Aaron Ward (DM 34) - Naval Cruise Book

 - Class of 1945

Page 12 of 48


Aaron Ward (DM 34) - Naval Cruise Book online yearbook collection, 1945 Edition, Page 12
Page 12

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Z ,br-v I r 111:-v t t l n .....m.-.r.....,.. .4 in F ....,. ..,..,. .M . .. ,gd H , , by our Kamikaze foe. Yet all our spirits were high, our magazines full and guns ever ready. All of us went about our daily tasks, caring for the girl, providing a loving and gentle tenderness that one finds only in battle zones. We knew she was pro-bably the most attended ship in the U. S. Fleet. l-fer engineer- ing plant, her guns, all her vital defensive and offensive equipment was in a hig-h degree of readin.ess. lf and when the lapshit us, and we knew eventuallythey would, we would be ready. ' Came May the 3rd, four days after our arrival on Radar Picket Station lU, four daysthat had been reltaxin-g :because of incessant rain. Still alert and ready, we mfanined our GQ stations, when ClC reported bogies approaching from the west. The four fighters overhead continued making their circular patterns. With this umbrella of CAP and our powerful armament, we felt ourselves invincible, almost eager to do battle with the enemy coming in. Covers were taken off the guns, all boilers were cut in on the main steam line, and we donned our bfattle raiment, poising ourselves for the approaching attack. There was no unus-ual excitement or ne-rvous tension. We were executing a routine that had been synonymous with our duty on the picket station. -Mr. McKay, Sky 3, had already made his reports to Sky Defense and was now exchanging last minute orders and words of encouragement to his men. Long gave his Quad 40 a quick inspection and a pat of affection. The men under them observed and nodded confidently. Eve-ry station on the ship had received the word and made ready for any emergency that might arise. We saw the first attacking planes miles away, speeding swiftly in our direction. Our fighters went out to intercept, but their efforts proved unsuccessful. Then the spectacle of a Kamikaze starting his bullet-like dive unfolded before our eyes. Many times had we fought the enemy planes at night, never witnessing the awe-inspiring picture that had suddenly been flashed before us. This was it, and our ship swirled majestic- ally to starboard to bring all her guns to bear. Our guns blazed, converging their barrage on this first enemy plane. Stubbornly he tried to hold his course, but riddled badly, and ablaze, he crashed some 50 yards away. Those men in Mo-unt 3 will still tell you hiow they were fanned by t'he flames of this doomed plane. Here again, we had triumphed and emerged unscathed. V . y Yet this plane was only a messenger, a harbinger of the ferocious attacks that were to come. We all remember the 50 minutes t-hat followed, how we fought to destroy the enemy, to protect our ship, and later, to-save .a ship that had been horribly mutilated and was in danger of going down any minute. And when the fight with some 20 suicide planes had ended, and 5 had been sent crashing into the sea, and the other 'ES had slammed aboard, the Aaron Ward and her. crew, everyone of us, worked as a team to win the fin-al fight. But in our moment of triumph we did not forget the heavy price we had to pay, and as long as we live, we-shall honor our shipmates who fought with us to their death. T Our fight extended far into the night, and ended only after all fires htad been extinguis-hed and the wounded treated and placed comfortably below. And then came that long, long voyage back to Ke-rama Retto at 5 knots. One ofour sister ships, the Shannon, did a magnificent job in getting us there safely. For h-ours we glided along,.thru a calm sea, a little jittery, flinching at tracers nearby, until morning came, and we reached the "friendly" shores of Kerama Retto. After 6 we-eks in the Retto where we continued to feel the effects of impending dangers and witnessing .numerous attempts of suicide planes to penetrate our fighter screen and attack shipping in our area tsmoke boat, smoke boat, where the h--- is that smoke boatl we were finally repaired, in a jury-rig fashio-n, and 'sent on our long journey back to the States. P I T Well, we made it, arriving in New York via Pearl and the Panama Canal, all of l2,0U0 miles on one engine and one screw. There we-re no brass bands, no reception committees to welcome us on our arrival at the Navy Yard, but who cared. Our than-ks to God and t'he satisfaction of a job well done were our only consolation. All of us had our own little 'lprivateu cele'bration and pr-oclaimed our joy in no uncertain terms. Too, we reverently thought of our shipmates who were not with us to join in the "homecoming", R The war ended on August l4th, three months and several days after. we had fought our big battle, and with its end, we received the sad news that all work would stop on our ship. So badly damaged a ship seemed destined to feel the axe of t'he Navy's campaign to economize. Yet regardless of her fate, the ship, once our home, sword, and shield, will live forever in our hearts. We shall never forget her, nor shall we forge't our comrades, living and dead, who joined us in the figtht for the cause of humanity.. And now, let us slip into the pages of history and resume our tasks in a world that we fought to preserve. i i . T i . . L. LAVRAKAS. - ----.Y 4.-, ,, - ., , fi T ' " " ' 'iii' ri 6 , 'C -I A. 1' t 4 w 1 I t ll 4 51 it I X . Es ks A F Q :X .. rl :C t df .1-vvgifkf-. . I

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