Aaron Ward (DM 34) - Naval Cruise Book

 - Class of 1945

Page 19 of 48

 

Aaron Ward (DM 34) - Naval Cruise Book online yearbook collection, 1945 Edition, Page 19
Page 19



Text from page 19:


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Looking down from the bridge on the fires, the captain, by the light of the fires, watched the struggle against fire and death. "I knew there was a good chance of sinking and considered the possibility of transferring the crew to a vessel which was coming to our aid," he said, "but it never became necessary. Thank God the sea was unusually calm that night. In a heavy seaway we could never have made it." The captain did decide, however, to transfer some of the more seriously wounded on recornmendae tion of Doctor Barbieri.. Within I5 minutes of the last attack an LCI came alongside to lend help in fighting fires, nine casualties were transferred to this ship and -another LCI which soon joined the operation. Earlier this vessel had picked up half a dozen sailors blown overboard from the Ward. By 8:30 PSM., an hour after the last plane hit, the fires were out. An hour after that the Aaron Ward had been taken under tow of a destroyer and was moving toward Kerama Betto at 5 knots. The captain's report records: "Throughout the balance of the night a constant battle was maintained by the damage control parties to keep the Aaron Ward afloat and to bring her to safety. Enemy aircraft were reported as close as seven miles several times and caused considerable concern to the crew which had undergone almost unbearable strain. Anti-aircraft fire was frequently sighted in the area." There was no sleeping aboard the Ward that night. A few of the men ate oranges and other fruit. The captain doesn't remember whether he ate at all. All hands remember, though, that there was no fresh water, and warm Coca-cola was the only thing anyone had to drink. On -the bridge the captain watched his listing ship slip slowly through the water and under his breath he cursed the moon that made the Ward a clear target. "I wanted to get that ship back, and I was afraid something might happen any minute. The ship was in a very unstable condition and there were bogies all around. Our chances weren't too good," he said. "But we made it." That the Aaron Ward made it, the captain said in his report, was evidence of "the finest exhibition of fighting spirit 'and team work I have ever seen." "The commanding officer," he wrote, "is extremely proud ofall the personnel of the Aaron Ward for their magnificent display of courage during the fifty minutes of battle and their calm, coordinated effort of saving the ship after the last attack." That's the way the captain sums up the epic of the Aaron Ward. Certain officers and men were particularly toutstanding, but the success of all, and the careful training that had drilled them all for just such an emergency. 4 The Captain has been rightly commended by his superiors for his conduct during the action. I-le him- self singled out as outstanding several officers and men. Lt. Comdr. Bubel, the gunnery -officer, and his officers and men were particularly deserving of com- mendation, said the skipper, because of the intrepid manner in which they fought the ship throughout the action. "lt was only their deadly defensive fire," said the captain, "that enabled the vessel to survive." The damage control department, under Lt. B. I. Biesmeyer, U.S.N.R., of 629 East Court Avenue, Chare- ton, Iowa, showed great courage and tenacity by all hands in constantly combatting the 'tremendous damage in the 'face of seemingly unsurmountable dangers and attacks. The men of the engineering department did "a magnificent job" under the direction of the engineer- ing officer, Lt. D. A. Young, U.S.N.B., of 675 East Zlst Street, Brooklyn, N. Y. In the face of heavy casualties and power failure caused by the crashing plane they fought to provide such auxiliary power as was available and aided in handling the wounded. The ship's "black gang" also repaired the flooded forward fire room and machinery s-o that the Ward could return to the States under its own power. "They all did a great job," said the proud commanding officer. Throughout the action the captain had 'few orders for his officers. "They knew their jobs, and I think that one fault that develops in such a circumstance is having too many orders issued, After the first hit my principal jolb was to try to regain steering control of the ship. The gunnery officer, who was particularly outstanding, kept the guns firing under extremely advers-e and hazardous circumstances. Every other department did the job it was supposed to do. "The Taps were really out to get us that afternoon. When that first plane crashed aboard I knew this was a new type of co-ordinated attacks on pickets. When I saw the Little get hit. by three of em and sink within I5 minutes I thought maybe we're in for something like that. But they didnt sm-k the Aaron Ward. We had a guardian angel holding up the stern that day." -I 15 1.-

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