Memories of World War II, The Enterprise in the South Pacific
End of an Era
By T.L. Clemens
Questions by Patrick Granfors
Even with the improvements, I can't imagine trying to land those planes in the dark and I'd hate to be the poor schmo standing on the deck tying to direct traffic. 50 flights per hour at IWO Jima for 2 straight weeks is phenomenal. Were the ammo stores that deep or did you get resupplied on the go?
No we did not do any provisioning while underway other than refueling. All ammo was loaded in port, usually Pearl Harbor. We had what was called proximity fuses on the 5 inch projectiles, which would explode within X ft of the target. Whereas the Japs just had contact fuses as far I know.
I'm sure the short rest after that grueling campaign was appreciated. The dud. Did the enemy bombs have fuses on them that failed, faulty detonators or what? E got caught in friendly crossfire? Kind of hard to stay out of the way of each other I suppose once the enemy air attack tactics changed so drastically. Looks a lot like three guys trying to swat mosquitos at the same time with shovels in a tent.
Yes there was always the danger of friendly fire, especially when a Jap flew between a couple of carriers. We shot the hangar curtains full holes on the new Lexington one night. The 40 mm that got that kid in the head was bad luck for him but very lucky for the rest of the gun crew as it would have hit an ammo locker. Yes, the flight deck is a hectic place, and when I was assigned duty as a plane director (yellow shirt) it sure kept you on your toes.
Sounds like your damage control crew had their hands full, especially when the elevator took a direct hit.
Yes, our damage control was top notch, but you must remember all hands had battle stations and fire stations. We tried putting out a fire on the flight deck when a fighter crashed with C02 bottles. Of course with 30 knots of wind over the bow, it was not effective. When we returned to Pearl all flight deck personnel went thru fire school.
Did you make the trip to New York at war's end or did you stay in Bremerton?
No I was not aboard when the Big "E" went to NY. I had already left the ship and was assigned to North Island in CASU #5 to form a new squadron of SB2C dive bombers. The war ended before the squadron was ever ready to go and I was sent to Patuxent River, MD at the Naval Air Test Center. That is where I was when they stopped a plane I was in, taxiing out for take off, and took me off and told to report to Personnel. I did and ended up in Wash DC at Anacostiia Naval Air Station to receive the Navy Unit Citation for the ship, presented by Secrectary of the Navy Forestall and Admiral Halsey. A proud moment!
I noted lots of mixed emotions regarding making the E a museum. Seems a shame to have scrapped her, but to re-emerge as a new flagship was certainly fitting. Your thoughts?
Yes, many of us were very upset that the ship was scrapped. However, as the one sailor said in the last episode, that it was better than having a bunch of screaming brats crawling all over it, and the ship rusting away tied to a dock.