John E. Lavelle - S2c

DD-529 Movie Man

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Seaman 2nd Class John Lavelle, reported aboard the USS BUSH on May 25, 1944. He was 18 years old and DD529 was his first ship.

Once aboard he became part of the Deck Division. As such, he got to do a lot of painting and scraping helping keep DD-529 “ship shape”. When at general quarters, his job was to pass shells to the #45 gun...the twin 40MM gun that was perched atop the ship between the #3 and #4 five in guns.

In addition to the above duties, Lavelle found himself with another assignment of dubious distinction as he recalled. He became the projectionist on “movie night”. As Lavelle notes, “it was not a popular job”. John recalls that movies were shown on the foc’sle (the forward part of the ship). The projector would be placed in the #2 five inch gun mount, and the mount trained to port or starboard so that the doors into the mount faced forward and aft. BUSH would be tied up alongside another ship with some fabric strung between the two ship’s bows creating a “movie screen”. The projector from the gun mount would then be aimed at the improvised screen while the crew gathered on the foc’sle to watch. When the film broke or other difficulties ensued ... or the crew just didn’t like the movie ... there was a lot of “noise” from the audience directed toward the 18 year old projectionist. “Not a comfortable feeling”, remembers Lavelle.

John E. Lavelle - S2c
John E. Lavelle-S2c
Seaman 2nd Class Lavelle was still aboard on April 6, 1945 when the ship was lost to three kamikazes. After the first hit, power to the #45 40MM was lost and the gun became inoperable. A now 19 year old John Lavelle abandoned ship in the late afternoon and survived his time in the cold, night sea. He was rescued after a number of hours in the water and returned to the States on the USS Henrico (APA 45), as did many of his surviving shipmates. The picture above was taken while on survivors’ leave.

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