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USS WADSWORTH DD516
JOSE TORRES PAGE


Subject: Fw: U.S.S. Wadsworth
From: Jose M. Torres jmtorres@kuentos.guam.net
Date: Sunday, May 13, 2001 11:40 AM
Subject: U.S.S. Wadsworth

Dear Mr. Ross,
A relative of mine, Nicholas Cotting, who lives in Chevy Chase, MD, has given me your e-mail address and said that you were a crew member of the Wadsworth,

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The USS WADSWORTH DD516 picked us up on July 22, 1944, a day after the American invasion of Guam. Although the rescue occurred 56 years ago, the event is still vividly etched in my memory as if it happened only yeasterday.

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.
Sincerely,
Jose Torres
Email address for: jmtorres@kuentos.guam.net - Jose Torres


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John Dodge forwarded this to me.

Date: Thursday, June 28, 2001 11:16 AM
From: Jose M. Torres
To: John Dodge
Cc: Nicholas Cotting
Sent: Thursday, June 28, 2001 11:16 AM
Subject: Various

Dear John,
Thanks for your letter. I must tell you this story.

During the few weeks before the American invasion of Guam, the Japanese outdid themselves with regard to atrocities committed against our people. We were uprooted from our homes and driven like cattle to deep-in-the-jungle concentration camps where we were under constant guard by sadistic soldiers. It was the rainy season and the hastily and shabily built grass huts could not keep us dry. Worst, there was little or no food and we stayed alive only because some of our people were able to slip out of the camp to collect whatever was available in the jungle - breadfruit, wild taros, yams and the like.

When one is constantly cold and hungry and in danger of being hurt or killed by the enemy at any time, you become preoccupied with the thought of surviving from day to day. In this state one loses the sense of time; there was no watch or calendar to tell you the time and day. When we killed the soldiers who were guarding our concentration camp, we didn't know what day it was nor the time of day that the event happened.

Immediately after we killed the Japanese, six of us volunteered to try and reach the American warships which were then patrolling around Guam; we were to try and get help from the Americans. Darkness had began to set in when we left camp, and by the time we were well on our way to the shore where we will find the canoe to take us out beyond the reef, darkness had set in. But not to worry because we all knew the jungle like we knew our backyard.

Before we left camp we were told that a badly wounded survivor of a Japanese grenade attack on a group of men and women was holed up in a shack, without food and water, for a number of days and we were asked to help this man as well as we could. We did find him that night; the first thing he asked was for a drink of water. We gathered some young coconuts to sustain him until he could be found by his family. Interestingly, despite his severe neck wound from a grenade blast, the man survived and later resumed his profession as a teacher.

We found the canoe that was to take us on our journey, and we reached Cocos Island on the southern tip of the island before daybreak. The sun was already above the eastern horizon when we started to row the canoe to a break in the reef where we could enter deep water. One of us steered the craft, another stood on the prow waving a piece of white cloth while the rest of us paddled like we have never paddled before. And there were reasons for our apprehension: there could be Japanese at the southern end of Cocos. And what about the ubiquitous American warplanes that were shooting everything that moved? We were in the water a few minutes before one of the planes swooped low to take a close look at us. I guess the pilot didn't think we were a threat to the invasion taking place a few miles away and he didn't fire on us.

After we reached deep water we steered the canoe to a ship that appeared headed toward us. But it continued its way to the southwest. There was another ship not too far behind the first one and we steered the canoe toward it. The U.S.S. Wadsworth apparently saw us for the ship stopped when we were about half a mile from it. And even from that distance, we could see sailors crowding the prow of the ship looking at us, probably wondering what the heck this is all about.

One of the first questions they asked us after we had come aboard was whether we had met the U.S. Marines who had landed the day before. It was then that we knew the date we killed the Japanese: the event happened on July 21, the same day the Marines landed in Asan and Agat.

Knowing that U.S. Navy ships keep a meticulous daily log, I asked our Guam delegate to the U.S. Congress if he could ask the Navy if it could locate the Wadsworth log for July 22, 1944, the day we were rescued. And sure enough they located the log, a copy of which I now have. I can send you a copy of this log if you want me to.

Thank you again for your letter.

Sincerely,
Jose Torres
Email address for: jmtorres@kuentos.guam.net - Jose Torres


Marilyn Syx forwarded this for all to read:

Subject: Fw: Wadsworth
Date: Sun, 29 Jul 2001 23:34:19 -0400
From: "Marilyn Syx" msyx@worldnet.att.net
To: "Bob Ross" bobrsr@erols.com

----- Original Message -----
From: "Jose M. Torres" jmtorres@kuentos.guam.net
To: "Marilyn Syx" msyx@worldnet.att.net
Sent: Thursday, July 26, 2001 11:23 PM
Subject: Re: Wadsworth

Dear Marilyn,

Thank you for your letter. Your brother might remember the rescue which occurred on July 22, 1944, a day after the U.S. Marines and Army units stormed ashore on two beach heads, one in the central, the other in the southern part of Guam. We were picked up by the Wadsworth about three miles from the southern invasion beaches. We didn't know of the invasion until after we were picked up when someone asked us whether we have met the Marines. "What Marines?" we asked. "The U.S. Marines which landed yesterday," we were told. We lived some miles from the invasion beaches and we didn't hear the cannonade which preceded the landing. But even before we were rescued, we knew that something was happening: to the northwest of us were ships of varying sizes, hundreds of them. It was a sight I will never forget. We were to get closer to the awesome armada when they transferred us from the Wadsworth to the George Clymer, which I understand was the command ship. We stayed on the G. Clymer for four days; we disembarked only after it was determined that it would be safe for us to do so.

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.
Sincerely,
Jose Torres

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From: Marilyn Syx msyx@worldnet.att.net
To: jmtorres@kuentos.guam.net jmtorres@kuentos.guam.net
Date: Friday, July 20, 2001 3:59 AM
Subject: Wadsworth

Hi Jose,
John Dodge forwarded your story about the Wadsworth rescue. I found that so fascinating. I wanted it to go on and on. Have you written anymore about your experiences. Where did you and the others go after you were rescued? I am so interested. My brother was on the Wadsworth, and I have been researching his navy days for a very long time. He was 17 years old when he first boarded the ship and served on it until 1945. Please let me know more of your story. I would greatly appreciate.
I have been reading everything I can on WWII Pacific battles. Thanks so much. I have put a couple of pages of my brother's scrapbook on Bob Ross web site concerning the Wadsworth. You have probably seen it there. Looking forward to hearing from you.

Marilyn Syx
Email address for: msyx@worldnet.att.net - Marilyn Syx


Subject: Wadsworth: Dick Bowser
Date: Sun, 26 Aug 2001 16:19:35 -0400
From: "Don Bullock" - Bullock@naples.net
To: "Bob Ross" , "Warren Depew" , "VICE ADM. John M. Lee USN Ret." , "Stanley Bigda" , "Robert Quinn" , "John E. Dodge" , "Jim Friday" , "Fred Marler" , "Bill & Shirley Boa"
Hi Shipmates
I just got a call from Dick Bowser ( as most of you know he and his father designed, built and installed the elevator system in the Saint Louis Arch ) we had a long talk. He was telling me that he was interviewed and filmed for a historical show for the History Channel. Dick said it would be on TV in about six weeks more or less.
Dick also has a birthday coming up the 15th. of September. This is just between you and me, don't tell anyone but he will be 80. Dick sounded good and is looking forward to the October reunion in Mobile.
Hope to see you at the Mobile Reunion
Don Bullock
Email address for: Bullock@naples.net - Don Bullock
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Note:- I wrote Don asking when Dick Bowser was on Wadsworth. The following Taken from Don msg
Date: Tue, 28 Aug 2001 11:53:44 -0400
I'm sure Dick Bowser was on board when I came on in November 1943. I suggest you contact him to be sure of the facts.
His address is:
Richard Bowser
6 Claridge Court North
Palm Coast, FL. 32137
Ph. 904-445-5388
============
Sorry to say it, but I do not contact anyone by U.S. Mail. I only use email.
Bob Ross


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