"THE MAD ANTHONY"
Page 3 of 5
The Story of A Ship and Her Crew
By Lieutenant Jere D. Lustig, USNR
We had learned what a picket station could be like in this "quiet" station. To hear the word "he's coming In", then to hear the 5 inch, 40 mm, 20 mm all barking out their song of destruction as the attacker comes into their range is something that is indescribable, but when the 30 caliber machine guns on the bridge commence their sharp stacatto, you dive for the deck, and wish you could dig a foxhole in its steel plate. A picket station is no place for anyone with a weak heart!
We got a first-hand view of the damage sustained by our sister ship when we closed her to fight the fires that were raging, and we also got a first hand picture of what stuff our men were made of as our repair parties went aboard her with fire fighting gear with complete disregard for their safety.
Our remaining period at Okinawa was made up of picket duty, and the short logistics and relaxation period between tours on station. We added to our collection of planes shot down as well as our collection of planes "brought" down. One overly ambitious pilot came so close that the blazing gasoline covered the entire ship forward of the bridge and Lt. (jg) D. Ross Dennison, USNR, had his hair singed while he was up in the gun director, the highest point on the ship! We knew with that one that either the mighty "A" had truly been built of melted down horseshoes or that some higher power was looking out for us. Most of us will agree that it is more likely to be the latter.
This was truly the climax of our career, and the rest that followed was anti-climatic. For our work at Okinawa, several of our shipmates have been recommended for various awards as a result of their outstanding work, courageous action, and devotion to duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy. As Captain Van Mater predicted, the Mad ANTHONY bode no good for the enemy.
Our duty at Okinawa finished, we departed on the 24th of June, heading for the Philippines and our next duty. The stay in the islands was pleasant and all hands were completely relaxed when on the morning of July 13th, we steamed out in a fast striking force. We were escorting a fast cruiser task force and were heading into the East China Sea. Here we did our bit to maintain the naval blockade that was to strangle Japan, and there was no question as to our complete control of the sea lanes there.
It was during this duty that we received the news that we were to lose our skipper who had brought us safely through the most dangerous spots. Comdr. Jackson H. Rayiner, USN, of Alharnbra, California, (then Lieutenant Commander) reported aboard, and as prospective commanding officer, accompanied us on our last sweep of the China Sea. On our return, we got ready for the usual ceremonies, and on the 7th of August, 1945, we once more gathered on the fantail to say goodbye to our true friend and second skipper. After relieving Captain Van Arsdall, our new skipper, Captain Raymer, said a few words, and assured us that he was proud to have been given the ANTHONY as his first command.
THE GOAL ACHIEVED
Between sweeps and typhoons, we returned to Okinawa, where appropriately we first learned of the surrender offer made by the Japs. We thrilled to the sight of the "fireworks" display that resuited from the announcement over the radio, and then wisely counselled by our new skipper, we took cover. It would have been indeed sad to come this far and then have anyone injured by shrapnel from a victory celebration!
Fate kept our new skipper from guiding us on any expeditions before
the war had come to an end, but on his shoulders is the honor and responsibility
of guiding the "A" over the strained days when peace was becoming a reality,
and through her activities during the occupation of Japan. Just as
we had moved through the South Pacific, the Central Pacific, and then the
Western Pacific to bring the war to Nippon, now we are supporting and covering
the forces who are to occupy Japan and safeguard the peace for which we
have fought. The story of the Mad ANTHONY and her part in the war
now has become one of her part in the preservation of the peace, and we
look to Captain Raymer to guide her activities and eventually bring
us back to that paradise, the United States. Meanwhile, some of us
are leaving to return to civilian life, others will stay with the "A",
but all can be proud to say that he served on the ANTHONY and the ANTHONY
can be confident that she has carried her marine sergeant's name in honor.
Capt. Edward W. YOUNG, USN
Lt. Comdr. Robert S. BACKUS, USNR
LETTER OF COMMENDATION
Lt. (jg) Ernest C. HIPP, USN
To our good friends, without whose assistance the printing of this book would have been impossible, we wish to thank Mr. Bernard Katz of the H. W. Fairfax Advertising Agency, New York; the Es-Kay Printing Company of New York; and Mr. Louis A. R. Nelson, President of the Southern, Printing and Publishing Company of Charleston, South Carolina. The above contributed to the publishing of the story of the Mad "A" at cost and enabled us to prepare this book with the limited funds available.
Nagasaki, the site of the second atomic bomb, was the first Japanese territory visited by the ANTHONY. Here the entire crew was given an opportunity to scrutinize the Jap people, their living conditions and customs, first hand. An eye-opening tour of the area devastated by the atomic bomb was made possible through the courtesy of shore authorities.
On the 29th of September, after an escort mission to Wakyama, the ANTHONY anchored in the littered harbor of Sasebo. While "sweating out" orders for home, souvenirs were accumulated and the "A" became "pill-happy" combating an epidemic of dysentery. Through the efforts of Captain Raymer and the courtesy of the U. S. Army, every man on board secured a Japanese carbine to add his collection.
The "red letter" day arrived 17 November. At 0843 the anchor cleared bottom and we steamed out of the harbor at 15 knots. No one minded going to sea this time, for our destination was the answer to all our prayers. An atmosphere hovered over the ship which hadn't existed for a year, only now it was more predominant as most of the men were going home for good. The trip to Midway, or Goony Bird Island, seemed infinately long, but we finally arrived on the 25th of November. Refueling in seven hours, we departed for a more familiar port, Pearl Harbor, and in a relatively short time the island of Oahu could be seen rising above the sea. Within three days the ANTHONY had authorized passage to our first stateside port, San Diego, so with no delay we got underway. With each turn of the screws, tension grew, and the eve of arrival found men strolling about the decks unable to sleep. As the sun rose, eyes were focused on the horizon which suddenly loomed as mountans, and everyone knew he was home. At the harbor entrance, a crash boat appeared alongside and now civilian, Norm Wiatt, in a brown tweed suit and a large yellow tie, climbed aboard to welcome us back. Our arrival was a gala affair, for a large band with six beautiful drum majorettes greeted us on the docks. The first member of the crew ashore was "Snowshoes", but soon thereafter the entre compliment was enjoying the feeling of having U. S. terra-firma underfoot. An un-limited supply of long awaited fresh milk, do-nuts, and sandwiches was served by a local civilian group. After a year of Kamakazi G. Q.'s, and foreign port liberties, the utmost advantage was made of our three day stay in San Diego. Here we bid farewell to Captain Edward W. Young, our Squadron Commodore (Hopscotch 4), who led us through the Okinawa campaign and occupation of Japan.
A full power run featured our trip to the Panama Canal, and it proved the Mad "A" still possessed its original pep in spite of almost three years of war. (It is rumored that the engineering gang sat on the safety valves.) As always the trip through the canal was interesting for the "first timers". Balboa with its rum, women, and silk stockings, provided an eventful four hour liberty.
The Atlantic, noted for its rough waters, lived up to its reputation the first few days, but our final entrance to Charleston was made upon a glassy sea. Two days before Christmas the anchor was dropped in the Ashley anchorage, Charleston, S. C. At last we had arrived in the port where the ANTHONY would spend her days as part of the Inactive Fleet.
The past three months have been busy ones preparing the ANTHONY for final inactivation and decommissioning. The main engines and boilers were carefully cleaned and preserved with rust preventative compound and the ship was cleaned and painted inside and out. Although the brightly lighted compartments and the sleek painted decks lack the throb of a ship with a sea-going crew aboard, we are sure that our shipmates would be pround of the manner in which we are leaving the ANTHONY to again answer the call to the colors. Dehumidifying machines will soon begin to hum and during the years of peace the ANTHONY will wait ready for a new crew to take her out to blue water again.
The present decommissioning date is about April 17th and when the colors and commission pennant are hauled down a crew of nine officers and one hundred men will leave the Mad "A" in berth "Easy", Wando River, Charleston, South Carolina. Future plans call for the ship to be moved to a finger pier at the Charleston Naval Shipyard as a final berthing place.
"Snowshoes" went A. 0. L. in the Charleston Naval Shipyard in March
and the best efforts of searching parties have failed to locate her.