JOSE TORRES PAGE
Subject: Fw: U.S.S. Wadsworth |
From: Jose M. Torres email@example.com
Date: Sunday, May 13, 2001 11:40 AM
Subject: U.S.S. Wadsworth
Dear Mr. Ross,
USS WADSWORTH DD516 Deck Log Sat. 22 July 1944
Click to view enlarged copy.
After killing off the Japanese guarding our villagers, who were rounded up and placed in a concentration camp in the middle of the jungle, six male volunteers were sent to try and reach the Americans to tell them of our plight. Incidentally, without knowing that the Americans were landing in Asan and Agat on July 21, we surprised and killed enemy guards. That night the six of us reached Cocos Island, just off the southern tip of Guam. The next morning we rowed our canoe beyond the reef. It was only after we passed the reef that we saw the armada of ships which took part in the invasion of Agat the day before. The sight was awesome, let me tell you.
We saw many warships plying back and forth and we headed toward the nearest ship, which happened to be the Wadsworth. The ship then headed north and we were transferred to a transport ship, the U.S.S. George Clymer, where we stayed for four days before going ashore at Agat.
I remember when we got on your ship how friendly and generous the crew was to us. The cigarette smokers in our group had not had a smoke in a long time, and were overjoyed when someone started passing out Camels, Lucky Strikes, Chesterfields and other brands of American cigarettes. Later they brought us meal of roast beef, massed potatoes, canned vegetable and even ice cream, I am not sure. One thing I'm sure of: I was not that hungry although I've had nothing to eat for a couple of days. I suppose I was emotionally spent, what with the privations for over two years, the killing episode at our camp, the trek in the middle of the night, finding a canoe to take us to Cocos and the real possibility of being fired at killed by the American warplanes as we rowed out to the open sea.
A couple of years ago, partly through the effort of our Guam Delegate to the U.S. Congress, Robert Underwood, the log of the Wadsworth for the morning of July 22, 1944 was found. It showed that "at 0759 the following natives of Guam were picked up. . . . " It then proceeded to list the names of all six of us. I find it remarkable that the name of only one of us was misspelled.
A few years after the war, I graduated from a college in Rochester, New York after which I worked for the U.S. Civil Service here on Guam from which I retired in 1986. I am now doing part-time work with a medical research group at the University of Guam. I've been married for almost forty years and we have two daughters with five grandchildren between them. In 1987 they did an angioplasty on one of my coronary arteries and I've been fine since, although I need to readjust my life after that episode by watching my diet and exercising regularly. I accomplish the latter activity by riding my mountain bike twelve miles a day.
When I received the news from Nicholas' grandfather that a former crew memeber (that's you) had been located, all sorts of questions started to run in my mind: what did you do on the ship? how well do you remember our rescue? what happned to you and to the ship after you left Guam? where are you now and what are you doing?
During the fiftieth anniversay of the liberation of Guam, in July of 1994,
over three hundred U.S. military veterans came to the island for the
occasion. Many of these people were very much in harm's way on the invasion
beaches. I talked to a number of soldiers and sailors who took part in the
invasion. I found it most moving that that many chose to come to Guam and
perhaps relive a violent episode in their lives.
John Dodge forwarded this to me.
Date: Thursday, June 28, 2001 11:16 AM
Marilyn Syx forwarded this for all to read:
Subject: Fw: Wadsworth
Here is an interesting sequel to the whole thing. In 1955 we were touring San Diego harbor and what do you thing I saw, the George Clymer. Apparently the ship was still in commission.
You asked where we went to after we were rescued. We all returned home; it took us several years to rebuild our homes, which have been vandalized by the Japanese to build barracks for their soldiers. But for all intents and purposes, for us the war ended when the U.S. retook the island; the large airfields, which were subsequently built played a major role in the war. From air bases in the Marianas, which included Guam, Saipan and Tinian, B24s ("Liberators") took off for around-the-clock bombings of Japanese cities. And in August 1945, the "Enola Gay", carrying the first A-bomb, took off from an airfield in Tinian, and a few hours later, the Japanese city of Hiroshima became obliterated. To this day, one can see the monument erected at the loading site of the A-bomb on Tinian.
One of my favorite books on WWII was "Miracle At Midway" written many years ago. I don't even remember the author's name. But the book tells of the Battle of Midway in June 1942, barely six months after Pearl Harbor. The battle really was the turning point of the war when four Japanese carriers were sunk with the loss of hundreds of battle-hardened pilots and others, who took part in the swift conquest of Guam, Wake Island, the Phillipines, the Dutch East Indies, Singapore, Malaysia and other areas in the Pacific southwest. In addition to the four carriers - they were sunk within minutes of each other - the Japanese also lost a cruiser while the Americans lost a destroyer and one aircraft carrier, the Yorktown.
The author named the Battle of Midway a "miracle" because an inferior American fleet of three carriers, several cruisers, destroyers and some three hundred planes were able to inflict fatal damage to the far superior Japanese naval forces. But the Japanese carrier group was not all, for lurking about a hundred miles behind their carriers is another battle group of battleships, heavy cruisers, destroyers under the command of Admiral Yamamoto, the architect of Pearl Harbor. For the Japanese not only intended to occupy Midway Island, but they were hoping to lure the American fleet and it will be finished off by the carriers and the battleships. But the Americans had an advantage the Japanese did not have: they had broken the Japanese code and they were able to know fairly accurately the size of the enemy fleet, the direction from where they will approach Midway and the time that they will launch their strikes.
American scout planes located the Japanese carriers shorly after daybreak, and Admiral Raymund Spruance, the carrier task force commander, ordered every plane - fighters, torpedo bombers, dive bombers - to be launched. Less than an hour later, the enemy carriers were found by torpedo planes from all three American carriers. But not one of them managed to score a hit since they were downed, one by one, by Japanese Zero fighters and the carriers' firepower.
It was Admiral Nagumu's plan to launch the Midway attack with half of his planes while the other half, armed with torpedoes, were to be on the ready to attack the American ships after they had been found. But after an assessment, it was decided to launch a second strike on Midway since the island's military facilities have not been sufficiently damaged or destroyed. And so the planes, which had been armed with torpedoes, were sent downstairs to be armed with bombs for the second attack on Midway.
But just as they were ready to launch the second strike, it was reported that the American fleet had been spotted - by the scout plane that took off half an hour late because of engine problem. Nagumu then ordered the planes to be rearmed with torpedoes and to take off but not before the returning planes from Midway have all been recovered. This was a fatal decision by Admiral Nagumu.
Everyone on the carriers was working feverishly to finish the rearming of the planes while the ships headed full speed to where the American battle group was supposed to be. Even while in the process of recovering the returning planes, the other planes were being refueled and rearmed, ready to take off to destroy the American carriers.
It was precisely the moment when there was much confusion, so many bombs on deck, gasoline lines snaking everywhere to refuel the planes, when the American dive bombers struck. In a few minutes all three Japanese carriers were exploding and burning and were to sink before nightfall. In the early morning melee with the American torpedo bombers, the fourth carrier got separated from the group and at the time of the dive bomber attack, it was located some miles to the northwest. It was this carrier, the Soryu, which suggested to Admiral Nagumu that it be given permission to launch an attack on the American carriers while the other three carriers were retrieving the planes from Midway. But Nagumu nixed the suggestion for he wanted to coordinate his attack on the American carriers. After the three carriers were practically decimated by the American dive bombers, the Soryu was ordered to launch an attack on the American ships. Her pilots located the Yorktown, and after a fierce attack with bombs and torpedoes, the American carrier became badly damaged and began to list. But fire control managed to to repair the ship sufficiently so that it could stay afloat while being towed to Pearl Harbor. But a Japanese submarine later found her and the carrier sustained several damage from torpedoes; she was abandoned during the early evening. Interestingly, one Japanese torpedo, while missing the carrier completely, hit and broke in two a cruiser that was moored to the carrier to lend help. After it was determined that the Yorktown could not be saved, several torpedoes were fired at her and she disappeared under the waves later that night.
The Soryu in the meanwhile came under attack in the late afternoon, and by nightfall she either sank or she was in the process of sinking. The Soryu was attacked in the late afternoon and by the time she was destroyed by the Americans, it was almost dark and the American carriers were some four hundred miles to the east. The pilots have all been fighting all day and many of them were sure that they could not find the carriers in the approaching darkness. But the decision was made to light the carriers so that the pilots could bring in their planes. If it were not for that bold decision, the darkness would have claimed more lives than the enemy did.
After the Battle of Midway, when Japan lost four of its first line carriers and hundreds of battle-tested and irreplaceable pilots and sailors, it was a matter of time before Japan would have lost the war, which its military leaders had started in the first place. When American strategy called for leapfrogging across the vast Pacific, there was nothing to stop them. First to fall in the inexorable march by the Americans to Imperial Japan was the Marshall Islands (Tarawa and Eniwetok). After bypassing the heavily defended Truk islands, the Americans took the Marianas. Iwo Jima and Okinawa were next, and the atomic bomb on Hiroshima made the invasion of Japan, with the estimated millions of casualties on both sides, unneccessary as the Japanese faced the reality of more suffering if it continued to prolong the war.
It might be that you did read "Miracle at Midway" and my preceding commentary would be therefore redundant. But writing what I remembered from reading the book helped me recall the account of the fateful battle merely months after the start of WWII.
Again, thanks for your letter.
From: Marilyn Syx firstname.lastname@example.org
Subject: Wadsworth: Dick Bowser