Boot Camp 1942
I was told there was a need for signal men, they wanted volunteers and said it was a dangerous job. I volunteered and went to Butler University in Indianapolis Indiana. Upon arrival, I was assigned to the ninth division. I looked and saw men sending visual signals, by flashing light, semaphore, and flag hoist. I thought , what have I gotten into? "I'm just not smart enough to learn that!" but when I looked, they didn't look any smarter than I was. Well I decided to really give it a try. got interested and practiced and studied. A few of us would practice morris code with a flashlight while in our bunks at night. The eighth division was to go out one month earlier than the ninth. A few of us were told that, if I wanted to go to sea, I could graduate with the eighth, and they would give us a petty officers rating. I told them I would, so I sewed on my third class signalman ration and left with the division eight.
John Ray Partin SM 3/C
I got a few days leave and went home . Enjoyed the visit and was leaving , My sister and her husband were going back to Cincinnati and I was leaving to go to get a ship. We were all waiting together when My Dad said “you all come back”. I said "Oh, I will" and he replied “I know you will“. That was the last words I ever heard my Dad say.
I went to Treasure Island California, and was assigned to the U.S.S. Hovey DMS 11
(That's my ship in the above picture. I was on it at the time this picture was taken. Thanks for the picture, will credit for the photo: http://www.navsource.org) It was at that time in Naval Ship yard, Mare Island California, It was receiving some more modern equipment. The Hovey had been an old Destroyer DD 208. It was changed to a high speed mine sweeper and was also used to escort vessels that were less able to take care of themselves. She had several guns, depth charges, mine sweeping gear and was equipped with sonar equipment and radar, which was new at that time. After completion of modifications, we went to sea.
1. When leaving San Francisco, the ocean was very rough. Many got sea sick, I was so bad sick I couldn't stand to think about food. I stayed sick most of the way to Pearl Harbor. On the way over, a five flag was spotted on one of the ships of our convoy. That meant a man was overboard. The Hovey, being the escort, turned full speed to where we thought the man might be. We searched but was unable to locate any sign of him. Our convoy was going on and we were afraid there might be a Japanese sub that would start picking them off. With sorrow we abandoned the search.
A few days later we arrived in Pearl Harbor. It was then that I knew the full extent of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Around Ford island where the fleet was anchored, Some battleships lay upside down, others just looked like a pile of junk. Six or seven in all. The air field was destroyed. I was told there was tapping by men trapped inside the sunken ships for several days, trying to let them know there was life inside but they were unable to get them out. So the tapping stopped and men are to this day still inside. It is their grave.
We left on our way to the South Pacific. On our way we crossed the equator. The ones that had been across before were called "Shell Backs" The ones that had not crossed were called "Pollywogs" I was in the latter group. They put us through one of the worst initiations I have ever seen. We was a mess ! I never crossed again except on the return trip, Of course there was no initiation, for all had crossed on the way down. Here is my Certificate for crossing the Equator:
We refueled at a small island called Palmyra. It was close to the equator. Went to the Fiji islands, then to New Caledonia and passed the New Hebrides group and went on to Port Pervis bay in the Solomon Islands. This was our home port while there. We supported landings swept mines and escorted troop ships up the slot, we took troops up and brought casualties back. We would try to get out of there before the Japs would come in but if we didn’t make it they came in just before day light and it was just like a thunder storm. We did not fire at them for it would have attracted their attention and they could have killed many of the troops.
As we made our runs we saw many air raids as many as six on one trip. I did not know how many were Jap raids and how many was friendly forces.
One time on a return trip we found a PT boat that had been abandoned and it was in bad shape, so we got orders to sink it, because the Japs might get it and find something they could use. So we tried to sink it but a wood craft is not easy to sink so we left it in flame, because our first duty was to the transports that had the wounded men on them. So we rushed to catch up to them.
One day as we were going up to a landing on New Georgia island several of out bombers went overhead, we knew they were going on a bombing mission. We counted them while they were going, they was gone some time and we heard them returning. Again we counted them but we was saddened because one was missing. Time passed and did we hear the noise of a plane? Oh! Yes indeed, we did, here the missing plane came. One motor was not running but he was heading home. Our little old ship let out a cheer that could almost have been heard by the crew in the crippled plane! When I think of this I think of the song during the war a few of the words, "Coming in on a wing and a prayer, with one motor gone we can still carry on. Coming in on a wing and a prayer " Life on the Hovey was not a dull life. Recreation was confined more to swimming when we were in port they would post a man with a rifle to protect us from any fish that would want to take a bite out of us. Then of course there was movies some times it was hard to get one that we had not seen for we would swap movies with another ship. A new ship from the states would have new movies, so we were always glad to see a new ship come into the area. Then there was Tokyo Rose. We were always glad to hear her come on the radio, she tried to make us lonesome by telling us that the 4-F fellows back home was dating our girlfriends, and she would tell of the different ships and the activities that they were involved in but too she would play our kind of music. We just made fun and enjoyed her, some one would yell, come and listen! Old Tokyo Rose is on! Then if there was nothing else to do, we would exchange hair cuts. Most everyone could cut hair at least a little but a shipmate came up to me one day and said, "Partin you need a haircut and I do too so how about I cut yours and you cut mine." I agreed and gave him a pretty good haircut, then I sat down and he did mine but when I looked... well it looked like he had taken a bowl and set it on my and cut around it. He was pretty well pleased but I was an unhappy sailor. I tried to get him to let me do a little more to his but he was too smart and wouldn’t agree. I was a wiser person and more careful who I let do my hair from then on.
One time when we came in to port there was a telegram from the red cross that stated that My Father was sick and could not live. The captain told me he had orders to send a signalman back to the states for New construction and if I wanted, he would send me and I could take the telegram and get emergency leave. So I left the Hovey and returned to the States but by the time I got there My Father had died and been buried several days.
I went back to Treasure Island for another ship. I had been assigned to a new Destroyer, but while I was on leave it had sailed, I knew about this because my mail had been marked for the new ship.
I then went to Shoemaker, California and waited for another ship.
I then was picked to be assigned to ComServRon -10. A ship called the U.S.S. Carmita. IX-152.
I was the only signalman on the Carmita, so I would have to train some men and fast. So first I picked Dean C. Martin, a nice smart fellow from Iowa. One thing about Martin was that even though he was on the ship, he still raised a lot of seed corn. That was his main subject. Martin learned quickly and was a good man.
The next one was Bill Schmitt, a German boy from Illinois another good man that learned quickly. The three of us were the Signal crew for the duration.
The Carmita was a supply ship. Signaling was an important job because orders for supplies were for the most requested by visual communication.
The U.S.S Carmita was not the type of ship that one would point to with pride. It was green in color and was made of concrete. Had few guns and was not able to propel itself. Yet it was a part of one of the largest groups of ships ever assembled. And without this service squadron the fleet could not have operated. The war had advanced too far from the States and could not have operated. This outfit had all supplies and all types of repairs could be done here, there were machine shops, dry docks, ships that made fresh water, oil tankers, floating hotels, even a ship that made ice cream. You name them , there were too many for me to name. We crossed the 180 th meridian (International date line)
At one time we were about 75 miles from Yap, a Japanese held island that had just been bypassed and they did not like us and even tried to get rid of us. Here is some of that proof .
DURING WW-2 AT ULITHI IN THE PACIFIC
March 11 1945: USS Randolph damaged by Kamikaze, Killed 25 men and wounding 106. I was on the signal bridge of the USS Carmita, It was movie time just after dark. Heard a plane going over, it somehow attracted my attention. I really don't know why. There had been no CONDITION: RED but as I continued to read a signal on or near the Randolph, it just seemed the light turned into a huge ball of fire with an explosion. The plane I heard had went into the Randolph, Not very far from us.
Then in a short time another Kamakazi went into a Island on the other side of Carmita. I always thought he was mistaking it for another carrier.
March 11 1945: (quote) The Jap Kamakazi that hit the island went through my tent and the next tent to mine killing two of my friends. He was attached to SLCU # 34 Frank V. Briganti MM 3/c.
November 20 1944: USS Mississinewa AO-59 was sunk by Kiaten, berth # 121, Home of 20 Officers and 278 Men.63 of the crew was lost. We were near it a little while before it was sunk and I chatted with one of the signalmen, but we had just moved to south anchorage when it was happened, I had just got into my topside bunk when the explosion got my attention fast ! We could see the huge column of smoke. It sank not long thereafter.
January 12 1945: LCI-600 sank in south anchorage Ulithi. It was underway, and suddenly there was an explosion, it even bucked up in the middle, I tried to contact it by visual flashing light but no response. Some men from our ship went to it in a LCVP and got everyone off of it. The information I got was that the men were in pretty bad shape. It sank not long after that. I was told by a Mr. Davis, a crew member off the USS Dewey that some of the men were taken to their ship for medical attention.
January 12 1945: USS Mazama AE-9 (ammo ship) Ramed by Kaiten but did not sink. Berth # 528. Killed one man and seriously injured eight men. I was told about this but never witnessed it.
March 12 1945 Sea Plane explodes in flames. " Pretty sure it was a PBM". Survivers picked up by small boats. I was eye witness to it expolding and burning, It didnt last long.
January 12 1945 ? Plane dropped charges outside harbor, it was said that it sunk one of the Kaiten's ( I was eye witness but didn't see more than the plane and explosion in the water.
note: this is as I remember it sixty years ago John R Partin SM 2/C
One day we heard about a terrible battle at Leyte, in the Philippine's . Shortly after that ships came in damaged badly, many were repaired there by our facilities. Some had men trapped below and some of our crew went and took torches to cut in and removed the bodies, they said the stench was unbearable. 1. While in these Atoll's, we had A typhoon that took all the small craft and set it on the beach. One ship was sunk. We lost our boat. and some small craft sank.
After some time we was sent on to Leyte. I learned that the first ship I was on, the U.S.S. Hovey, had been sunk and many of the crew had went down with it. It had picked up survivors from two more ships of the same class. Some of these men went down with the Hovey. They called the men that survived "double dippers."
One night my bunk was shaking ( I slept on top of the bridge in a bunk that was tied down), I looked out and the water was bouncing and the mast was trembling. I didn't know what it was, but the next morning , I looked in the log and saw that it was two earth quakes. But it didn't do any damage to us. We were there and saw the fleet come in from the battle of Leyte, It was really beat up. Even one destroyer had the bridge blown off and was under its own steam. Some of the men that used cutting torches were sent to various ships to use them to cut out men that had been killed and was still in sections of the ship. They said the stench was terrible.
A body floated into the harbor one day, he had on only his shorts. I could see the marking J.L. Walsh. Never did know where he came from. The name has stayed with me for over 60 years now.
We left there and went to Leyte. stayed there until the war ended. Came home with the second group to leave the Carmita, but I did go back into the Navy Reserves and am retired now.
Some well known men served under the flag of the United States in a much more honorable way than I. There was John F. Kennedy. I was honored to operate with his PT-109 just before it was sunk.
George Bush was shot down and picked up at sea.
Then a couple of stars was added to the flag and then John McCain came along and was shot down and held in a prison camp.
There has been numerous other great men, But the Fellow shipmates that went down with the U S S Hovey to me are the heros.
Below is a map of where the three ships are to this date.
May God bless the United States and let the flag of freedom fly for our Grandchildren and Great Grandchildren.as it has during our life.
By: John R. Partin : U.S. Navy Retired