Contributor: (Click on name to go to that area)

Art Sivanich Dick Sable Robert Leonard Don Federlin Norm Farmen  
Mel Karlin Bill Holzaephel Bob Hutchinson Frank Blimline Joe Barreira
Dick Katello Billy LeBlanc Raymond Rhodes Raymond Carter Ken Culver
Noble Roberts Harold McGee Al Conners Fred Williams  Eugene Leavitt


Art Sivanich

I remember as a seaman we were told to paint all crew members' helmets gray and the officers' helmets white, which we did. When the army came aboard, it was pointed out that the Japs would aim for the white helmets. We had to repaint them gray in a hurry.

When we were in Tacloban, Philippine Islands, I was given a three-day pass to visit my kid brother, who was in the Navy C. B.'s. He was stationed on a little island off Calicore off the coast of Samar. I had to take a LSI (Landing Ship Infantry) to Samar and then hitch army trucks through an air base. I finally arrived at Calicore at 8:00 p. m. They were at a movie which was Bruce Smith of Minnesota. It was a very emotional visit.

During the big hurricane that hit Okinawa in 1945, we were north of the Philippine Island of Luzon, on the edge of the hurricane. I stood on the stern end of the tank deck, and the ship would bend so much I could not see the bow doors. Real scary.

I remember putting blackberry jam on our bread so we couldn't see the weevils that were in the flour. We used to say we needed the protein.

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 Dick Sable

The one happening that is clear in my mind is when all hands that could be spared were mustered to take on small stores from a supply ship. Some members from the Black Gang were stationed near the hatchway in the auxiliary engine room. We were selective and dropped the cartons that we wanted, such as canned fruit, canned meat, etc. We stored our ill-gotten loot in the shaft alley with the sea bags. McElveen was the commissary steward. I don't suppose he missed the goodies that we purloined.

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Robert Leonard

I remember us at Camp Bradford marching to our quarters in sand up to our ankles with sea bags on our shoulders. That's why one of my shoulders is four inches lower than the other. (Just kidding.)

Remember the ropes that were suspended over a pit of four feet of water? Brittingham was excused from that because he was too short to jump to the first ropes. Mr. Johnston landed in the water twice. They also had a mock-up compartment with holes in it everywhere. They could turn the water on almost anywhere. Ours was right overhead. I had a board and tried to put it up. The force of the water was so great it swayed the board sideways and hit Mr. Johnston in the head. I don't think Mr. Johnston enjoyed Camp Bradford or me.

SCARED? Yes. Twice. The first time I was on the main deck and leaned against the bulkhead. Water was coming up to my knees. Capt. Miller asked me if I was sick. I said, "No." He said, "You are a good sailor. If she rolls three more degrees, we are going over." Not a pleasant thought.

The second scare was when Mr. Johnston, Chief Cornelius and I went to check on a U. S. tank that needed repair. We started back to get the cable and pull the tank aboard. Japanese machine gun fire sprayed the tank deck. Finally someone pulled the ramp up. Needless to say, we never did take that tank to Subic Bay. The best part was we didn't get hit.

We were hit with a GQ while watching a movie. Boy did we scramble. I believe I was first in the engine room. Williams was second. Munsick sure came in with a bang. He started down the ladder and kicked out too soon. He was wearing shower shoes of board base and canvas straps. They both split. He had the sorest feet on board ship for about a week.

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Don Federlin

I wonder how many members of old 793 think of the evening we were being entertained on board with a movie. We were anchored, moored in retirement from what or where I cannot recall. It was early evening and a lone Jenny (a Japanese bomber) interrupted our leisure by flying low through our anchorage. Only one pass and all hell broke out: 20 and 40 millimeter guns, perhaps 50 caliber bridge mounts firing away, tracer shells lighting up like July 4 celebration. No hits. He flew right through all of our ships, unscathed. His engine sounded like an old Model T Ford. We received a signal from the Flag Ship: "That was the most disgraceful display I've ever seen."

Looking back, it was amusing. We thought possibly the Jap pilot was lost. I remember friendly fire shrapnel bouncing about the deck and all hands running for cover.


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Norm Farmen

Many of you don't realize that I was responsible for our unscheduled liberty in Mobile.

I joined the crew in New Orleans, just in time for the shakedown cruise to Panama City. We had completed our first beaching and were momentarily stuck trying to back off. I was minding the phones in the wheel house. The engines were at full reverse and I was told to take up the stern anchor. I pushed the wrong button and was talking to the bow anchor station when the ship suddenly broke free. The screws were damaged when they got tangled with the stern anchor line. It was necessary, therefore, to go to Mobile for repairs.

I was at the helm heading up the channel in Mobile Bay. The skipper was top-side with the pilot and was issuing instructions to me through the voice tube. I somehow got my right rudder and left rudder reversed. The Captain's voice got louder with each five-degree steering command. By the time he was screaming, I realized my blunder and frantically spun the wheel. After a few zigzags, everything returned to normal. When we anchored in Mobile, the Captain called me to his quarters. To my amazement he congratulated me on my steering ability. He explained that considerable suction can be created between the hull and the channel edge and it was difficult to break that suction.

Along with the ship, I think I can say that I also had a shakedown cruise.

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Mel Karlin

I must tell you a cute story about our dog, Seaweed, who was picked up in Panama, I believe, by Capt. Miller when he was slightly under the weather.

It was when we arrived in Los Angeles, returning from the Pacific. When the captain's wife came aboard, the dog was running around like crazy upon seeing and smelling her. Of course, he stuck his nose up under her dress. When the captain saw that, he booted the dog and yelled to me to get rid of Seaweed, so I guess that's how Rob wound up with the dog.

Getting to another story about crew members, there is one about Smoky Joe Uhlman and Vic Brittingham. If you don't remember Uhlman, he ran the laundry and had a red goatee. What a character! He came from Rhode Island. Anyway, while I was on liberty in Tokyo with John Stearns, we went to visit the Imperial Palace. While on the grounds, we thought there was a war breaking out again. There were Smoky Uhlman and Vic Brittingham fishing in the sacred lake. The S.P.’s and M.P.'s were trying to save them both from the aroused Japanese.

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Bill Holzaepfel

My memory is of an event that all the crew remember, but it is of my involvement. We were at the Okinawa area at night and, being empty, in an "all exterior lights out" area. We were watching a movie on the tank deck, and though our interior lights were off for the movie, we all scrambled to get out of there anyway. I was sitting near the front row and thought I knew exactly where the nearest hatch was and ran towards it full tilt. Just as the lights came on I found myself trying to jump through a hatch that wasn't there, but a steel bulkhead was! My very hard head went "bong" as I bounced backward. Some shipmate yelled, "This way, Bill" which was needed in my momentary condition. That memory was quite personal in a way and completely forgettable for others who had things that really went Boom! in the night.

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Bob Hutchinson

The memorable event the boys in the sick bay were involved in was the emergency appendectomy. Dr. Ward, just out of medical school, agonized over whether to operate. He told me, "I hate surgery."

After the decision was made to go, we began making preparations. We bent spoons for refractors and sterilized gauze and gowns in the oven and scalpels and other instruments in alcohol. Before the surgery I walked through the officers' quarters and observed the doctor with his book out going over the procedure.

The army colonel administered the anesthesia, which consisted of ether sprinkled on gauze.

The doctor had just removed the appendix when his blood turned a dark color. The army medic administered artificial resuscitation and the patient started to breathe. We don't know how well he did as we put him on a hospital ship the next day.

Schofield hated the needle. So he came to the sick bay with an offer. He said, "If you don't give me a shot, I will give you a dozen doughnuts. I accepted the offer. The doughnuts sure tasted good.

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Frank Blimline

What can I say? The whole time in the service was a trip. The Panama Canal was to me a wonderful experience. It beat out Tokyo and Hawaii.

Now and again I recall some events. First night at Curtis Bay Boot Camp. Homesick and I mean sick. That was the first and only time. Talk about sick. Seasick on the Coast Guard 83-footer at the Chesapeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean inlet. First and only time seasick. Seems after that the bigger the waves the more I liked it.

The storm typhoon was a thing to remember and respect.

All added up it was a good crew and thank God we lived through it all.

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Joe Barreira

At Batangas in the Philippines three or four of us missed the ride back to the ship, so we asked people how to get back. It was already dark, and we had to go along a path through a swamp and woods. We had a flashlight. I told whoever was with us to use their knives if anything came toward us. When we got back, the bow doors were closed. Someone lowered the boatswain's chair to us to get on the ship.

The other incident was in Japan. When the ship landed Farkas and I took a walk down the road for maybe about fifteen minutes. We came to a corner and we heard gunfire and breaking glass. We turned around and ran like hell back to the ship. The next morning I told Farkas, "Let's go see what happened." So we did. When we got to that corner, there was a building and Japs were talking and making noise. I went and looked in the building. It was a public bathhouse, so we left and came back to the ship.

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Dick Katello

While at Camp Bradford I was watching a football and soccer game and I was asked to play. Due to the fact this is a sissy sport, I scored in the first five minutes. Next day I was curious again when a few brass asked if I would play again. Once again I scored. After the game the brass had me in an office wanting me to transfer to base. They were in a position to get me off the crew. But I had a lot of buddies and told them thanks but no thanks. I do not think they were aware I was going pro.

I'm sorry about a few bad things such as getting a few fellows drunk at sea. I hid two coconuts filled with gin and pineapple juice in a raft and had party time. Captain Miller is still looking for the person responsible.

Earl Leister was hurt by a monkey I brought aboard. Earl had to climb a radar ladder to get the monkey and was bitten. Sorry, Earl.

While on deck I noticed a B-25 was on fire and attempting to land. I counted four parachutes but one did not open due to the fact the plane was too low. All of a sudden the plane made a veer upward and belly-landed about five hundred yards in front of the bow. I noticed the pilot in the cockpit but in vain because the plane sank.

I now have a little respect for the British navy. In Okinawa Bay all of a sudden a destroyer heading toward the bow of our ship made a sharp left turn, missing us a few feet while shooting at a Kamikaze plane. I saw one go down in flames.

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Billy LeBlanc

I remember the night in Okinawa Bay when the Jap plane was over the bay and the smoke was up. They had a movie on the tank deck. Black, Kendall, Birch, and I were on watch on gun one forward. The Jap dropped a bomb pretty close and rocked the ship. The movie machine fell on the deck, and the whole crew came up through the hatch at one time. It's funny now, but then it was kind of scary.

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Raymond "Dusty" Rhodes (as told by his daughter Kathy)

When the war was over and the crew was returning home, the ship made a stop in Hawaii. During a baseball game, my dad, Raymond, broke his leg. He was unable to return home with his crew and ship. He always regretted this. He said he had made it through the war unhurt but once the war was over, he had an accident that caused him trouble his entire life.

While crossing the Panama Canal, dad was able to locate his younger brother Riley, who was serving in the Navy. They had a great time together while on liberty.

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Raymond Carter

April 16, 1945 was "D" Day for Ie Shima. April 18, 1945 was the fatal day for famed War Correspondent Ernie Pyle, who had arrived from the European War Theatre to cover the war in the Pacific. The report I heard was that he was shot in the head during the mid-morning. Also, that he was killed by machine gun fire.

The LST 793 landed the 307 Infantry of the 77th Army battalion on Ie Shima. While standing on deck watching the battle proceed, I noticed a small building about the size of a car garage. All of a sudden out of the black smoke from bombs and shellfire, the American Stars and Stripes was raised in the area of this building. I was amazed and surprised at this sudden sight of Old Glory in the throes of battle. This must have been the sight Francis Scott Key saw and inspired him to write The Star Spangled Banner.

Not knowing of the flag raising on Mt. Suribachi, on Iwo Jima, at the time I was able to understand the inspiration that it must have given the troops in that day of battle upon seeing their flag raising. This was the most memorable sight of my lifetime and one that I will never forget.

I have visited Ernie Pyle’s grave and just prior to the New Orleans Reunion, came in contact with a retired Presbyterian Minister, in Mesa, Az., who was the Army Sgt. in charge of construction of this grave and monument of Ernie Pyle.

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Ken Culver

On May 2, 1946, a captain from the 9th Naval District came aboard to perform decommissioning ceremonies for LST 793. Early that morning the five remaining crew members and one officer, J. D. McCann, who was an ensign at that time, were very excited about the fact that once the ceremony was over we would leave the ship for the last time. We (Karlin, Kendall, Katello, Peterson, and I) had our sea bags packed, our dress blues carefully laid out on our bunks. We were dressed in dungarees and white hats for the ceremony. Ensign McCann gave me the traveling papers to the St. Louis Separation Center.

Following the ceremony, we stripped off our dungarees, put on our dress uniforms, and went ashore. My girlfriend was waiting on shore with her 1936 Chevy. I still remember her name, Ruth Nichols. After she took some pictures, she drove us to the train station. That was the last time I saw her and any of the crew again until our first reunion in Minneapolis. Ruth sent me a picture of the five of us taken that day.

We were discharged the next day, May 3, 1946. When I arrived home, I realized that in my excitement to leave the ship, I left three of my prize possessions under my bunk mattress: a silk Japanese kimono, silk pajamas, and a painting of Emperor Hirohito and the Empress. I had purchased these items in Tokyo and had been offered hundreds of dollars for them, but I wanted them for my mother and sister.

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Noble Roberts

At some time between May 30 and June 4, 1945, a large convoy of LST's and their escorts were traveling from Ulithi, Carolinas Group, to Leyte, P.I. As usual radio silence was in effect and all communications were visual.

Tactical signals using International flags were routinely used to maneuver the entire convoy. The procedures were used in such a manner that each ship understood and executed their movements with complete confidence and understanding. The convoy commander, however, under certain emergency conditions could initiate and execute visual tactical signals immediately on command.

The two pennants used for these maneuvers were "turn" and "corben." "Turn" is a pennant with alternating vertical white and blue stripes. "Corben" has two solid white circles on a red background. When a corben signal was executed, each ship in the convoy turned immediately to the direction the signal indicated. Corben 9 indicated a starboard turn of 90 degrees and a 9 corben a port turn of 90 degrees. The execution of the turn pennant signal meant each ship came up in line and turned in vane of the lead ship in that column.

At about dusk on the second or third day out one of our escort vessels had spotted suspicious-looking objects on the surface in the path of our convoy. I was on signal watch, and I heard a ship's horn blasting. I looked to the commander's flag ship and saw corben 9 two-blocked on the halyard. This meant an emergency maneuver, and when the signal was hauled down each ship immediately made a starboard maneuver of 90 degrees.

Our ship was in the middle column about half way down. The ship to our starboard misinterpreted the signal as 9 corben and made a port turn. The convoy was in 500-yard intervals, so our ship and the other ship were coming hard on each other. I rushed to the starboard light and gave an emergency signal to the oncoming ship as we slowed all engines. A split second later I ran to the port light and signaled the ship now coming on our port. I then contacted the signalman on the commander's ship by light. Radio silence was broken until the convoy straightened itself out.

It was a long time before my adrenalin stopped flowing.

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Harold McGee

I remember when Uncle Denny came down from his quarters and angrily called Hutchinson a college boy "that didn't know a damn thing about knots and being a Boatswain." This was after one of the Seamen lost a broom over the side of the ship.

I don't know what you remember about Ph/M Ritchie. He always wanted to operate on anyone who had an ache. We had to discourage him on that idea.

I remember that Uncle Denny called me up to his office or wardroom each day for several days wanting me to tell him who broke into the beer locker. I would tell him I had an idea just like he did but I didn't have any proof. No, I didn't tell him that someone confessed to me that he was in on it.

I also remember the first time Schofield cooked grits. He didn't think the recipe was right and added more grits. He had a few on the galley deck when they boiled over.

I think about our dog, Seaweed. When the guns were being fired, he hid. Also, when we were tied up to another LST, he went over and urinated on their deck. That is what I call a clean dog.

Now I know everyone remembers Brittingham. When I got orders to come to the States, I was sent to an island in San Francisco. Guess who met the bus. It was Britt. He had been there several weeks as his records had been lost. He was still there when I left to be discharged in San Francisco. You know he always had bad luck for some reason.

Royce Clevenger and I were discharged at the same time in San Francisco. I remember well the last conversation I had with him. He told me that he was anxious to get home to see his wife but couldn't leave until the next day. Bless his soul, he was killed that very night, so I found out later. I was very fortunate. The Coast Guard had me on a train that night headed to Chicago, Atlanta, and Kings Mountain, N.C. That was a cold ride with snow on the ground all the way.

I want to thank all of you for purchasing the pictures I made while on board ship. I hope you still have some of them. Thanks for all the good memories I have of all of you. It was a good crew. However, I am certainly glad you didn't get real sick while you were aboard. I might not have been able to get you well. Ha!

Just one more thing. During the operation by Dr. Ward aboard our ship I believe that I was the one who saved his life when I told the doctor that the patient's blood had turned dark. I also helped save a life while stationed on Hatteras before being assigned to LST 793. Saving two lives, I guess, would be my contribution to the war effort.

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Al Connors

The most memorable event for me while aboard the 793 was when several of the shipmates, of whom I was one, came up with a plan to fashion a rig for trolling off the fantail when underway to try to catch a very large fish.

At Gulfport before leaving for the Panama Canal (Coco Solo) the group involved wanted to rig a large fishing lure. I went to a salvage yard while on liberty and got couple of very large window sash weights. They were for large factory type window and must have weighed about ten pounds or more each, made of cast iron. We acquired some automobile tire inner tubes, mostly red rubber but with some black. The eyes of both sash weights were aligned with both eyes on the same end, and they were brazed together. I believe Charley Cobb did the brazing. (I know he was pretty good with a welding torch as he was picked by Arch Johnson to braze a leaky flange union over the water evaporators, which he did while I was on duty there.) Charly Davis and Earl Frederick (I think) fashioned a large hook. The hook was brazed between the sash weights with its eye in line with the sash weight eyes. Then the inner tube was cut in strips about 1/2 inch to 3/4 inch wide. The strips were looped over some #9 wire just below the three eyes, making a huge "jig"-like lure. We tried to imitate a Hawaiian Wiggler, a popular lure of the time, but about twenty times the normal size. Someone designed a swivel. A 1/4 inch flexible that ran through the sash weight and hook eyes and the lower eye of the swivel and arc-welded completed the tackle.

It was set up for trolling the first night out of Gulfport and trailed off the fantail. One of those involved in the event remarked, "If we are a long slow target, we may move slow enough to ocean troll for fish."

I can't remember if it was the next morning or the second morning at first light after trailing the lure, but Chet Demski came down the ladder to the water evaporator compartment and told me that he would watch and balance the gauges, and for me to get topside because we had caught a big fish. Sure enough, when I rushed to the fantail there was a huge fish skimming the surface.

Someone asked Captain Miller if we could slow down until we landed the fish. He told them we could not but wished us luck in bringing the fish aboard.

We manipulated the fish to just above the screw guards on the port side of the fantail, and with two pike poles we hooked into its gills and finally pulled it aboard.

We didn't even know the species. Lt. Charlie Dain said he thought it was a King Mackerel. I don't think anyone knew for sure at the time. I forgot the weight but it seems it was over 100 pounds before dressing it out. If I recall correctly the cooks cleaned and cut it up and baked it. Everyone aboard that cared to was able to eat some.

After the war I would go deep sea fishing on a few party trolling boats out of Clearwater, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico when on Easter vacation from school teaching. I was very friendly with one boat captain and told him of the event. He assured me that the fish was not a King Mackerel as they rarely exceeded twenty pounds. He felt certain it was a Cobia, but possibly a Wahoo. No matter what, it was a fun event.

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Fred Williams

I remember a night at the movies on our tank deck interrupted by a "near miss." Boy, was that tank deck unloaded in a hurry with everyone heading for his general quarters station pronto. Tracers were going up all over the place and something coming down. First class cook Thompson called it scrapple. It took place at Okinawa, I'm sure. I do remember too the mortar fire from the Japanese at Ie Shima. We were missed by a quarter of a mile, but we knew the enemy was there.

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Eugene Leavitt

I have many fond memories of my tour of duty aboard the LST 793:

The day I saw six (6) rainbows spread out to the far horizon. One of the rainbows encircled a peak on one of the clouds - it looked like a halo.

The day we dropped the hook off one of the islands. We put out sixty (60) fathoms of chain. The water was so clear that I thought that I could count every link in the chain and the anchor looked like a small fishhook on the bottom. I saw some fish, which I thought were sharks, but they were so deep in the water that they appeared to be the size of goldfish. I have never seen fresh water that clear, certainly not salt water.

The monkey that would climb the rigging, crap into his hand and throw the substance at anyone who disturbed him.

The dog that stayed with us until the 793 was decommissioned. Old Seaweed was our mascot. He was so friendly and well behaved that everyone enjoyed his company. Noble Roberts took him home to Arkansas.

While on liberty in Manila –

I never saw a USO show. However, LT Empric told me that the USO was giving shows on some of the other Naval vessels in Subic Bay.



While on liberty in Japan –

I went ashore at Ulithi with a section of the crew. We were lined up and issued some cans of cold beer. I never cared for beer, so after I took a few sips, I offered the rest of the beer to the crew. Strangely enough, they didn't refuse it. When I got thirsty, I drank some water out of a large canvas covered sack hanging from a palm tree. The main reason for being at Ulithi was that we needed to restock our supplies. Therefore, we pulled up to the port side of a supply ship. Since the merchant marines refused to assist us, some of our crew had to jump aboard the supply ship to handle and secure the lines. We also had to remove the hatch covers and operate the cranes. We didn't make any objections because we were left alone in the holds to help ourselves to a lot of goodies that weren't authorized.

The first Jap planes that I saw was when we were anchored in a large conglomeration of naval vessels including cruisers and destroyers. At a given point, several Jap planes flew in low over the island. The shore batteries opened fire on the planes and the fleet opened fire on the planes and the shore batteries. Captain Miller ordered the firing of the 50-caliber machine gun. I never heard about any damage, but I knew that the Jap planes didn't sustain any damage.

The second time I saw Jap planes was when the LCT was hung-up on the starboard side. As we tried to free it, I saw some Jap planes diving on some targets in the adjacent cove. We were fortunate that the LCT got hung-up because we couldn't retire with the rest of the fleet. The next day, we heard that Jap planes had attacked the convoy and that one of the planes had crashed into the superstructure of one of the transports killing many senior Army officers. As a result there were a lot of battlefield commissions given to some of the enlisted men. One of the recipients of such a commission shared my compartment en route to IE. I later heard that he was following one of our tanks when he stepped on a mine and was killed. I will never forget IE:

The last Jap plane that I saw was when we were off the west coast of the Philippines. It was flying unmolested in the direction of Manila. Later, we were told that it was taking some Japanese to Manila to sign the peace treaty. Oddly enough, just a few days prior to the sighting, we were told that a Coast Guard Academy graduate was being assigned to the 793. There was a lot of laughter and jokes about the fact that this meant that the war was over. Nevertheless, we all gathered at the gangway to welcome Ensign McCann aboard.


I remember some of the troops that came aboard –


I remember some of the crew –

During our entire tour of duty in the Pacific, we enjoyed relatively calm seas and fair weather. The one pronounced exception was when we were part of a convoy headed for Japan. As we proceeded up the east coast of the Philippines, we were given a typhoon warning. The seas were a little rough but created no problem for the 793, although some LSTs broke formation and headed for shore. When we got to the northern tip of the Philippines, we encountered a cruiser that had sustained some visible storm damage.


When we returned to Pearl Harbor, we tied up to the pier. –

When we arrived in Lake Charles, we had the pleasure of entertaining the only woman to set foot on the 793 - LT Empric's wife-to-be. We picked her up in one of the LCVPs and took her to the ship where she had to climb the ladder to the gangway. She was so pretty, cheerful, and full of fun that she lit up the entire wardroom.

While at Lake Charles, I decided to take advantage of the first opportunity that I had had in many long months to go to church. So I went ashore on the first Sunday and walked into town instead of taking the jeep that we had managed to smuggle aboard. The first church that I came to was a small, white, wooden building. The congregation was making so much noise that I thought the walls of the church were vibrating. The next church that I came to was a fairly large, masonry building that was well kept and appeared to be quiet and peaceful. I entered the church and found that I was the only Caucasian there. I would have stayed but the minister stopped his sermon and the entire congregation turned to stare at me. As I left the church, I vowed that I would not go to church again until I got home; instead, I would continue to do what I had been doing - thanking the Good Lord each and every day for treating me so much better than I deserved.



It was an honor, a privilege, and a pleasure to serve with the best crew that a person ever had. I am proud of their accomplishments in civilian life and will be eternally grateful for the opportunities that I have had to enjoy their company together with their lovely ladies and family. I have tried to attend each and every reunion of the 793, and deeply regret having to miss some of them. I sincerely hope that I can attend many more 793 reunions. I have never had a desire to attend my other reunions; in fact, the only other reunion that I attended was a high school reunion held over fifty years ago.

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