and complete accessories, winter and summer underwear, a “pea” coat, gloves, wool blankets, pillow and mattress covers, swimming trunks and a ditty bag. Everything was provided with the exception of a razor, shaving soap or cream and needles. (Uncle Bob Note: in the summer of 1972, recruits were given a chit book that allowed them to purchase the toilet items they would need. Of course that amount was deducted from the pay we would later receive. I still have that chit book since I was never able to spend all of the money in it).
Second Letter from John to his Dad dated Monday March 12, 1945
I’m sorry about that letter. I didn’t have a chance to open it but I hope you will send it right away. We weren’t allowed to keep anything but our shoes and they give you about two minutes to have that box packed so I hope you understand. The Navy’s swell Pop. I feel like a million bucks. Don’t let Mom worry because this is really good for me. I would like some pictures of the tornado some of my mates don’t believe me about anything. So be good and take care of Mom.
Lots of love Pops, God will be with us always
After outfitting, the men were photographed and loaded into a truck for delivery to their new home. The first real Navy meal would happen that evening. The dining hall had room for 5,000 men in one hour (1700 at a time) so you can imagine the size of the place. A typical menu would include some kind of soup meat, potatoes or rice, one other vegetable, a green salad, plenty of bread with butter and jam, beverage and desert. The old saying was, “Take all you want, but eat all you take.” Lord help the recruit that wasted anything. After chow, it was back to the barracks for instruction on how to make a Navy “rack” (bunk). Lights out were at 2130 (9:30 P.M. to all you civilians) but most of the guys went to bed as soon as they were able.
From Frederick W. Box Company 115:
“We were all exhausted. Our arms were beginning to ache from the injections and the inoculations. With our arms somewhat sore from all of the shots the men had difficulty finding a comfortable sleeping position. Those who slept 4 or 5 hours were lucky it was restful sleep at best… After what seemed to be an eternity, the dormitory guard shouted “Hit the Deck” which meant it was 5:30 A.M. and time to climb out of the sack, beginning our second day in the Navy.”
Day 2, Letter to Mom and Pop Tuesday March 13 1945
Dear Mom and Pop
Well, we just returned from chow. It was bad today, It never really is bad. We’re going swimming today and we drilled this morning. Its pretty tough marching at first. I guess we will get used to it though. I haven’t received any letters as yet and its pretty hard writing without anything to answer. We had classes this morning too about swimming and physical training calisthenics you know. Our C.O. is a really square guy. Lots of patience and everything. If somebody gets out of step he just talks not yells like some of the C.O.s I only had detail once. I must live right. Well, be good. God will be with us all
Love your son
Each barracks held about 224 sailors. From this group, lifetime friendships would be formed. The wooden structures were not insulated well and were probably drafty in the winters of New York. Every morning at 0600, all of the sailors would come streaming out of their barracks onto the broad parade ground for inspection and calisthenics. The parade grounds were 1200 by 600 feet and were the predominant landscaping feature of each unit.
In the huge gymnasium and drill hall, 600 feet long and 120 feet across, with high wooden arched roof, the men would have formations in bad weather and learn lessons about becoming a sailor. Climbing ropes, working in rigging, or learning close order drill were the order of the day. Each drill hall also had a large concrete pool (60 by 70 feet) where instructions were given to every sailor. No sailor would leave Sampson without at least a basic understanding of how to swim. During what leisure hours they would get, the large hall also provided a place for recreation such as basketball and other indoor games.
In the Pacific, Marines from the Fifth Amphibious Corps on Iwo Jima have confined the remaining Japanese defenders to a small area on the northwest part of the island. More than 800 Naval vessels manned by 220,000 personnel and carrying 60,000 marines had participated in the invasion of Iwo on February 19. Bloody fighting raged on until March 16 when organized fighting came to an end. The Marines had lost 4,189 officers and men killed, 441 missing and 15,308 wounded. Many Navy men were killed and wounded by the Japanese air attacks on the fleet as it supported the Marines. Despite the fact that the war was coming to its inevitable conclusions in both Europe and the South Pacific, the sailors in boot camp had nothing to worry about… their turn to fight was still secured.
Letter to Mom and Pop March 15 1945 (postmarked 11:00 AM)
Dear Mom and Pop
I just thought I would write. We just got up and that time is 5 o’clock. I like it a lot but its getting more busyier now. Boy, do you haft to do what they tell you. Like for example, if you go through a door and step on a door jam you just might have to stand watch 12-4 in the morning. When you stand watch you lose sleep on your own time. We got all of our names stenciled on our clothes and stored away in our lockers. Or if you are marching and whisper to someone you get guard duty. Nobody knows whats on the schedule for today but we’ll find out very soon. Well, tell hello to everybody. Mom don’t worry about me because I am really learning discipline up here And I hope Daddys cold gets better fast and please don’t forget my birthday present. I won’t be home for ten weeks at the least. A few kids around camp have scarlet fever and if everyone gets it its gonna be bad. We will be quarantined and I won’t get home for maybe 15 weeks more. Well, I hope I get home in 9 more weeks. Well, so long Mom and Pop. I’ll write again tomorrow,
Love your son
From the Official History of Sampson:
Besides medical and dental care to insure physical condition, the Navy took special pains in another department to make sure its “boots” were strong, healthy and happy – and that was the food. At Sampson, the job of feeding 30,000 trainees had been dropped into the lap of Commander James Fellis, Supply Corps USN who was recalled from retirement just before the war.
Cooking would be accomplished in a state of the art electric galley with labor saving devises on all sides to speed the work of 289 cooks and 80 bakers who will dish up chow for the station.
Letter to Mom and Pop March 16, 1945
Dear Mom and Pop
Its about 7:00 and we finished supper. The food up here is lousy. I hate to think of going to the mess hall. We had eggs this morning and was it super lousy. It must have been synthetic or something. We stored our gear in our lockers this afternoon and is that a job. My are they particular. You get to smoke about three times a day and then only in a real small room. You really can’t breathe. My baggage will be home in a couple of days. How about sending me something to eat. All the kids up here are pretty nice. They come from everywhere. Mass, R.I. Conn. For example. They call us skin heads, moth balls, needle bait. I just came back from the drill hall and Joe Louis was there. He was about two feet away from me. Can he hit that bag! Well, I’ll write again. Its time to clean the barracks
So be good, Your son
Apprentice Seaman Foo
Letter to the Family March 17th 1945
Well, I got another 5 minutes to write. We drilled all day long – I mean drilled well. We got another shot today and my arm is starting to feel it now. I’m really sorry I didn’t have time to write but there’s a war on. Boy was I disappointed today. I got no mail from no one tell somebody to please write. Letters mean more than anything up here. It almost makes you cry when the mail call is sounded and you have no mail. Tell some of the kids to write that I don’t have time to write. I write a nice letter on Sunday to all of you but at the present I can’t. I washed last night and again tonight as we have a Commanders Inspection tomorrow morning and everything has to be just write. I get a lot of letters from your family but I would like more people to write. We all got our uniforms the first day and haircuts the first day. I’ve been so tired I sometimes don’t know what I write. I didn’t sleep last night at all. That standing watch is some job – not for me. I really like it though, its swell. Our Chief is the best in the unit. That ”G” in my address stands for Gilmore. The food I’m getting used to. Ben, that kid from Pittsburgh got separated He’s over in “F” unit right across the creek about 20 feet away but we are not allowed over there for about 8 more weeks. Things are going real smooth and good. I got the dumbest bunkmate a sailor can have. I had my locker stored up and that censored took out my blues and messed them up. Well its about 5 o’clock and time for chow. Be Good.
August 9, 2005
Well, you are well into your second week of boot camp and I am sure you are starting to feel like a real old-timer now. The fun part will be as you watch all of the other “newer” boots coming in behind you. Of course your boot camp is pretty different than the ones just twenty years ago. Correct me if I am wrong, but I understand that many of the activities you do are co-ed. I can’t even imagine what that would be like. Boot camp was difficult enough without the presence of women, but I am sure that all of you look at things much differently now.
CINCPOA PRESS RELEASE NO. 39, MARCH 17, 1945
For twenty‑six days on Iwo Island, the United States Marines fought under conditions which have had no parallel in the war against Japan. Our troops have now defeated the enemy despite every natural advantage of his defenses.
This accomplishment was made against concentrated fortifications which approached, as closely as it is possible to do so, impregnability against attack by mobile forces employing every useful weapon available in modern warfare.
From the opening day, when at H‑hour the pre‑invasion bombardment successfully beat down the island defenses long enough for the troops to gain a foothold which they were never to lose, our forces met and solved problems which could have been insuperable for men less resolute in mind, heart and purpose.
Volcanic ash which immobilized even tracked vehicles and made them motionless targets; artillery long since registered on every possible landing place; interlocking and mutually supporting pillboxes and strong points; underground labyrinths extending a total of many miles and the result of many years of military planning and construction; defenses whose depth was limited only by the coastlines of the island; a garrison which was made up of units of the enemy forces especially trained to utilize the defensive advantages of this island; a terrain that was characterized by a high volcanic cone, cliffs, deep gulleys, several commanding hills and a series of terraces rising from the beach to the prominences and plateaus which had to be taken these were the problems of Iwo Island.
That it was taken was the direct result of the fortitude of our officers and men who, by 14 March, had killed more than 21,000 of the enemy.
In achieving this victory, the forces involved lost 4,189 officers and men killed, according to reports from the front line units at 1700 on 16 March.
The wounded, a very considerable number of whom suffered slight wounds or combat fatigue and have already been returned to action in the Iwo operation, numbered 15,308. Missing in action are 441 officers and men.
The majority of our seriously wounded have been evacuated from the island by hospital ship and by evacuation aircraft. Complete medical facilities are operating to provide the best possible care for those wounded on Iwo Island.
Letter from John to his parents, Sunday, March 18, 1945
Dear Mom and Pop
Well, I thought I was going to have an easy day but it turned out different. I went to church this morning and that bulletin enclosed is our church bulletin. We have church in the drill hall and to tell you how big the drill hall is, well, I can’t really explain it if. You can play about 25 or so games of basketball on the basketball floor. I washed clothes all day and had detail this afternoon to clean up the wash room. We saw a movie last night “Lost in a Harem” with Abbott and Costello.
We get our blue uniforms tomorrow and we will be allowed around our unit at night. The weather up here is really great. It is sure hard to write. There are guys yelling around here and you get all mixed up. I was lucky with those shots. Boy about ten guys passed out and was terribly sick Friday night but I got over it fast. The shots are a double typhoid shots and everybody gets a light case of typhoid.
Its 5 o’clock and we eat at 5:30 and I’m ready to eat. We had steak for diner. Boy the food is improving here. I guess I’m getting used to it.
We mopped the barracks up and down Friday night and then we didn’t have inspection. Boy just think, I’ll be starting my third week on Friday> We get to go to Geneva NY on our 6th or 7th week for one night. We don’t expect to break camp for 8, 9 or 10 weeks – we’re not sure. You have to watch your step up here or you’ll get set back a week for the least little things.
Tell everybody to write. I love to read letters. Well, I better get washed for chow now. I might write another letter later tonight. Be good Mom and Pop and quit getting colds. Don’t forget about my birthday present Mom, please.
God keep you both in good health and happiness.
Your loving son always, apprentice Seaman
N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 585, MARCH 19, 1945
1. U. S. submarines operating in Far Eastern waters have sunk 15 enemy vessels, including two escort vessels and three destroyers. The vessels sunk were:
2 escort vessels 1 large tanker
1 large cargo transport
6 medium cargo vessels
1 medium transport
1 small cargo vessel
2. These actions have not been announced in any previous Navy Department communiqué.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 304, MARCH 19, 1945
Carrier aircraft of the Pacific Fleet continued their attacks on Japan on March 19 (East Longitude Date). They attacked Kobe Kure and other objectives in and around the Inland Sea.
The Marines on Iwo Island continued to search out snipers and isolated remnants of the enemy garrison on March 19.
On the same date Army fighters from Iwo bombed and strafed the airfield and radio stations on Chichi Jima in the Bonins.
Letter from John to his parents on Monday March 19, 1945
Dear Mom and Pop,
Well we just got our blues on today. Me and Ed went to ship’s service tonight and heard some real hot jazz, boy was that hot stuff. We had classes today and I filled out an allotment for you. 15 bucks a month and took war bonds later. We have recognition practice every day – today we had ships of all different kinds. I’m really beginning to like the Navy a lot now. They can’t call us skin heads anymore or needlebait or bloomer girls. We had a General Order test and inspection today and I passed them both and tonight I have no detail for once. Did Auntie get her letter yet? Its funny I haven’t heard from her. How about finding Murt’s and Kredo’s address and I’ll try and look them up if there in our unit. And call Sue Wood up Ixxy and ask her if she got any letter from me and if she didn’t tell her to write. Tell Jack to get rid of that old car and take a good car in hand. Tell Nancy I’ll remember her everyday like the rest of you. Mom, get rid of that cold or I’ll come over the hill. Tell everybody to write. I don’t have much time yet, but maybe later.
As always, your son and brother
Second Letter from John to his parents on Monday March 19, 1945
Dear Mom and Pop,
Well yesterday was supposed to be our day off but we worked harder than we have since we got here. I went to church yesterday and we had communion and it was real nice to see all the fellas taking communion. You go to the alter and kneel and they give you a disk or cake of bread and dip it in the wine. Then he gives it to you. Our C.O. and assistant C.O. had the weekend off and are they going to be surprised when they see the barracks. I went to a show last night only because I had to. It’s a muster in the Navy. It was a radio broadcast in Sullivan Auditorium. Sampson has an orchestra and they put on a show every Sunday afternoon at 2:30. So if you can get Sampson on Sunday afternoon you’ll hear my yelling because it’s a muster to go every Sunday. We have a radio in the barracks now and it plays morning til night. I don’t know how long its going to last. I can’t eat the eggs they give us because they are powdered and they taste awful. I am getting to like it much better even though it is getting tougher every day. You say you can’t figure out the clue, well I can’t tell you – it’s a military secret. Even if you guess what it is I can’t tell you if you’re right. Well, God Bless you both Mom and Pop.
So long, lots of love, your son,
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 305, MARCH 20, 1945
After a day of destructive attacks on the enemy air force in Kyushu the Fast Carrier Task Force commanded by Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, moved northeast and on March 19 (East Longitude Date) attacked the principal units of the Japanese Fleet in its home bases in the Inland Sea. During these attacks crippling damage was inflicted on the Japanese Fleet and many Japanese aircraft were destroyed.
A preliminary report from Admiral R. A. Spruance, Commander Fifth Fleet, who was present in tactical command of the Fleet forces engaged shows that the following damage was inflicted on the enemy during the two days fighting
200 shot out of the air
275 destroyed on the ground
More than 100 damaged in the first day’s attacks, and a large number
damaged in the second day’s attacks.
Six small freighters
One or two battleships
Two or three aircraft carriers
Two light aircraft carriers or escort carriers
Two escort carriers
One heavy cruiser
One light cruiser
One destroyer escort
A large number of installations including hangars, shops, arsenals and oil storage facilities were destroyed.
Our aircraft losses in combat were extremely light.
The enemy made many air attacks on our forces. None of our ships was lost. One of our ships was seriously damaged and is returning to port under her own power. A few others received minor damage but are fully operational.
Mopping up operations were continued by the Marines in Iwo on March 20.
N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 586, MARCH 21, 1945
The submarine USS Barbell is overdue from patrol and is presumed lost. Next of kin of officers and crew have been notified.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 306, MARCH 21, 1945
On March 20 (East Longitude Date) Army Liberators of the Strategic Air Force bombed the airfield on Chichi Jima in the Bonins. Army Mustang Fighters based on Iwo dive bombed barracks, a radio station and other installations on Chichi on the following day.
Letter to Mom and Pop on Thursday March 22nd 1945
Dear Mom and Pop
Well, I just returned from chow which wasn’t so bad for a change. I saw a movie last night “Laura”. It was pretty good. We have movies on Saturday and Wednesday night if you have all your washing done. I might call home on Sunday at 5 o’clock so please be home. I might not get a chance but I will sometime. Those cookies were really swell. I didn’t have any time hardly at all yesterday so I couldn’t write. I can read letters on the double but I can’t write them that way even though I try. I got a letter from Auntie the other day. Mom please get that birthday present for me. That’s all I ask. Take the money from Goffer or hock something of mine. Daddy tell Curt to write a letter, tell him he isn’t that busy. Tell Sue Wood I would like to hear from her. I don’t know if I have the right address for her or not. Tell Tom Mansfield not to enlist – he’s crazy if he does because this is no place for a kid like him. The time flies fast here. Tomorrow we start out third week Navy time. Well, be good Mom and Pops, God keep you both safe and healthy.
Your son Butch
Well Theo, that is the end of week two in 1945. It was a different time but it did have a lot of similarities. There was a war on and after four very hard years, many Americans were ready for it to be over. But the major difference is that in those days, the enemy was easier to identify and everyone knew that we could not quit. I hope our fellow Americans will wake up to the fact that honorable men and women will always have to step up to defend their fellow mankind from evil. It has always been that way and it probably always will be.
We both hope you are doing well and look forward to hearing about your adventures someday.
Take care, Uncle Bob
August 15, 2005
If my estimates are correct, you should be in your third week now. Each day means another day behind you and a day closer to becoming a full-fledged sailor. There have been a lot of stories on the news the past few days about the ending of WW2. This is the 60th anniversary of the end of that great victory. The next section covers the time frame from March 23rd to March 31.
From Sampson Naval Training Center History:
With war priorities creating shortages in almost every kind of construction materials, the task of seeing that the Sampson Station was rushed to completion on schedule was formidable. With combat needs monopolizing steel for example, it was necessary to use only the absolute minimum of this material. The Sampson Station, when completed, would have less steel in its 392 buildings than any other project of its magnitude built since the beginning of reinforced steel construction. A total of 41,000,000 board feet of lumber went into the frame structures that made up the station.
In his leisure time, the trainees may head for the ship’s service building. Here are a barber shop, short order cooking restaurant, soda fountain, shoe repair, laundry and tailoring facilities, post office, bowling alleys, card tables, and upstairs the study rooms and library, along with a porch looking out over the hill-crowned surface of Lake Seneca. With movies in the evening at the drill hall, taps by 11:00 PM and a full days schedule facing him beginning before 6:00 AM the next morning, is it any wonder that the average young Bluejacket is counted on to spend most of his time in the barracks?
Letter from John to his parents Friday March 23rd 1945
Dear Mom and Pop
Boy, yesterday was a busy day. Last night we went to Sullivan auditorium and saw a 15 “girl” band. They were very good. We were picked to go as “Navy Volunteers” (in other words, drafted). The weather up here is anything but spring. It rains every day and then gets cold at night. The last day it didn’t rain was Sunday. I got a letter from Ed’s parents thanking me for that letter. I can’t find Kreta or Murtha. They must not be in G unit. The auditorium we were in last night seats between 5-8 thousand. It’s really a big place. There are about 80,000 in this camp and its all barracks every place you look is barracks. I’m on the 12-4 watch again tonight and I’m going to try and get a little rest tonight. Well today starts our third week Navy time here. It will possibly be only 7 more weeks. I hope the next 3 go as fast as the last two. I have to shave every morning. We have inspection tomorrow morning and nobody has any clean clothes because the clothes room won’t dry in the rain. I’m gonna try and write a letter to Aunt Ruth now so I’ll sign off for today. Be good and get rid of that cold Mom. And Pop don’t worry about that car, I’ll fix it good when I get home.
God keep you both in good health, your son,
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 307, MARCH 23, 1945
Further reports by the Fifth Fleet of attacks by carrier aircraft on Japan during the period of March 18 to 21 (East Longitude Dates) reveal damage inflicted on the enemy air force in addition to that reported in communiqué No. 305 making the total:
281 aircraft shot out of the air.
275 aircraft destroyed on the ground.
175 aircraft probably destroyed or damaged on the ground.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 308, MARCH 24, 1945
Following the destructive attacks on objectives in the Inland Sea on March 19 (East Longitude Date), fighting between the carrier‑based aircraft of the Fifth Fleet operating in Japanese home waters and the enemy air force based on Kyushu, Shikoku and Honshu continued on March 20 and 21. Although complete details are not yet available reports show that large numbers of Japanese aircraft were shot down both by the fire of the Hellcat and Corsair fighters of the Fleet and by its antiaircraft guns. On the afternoon of March 21 approximately fifty enemy aircraft were shot down in one encounter with a loss of three of our fighters. During this fighting one of our destroyers was seriously damaged and one larger unit received minor damage.
On March 23 and 24, in bad weather, units of the U. S. Pacific Fleet struck objectives in the Ryukyus including aircraft, shipping, airdromes and installations in the Kerama‑Retto at Okinawa, at le Shima and at Minami Daito Shima. Carrier aircraft destroyed some enemy shipping and damaged numerous small craft. Fast battleships attacked coastal objectives with their heavy guns.
Letter from John to his Parents Saturday March 24, 1945
Dear Mom and Pop,
I got bad news for me. We had commodore’s inspection today and our barracks failed. I was okay and my locker was okay. The floor wasn’t clean enough and some crazy half-wits didn’t square their lockers away. It’s the first nice day we have had in about a week and now we are restricted or not allowed out. Gee, I wanted to call you up tomorrow but we’re not allowed out of the barracks at all. I stood watch last night from 2 to 4 and the barracks got up at 4:15 to start work for the inspection. So you can realize how tired I am from not having any sleep. We saw a stage show last night, an all girl band, the same show I saw on Thursday. When they need men to fill up an auditorium or something they call on us. I got a letter from Sue, Jo Pleasant and Helen Kasbury. It makes me feel good they didn’t forget me. And I certainly enjoyed that box Mom, it was real good. Well, I will have more time to write now that I am not allowed out. Keep writing, I like your letters very much.
God be with you both Mom and Pop,
your son Butch.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 310, MARCH 26, 1945
Carrier aircraft of the U. S. Pacific Fleet attacked airfield and other installations on Okinawa in the Ryukyus on March 26, (East Longitude Date).
Shore installations on the island were brought under fire by fast battleships.
During these operations our forces were attacked by a small group of enemy aircraft of which six were destroyed. One of our light units suffered some damage.
An enemy air attack was broken up and a number of enemy bombers were destroyed off Iwo Island by Army Black Widow night fighters during the night of March 25-26. No hostile planes reached the island.
N. D. COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 587, MARCH 27, 1945
The submarine USS Albacore is overdue from patrol and is presumed lost. The next of kin of officers and crew have been informed.
The activities of Pacific Fleet and Seventh Fleet submarines grew more extensive and varied after 1 March 1944. As previously, they operated aggressively against enemy combat ships and commerce. No waters of the Pacific were too remote for their operations and their patrols carried them to the interior lines of Japanese sea communication, where they have littered the bottom of the ocean with the sunken wrecks of a large part of Japan’s once great merchant fleet, as well as many naval vessels. Their contribution to the success of our advance in the Pacific is noteworthy. Besides their combat patrols, the submarines have rendered invaluable service on reconnaissance missions and have rescued many aviators shot down during strikes against various Japanese bases.
Letter from John to his parents, Tuesday March 27th, 1945
Dear Mom and Pop
Gee I feel great. I feel better now than I have ever been. We cleaned the barracks this morning, and I cleaned the heating pipes and I look like that little dark boy himself. There is not much news this morning. Do we have fun!. When you eat chow, if you turn your head, somebody steal half your food… no kidding. When you take a shower somebody drops the soap look out, that means you get whacked where it hurts the most. It looks as though Nancy is getting badder every day. I hope she recognizes me when I get home. If you haven’t figured the clue, well, I’ll write it again: 1M7. More than I want of anything is the radio in the car for my birthday. It will mean so much to me. I know where you can get one real cheap. See Legs and buy the one he bought for his father. The kid who was buying my car is here someplace at Sampson so Pop, find another buyer and get what you can for it. Kreta is in G10 so he is only five barracks from me. That’s swell. I have only seen him once but I might get permission to go see him tonight. Well, be good and God Bless you both Mom and Pop. Say hello to everybody
Your son Butch
Nancy Patrick Spring 1945
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 312, MARCH 28, 1945
During the period of March 25 to March 27 inclusive (East Longitude Dates) carrier aircraft of the U. S. Pacific Fleet ranged over the Ryukyu Islands from the Niyako group to Tanega Island, attacking aircraft, shipping and installations. Preliminary reports of damage inflicted on the enemy, in addition to that previously reported, include
Three destroyers or destroyer escorts damaged
One large cargo ship damaged
Two medium cargo ships damaged
Two small cargo ships damaged
Many small craft wrecked
Eight to ten luggers burned
One whaler beached and burned
Twenty‑five aircraft shot out of the air
Thirteen aircraft burned on the ground
Submarine pens at Unten Bay on the west coast of Okinawa heavily hit
Gun positions, landing craft, airfields, warehouses, barracks, trucks, and other targets heavily hit at Amami, Tokuno, Okinawa and Kikai Islands.
Some of our units suffered damage under enemy air attacks.
Hellcat and Corsair fighters, Avenger torpedo planes, and Helldiver bombers, continued their attacks on enemy positions in the Ryukyus and battleships continued to shell shore installations on March 28.
Letter from John to his parents dated Wednesday March 28th 1945
Dear Mom and Pop
Well, I’m taking life easy today. Our C.O. said we could have a rest as I told Izzy. I go on guard at dinner tonight so I can’t say too much. That box was swell Mom. Thanks a lot. Daddy, I got that letter and thanks a lot and I promise I’ll do what it says for my own good. You shouldn’t have put that 5 bucks in it. I don’t need much money. We took storm windows off the barracks around here yesterday from regimental headquarters to G-6. That doesn’t mean much to you, but it really doesn’t matter. We have only one radio and I am lucky, I’m only two bunks away from it. I went to ships service last night and I ate 8 candy bars one after another. I almost looked like a candy bar. I don’t have to worry tomorrow about my teeth because I’m only having one pulled. Boy, remember how I waited for a haircut? Well, here you stand up and wait. There is a great change in me though. I don’t delay anything anymore. I do things on the double. We start our work week Thursday and there are rumors that we will have boiler watch. Off 2 hours and work 4 hours, that’s not so bad. In a mess hall you start at about 3 in the morning and quit sometimes about 10 or 10:30 at night. That’s not much time to clean barracks and sleep. Boy, those poor kids.
Well, God Bless you both Mom and Pop. Your son,
From Sampson Naval Base History:
Starting in the third week of training, each boot receives six tests which help the Navy to determine his aptitudes. The tests are in mathematics, English, spelling, radio ability, mechanical ability and general intelligence. Occasionally when a recruit does particularly well, he is allowed to enter a service school at once. After the tests, a squad of forty interviews… deliver work lectures in the units and conducts private fifteen minute talks with each Blue Jacket. By and large, the Navy considers, first, what it needs of the moment are and secondly a man’s preference.
After a sixteen week course in service school, the men can qualify as third class petty officers at $78.00 per month. Second class seamen earn $54 per month and have to earn their crow after they reach the fleet.
Letter from John to his parents on Friday March 30th 1945
Dear Mom and Pop,
I’m sorry I didn’t write yesterday but I know you understand. We didn’t have much spare time. It’s a little cold this morning. Yesterday it was really hot. We had our interviews yesterday. My first choice is basic engineering and second choice is Motor Machinist Mate. They wanted me to go to gunnery school or Armed Guard. Armed Guard is on Merchant vessels and I didn’t want either one. They wanted me to go to the Sea-Bees but I said no. My chance of going to school are pretty slim but that is better than the sea bees. I’ll probably get stationed on a ship. My ship will be a destroyer. Well, we are ready to go on drilling and gun practice this morning. We had anti-aircraft practice yesterday with a 50 caliber machine gun. You get so many live shots and about twice as many tracer bullets. I did very good. I got about 25 hits out of 50 live shots and 100 tracers. Well, I’m beginning to be a real sailor now. Moser went to sick bay yesterday and isn’t back yet. He has a very sore foot. I’m afraid he’s going to get set back. You are allowed to miss only so many days and you get set back from your company. I saw Kreta twice. He is still restricted to his barracks because he is a skinhead. Well, I’ll try and write this afternoon.
God keep you both safe and happy Mom and Pop.
Your son Butch
Uncle Bob Note:
Dad ended up as a seaman apprentice and eventually became a Storekeeper striker while he was in the Philippines. I never knew until after he passed away that he was almost a Machinist Mate – a rate that both of his sons served as during their careers as Navy men.
Saturday March 31st 1945
Dear Mom and Pop
Happy Easter. I hope you enjoyed your present Mom. Well, I got some real good news. Our barracks passed inspection today. Boy we cleaned this place last night. I opened Izzy’s box and it was swell. I haven’t opened yours yet, but I know it will be swell. I’m saving it for tomorrow afternoon because we have tomorrow off. It’s the first day that we’ve had off since we got here. So you are all guessing about 1M7? Well I didn’t want to tell you. It means 17th of May – that’s the day we break camp. Stoken just told me I go on guard at 4 o’clock to 8 so that’s not good. I’ll miss the movie tonight. Well I think its about time to fall out for chow so I’ll write later.
God be with you both Mom and Pop,
Please forgive the writing because I am laying down and I am very tired. Long days, you know. Hey Pop, I’ll teach you manual of arms when I get home. Don’t forget.
John C. MacPherson (my grandfather/your great grand-father) was a Navy man during the First World War. He was a Coxswain and served from 1917 – 1921. The only thing I know for sure about his service was that he went to Boot Camp in Cape May New Jersey (at a place that now serves as the Boot Camp for the Coast Guard) and that he served on the collier Anthracite. Here is a picture of him after he came home from Boot Camp:
Well, that’s all for now Theo, hope this is at least somewhat interesting to you.
August 22, 2005
Greetings from the other side of Lake Michigan. I am watching the History channel right now (big surprise) and they are showing the Navy’s LCACs in action. (Landing Craft Air Cushioned) They are pretty cool and are the air cushioned vehicles that the Navy uses to ferry the Marines to shore. Your Mom recently told me about your grandfather on her side. He was a Navy man also and participated in many of the invasions we have been discussing over the past four weeks. Apparently, he was a Coxswain on a landing craft and saw a lot of action. You will have to get your Mom to tell you some of the stories before she gets to “mature” to remember them. We never say the O word when it comes to Mom’s and Sister in Laws – or for that matter wives and girlfriends. If for some reason you already know those stories, please write them down. Better yet, wait until you have access to a computer. I have lost my secret decoder ring and can’t always understand the secret code you write in. You are writing in code, right >: ?
April 1, 1945 was Easter and all around the world, people were celebrating Christ’s resurrection. All around the world except where dictators and tyrants still reigned. At Camp Sampson, men were gathered in their respective unit’s Chapels to worship the Risen Lord. Word of the new Japanese weapon called Kamikaze or Divine Wind had already entered the Navy’s language. The Navy men who were training were reminded over and over again that the Japs still had a lot of fight left in them.
The American armada was waiting off the coast at the end of March and on April first, started one of the bloodiest campaigns in American history. The night before, Tokyo Rose (an American educated Japanese woman who regularly broadcast propaganda to the US troops) sent this chilling warning to the waiting soldiers, sailors and marines.
“This is Zero hour, boys. It is broadcast for all of you American fighting men in the Pacific, particularly those of you waiting off the shores of Okinawa… because many of you will never hear another program… here’s a good number ‘Going Home’ … it’s nice work if you can get it… You boys off Okinawa listen while you can, because when you are dead, you’re a long time dead… Let’s have a little juke box music for the boys and make it hot… The boys are going to catch hell pretty soon, and they might as well get used to the heat.” She lost her audience as April first opened to the invasion of thousands of America’s best.
Letter from John to his Parents Easter Sunday April 1, 1945
Dear Mom and Pop,
Well, I’ve just returned from church services and our chaplain had a very good sermon this morning. It was about “Christ has risen” Our Chaplain is a very nice man. I am enclosing our bulleting for today. It is real nice weather out today and I ‘m going down to Kreta’s this afternoon. I got a letter from Aunt Ruth, Gale, a card from Aunt Letty, Jean and Dick, Helen Kasburg, a letter from Sue, Eleanor Hector, Jo Desaunt and May Lou McCrackin and Auntie. Tell Auntie that I don’t have much time to write but thanks for that candy although it got me into some trouble. You see, a sailor is never supposed to chew anything and we fell out on the double and I had a piece of that taffy. You dare not throw anything on the ground in Gilmore Unit, that is as much as dereliction. Well, I put it in my pocket and you know what happened. Boy what a mess. Daddy, we have boat practice every once in a while, you know what I mean. Standby and give way, etc. Last night I had that watch outside and Sampson had one of its daily windstorms. Only yesterday it was one of the worst ones since we’ve been here. It blew wires down, shingles off the huts, and everybody’s clothes all over the campus. And lucky me had to stand in that stuff for four hours. We aren’t getting very many cigarettes either Pop so don’t think you are the only ones not getting them. Stokens, Dietz and I are going to get our picture taken together sometime, maybe today but Stokens Mother and Dad are going to be here this afternoon.
Boy it would be swell if you could come up. You would be proud of G-unit. Its noted as Gestapo Unit because it is so strict. When kids sneak into G from F they think they are in a bad nightmare. But all the visitors think G is wonderful. Everything shines like glass, even the sidewalks. I’m getting pretty good at manual of arms. Mr. Pope, our C.O. thinks he’s got a pretty swell company. Everybody snaps when Mr. Pope says anything because nobody would ever want to hurt his feelings. He’s just like a Dad to every one of us kids. Pop, that’s the Captain of the Head is everybody’s second Dad at our barracks. You ought to see the shower room and the sinks shine at night. Everybody works hard just to please ole Pop. He’s an older man from Boston Mass. And he’s everybody’s friend. He has a PX or ships service but it is nothing to talk about. Mr. Pope told us he would get us what we needed most because he said those jews robbers were out for money, nothing else. Well, you all be good and I’ll write again tomorrow. God Bless you both Mom and Pop.
Bulletin from Camp Gilmore Unit Chapel
The men who came ashore on the first day at Okinawa were amazed at the ease of their landing. As the soldiers started moving inland, 50,000 men were ultimately landed to begin the real battle to take the island. Okinawa was important for its airfields but also because it was a real psychological target for the Japanese and Americans. Whoever could ultimately claim victory would be able to see true victory in the final push to the Japanese mainland.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 317, APRIL 1, 1945
The United States Tenth Army, whose principal ground elements include the Twenty‑Fourth Army Corps and the Marine Third Amphibious Corps, invaded the west coast of the island of Okinawa in the Ryukyus in great force on the morning of April 1 (East Longitude Date). This landing is the largest amphibious operation of the war in the Pacific to date.
Admiral R. A. Spruance, USN, Commander Fifth Fleet, is in overall tactical command of the operation. The amphibious phase of the operation is under command of Vice Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, USN, Commander Amphibious Forces, Pacific Fleet. The Tenth Army is under command of Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr., U.S.A.
The landings were made by ships and landing craft of the United States Fifth Fleet supported by the guns and aircraft of that fleet.
The attack on Okinawa has also been covered and supported by attacks of a strong British carrier task force under Vice Admiral Sir Bernard Rawlings against enemy positions in the Sakishima group.
Troops of the Twenty‑Fourth Army Corps are commanded by Major General John R. Hodge, U.S.A., and the Marines of the Third Amphibious Corps are commanded by Major General Roy S. Geiger, USMC
The attack on Okinawa was preceded by the capture of the islands of the Kerama group west of the southern tip of Okinawa which commenced on March 26. The amphibious phases of this preliminary operation were commanded by Rear Admiral I. N. Kiland, USN The troops consisted of the Seventy‑Seventh Army Division under command of Major General Andrew D. Bruce, U.S.A. The capture of these outposts was completed prior to the main landings on Okinawa and heavy artillery is now emplaced there and in support of the Okinawa attack.
The amphibious support force is under command of Rear Admiral W. H. P. Blandy, USN, who was also present at the capture of the Kerama group of islands and in general charge of those operations. The battleships which form the principal gunfire support element are commanded by Rear Admiral M. L. Deyo, USN.
Fast Carrier Task Forces of the U. S. Pacific Fleet which are participating in the attack are under command of Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher, USN The escort carriers which are supporting the attack are under command of Rear Admiral C. T. Durgin, USN.
More than 1,400 ships are involved in the operation. The landings were preceded by and are being covered by heavy gunfire from battleships, cruisers and light units of the U. S. Pacific Fleet. U. S. carrier aircraft are providing close support for the ground troops. Strategic support is being given by the shore‑based air forces of the Southwest Pacific Area, the Pacific Ocean Areas, and by the Twentieth Air Force.
The operation is proceeding according to plan. The troops who went ashore at (1830, Tokyo time, advanced inland rapidly and by 1100 had captured the Yontan and Kadena airports with light losses.
The capture of Iwo Island gave us an air base only 660 miles from Tokyo and greatly intensified our air attacks on Japan. The capture of Okinawa will give us bases only 325 miles from Japan which will greatly intensify the attacks by our fleet and air forces against Japanese communications and against Japan Itself. As our sea and air blockade cuts the enemy off from the world and as our bombing increases in strength and proficiency our final decisive victory is assured.
April 2nd Letter from John to his parents
Dear Mom and Pop,
Well yesterday was a very busy day. It rained nearly all day. We ran the grinder twice. Its about a mile long. They darned near worked us to death yesterday in the gym. We had manual of arms for about 2 hours. I’m getting plane recognition very well. This morning at 5 o’clock we ran the grinder twice. We got out in the lake for boat drill this morning. I don’t remember whether I told you we had an abandon ship drill or not. You wear your white uniform and swim across the pool, climb up the cargo net on a fake ship and jump off it about 15 feet or more. A lot of the kids were scared to jump. It’s getting tougher every day. That is because we start our work week Thursday then get a liberty to go to Geneva. I was down to see Joe Kreta last night. He hasn’t got his double typhoid needle yet, that poor boy. That is a bugger I know. Well, Bill Mose is in the hospital with pneumonia and I can’t see him because it is out of our unit. I can’t locate Murt. Chow was pretty lousy this morning. I haven’t received a box yet that wasn’t too smashed. That’s too bad. Tell Bess and Jer thanks and I don’t have time to write. I am getting you (Mom) and Isabel a present.
God Bless you both Mom and Pop
Target practice became an important part of the regimen of every sailor. In the Pacific, the Japanese kamikaze units were taking a horrendous toll on men and ships involved with the invasions. Ships were refitted with everything from 30 caliber machine guns on welded posts to state of the art 20 and 40 mm cannons. 5 inch gun mounts which were radar directed and equipped with the secret proximity fused shells designed to explode near incoming aircraft were still unable to stop the dedicated suicide planes from reaching the slow moving ships. The training received at places like Sampson was deadly serious.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 323, APRIL 6, 1945
By late afternoon on April 6 (East Longitude Date), Hellcat and Corsair fighters from two fast carrier task groups of the U. S. Pacific Fleet commanded by Rear Admirals Frederick C. Sherman and J. J. Clark, USN, had shot down about 150 enemy aircraft which were attempting to attack fleet surface units in the area of the Ryukyus. This tally of damage is preliminary and incomplete. Some ships of our forces received minor damage but all remain fully operational.
United States troops on Okinawa continued to attack in both the northern and southern sectors. At midday the Marine Third Amphibious Corps had advanced 3,000 to 5,000 yards against small scattered groups of the enemy on Ishikawa Isthmus. In the south, the Twenty Fourth Army Corps was encountering stiffened enemy resistance in areas organized by the enemy for defense and supported by enemy artillery. Our forces were being supported continuously by ships’ gunfire and by carrier aircraft. During the night of April 5‑6, nine enemy planes were shot down near our forces around Okinawa.
In capturing the Kerama group of islands preliminary to the attack on Okinawa, U. S. forces killed 539 of the enemy and captured 166 prisoners of war.
Search aircraft of Fleet Wing One shot down two enemy aircraft in the Ryukyus area on April 6.
CINCPOA COMMUNIQUÉ NO. 324, APRIL 7, 1945
On April 6 and 7 (East Longitude Dates) the enemy attempted strong counterattacks against our forces operating in the vicinity of Okinawa.
During the late afternoon and evening of April 6, a large force of enemy aircraft attacked our ships and shore installations in the vicinity of Okinawa. One hundred sixteen of these enemy aircraft were destroyed‑55 by our fighters and the remainder by our antiaircraft fire. The attacking enemy aircraft pressed their attacks in with desperation and succeeded in sinking three of our destroyers and damaging several destroyers and smaller craft. No larger fleet units were hit.
Early on April 7, Navy Search Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing One sighted an enemy surface force which had left the Inland Sea and passing south of Kyushu had headed into the East China Sea. The force included the large battleship Yamato, the most powerful ship left in the Japanese Navy, an Agano class light cruiser, one other small light cruiser or large destroyer, and a number of destroyers. A fast carrier task force commanded by Vice Admiral Marc A. Mitscher steamed toward the enemy at high speed and during the middle of the day brought the Japanese Force under air attack.
Our carrier aircraft which had destroyed 245 enemy aircraft on April 6, met no opposition over the Japanese ships but did meet heavy antiaircraft fire. At a point about 50 miles southwest of Kyushu they sank the Yamato, the light Agano class cruiser, the small cruiser and three destroyers. Three other destroyers were left burning. About three destroyers escaped from this attack.
The Yamato was hit by at least eight torpedoes and eight heavy bombs. All the enemy ships were heavily strafed with rockets and machine guns.
Our carriers lost seven aircraft in this action. During minor contacts on April 7, they and their aircraft shot down 30 enemy aircraft. The task groups participating were commanded by Rear Admirals F. C. Sherman, U. S. Navy, A. W. Radford, U. S. Navy, G. F. Bogan, U. S. Navy, and J. J. Clark, U. S. Navy.
The Marine Third Amphibious Corps on Okinawa moved forward steadily in the northern sector throughout the afternoon of April 6. By 1800, it had made advances which placed its front lines across Ishikawa Isthmus from Chuda on the west coast to the mouth of the Kinbaru River on the east coast. In the south, strong enemy resistance developed during the day. From its’ strong defensive positions the enemy employed machine gun, small arms, mortar and artillery fire against the Twenty‑Fourth Army Corps throughout April 6, and the following night. Army troops along the East Coast in the southern sector advanced about 2,000 yards during the afternoon of April 6, and occupied the town of Tsuwa. The enemy in the south was brought under heavy fire by our artillery throughout the day.
The Americans were about to find out that there was a lot of fight left in the Japanese. Before it was all over, the largest amount of American fighting men in any single engagement would pay the ultimate price for freedom.
Letter to John C MacPherson a/s Co. 510 Barracks G5L form his sister Isabel Patrick from Boston PA (Postmarked April 6 1945, 6 PM)
Well, it’s a busy week and I haven’t had much time but I have thought about you often.
The Cleveland folks left this morning and that gives us a chance to rest up before the Sharon folks come.
I had a letter from Harriet saying that Chuck is 1A and had his pre-induction physical. They are waiting further developments. I guess the war will be over and the next one started before they start taking men.
Nancy is in her crib singing at this moment. I can’t tell what song but it sounds like Bob Rhodes Theme song. It sure was good to hear your voice. Of course I didn’t say much and don’t remember what you said, but we sure had some excitement. Jack and I took the steps four at a time and sat with our ears practically glued to the phone.
Walter looks thin but looks alright other than that. Ralph isn’t sure what he wants to do. I think he’d like to go to the Merchant Marine, but Uncle Alex won’t sign.
There was quite an Army Navy discussion last night and I sure hate to think what its going to be like when you all get home. With 2 in the army and 2 in the Navy and Ralph will be the deciding vote.
Well, I’ve lots to do so bye for now
Well, that’s all for the Fourth week in the life of a sailor back in 1945. I hope your experiences are going well and you are doing okay. Aunt Debbie says hello and we are both looking forward to seeing you in your uniform.