Amidship of the Swayback Maru was positioned the well deck. On each side of the well deck there was an aircraft catapult used to launch the ships reconnaissance planes .... the OS2U's. A crane was located aft of the well deck to retrieve the planes from the sea after completion of a mission.
The crane and well deck were also used to hoist aboard any cargo. Directly adjacent to the well deck were the blowers used to force air into the boiler rooms and engine rooms.
On the day in question word swept the ship that a party of eight dead Japanese Marines had been spotted floating and were to be retrieved and searched for useful information. Most of the ship's company lined the well deck. The launch was dispatched to attach slings to the bodies preparatory to hoisting aboard by the crane.
All eyes watched as the first body was hoisted over the ship. The pitiful broken body in its green uniform was extremely bloated. The flesh fell off the exposed hands and splashed on the deck. Finally the first body was resting on the deck and the ship's doctor began to cut off the uniform for military information.
As indescribable sickening odor filled the well deck and was delivered by the blowers to the boiler and engine rooms below decks. Immediately, protests came from below via the intercom headsets about the odor. Unfortunately, no relief was obtained until all eight had been searched and buried at sea.
Written by Robert J. Serazin, Lt. (jg)
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