Note from Sandy Eskew
Below is information taken from Robert Casey's
in regards to Bernard "Bernie" Godde's "experience" with an 11" slug.
Casey....I'm sure did his best to report the incident to the best of
his ability....BUT..... Bernie remembers it just a little differently.
I ask Bernie if he would make the "corrections & additions" so that
I could post them in [bold brackets].
by Robert J. Casey
I woke to the noise of a can coming alongside and the clamor of men on
our decks setting up a rig to transfer mail or something. [Bernie
was told it was the oil tanker Neosho. He never heard that it was a
destroyer (can). He said that maybe someone else that was there might
remember for sure.]
Went below and stumbled upon one of the oddest accidents in a somewhat
It seems that one of the eager young men on the can had been assigned
to shoot a line over to us with a handgun, a contraption like a short
rifle powered with a forty-five caliber, seventy-grain shell. The
rifle throws a slug about eight [11"] inches long to which a
heavy [light cotton cord] cord is attached.
I've been watching the working of these gadgets since first we left
Pearl Harbor in January. And at the risk of looking like a
hind-sighted prophet...or a diarist...I must say that I've been
expecting something to happen. A slug of steel eight [11"]
inches long and half an inch think is going to make a hole in
something if it hits....And today was the day...
The lad on the can aimed this contrivance at the passageway across our
deck behind the washroom amidships and let go. The slug cleared
everything except a sailor who had just turned the corner on the port
side. It hit him in the face just below the left eye, went through
him and out at the back of his neck, threading a cord behind it.
The sailor of course was extremely lucky not to have been killed on
the spot. But he is still on the edge of the grave. The doctor is
much worried. As well he might be.
Page 211 & 212
February 23, Monday....
The lad who got hit by the slug from the line gun was running a fever
this morning but the doctor still thinks he will pull through. The
doctor rates it all as a sort of miracle, which of course it was.
The slug, instead of traveling around under the skin as previously
reported, went straight through his head from below the left cheekbone
to the back of his neck. It passed through veins, arteries and nerve
ganglia and apparently didn't rupture any of them.
A warrant officer David D. Hawkins, Comdr
cut the line loose and [Bernie pulled the cord thru from the back of his head] pulled
the slug out. After that the boy walked to the sickbay and retained
consciousness while Capt. James F. Hays worked on him.
There is an apocryphal bit circulating about the ship in connection
with this odd accident. It originates with
Chief Quartermaster G. M. Peck,
(who somehow doesn't stack up too well as an authentic source) but
it might well be true and before this voyage is out will probably rate
with the better legends of the fleet. It seems that this boy was in
the camera room Saturday afternoon discussing the imminence of the new
battle. Peck quotes him as having said:
"I'm not afraid of it. The only bullet that will get you is the one
that's got your name on it and my name's hard to spell." [Bernie
said this could be true. It's a remark he has made, but saying it in
Chief Pecks Camera Room?..... He honestly can't remember doing that.]
Whether or not he said it he is certainly the world's outstanding
proof by example of the theory.
10:05 Down to wardroom for cup of coffee. Find the doctor and his
gadgets occupying most of the premises. The doctor's prize exhibit,
the lad who got hit in the neck [face] by the slug from the
line gun, is lying on a stretcher near the magazine rack. The doctor
is taking no chances of losing this fine case until he can land it in
good condition at Pearl Harbor. Miracles don't happen in the
experience of naval surgeons oftener than once in a lifetime.
I discover that doc's prize patient, the lad who got hit with the line
shot, is up and about. The only mark on him is a little spot under his
left eye. All he'll need will be replacement of a couple of his left
upper teeth. [No teeth were lost, simply loosened.]