|Paper||Ogden Valley News|
|Rights||In Copyright (InC)|
|Rights Holder||SR Communications DBA, Eden, Utah|
|Publisher||Digitized by J. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah|
|Paper||Ogden Valley News|
Volume X Issue III THE OGDEN VALLEY NEWS Page 9 May 15, 2004 Least we forget: Stories about World War II From stories collected by fourth grade student from Valley Elementary in 1999. This story was related by Karl DeVries of Ogden Valley. Mr. DeVries served as the head custodian at Valley for 15 years. I was on an aircraft carrier called the Manila Bay. The ships we were on were built in about a week by Kaiser Ship yards and they were called the “Kaiser Coffins.” They weren’t built like the big aircraft carriers. They were down there for immediate action. They were put in, in Vancouver, Washington. We were involved in dozens of combat missions. One was at Quadulean. This was a group of small islands in the pacific. It had a lot of Japanese on it, ten thousand of them. First we bombed it with air power and then fourteen big battle wagons pulled in along the side of the island. The island was lower than the big sixteen inch guns. When the battle wagons shot the first shells went over. The shots raised the battle wagons and tipped it sideways. When the ship came down again, they fired because then the barrels came down even with the island. After three days it looked like someone had taken a lawn mower and cut all those pretty trees off the island. There was nothing left. After that was settled down, I went ashore with some of the officers to look things over. All the Japanese were killed on that island. Another fellow and I were going through the bunkers there. We came around through a hole. I ducked back and said, “There’s a Jap right there sitting on that gun.” We looked again and saw that he was dead. My ship was involved in a long series of battles in order to keep the Japanese from invading Australia and New Zealand and also to recapture areas that the Japanese had captured. After battles to overtake islands closer and closer to Japan, we had to go to the Hawaiian Islands for overhaul. We had been hit by some suicide planes. The suicide planes came in groups of three, five, or seven. They came in odd numbers and the planes were loaded to the hilt with explosives. When the pilots would get ready to leave on their missions, they leave as heroes of the empire. When they leave the ground their wheels drop off of their planes. Their objective is to make a suicide run on our aircraft carriers and ships. They always tried to get to the aircraft carriers. Two planes would remain up in the sky where we couldn’t reach them with our guns. They would watch the odd number of planes go down and make their dive bombs at the ship and try to hit it. If one of the planes didn’t want to make the suicide dive the two planes in the sky would come and get them. So they’re dead no matter which way they come after you. In Pearl Harbor we took our planes off and put on army planes. They were P-47 fighter planes. They had no tail hooks on them to stop them if they wanted to come back, but they were designed to go on to an island and land where the marines had taken over. In June of 1944, our fleet sailed past the island of Anawetock (this is an island that we would blow up while testing atom bombs after World War II). We sailed on to the area of Saipan where we met and fought a battle with the Japanese Imperial Navy. We defeated them so badly and they suffered such heavy losses that their navy would never recover. Their air force was virtually destroyed for the rest of the war. On July 23, the Manila Bay came under enemy attack. We were refueling at Saipan. Two fighter planes attacked and dropped four bombs that exploded wide of the port. They just missed us. I was aboard ship and I was in charge of damage control. If a plane hit us and blew up the deck we had to act fast. We couldn’t say we had three days to do this; maybe we had one hour to get that deck fixed because we had planes out there flying, running out of fuel, and they had to land. Any time there was an attack, we had what you call “general quarters.” A loud siren goes off and scares the pants off of you. I had 25 men under me. We had different areas where we had fire hoses and all the necessary fire fighting equipment. We had asbestos suits so when a plane came in there were two men with hoses. The first thing to Huntsville School, CIRCA 1900. If you recognize any of the unknown people, please contact Shanna Francis at 745-2688 or Jeannie Wendell at 745-2879. Photo courtesy of Stanley F. Wangsgaard, Huntsville historian. do was to get that pilot out. We didn’t worry about saving the plane because it was probably shot up and would just crash land on the deck when it came in. I had a crash crane there. I hooked it onto the plane and picked it up and dropped the plane over the side and into the ocean. We would land about 36 to 40 planes in seven minutes. The planes came in and hit the deck. They had a tail hook on them. There were cables across the deck. At the forward deck, there was another cable and two big arms that came out and stretched across. There’s air pressure holding these cables tight. A plane will go into these front cables if it is wrecked and doesn’t have a tail hooker. The cable will grab the propeller and that stops the plane. It tips the plane over. Then you have to get the plane off of the deck real quick. One time a plane came in and I was spraying Foamite on it. It was a substance that smothered the fire. I was standing next to the rail deck and gas was coming down through it and catching fire. An area opened up where my foot was and flames shot up. I had a full beard at the time. It caught fire. Another guy saw me and squirted Foamite in my face. I looked like something from outer space. The Foamite got in my beard so bad it turned it scarlet red. One day I was tying some planes down. We were out in the South China Sea and we were in real rough weather, a hurricane. I looked up and a suicide plane was coming in. There were about six or seven fellows standing on either side of me. Ideal Location for:’ Retail Space Gift Shop Bakery/Donut Shop Real Estate Office Insurance Great opportunity in the new and improved downtown Historic Huntsville. 235 South 7400 East Huntsville, Utah US AT: into the Mendaro Sea. They were pursued by destroyers, PT boats, and after sunrise by carrier based bombers and fighters. The Manila Bay sent out planes after the retreating Japanese. One day we had some planes coming back from an air attack. One pilot, Lieutenant Pepper, was coming in late. We watched and watched for him. There was a big white cloud above our ship. We saw him coming with two Jap planes after him. He went through the cloud and they didn’t know what do. He came out on the other side and made a swing and went back into the clouds. When he saw one of them alone, he’d go after it. Historical Photo LOCATE YOUR BUSINESS IN HISTORIC HUNTSVILLE V ISIT The plane had guns in the wings and he was strafing. I could see him right through his propeller. The fellows on both sides of me got killed. I was between the guns. I just froze there. Pretty soon the Duty Chaplin came up. He got me by the arm and said, “DeVries, you better get off of here.” He said, “I came to a conclusion. The devil doesn’t want you and neither does the good Lord!” We picked up 270 wounded troops in Saipan and took them to Pearl Harbor. The men were put on the hanger deck. We had quite a battle with them (the injured troops) because they didn’t want to be trapped below deck or sealed up some place unable www.trappersvillage.com Commercial/Office Space Available - Call 479-1163 to escape if the ship was attacked. We had to have the deck clear for our gunners and planes. We couldn’t have wounded men running around on the flight deck. In October, we got into a big naval battle with a Japanese fleet at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines. They launched a three prong offensive to drive us from the area. The surviving Japanese ships retreated to Mendaro. Our captain was acquainted with all these islands so we were the flag ship (the ship the admiral is on) to go down through the straight chasing the Japanese who were retreating. We went through it in the night and only the Americans were supposed to know that we were going through. We had a seven mile course to take the ship through. All the air craft carriers are flanked by destroyers to keep submarines from getting them. As we started through there, on the banks of each side of us fires lit up, and they guided us through there. We figured the Philippine people knew. The surviving Japanese ships retreated Lieutenant Pepper got to going as fast as he could down toward the ocean. The Japanese planes were right behind him. As he got closer to the water, he would reverse pitch and the Japanese planes would over shoot him. One went right into the sea and crashed and our guns shot the other one down. One day we were off the coast of the China Sea. We didn’t have any planes out, but we picked up two planes coming in on radar. Finally we spotted them. One was a Japanese suicide plane coming toward us, but we couldn’t figure the other plane out. Pretty soon the other plane shot the Jap suicide plane down before it got to us. It was a Flying Tiger. These were Americans flying American aircraft to help the Chinese in their war against Japan and he had saved us. I received a commendation award for outstanding heroism against enemy Japanese forces. I served in the greatest navy in the world for three years and twenty-two months. NEW SPRING CLASSES Tuesday mornings, 9:00-10:15 a.m. Intermediate level; Wednesday evenings, 7:00 – 8:15 p.m. Relax & Rejuvenate; Thursday mornings, 9:00-10:15 a.m. Intermediate level; Saturday mornings, 8 – 9:15 a.m. Relax & Rejuvenate.