We had burial ceremony that evening at sea. Our Task Force lost around 300 men that first day from suicide hits. The battleship New Mexico was hit two times by suicide planes. We lost two Destroyers, both 2200 ton type as the LOWRY. One of them lost 20 men and their Captain and another Destroyer lost eleven men. One Cruiser lost 33 men and a (DMS) Destroy Mine Sweeper lost everybody aboard as it was blown completely out of the water. All of the Battleships but one was hit at least once. We lost an Admiral aboard the New Mexico.
January 6th and 7th, we bombarded the beach with only about six or seven suicide planes those two days. The 8th of January, 1945 the LOWRY blew up a Japanese pill- box on the beach. We were about 2,000 yards from the beach when we hit it. January 9, we supported the landing of 100,000 troops on the beach where we have bombarded previously. We have demolished any resistance. Today, the 10th of January, a suicide plane dove on one of our Destroyers but missed it and crashed nearby into the sea.
Is 2:00 PM in the afternoon and we are refueling. We are down to 30% of the fuel we carry. We have enough ammunition for one and perhaps two more planes. Up to now I have seen almost 50 suicide planes and now finding myself dreaming about them at night. They don't even give us rest in our sleep. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to dream about home, Mom and Dad and the farm. I now realize how lucky we are, all Americans, to have such a wonderful country. I'll live for the day I can see Mom and Dad, all the folks at home, the old cow and fresh milk, chickens and fresh eggs and all the wonderful things that are at home.
I do hope to go back to college at ASU when I get home, if I do get home. I thought at one time this diary with its black cover would bring back pleasant memories but now I know the cover of this book has great significance - "a black cover for a black book".
After the troops were landed and were inland we came back to Ulitie in the Caroline Islands. We had tender availability there and we repaired and repainted our ship. On 0900 on the morning of January 12, 1945 we left Ulitie with destination unknown. Our huge task force consisted of: fourteen Battleships, 80 Destroyers, eight first line Aircraft Carriers, eight Converted Carriers and 22 Cruisers.
We are miles from nowhere and I have been thinking of home all evening. I certainly should like to be home tonight and spread out on that nice big soft sofa and talk to Mom and Dad.
Today February 16, 1945, we launched 1200 planes in the first wave at 06:45 AM this morning. We are 90 miles from Tokyo Bay and expect the sky to be black with suicide planes any minute. Two Jap bombers and three Jap fighters were shot out of the sky by our Carrier Planes.
Our Task Force is the largest ever assembled in history. Our calls sign is Task Force Fifty-Eight. The temperature here, 90 miles from Tokyo, is 54 degrees and an icy wind is blowing - it makes our outside watches very miserable with spray coming over the bow from the rough sea. My blood is accustomed to that good old Arizona climate and it seems I shall never adapt myself to this cold and wet climate.
February 17, 1945, today our task force planes have spent all day straffing and bombing Tokyo, Japan, on their war plants, shipping depots, and several airfields were destroyed. We are now with the Task Group (TG58.4) which consist of four Carriers, three Cruisers, two Battleships, and eleven other Destroyers besides the LOWRY. Our Task Group has destroyed 189 Japanese planes in this raid as of February 16, 1945, in a period of 24 hours with a loss of 4 of our own planes.
We also lost a (TBF) Torpedo Bomber Fighter plane which crashed into the sea off our port beam. We immediately went to the spot where the plane hit the water which was a green spot with the floating plane wreckage. We tried to save the pilot but he went down just before we could get to him.
This whole thing is so terrible, nothing is good; no kindness, no manners, no consideration. It's best man wins and every man for himself trying to survive. Nothing out here but a world of killing and misery. I hope when it is finally brought to a conclusion that it will be permanent so that my son's or daughter's will never have to see life as this.
We sank a huge Japanese Carrier, off Kobe, in the bay today. We left Japan on the night of the 17th and arrived at Chi Chi Jima in the Bonis Islands and launched an air attack. We then left for Iwo Jima, also in the Bonis Islands, and launched another air attack.
Our Battleships went and bombarded the beaches of Iwo Jima. The Marines landed while we shelled the beach. The Japanese were dug in and had machine guns and mortars spread up and down the beach. The first wave of Marines that tried to land fell like flies. They were like prisoners in front of a firing squad. We stayed until two divisions of Marines were landed. Each division consisted of 15,000 men, a total of 30,000 Marines landed in two days. Of those, 4,500 were killed or wounded.
January 23, 1945 we left the Bonis Islands and headed on a course back to Yokohama. We are to make more raids on strategic military objectives. The elements are certainly against us for the sea is so rough that we have propped up inside the bow with 16" timbers nailed and bolted in order to keep the bow from caving in. We are on the outer edge of a hurricane in the China Sea and are taking 40 ft. swells. Rivets are even popping out of the decks and bulkheads all over the ship. We just did a 49 degree roll an almost capsized. Our Captain is turning the ship out of the storm. Our three sister ship Destroyers headed toward the eye of the storm, broke in half and 380 men went down with each of them. We also lost a bull headed Commander who thought we could make it. His destroyer was one of those that sunk!
We are leaving the China sea just off Lingayen. In the mess decks one can see benches falling from under their sitters, trays of beans and rice (only food we have left) sliding from under their clamps to the other side of the table which is at a 45 degree angle to the horizon, and very delightfully turn their contents into the lap of your shipmates across from you. He's not too happy! He knows it's not your fault. I would gladly give my rations to my shipmate if we had anything else to eat. It's amazing how good beans and rice can be when you're rations are very small because the quantity we have left has to last the crew fifteen more days before we can get supplies.
In two more days we will have been to sea for five months - not a long-time, but a lot has happen. We returned to Lithie in the Caroline Islands. We have been here for about 30 days for repairs and supplies before we set out to sea again.
We are back to sea again with one Aircraft Carrier, 26 Destroyer Escorts and five Destroyers. We are after two Yokohama Class Battleships which are the newest wagons the Japanese have. Our planes from our Carrier made torpedo runs and sank eight torpedos in each Battlewagon. Our dive bombers dropped 500 lb. bombs on each wagon. They are now dead in the water and sinking. Our planes also sank 4 Japanese Destroyers and one Light Cruiser.
We then proceeded to Kerama Retto. We were some of the first ships there. We spent the night then went to Okinawa, also in the Ryukus islands and only 14 miles from Kerama Retto. We shelled the beach of Okinawa while our Carrier planes bombed and straffed the beach.
It is March 26, 1945. We have had air raids every day since we have been here (40 days) at the present. All of our (squadron 60) which has 9 Destroyers like the LOWRY (2200 tons) except the LOWRY and INGRAHAM have been hit by suicide planes, 2 sunk and five damaged to the extent they had to go to Pearl Harbor or the States for repairs.
We have not been hit yet! When we landed troops on Okinawa, we found an American pilot shot down by Japanese AA and we rescued him. Also, found twelve strangled Japanese women and a live baby in a cave on Okinawa beach. The island is mostly rock with many caves, which seem to be home for some of the Japanese families.
The hills of Kerama Retto are mostly solid rock with coverage of a very peculiar growth. It rains very often. Several coves in the island make excellent sea plane landings and hideouts. We also found many suicide boats hidden in these coves. I saw a Japanese tank hit by a ship's battery and there was nothing left but a black spot.
In parts of Kerama Retto where it is not so rocky there are terraced fields on the slopes of the mountains. We saw many Japanese shacks that were burned from our bombardments.
When our troops landed on Okinawa, they found 4,000 Japanese prostitutes in the city they captured which was the largest city there on the island. I made a diagram which shows how we kept Radar Picket Stations around both Kerama Retto and Okinawa. Each Station is 45 miles out from the islands and it is the job of the Destroyers to keep and be assigned to these Picket Stations to monitor radar, suicide planes flying in from Japan, which is approximately 375 miles from us. We are now on Picket Station number 2, which with Picket Station number 1 are the two hottest Stations of all sixteen Stations. We intercept raids as they fly in from from the mainland and do the following:
1. Radio back to Kerama Retto the raid is coming to our Squadron of Corsair Fighters based there.
2. Shoot as many on coming planes down as we possibly can.
3. Try to out maneuver the planes as they suicide on us.
4. Pray to God and Jesus as we ever prayed before in our lives.
The raids come in as many as 100 suicide planes. The biggest raid so far was a 120 plane raid. The Destroyer INGRAHAM and our ourselves are the only two Destroyers left in combat out here that has not been hit or sunk - We are now called the "lucky lowry".
Yesterday, I saw two suicide planes hit the Battleship Nevada. One hit below the bridge on the port side and only left a black spot on its side. The second suicide plane hit near the bridge. My high school buddy Jack Wally was killed on the Nevada. The Destroyers BUSH and CALHOUN were both sunk. The CALHOUN had eleven suicide dives, seven missed and four hit her while she was picking up survivors from the BUSH which took three suicide planes. The day before yesterday the Destroyer LAFFEY (one of our squadron) was hit with 30 sailors killed and missing and 74 wounded. Last night the mine layer USS Terror was hit with 150 casualties.
One of our ships captured a two-man suicide sub in a cove in Kerama Retto. In a large cove in the Northern part of Kerama Retto we have our "Grave Yard" of our ships. The Japanese have changed their tactics and are all out for Destroyers instead of Wagons and Cruisers.
Today the LOWRY arrived on Radar Picket Station number 1 in which every Destroyer before us has been hit except the Destroyer we replaced had a near miss. Three were killed and 38 wounded. One of the three was the ship's Doctor who was almost decapitated by shrapnel when the planes bomb exploded directly over the ship.
As I mentioned before we came back to Okinawa, we were with the NEVADA going to Mindoro and Luzon where we were under air attack at Lingayen Gulf.
We are now at Picket Station number 2 at the extreme north of Okinawa. We have for air coverage two F4U Navy Corsair Fighters and another 2200 ton Destroyer, the USS Massey. We sleep on our General Quarter Stations and had three alerts last night - not much sleep.