USS SLC...Enlisted Navy...Albert A. Jowdy, S1c
May 11th, 2006
My Participation in WWII
I was born July 19th, 1927. I was the 6th child of 9 children. I started Jefferson High School in the fall of 1941 and also played football. One day during practice, I broke my collarbone, which made my father unhappy, to say the least! That's when I told him I wanted to join the Navy. He laughed and jokingly said, "I'll sign for you on your birthday!" Little did he know I was serious.
It all started when a friend of mine and I would ride our bicycles to the downtown US Post Office and visit the recruiting office. We would go after throwing our newspapers during the summer months. The different branches of service were all lined up next to each other. From the start I wanted to join the Navy. The posters read, "Join the Navy and See the World". We would go down there ever day and I would talk to the same recruiting officer time after time. He would tell me to come back after my birthday; he never knew that I was only going to be fifteen. I wanted to join the Navy and my friend wanted to join the Army. Everyone was very patriotic in those days.
The closer it got to my birthday, the more I pestered my dad to sign the papers. Finally, Wed. July 19th, 1942 arrived. My dad and I arranged to meet at the Recruiting Office downtown. The Recruiting Officer had told me to only bring toiletries, no jewelry and no extra clothing. I left home dressed in jeans, (dungarees), wearing a tee shirt and tennis shoes, on the city bus. I only took a toothbrush and toothpaste, as I had not started shaving. I had 25 cents in my pocket and the bus cost a nickel. When I arrived at the post office, my father was there and had already signed the papers. I had previously filled out the forms. When listing the members of my family and their birth dates, it was not easy. I had to put my birthday as July 19, 1925. I had my sister born in Feb. of 1925 and my birthday, July 1925! The Recruiting Officer never said a word. My father just walked away, we did not even face each other. I had signed up for the US NAVY!!!
There were forty recruits that left on the bus at 1:00 p.m. to Houston, TX. We arrived there about 7 p.m. They took us to the Rice Hotel. This was the first hotel that I had ever stayed in and it was first class! They assigned four men to each room. The next morning, we had breakfast and then were taken to have a physical. We then assembled in the lobby at 10 a.m. and were sworn in. That is when my world changed. From the well mannered recruit leaders to the yelling instructors!
We then went on a bus to Houston's Union Central Station and boarded a train to San Diego, CA. There were forty people to each day coach. No air conditioning and it was mid-July. It took us five days and we were not allowed to leave the coach. It was dirty and hot, and cold at night after we reached the desert area. I can remember when going through New Mexico seeing Indians frying eggs on the railroad tracks. When we arrived in San Diego, we were transferred to Navy busses and taken to the Naval Training Center. We were taken to a large room where we were made to strip down where they sprayed us with disinfectant and our clothes were thrown away. We were all cold and scared. We then showered in a group and were given clothes, which we had to stencil our name and company number(A. Jowdy, Co 394). We then went to the barbershop to get our head shaved. From there we were taken to the barracks where we stored our gear and put our mattress covers on out mattresses. By this time it was 3 a.m. and we were more than ready for bed.
Revile was at 5:30 a.m. and we had 15 minutes to get ready. I was in boot camp only one week when I developed the mumps and had to spend three days in the hospital. When I was released, the Navy needed manpower in the Pacific and I was shipped to Treasure Island in San Francisco and then put on a Navy transport, USS HENDERSON, headed to Pearl Harbor.
In Pearl Harbor, our job was to pull bodies from the sunken ships that were destroyed from the attack on Dec. 7th, 1941. We were issued gas masks and sneakers. They had cut holes in the sides of the ships and strung light so we could see. We would get parts of bodies, dogtags and any identification we could find. These were passed on to a boat that would take them to a hospital for identification. We worked approximately 12 hour days.
They needed volunteers for the USS HENDERSON and I was assigned. We picked up 500 Marines that were reinforcements for Guadalcanal. Two days after leaving Guadalcanal we were torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and had to abandon ship. I threw my life jacket over the high side and swam through burning water as far as I could swim from the sinking ship. I looked around for something to cling to and found a life jacket and put it on. I was completely worn out, but the only injury I had was the hair on my head, arms and eyebrows had been singed off and I was covered in oil. We ended up with three life rafts that we tied together. The raft that I was on had wounded men that sat inside and the rest of us sat on the side. We would take turns sleeping, as to look out for each other. Supplies were dropped, including food, water, stretchers and canvas covers to help protect us from the weather. Little did we know that it would be two weeks before being rescued!
We were picked up by the USS FARRENHOLT, a US Navy Destroyer. We thought we were going to get a thirty-day survivor leave, but to my surprise, I was one of ten chosen to go aboard the USS FARRENHOLT! On the third day, we were told that the USS WASP had been torpedoed and needed help. When we arrived, the USS WASP was on fire and the men were abandoning ship. When we went along side to pick up survivors, the next thing I knew, I was flying through the air. We were hit by a Japanese submarine and I was in the water again. This time there were many men and the rotation was easier. We spent four hours on a lifeboat and four hours on a lie raft. We were in the water for about a week and then the USS HELMS picked us up.
After this, I decided to go to submarine school. After arrival in Neumea New Caledonia, I was tested in a diving belt. I then was shipped back to Pearl Harbor and reported to submarine base. They spent two weeks testing us and we would work on the USS SKIPJACK to help get it ready for sea. Each day they would tell us that we were going to Connecticut for school. However, when the ship was ready for sea, they informed us that we were made permanent party.
We sat sail for Port Moresby, New Guinea. We spotted a Japanese ship and fired a spread of three torpedoes and all three were duds. We fired three more; one torpedo made a turn and headed back to our submarine. We had to crash dive to get out of the way of our own torpedo. This alerted the Japanese destroyers and they dropped depth chargers on us for about two hours. We were then instructed to return to Pearl Harbor because of the defective torpedoes. I developed pneumonia and that ended my submarine duty. I spent the whole month of December, including Christmas, in Whinia Hospital in Pearl Harbor.
I was then assigned to the USS SALT LAKE CITY and that became my home for the next three years. The ship was almost my age, the first heavy cruiser ever built by the US NAVY, commissioned in 1929. I was assigned to the Ninth Division and my battle station was the 40mm guns on the stern.
We sat sail for the Aleutian Islands to patrol the Bering Sea. After patrolling this area for a couple of weeks, the morning of March 26th, 1943, we woke up to a very clear day and calm sea. Our radar had picked up unidentified ships in the area, which led to the longest surface battle in the history of the American Navy. We were outnumbered two to one and after three hours and forty-two minutes and being knocked dead in the water, we survived and stopped the enemy from resupplying Attu.
We then covered the landing of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands, then the Island of Kawajlein in the Marshall Islands. We operated with Task Force 58, under William Holsley, covering the Philippine Campaign. Our next invasion was the island of Yap. Then we headed for Okinawa where we spent the rest of the war.
Our ship was sent to the Island of Hokato where one of the peace treaties was signed.
I was finally discharged on Jan. 17th, 1946. It had been three and one half years since I left home. I was one of millions of Americans with great pride to serve my country.
Entire Symposium Videos
at the Nimitz Museum Sept. 20th & 21st, 2008.
#13 in picture with the 9th Division
#1 in picture with Shipmates
SLC Deck Logs Nov. 1942