The summer of 1945 I was aboard the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City CA25. It
was my privilege to serve on this "One Ship fleet", (so named by the New
York Herald Tribune, 14 FEB. 1943, for having fought more actions and sunk
more ships than any other surface vessel in the history of the United
We were riding anchor in NaHa Harbor Okinawa with the rest of the Cruiser
Division 5 sweating out a Typhoon. Reports kept coming in that it would
miss Okinawa, but suddenly it veered toward us and we received orders to
make a mad dash for the open sea. I was a Fire Controllman and one of my
duties was to man the phones, for the Anchor Detail, as Talker to the
bridge. As always, the Navy does things the Navy way. We already had the
Anchor up and were hosing it down, which would have taken about five more
minutes, when the shrill of the Boson's whistle sounded over the loud
speaker followed by the order "RELIEVE THE WATCH". Here came my relief
Talker so I gave him the headphones and had just opened the hatch on my
fire control shack several hundred feet away when a huge wave struck the
bow. It was like fifteen feet deep on the deck and right on top was my
relief still wearing the headphones being swept overboard. The cry went
out over the PA system "MAN OVERBOARD". We were in rough water and
couldn't stop to pick him up, however, a tanker riding high, soon
signaled that they had picked up our very wet sailor.
In JULY 1945 we anchored in Saipan with (CD-5) to be issued winter clothing
for the planned Northern Invasion of the Japanese homeland. We were on our
way to Kiska to join other parts of the Fleet for the winter offensive.
Needless to say this was very exciting! It was here we first heard about
Uncle Sam possessing a new "Super Bomb" that we were going to drop and end
the war. Bets were being made that the war would be over in two months.
This was an exciting time for me, a 31-year-old Sailor with a wife and a
boy back home. My ambition was to be a civilian!
We dropped anchor 15 AUGUST 1945 at Kiska in the Aleutians when
President Truman came over the radio with the glad tidings "THE WAR WAS
OVER". The Big Bomb had brought the Japanese to their knees and this
sailor had survived the Great War. It was nearly the end of a long wet
trail and some had been aboard for five years. We did not cheer, the
entire ship lapsed into a total silence, then suddenly realized that by
the grace of God, and we were indeed "SURVIVORS". Within hours after
dropping anchor, we received bags and bags of mail, precious mail.
I had a letter from my brother Truit, a Chief Storekeeper stationed on
Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. Truit spent the entire war on this
lonely island with the worst enemy of all "boredom". He relates that
back in July that a sailor came to his office (tent) to apply for
emergency pay, clothing and transportation to Pearl Harbor for
reassignment. Now I will allow Truit to do the talking.
In July 1945 a sailor came to my office to ask for emergency pay etc.
I sat there typing the forms, 6 copies no less, when he informed me he
had lost his ship. When I asked him the name of his ship he replied, CA25
USS SALT LAKE CITY. In horror, I quickly asked if the ship had gone down? The sailor replied "that he had been lost overboard in the Okinawa storm". The next question I asked was "if he happened to know a sailor by the name of Brinson". He gave a startling answer, "that was the SOB that should have washed overboard instead of me".
The time December 25th 1945, Christmas with our entire family. After
finishing our turkey at mother and dad's I related the first part of this
story up through the sailor being washed overboard. Then my brother took
over and related his half of the story. This was some tall but true "tale"
for our after the war family reunion of eight brothers and sisters.
In 1956 while operating a Super Market in Borger Texas, a young man came
to my store to see me. He served in the War and I took him to lunch.
This man was from Elk City Oklahoma. He was the sailor that was lost
overboard off the USS SALT LAKE CITY.
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