His Story from|
December 7th, 1941 and beyond
by Bill Leary
We were manning our battle stations one hour before sunrise and we had secured for General
Quarters. I was in the Mess Hall for breakfast when Captain Zacharias spoke on the loud
speaker to man your battle stations, the Japanese have attacked Pearl Harbor and we were at
We were 200 miles away from Pearl Harbor headed back on alert at all times. I understand that
planes from the USS ENTERPRISE did go in and engage some of the Jap planes. We entered Pearl
Harbor the next morning on Dec. 8th and it was a sorry mess. It was so disheartening and made
you wonder how could this happen.
We proceeded to the dock and worked all night taking on provisions. The shipyard crew
installed twenty and forty millimeter guns. We took on ammunition and the went out the next
day to patrol around the Island of Oahu. We were scheduled to provide relief for Wake
Island, but that had fell to the Japanese. We were sent to cover for Midway and Samoa
On February 1st, 1942, under the Command of Admiral Halsey, we conducted our first offensive
action of the war by bombarding Wotje Atoll, one of the principal Jap bases in the Marshall
Islands. The USS SLC opened fire a few seconds before our fellow ships. Military
installations were destroyed and there were seven to nine Cargo Ships sunk and one twin engine
bomber shot down. Jap planes made bombing runs on us, but the Captain said they missed by 100
On February 24, 1942 we bombarded Japanese held Wake Island.
On March 4th, 1942, planes from the USS ENTERPRISE bombed Marcus Island. One month later we
left Pearl Harbor under secret orders and met the USS HORNET at sea.
When we saw the USS HORNET with those B-25 bombers, it was a sight to behold. The Captain
explained to us that we were trying to get as close to Japan as possible without being
noticed. It was one of our lookouts that spotted the picket boat. It was sunk by gunfire
from the USS NASHVILLE and the USS SLC. The planes were launched earlier than expected and
that was something to see. When had a really heavy sea that day and our gunnery officer in our
turret let us take turns watching those bombers take off from the carrier. General Doolittle
and his men did a great job and the Japs found out that their "Sun God" could not protect
them. This all happened in April of 1942.
The Japs were moving south so we went to Australia to reinforce the Australian fleet. In
August we went to Wellington, New Zealand and a joined a huge group of ship transports and
warships. We left New Zealand and headed for the Guadalcanal Islands.
We then went on patrol with the carrier USS WASP and ran in to a Japanese sub group on Sept.
15th, 1942. We were dodging torpedoes like mad about 100 yards from the USS WASP when she was
hit and sunk. We helped rescue her survivors.