Saturday, May 23, 2015

Repairs to battle-damaged USS Macomb

On this date in 1945, crews from Dad's ship Hector began making repairs to the minesweeper, the USS Macomb, badly damaged in the Battle of Okinawa.

The peak in the dreaded Japanese kamikaze attacks came during the period of April–June 1945, at the Battle of Okinawa. The Macomb, participating in the entire operation, shot down many attacking planes without falling victim to a kamikaze strike like so many of her sister ships had. However, on May 3, while she was engaged in a twilight enemy raid, a suicide pilot flew his aircraft into her at gun #3, causing extensive damage and fire. Amazingly, the 500-pound bomb that the plane was carrying passed through one side of the ship and out the other without exploding. Nevertheless, 3 of her crew died, 3 were missing, and 14 were injured. Macomb was relieved on station and proceeded to a safe harbor nearby. After transferring her wounded and taking on fuel, she was ordered to Saipan for repairs, arriving there May 18.

Hector received Macomb alongside on today's date to begin replacing the ships 3- and 5- inch antiaircraft guns and addressing other battle related damage. Macomb remained at Saipan for almost 3 months undergoing repairs. She finally got under way from Saipan on August 1. The ship rendezvoused with the Third Fleet on the 13th, en route to the Japanese home islands. She entered Tokyo Bay just ahead of the USS Missouri, and was on hand to witness the formal surrender on September 2.

Source: NavSource Online

After the war, Macomb continued in service on the East Coast before taking up tours of duty with the Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean in 1949. In 1954, she was decommissioned and transferred to the Japanese government as part of that country’s Maritime Self-Defense Force. Returned to U.S. custody in 1969, she was sold to the Republic of China shortly thereafter.

The USS Macomb received five battle stars for her WWII service.

Sources: USS Macomb War Diary, May 1945; USS Macomb War History

Friday, May 8, 2015

Victory in Europe, 1945

Victory in Europe Day or “V-E Day” finally came on this date in 1945. The despised Adolf Hitler and his Third Reich were finally thrown down. America and her Allies finally crushed the ruthless Nazi regime that from 1933 to 1945, had terrorized Europe and slaughtered millions of people. Indeed, it was a day of great celebration for soldiers like Dad's brother Elwin fighting in Europe, and also for the rest of the world.

But there was still a war against Japan that had to be won.

On V-E Day, Soldiers, Marines, and Sailors like my father aboard the USS Hector in Saipan, were still hard at work trying to defeat Japan. Although the war for America began with Japan’s attack on December 7, 1941, the Pacific Theater had taken a back seat to the European Front. Now with Hitler dead and Berlin in ruins, attention rightly began to turn toward winning the war in the Pacific as soon as possible.

When years later I asked my dad about his reaction to the V-E Day announcement, he could barely remember it. It certainly made no difference to his daily schedule. In fact, when the announcement arrived, there were several ships moored alongside Hector, each with urgent repair needs. In the Pacific Theater, the Battle of Iwo Jima had only recently concluded, and the U.S. fleet was ramping up for the invasion of Okinawa. There was simply too much going on concerning the war against Japan to take more than a passing notice of the hard-won victory in Europe.