6:16 | The men of the USS Radford were desperately trying to rescue as many of the men in the water as they could. The men were from her sister ship, the USS Helana, and three times the rescuers had to break away to fend off Japanese attacks. After a near miss from an enemy torpedo, Hank Sturgess and the rest of the Radford's crew managed to pull 500 survivors from the water. Part 2 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Keywords : Albert Hank Sturgess Jr. USS Radford (DD-446) destroyer rescue Japanese USS Nicholas (DD-449) Tulagi Radio Detection and Ranging (RADAR) Coral Sea Sound Navigation and Ranging (SONAR) torpedo USS Helena (CL-50)
Hank Sturgess was in college when he joined the Navy and they told him to finish and then report to Midshipmen's school. A brief stay at Notre Dame was followed by a an intense, shortened session at Northwestern University. He was ready for the Pacific fleet. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
He was first in his class at Midshipmen's school and he got his first choice of assignments, a destroyer. Hank Sturgess joined the USS Radford at Tulagi while the battle for Guadalcanal was raging nearby. He got an immediate baptism of fire on a routine patrol. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Hank Sturgess was trained as a torpedo officer, but when he joined the crew of the destroyer USS Radford, the skipper said what he needed was a radar officer. The new technology was secret and destined to be highly important for the rest of the war. It was on the job training for the young ensign, who helped convince a skeptical admiral that it would work. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
He had no technical knowledge about RADAR, but Hank Sturgess was a fast learner in using it. Part of his job was keeping track of friendly ships and planes. His ship was fast and heavily armed with guns, torpedoes and depth charges. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
The goal was to intercept and destroy Japanese ships. RADAR Officer Hank Sturgess had help finding the enemy convoys from the coast watchers, civilian residents with hand cranked radios who acted as spotters. His ship was assigned a dangerous mission, to move in at night right in front of one of these task forces and lay a mine field. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
The destroyer USS Radford was being refueled and restocked when word came of a large Japanese task force moving in. During the battle that ensued, the ship made a frontal assault on the enemy, firing a bank of torpedoes and speeding off. As they maneuvered away, RADAR officer Hank Sturgess got a contact on his screen that could not be identified. Part 1 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
With 500 survivors of the sinking of the USS Helana on board, the men of the USS Radford received a hero's welcome back at Tulagi. Hank Sturgess felt badly about leaving some men behind, but with the help of a civilian coast watcher, most of them were eventually recovered. Part 3 of 3. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
The USS Radford was part of an ad hoc task force dispatched to deal with Japanese ships spotted in the area. When the cruiser Leander from New Zealand suffered a crippling blow from a torpedo, the Radford escorted her back home to Auckland. This led to a training layover in New Guinea for RADAR officer Hank Sturgess which included a Bob Hope show and maybe the best party he would see until the war was over. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
As the Navy prepared to move beyond the Solomon Islands, a large fleet assembled at Fiji. Hank Sturgess had Shore Patrol duty the first night of leave on the island. It started out well, bit soon the sick sailors began showing up. Back at sea, an important task on his ship was the rescue of downed airmen. This led to a peculiar arrangement with the aircraft carrier crews. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
During one battle, the destroyer USS Radford was guarding some small carriers when a Japanese submarine got in close and sank one. Soon, Hank Sturgess picked up a blip on SONAR and the fast ship closed in to seek revenge. On another occasion, a well known pilot was missing and the men of the Radford joined the search. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
The USS Radford became part of MacArthur's fleet at New Guinea and began protecting troop transports and making shore bombardments. On one mission, they were covering slow ammunition barges when a lookout yelled. In came four kamikazes. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Hank Sturgess had mastered the new RADAR technology in the heat of battle, and after one last mission, he returned stateside to become an instructor. He was an officer on the USS Radford, a very highly decorated ship. Before he could rejoin the fleet, the joyous news of the Japanese surrender sent him home instead. (This interview made possible with the support of ALBERT SMALL.)
Jack Houston had just helped his buddy dress a wound when he volunteered to return to the Okinawa hilltop where they were getting the enemy cleared out. When he got the jump on three of them, his muzzle flash gave him away and he had to leave in a hurry. He flung himself off the hill where he came face to face with a rifle. Part 5 of 6. (This interview made possible with the support of JOHN & BARBARA MCCOY.)
The Russians were close enough that the American POW's could hear the fire in the distance. Their guards roused them all and put them on the road in a forced march, leaving their camp in Poland and heading for Germany. It was seventy nine days of freezing cold out in the open, with very little food. (This interview made possible with the support of PHILIP J. O'NEILL.)
Two engines were out, a third smoking, and they were were losing airspeed and altitude, but they were flying level and pointed home. Then time ran out for the B-17 and Don Scott had to slip down the hatch into the slipstream. Part 2 of 3.
The first operation for the 4th Division was the landing on Roi-Namur. Lawrence Snowden remembers that, though it was an easy victory, valuable combat experience and important lessons were imparted on the Marines.
After a nerve-wracking mission to bomb Tokyo and a typhoon, B.E. Vaughan and the destroyer O'Brien suffered a second kamikaze attack which killed all three of his hometown pals who served with him on board. Then, began the grim task of collecting the personal belongings of the dead and preparing them for burial at sea.
It was their third mission over Berlin and they were heading home. Four German fighters pounced on the B-24 and it was engulfed in flame and going down. Clyde Burnette fought for consciousness as the other crew in the back of the plane bailed out. He woke in free fall with no idea how he had made it out, and soon he was in German custody. Everyone made it out of the plane except George "Danny" Daneau, the nose turret gunner, who went down with the aircraft.
When Orlando native Chan Rogers is accepted into the Army Specialized Training Program, he believes he will enter the war as a fully trained engineer. But the army, desperate for combat leadership, pull him from school early and train him for infantry duty.
One of the units from his group was surrounded and outnumbered by a large German force and Frank "Lindy" Fancher's platoon was ordered to keep the road open so they could escape. Later, back in a supposed safe area, he couldn't sleep and was the first to hear over the radio that the German armor was coming.
Chan Rogers experiences a couple of close calls on the Siegfried Line. His unit stumbles upon a nest of sleeping Nazis, suddenly finding themselves in a harrowing firefight. Later, when facing off against a group of German pillboxes, they are showered with deadly shrapnel from tree bursts.
Hal Puett joined the Navy ahead of the draft in 1942. He was sent to radio school where he was top of his class and earned a rare Radioman's rating while still there. Finding some action was his goal but the Navy had other ideas and made him an instructor at Pre-Flight school, teaching communications to student pilots.
He passed a test in high school that sent him to Cornell University with the promise of a commission and an engineering degree, but the Army needed infantry more than engineers so Charles York went to basic training and became part of the 100th Infantry Division. After a queasy Atlantic crossing, he landed in Marseille where he was advised by veteran troops on the dangers he would face.
Several of the German weapons were far superior to his own, according to Frank "Lindy" Fancher. The Panzerfaust bazooka and the MG 42 machine gun were two that he really liked and he had more than one occasion to turn them on their makers. Sometimes he got orders that made no sense to him, like the time he was sent to a defensive position in a place that was impossible to defend.
He had to serve in the post-war occupation of Berlin and that was an experience in itself. Charles York describes the chaotic times and the hustles of the victorious Allied soldiers as they tried to make a buck. For a while, the currency standard was a pack of American cigarettes.
Charles York describes the effects his artillery fire had on enemy positions and then the frightening feeling of being under an enemy artillery barrage. You could hear mortars or artillery pieces but there was one weapon, the 88mm gun, that fired with such a rapid velocity you could not hear the round coming.
Charles York had just been reassigned as a forward observer when he pushed toward the Maginot Line, where the Germans had turned the big guns around to face the advancing American troops. He was close when they fired over his head and glad the shells were directed elsewhere. He was in charge of communications for the team which usually meant laying phone wire because the radios were unreliable.