We expect raids at any minute (sometimes two plane raids, one comes in high, the other about 15 feet above the water, other times, 50 to 100 plane raids). If we stay afloat and do not get hit or sunk, we expect to stay out here on Picket Station number 2 (45 miles North of Okinawa) for the next 30 days. We try not to be fatalistic, but we have every reason to believe we will get hit because every ship that has proceeded us has been hit or sunk.
Today May 4, 1945, about two hours ago, we had a raid. We are still on Picket Station number 2. First, two Japanese "Zekes" dove at us and the other Destroyer with us, the USS Massey. They both missed us and the MASSEY by just a few feet. The plane that dove on us began smoking as it came down in a 45 degree angle. He saw he was going to miss, so he winged over hitting number three 5 inch mount with the tip of his left-wing exploding. The bomb it carried and shrapnel hit the aft stack and hit all over top-sides of the LOWRY. I am a 20 MM gunner on the aft stack. When the explosion happened my skin on my body felt like it was stretched out 2 feet from my face and arms. I was knocked unconscious from the concussion which also broke the three inch web strap that held me tight in the 20 MM gun. When I regained consciousness I was laying face down on the deck. I heard a moaning from my loader Ferguson, Yeoman 3/c who was dying from shrapnel in his chest. I talked to him and tried to comfort him but felt so helpless knowing there was absolutely nothing I could do to save him. He was my very dear friend and we had spent hundreds of hours on GQ talking about our past and our familes at home. He was like a brother to me.
One other fellow was killed, he was Johnson, Radio Striker. I do not know how many have been wounded at the present but a great many have. I will give more details as soon as the ship's Doctor gives notice. It is now about two o'clock in the afternoon of May 4, 1945. We have just completed burial service at sea for two fine lads, Ferguson and Johnson. When I saw the suicide coming straight at me on number two stack I experienced a very strange feeling - suddenly I was enclosed in a invisible ball of some kind. Later I remember I had read in school about the "Web of Mira" where men in battle felt sheltered from extreme danger by being inside a invisible globe of somekind.
I'm lucky or the Lord is watching out for me or someone at home is praying for me - what ever it is, I give credit to the Lord for sparing my life and to the prayers for my protection from home and the prayers I make personally.
The seriously wounded are going to be transferred off the LOWRY to a Hospital Ship. I am fine now, no injuries, but I was so terribly scared, nervous, and shaken up it has been hard to settle down and live with the ordeal.
Three other ships on Picket Stations were hit and sunk. Nearly every Picket Station in this mornings raids. The USS Ingraham (our sister ship) was hit this morning and could only do 2 knots underway.
As for our material damage, we have shrapnel holes from one end of the ship to the other ranging up to the size of a foot in diameter. We also dumped our eighteen debth charges to keep them from exploding after we were hit. We have a piece of the Japanese plane wing in a compartment and it is very thin and flimsy like a piece of a tin toy. I'm taking a piece of the wing home with me if I get through this.
May 6, 1945. It is now 11 AM and word just came through that we are going to get relieved from this Picket Station number 2 at noon today. One hour to go. Thank God. We are to report back to Hungushu Beach. All of us aboard the LOWRY are now experiencing the happiest hour of our life, knowing we are going to get out of this Picket Station alive! We have been at General Quarters continually off and on since we got here. We have 24 wounded, 2 killed, none missing in this last attack, the day before yesterday - May 4, 1945.
We have since had snoopers and our CAP (Combat Air Patrol) have knocked down scores of Japanese planes. We had a dog fight over the LOWRY the other morning between a Japanese Zero and a Corsair F4U on his tail. It wasn't very light yet and we could see a stream of tracer bullets from the Corsair hit the Japanese Zero. The Zero burst into flames and went screaming down and blew up when it hit the water.
The Picket Station number 2 is just off the Northern end of Okinawa about 3 miles and we could see the Marines fighting on the beach. Yesterday, they secured the Northern end of Okinawa and now have complete control of it. The Army is building a 24 ton Radar Station on the peaks of the mountains of this Northern end. Our whole object in having this Radar Picket Station number 2 is so we can pick up Japanese planes coming into towards Okinawa with the LOWRY's radar as the suicide planes come in from Japan. We get their course, elevation, and speed and radio the Fighter Director Team on captured Air Bases on Okinawa. They send our Hellcats and Corsairs out and shoot down the Japanese planes before they can get into Kerama Retto and suicide our ships on patrol there.
We have in the last fifteen minutes retrieved from the ocean a Major in the Marine Air Corps who was shot down by one of our own pilots over Point Bolo. He was flying a Corsair and another Corsair Pilot overshot a Japanese plane and hit him. Several Corsairs and Hellcats strafed Point Bolo while we went in and picked up Major Cameron about 500 yards off the beach. He was unhurt and managed to swim out that far.
We stayed inport two days and are now on Radar Picket Station number 1 which is 45 miles North-West of Radar Picket Station number 2 where we were hit. All is well now. "No Boggies in vacinity ".
May 10, 1945. This evening about 7:00 PM, just after dark, we did not go to General Quarters because we have been at GQ most of the day and all of us were very tired and there were no Boggies in the vicinity. We were all in our compartments resting. I was reading a library book when all of a sudden over the ships speakers came these words "plane coming on port beam"! "Has dropped torpedo"! "All hands man your battle stations"! It was a Jap "Hamp" torpedo plane. It made its run on us and came in to a thousand yards, dropped its torpedo, then banked away. Its torpedo missed us about 100 yards astern. We fired at the plane but missed. Two of our Combat Air Patrol Corsairs whent after the "Hamp" and shot him down at about 5,000 ft. He came blazing down, hit the water and burnt for several minutes.
Also, yesterday we had a Japanese plane fly over us going into Okinawa. Our fighters went up after him, got on his tail. The Jap tried to out climb the Marine Pilot in his Corsair. When he got on the Japs tail and fired at him, his guns jammed. Our Pilot asked for permission to clip the Japs tail with his prop. Permission was granted. He made two runs at the Japs tail but missed. He said "I'm going to try one more time and if I miss I'll let him go". The third time he got behind the Jap and drove his prop into the tail of the Jap plane. The Marine's Corsair engine konked out and he glided back to the air strip on Okinawa and landed his plane with no engine. Also, he was unhurt.
We are still on Radar Picket Station number 16. Today, May 11, 1945 we had a 100 plane raid this morning and Picket Station number 15, 20 miles north of us was attacked by about 40 planes - all suicide planes! There where Boggies all around us today. Six Kamikazies came into 15 miles of us on our radar, but turned away. Thank God again.
Today, May 19, 1945, just after dinner, I am sitting in my compartment writting my feelings, thoughts and emotions here in my diary. We had another air attack and the Destroyer Fox was hit. Nineteen men were seriously injured - don't know how many were killed. We were at General quarters all night and we made it through OK. We are expecting Baka Bomb raids tonight and have been reinforced by another Destroyer - Don't know what the outcome will be. Seems we should get a rest some day soon.My nerves are as jumpy as a Model - T FORD. Every time I go to GQ and enemy planes are closing in on us, I wonder if I will be going back to my compartment alive and in one piece? Hope to come out alive if nothing else! I have wondered every night if I would get to live to see the next day and then through the grace of God I have lived and came through safely. I never went to church much when I was a civilian and I don't know anything but the Lord's Prayer and a few other verses. I have wondered much about death and if I would live to see the next day so long, that I don't seem so scared of death any more. If it comes I shall take it the best I can, for I know the Lord will protect me until my time comes. If I go, I hope it will be quickly and quietly. I have never known an inter-feeling so grand, so far surpassing from any other, than to know the Lord is watching over and protecting me. I have seen miracles happen that could only have been by the hand of God. The miracles God performs are far greater than we can ever imagine. How I long to be home, but I'm so thankful just to be alive and so fortunate to have the best of health.
May 28, 1945. This morning at 0600 we got underway from Okinawa to Radar Picket Station number 15 which so far has been the worst Picket Station the Navy has. We left Okinawa with the USS Drexler DD- 741, and relieved two Destroyers that have been there for a week. At 0900 we went to General Quarters with "Boggies closing Starboard Bow ". We also had two planes from our CAP nearby. We were attacked by four medium Betty Bombers. The first Betty (twin engine) suicided on us, missed. The second Betty came over the top of us, came down to about 30 ft. above the water and hit the DREXLER amidships and steam started spewing and out of her side. The third Betty circled low, came in at 10:00 o'clock towards the DREXLER's bow with our CAP Fighter pouring the lead into the Betty's tail until it dove right into the DREXLER's twin stacks. She exploded as if an atomic bomb had hit her. I could see huge pieces of the DREXLER flying through the air. An enormous cloud of black and grey smoke. The smoke was in a round column and extended several thousand feet in the air and covered the sky black for three or more miles. When the smoke cleared, her bow and stern were almost straight up in the air. She sank in about six minutes after her last hit. The fourth Betty suicided on us, missed us by about 30 feet and blew a huge spout of water in the air when its bombs exploded. We thought both times we were going to be hit and fired everything we had at them but nothing could stop them. We became known there after as the "LUCKY LOWRY".
Out of 340 men we picked up 112 survivors. The DREXLER was a 2200 ton destroyer like the LOWRY. Two Jap bombers traded for her, a 10,000,000 dollar destroyer, and 228 man. All in six minutes!
We had one injury from the bomber that missed us about 30 feet. One Sailor was hit in the right-hand from a piece of sharpnel that came from the Jap bomber when it hit the water and explode. Three sailors were treated for shock, Urback, Walters, and Magnellie, all S1/c. Urbach came from Memphis, Tennessee with me in March 1944. He is one of my best pals. The four of them were taken to the hospital ship.
It is 3:45 PM and I am still jumpy. My nerves are shot. This morning, after the attack, I really had to fight hard to control my anxiety. Then, to make matters worse, another Jap VAL Zeke fighter came in at us. By that time we had our twelve CAP fighters with us. They had a Dog-fight off our starboard beam. It took our CAP about three minutes to shoot those two Japs down. The Marine Pilots said those two Japs Pilots were the best they had ever encountered and if they got through they probably would have hit us.