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Fifth Set of Memories

Miscellaneous Tidbits

This last set of memories are not are not tied to a specific event noted in the ship's deck logs or final action report. These thoughts include some of the humorous moments aboard ship, how beer was consumed when it was not possible to go ashore, what it was like to work inside a 5-inch gun turret during combat, or stand wheel watch on the bridge.

The ratings shown for those individuals making comments were their last ratings aboard BUSH.

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Miscellaneous Memories:

I was a Radio Operator from the time of Bush's commissioning to the sinking on April 6, 1945. I felt the need for a ship's newspaper and every day would take information in code from the United Press and the Associated Press and type it up and make copies to distribute, on my own time. Since our ship was the "BUSH" I decided to name the paper "THE DAILY TWIG". Remember, this was before copy machines or electric typewriters so it was all done on a manual typewriter using onion skin and carbon paper. Of course this was very popular as everybody was eager for news.
... James "Okie" Reeder, RdM3c, January 21, 1999

The Bridge crew was a happy ship. I worked in the communications group, which included Radiomen, Radarmen, and Signalmen. During my time on the BUSH (July 26, 1944 to April 6, 1945), Lt. West, who was a full Lieutenant, was the senior communications officer, with three other officers assisting him. The three assistant communication officers were Raphael (Ray) Moses, Ed Havey, and myself. Of the three of us, Ray was senior and therefore second in command of the communications unit. Ed was junior. I was the middle man.
... Dan Tontz, Lt.(jg), Assistant Communications Officer, April 20, 1999

Another humorous incident occurred, a number of times I might add, when we were taking on stores. Well, the work party would line up by the fantail and start taking fresh provisions off another ship or barge. Then they would form a line and walk forward toward the galley and then down the ladder to store them. Well, at the top of the hatchway forward, the Supply Officer in charge would be standing with pencil and pad checking off the lists of supplies as they arrived. Well, he started raising cain when some of the racks of bread etc. would come up short, and of course the fellas carrying them didn't have the answers. Well, the way we worked it was as the fellas were bringing the supplies forward a lot of them would carry them on their heads, and I would be lying on my stomach on the deck above them close by the aft torpedo tubes. I had transferred into the torpedo gang by then and as they passed underneath I would reach down and grab one or two loaves of bread, flip them over to one of the other torpedo gang standing above the hatch to our little torpedo shack, and he in turn would drop them down to the fellas standing on the main deck, in front of our torpedo shack hatch, and he in turn would pass it inside to be hidden away. We always had a pot of Jo on the hot plate in the shack and were able to obtain eggs, etc. once in a while so at least we had some goodies from the cooks and bakers, that were just great guys. The Supply Officer never solved that one either, ha ha ha.
... Dan (Andy) Anderson, S1c, 7-3-93

Koza always spit in his coffee cup so no one would steal his cup.
... Bob Thompson, SC3c, June 1993

Bob Shirey, he was everybody's friend.
... Dan Tontz, Lt.(jg), Assistant Communications Officer, April 20, 1999

When we crossed the Equator there were only a few who were shellbacks, probably about 30. We got to initiate those members of the crew who had not crossed before (about 270). Captain Smith had the chance to pay rather than undergo the initiation. He said he would not pay. My role was the last of about 12 different things. I had pieces of beef fat which I dipped in oil and put in his mouth to chew. When I said "OK, spit it out", he gritted his teeth and said, "You Sons of Bitches". In San Diego, at the first reunion (1987), I asked him what he had said and he repeated it in the same tone of voice!
... Ray Mayhugh, CTM, September 26, 1993

Cowan, Chief Signalman, followed me around when I was on the Signal Bridge. He also had the "assigned duty" of cleaning up my vomit. I was always seasick when I was on the Signal Bridge. Cowan would say, "Please, Mr. Tontz, don't assign me this duty when you are on the Signal Bridge."
... Dan Tontz, Lt.(jg), Assistant Communications Officer, April 20, 1999

On June 10, 1944, Bob Bell, Stanton Gallaher and I were sent to the Operational School in San Francisco to receive instruction on changes to the Navy payroll system. We were the first ones to arrive at approximately 0730. Bell asked the fellow who was registering the attendees as to who the instructor was. When he was given the name, Bell said, "Hell, I have forgotten more about disbursing than that guy can teach us." Result: We went downtown for breakfast (where Mrs. Bell worked) and thence to the Bell's apartment over a grocery store. An endless supply of beer, from the grocery store, helped pass a pleasant afternoon. At some point, Gallaher and Aguilar decided their hats were dirty, so they laundered them and put them in the oven to dry. Uncounted beers later they remembered the hats, by then an exciting beige, and crispy.
... Robert Aguilar, SKD2c, Summer 1999

One night at sea it was quite stormy weather. I was standing my watch on number five 40MM gun when I and another guy had to go to the head. So we went below to the head. Lo and behold, who was sitting on the toilet sound asleep, with his flashlight on the deck beside him.... a cantankerous, loud and smart mouthed little guy, a little older than we were and this was just too good an opportunity for me to pass up....he was always giving us guys a lot of lip. When the other guy and I were ready to leave. I told him to stand by the hatch and be ready to undo and open it when I came running - So here was this Irish fella, sitting on the end of the trough with all the water running under him. I wadded up a big ball of toilet paper, lit it, and dropped it into the upper end of the trough. Well, there it went, racing off and headed for him. I took off running for the hatch where my buddy was waiting. By the time we were outside and dogging down the hatch again, we heard one hell of a lot of hollering and cursing so I guess it singed him a bit all right. But by that time we were trying to make it back to our gun mount amid fits of laughing.
...Dan (Andy) Anderson, S1c, 7-3-93

Captain Smith was the only Captain I ever heard of who after an evening ashore at an officer's club, would send for his gig and would bring back drinks for the men running it.
... Art Woolfolk, TM3c, October 13, 1988

Regarding C. J. Homer, Chief Pharmacists Mate, "A prince of a person!"
... George Johnson, Lieutenant & Medical Officer, November 30, 1992

Our doctor, whenever there was action, would be out there with his camera. It was also common to see him with a gun in his hand target shooting at some of the fish that use to skim across the top of the water.
... Ben Libassi, S1c, June 2, 2001

Regarding Lt. P. A. Lilly, Executive Officer, "He was one of the best!....Remember how we hated to see him leave?"
... Robert Aguilar, SKD2c, Summer 1999

Youtsey, Chief Water Tender, was a very good helpful man - I liked him a lot.
... Richard "Robbie" Robertson, WT3c, July 29, 2001

As to whom I worked closely with. In order they would be Capt. Westholm, Lt. Stanley, and Dr. Johnson. Unfortunately I wasn't aboard long enough to really get to know others..... We made a good team. Dr. Johnson was my roommate aboard the ship although most of my time was spent either in CIC or in the navigation cabin where I slept on the transom. Capt. Westholm and I had many conversations and I got to know him very well. He was a fine man and a fine skipper.
... Tom Owen, Lt. Commander, Executive Officer & Navigator, July 22, 1999

Captain Westholm had been a former motor torpedo boat squadron leader. He used to handle the Bush like a PT boat, too. Seems like we were either dead in the water or at flank speed.
... Dan Tontz, Lt. (jg), Asst. Communications Officers, August 16, 2001

When we were anchored and relatively relaxed, seeing a hospital ship anchored nearby, it was SOP to have Doc take a boat to bring back nurses to join the wardroom for dinner. There we were in the New Guinea area. I was on bridge anchor watch. The word came to get the boat ready for Doc and his social company mission. The boat returned to the ship just about dinner relief time. I went below to get washed up for dinner, our quarters being forward of the wardroom. Entering the wardroom through the aft door, there was Doc introducing Chief Nurse "Jones" to the Captain, ushering her into the wardroom. Then he introduced Nurse "Smith" (to the Exec, I guess), and similarly ushered her into the wardroom. He then introduced Nurse "Brown" and began to personally usher her on his arm to his place at the table as I came through the door on the other side. Nurse "Brown", seeing me enter, came out with words like, "Hilly Lubin. Imagine meeting you here!" Doc Johnson's date then became my date. We were high school classmates. When I was in college, she was going through nurses training, etc. Betty Lou Tesnow was a beauty. .
... Hilliard Lubin, Lt.(jg), Assistant Gunnery Officer, September 25, 2000

I was gun captain on the 42 gun, and Sobczynski was the gun captain on the 41 gun. I bet Sobczynski $500 we could load and train our gun before he his gun crew could. A switch in the #2 handling room will cut power to the 41 gun. I cut a sailor from the handling room in on the action if he'd flip the switch off, count to 2, and flip it back on. He did, and we won the $500.
... Bob Shirey, EM3c, April 7, 2000

The rated members of the Torpedo gang on destroyers were usually assigned to the wheel watch (steering the ship). The wheel is located in the center of the enclosed bridge, with a device in front of the wheel that told you the number of degrees that the rudder was off center to port or starboard. There was also a compass that gave the heading of the ship. The Officer of the Deck gave the wheel watch instructions which must be followed very precisely, especially if we were in formation with other ships. The commands would be instructions on how to steer, i.e. - right full rudder, left full rudder, steer 090; if already steering 090 he might say, come right to 095. The OD might be right beside you, or outside, so you had to be alert.
... Ray Mayhugh, CTM, September 26, 1993

Everyday we would obtain a new challenge code should we make contact with a sub. This code changed every four hours. When a sub was detected, we would transmit the challenge code, and if we got the right response we would know it was a friendly sub.
... Al Blakely, SoM2c, June 28, 1999

Beer is not a commodity that one would expect to find aboard a fighting ship like the USS Bush and yet, there was an ample supply .... Of course, not a drop of beer was ever drank on board the Bush. When it was brought aboard, it was carefully guarded by two armed men until it was safely stored in a hold at the bow of the ship. The only access to the hold was a well padlocked hatch in the deck directly above it.
... Bob Wise, S1c, May 20, 2001

The two wooden whaleboats & gigs were always needing repair, my job. I was checking CO2 fire extinguishers every two weeks. Some of my shipmates discovered CO2 would cool a bucket of beer or whatever. Always empties (fire extinguishers) at the DD tender.
... Jack Day, CM2c, May 2, 2006

Whenever we could, the ship carried beer onboard reserved for recreational shore parties in remote areas. When this wasn't possible at anchor, a life raft or two was put over the side for the crew to enjoy a little libation. The beer couldn't be consumed aboard ship.
... Earl Sechrist, Lt.(jg), October 1, 1991

Stan Gallaher was an excellent swimmer and every time we had swimming parties off the fantail he tried valiantly to teach me, but the best he could do was to teach me to float in every possible position.
... Robert Aguilar, SKD2c, Summer 1999

Although originally assigned to the Deck Divison, another sailor name Theo White suggested we try for the job in the laundry. I asked him what we should say if they ask about experience. Theo said he would tell them that he used to wash clothes for his wife and I should tell them I had done washing for my mother. We got the job. I remember one of the officers complaining we "used too much soap". We'd reply, "It gets the clothes cleaner, sir."
... Ben Libassi, S1c, June 2, 2001

The food prepared by the cooks was the best they could do under the conditions they had to work under. In rough seas it was difficult to even keep the food in front of you and many times it made a very slick condition on the table and deck. Have you ever tried to walk on cooked oatmeal in a rough seas situation?
... Robert "Melvin" Cowherd, S1c, May 21, 1999

When in the Philippines .... the BUSH had spent a continuous, nearly 109 days (why would anybody remember a detail like that?) underway . We were very short on provisions. Our mess treasurer, Howie West, had very little with which to work to satisfy the erudite tastes of that varied background wardroom. Seems to me we had little else but rice, if not nothing else but rice .... rice omelets, rice pancakes, rice cereal for breakfast, rice sandwiches for lunch, rice steaks (Wellington, of course) for dinner and other rice variants for between meal snacking. Then came the orders for provisioning. A supply ship was in Leyte and since the BUSH was the longest backdate re: provisioning, we were to be numero uno tomorrow!! I had the deck, had a conference with Howie West and decided to be nice neighbors, to put bags of rice in the whaleboat(s) to deliver to the bumboats which surrounded us all the time. The operation started without a hitch --- 'til Westholm arrived on the bridge and wanted to know what the "H" was going on. I proudly told him what the operation was all about AND WHY! He calmly, with a slow, steel edged voice, ordered me to get the G-D rice back aboard and NOW!!!! Have any of you tried to get charity back from a starving native population whose language you didn't speak and from recipients, some of which had already disappeared? We got some of the rice back aboard. Maybe what we got back was that which we had not yet given away. I fully expected to be the BUSH's first General Court Martial victim -- but tomorrow morning was still to come and might save my life (actual, professional or both). Bright and early we were underway to get alongside the AKA when we were passed by two light cruisers which ensconced themselves, secured, one on each side of the provider. When they were done, there was nothing left for the BUSH! A lot more rice for a while longer. It was years before I ever ate rice again.
... Hilliard Lubin, Lt.(jg), Assistant Gunnery Officer, August 22, 2001

For practice, we once used sonar to find our way through the Great Barrier Reef off of Australia. I remember calling out the depth readings. The officers were really tickled when it worked.
... Al Blakely, SoM2c, June 28, 1999

I recall one reporter commenting that the Americans did not fight fair. In particular, because of the use of SeaBees, the navy construction battalion. The reporter commented that once the Marines had landed and established a beachhead, the SeaBees followed and constructed a canteen. This insured the Americans would fight to the last man to protect the canteen.
... Telio Borroz, TM1c, May 31, 1999

My battlestation was powderman on Gun 5 (a 5-inch gun)....Gun 5 was the farthest aft, just forward of the depth charges on the fantail. During general quarters all of the hatches were dogged and we were unable to see the incoming targets; but there was a frightening way to tell what was happening outside. Being the largest guns aboard we were, naturally, the guns that fired first upon the order to "commence firing". We would be trained at a low level, because the planes would be a considerable distance away. As the planes moved closer, the 40MM would start to fire, followed by the 20MM which were the smallest of our guns. This would tell us that the target was getting through without being hit. Our gun would elevate rapidly and sometimes move suddenly to the other side of the ship.
... Ralph Carver, Bkr3c, October 13, 1986

When we were on G.Q. we made thousands of sandwiches. The food was brought to the men in tins at their battle stations.
... Bob Thompson, SC3c, June 1993

My battle station was loading a 20MM on the port side. Between baking at night and that 20MM I never had to worry about sleep. I didn't get that much.
... Mac McKinney, Bkr2c, January 21, 1999

I was Gun Captain on #3 5 inch 38 gun .... We picked our own gun crews more or less and trained them. Of the nine men, Pointer, Trainer, Fuse Setter, Sight Setter, Shellman, Powderman, Spademan, and Hot Shellman, as Gun Captain I was most particular in choosing the right men for Pointer, Trainer and especially Powderman. The shellman had to be of good size to handle the 54 lb. shell but the powderman had to be strong enough to knock off the protective cap on the powder case as it came up from below. He then needed to be fast enough to seat it in the gun tray before the shellman could load the shell. This took coordination and he had to be fast and accurate. Believe me, we spent many hours in daylight and darkness practicing on the loading machine.
... Joe McManus, GM2c, August 2, 1989

One liberty I enjoyed was at Sydney, Austrailia. Was treated like a savior and was invited for dinner.
... William Kozumplik, Lt.(jg), Communications Officer, February 28, 1999

While we were in Sydney, Bob Bell and I had gone on liberty every night except this one and we were sitting in the supply room brooding about this exception. Suddenly Bell told me to get into dress blues, we were going to town. I reminded him we did not have liberty and he reminded me that he was my supervisor .... When I came back he was already in his blues and had prepared a Request for Procurement for five gallons of gasoline. When we reported to the Officer of the Deck and were told we weren't on the liberty roster, Bell produced the document and told the duty officer that Captain Smith had borrowed a vehicle and needed fuel. Off we went to one of Bell's favorite social emporiums.
... Robert Aguilar, SKD2c, Summer 1999

As the ship island hopped its way across the Pacific, we were required to get shots for this and that each time we reached a new island. Some of us managed to dodge these shots and felt pretty dang smug about it. Well, one time as we reached Sydney, Australia they were giving out 3 day liberty passes, with half the ship getting the first three days and the other half the second three days. As we came out in our dress blues, the ship's doctor (Lt. Johnson) and one of his trusted Pharmacist's Mates (Joe Pelnar) were standing there. Pelnar asked us "So, do you want to see Sydney?" "We sure do!" we replied. "Well you won't until you get caught up on all your shots!" said Pelnar with a big grin and lots of needles.
... John Northcutt, S1c, April 8, 1999

I wasn't big on my EM3/c rating, as it was just something the Navy could threaten you with - busting you back to Seaman. So I didn't pursue it. They kept wanting me to take a test, and finally Lt. Buchanan asked me three quick, real easy questions, and I received my rating.
... Bob Shirey, EM3c, April 17, 2000

I was a Signalman Striker, but not too interested in getting a rating. I was given the chance to make Cox, but suggested they give it to somebody else. I didn't want people to know where I was all the time. I preferred being a deck hand and hiding out in the flag bay when I wanted to.
... John Northcutt, S1c, April 8, 1999

Lt. West was a good officer, but a character if there ever was one.
... Al Blakely, SoM2c, June 28, 1999

Coy Phillips, was a memorable person and one that I admired.
... Bob Wise, S1c, May 11, 2001

Most of the "snipes" or "black gang" were not on speaking terms with the deck "apes", until someone said something about the '529 and then all of us were as one. Myself and most of the after fireroom spent most of our off watch time looking up at the torpedo tubes above the starboard hatch of the fireroom. We thought this area of the ship was ours. Two 20MM guns and an ammo box had our prints, both hand and bottom, all over them. We would often make remarks to anyone going through our area. I will not admit to it, but some of our gang would beg at times for food or even torpedo juice, just for health reasons.
... Frank Grigsby, WT3c, March 1, 1999

Sechrist was the fire control officer. The rest of us just did our duty. I also admired Ray Moses. We were "buddies". I must not forget the dedicated radiomen who manned the incoming and outgoing messages around the clock; particularly when they could not understand the messages coming across as a jumble of letters that were awaiting the decoders.
... Dan Tontz, Lt.(jg), Assistant Communications Officer, April 20, 1999

As I look back 50 years and contemplate our ability to care for personnel (as well as others at times), I am amazed that we had such adequate equipment and preparation. I think that if we sailed today that we would need to change very little.
... George Johnson, Lieutenant & Medical Officer, November 30, 1992

The #1 5-inch gun had set a record for number of rounds fired in a one minute period, something like 22 rounds. This rate of fire was in excess of allowable fire rates, as the gun barrel could overheat. Mr. Lilly came down to the gun and congratulated the men on their performance and then chewed them out for endangering the ship!
... Telio Borroz, TM1c, May 31, 1999

I had been made Gun Captain (on the #42 40MM gun) when the ship was first put in commission because of my prior experience at Guadalcanal. Lt. Buchanan, one of the engineering officers would have liked me to transfer below deck for GQ. But the Gunnery Officer, Lt. Stanley, had the call on that move, and he said "uh-uh - no way." So there I stayed.
... Bob Shirey, EM3c, April 17, 2000

When I finally caught the BUSH in the Philippines, they didn't even have a bunk for me. By the time we left port they had assigned me a bunk....After I came aboard the ship, the ship was in combat so much that there wasn't any time for liberty....As I have jokingly said on many occasions, if I had known how busy the USS BUSH was going to be, I would have chosen a different ship. Of course, the US Navy has a way of assigning you to a ship without asking you.
... Robert "Melvin" Cowherd, S1c, May 21, 1999

On very rare occasions, a Higgins boat would arrive and carry selected members of the crew to shore for a picnic .... The allocation was two bottles of beer per person. Of course one could always find someone who didn't drink if you wanted more .... The picnic ....at Ulithi - There was an Armada forming there for the invasion of Iwo Jima .... the picnic ground was nothing more than a coral reef .... No civilization at all and nothing to sit on but more coral .... The ride back to the ship .... Two sailors, sitting on the gunnels of the boat, got into a scrap and one fell overboard. The boat stopped and it seemed harmless till the one in the water called for help. The second combatant and a couple others dove into the water to effect a rescue. While a couple of beers, for recreation, may seem harmless we were lucky that there were not any serious casualties.
... Bob Wise, S1c, May 20, 2001

At Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt was supposed to make an "inspection" of our ship. In the meantime, I was selected (since I was the newest officer to come aboard and the only one with a white uniform) to stand at attention with some enlisted men on the quarterdeck, which is amidships. My black shoes had to be painted white. Because the paint would crack, my shoes were painted while I stood at attention on the hot deck. I stood for about three hours, and saluted as FDR sped by in a small yacht.
... Dan Tontz, Lt.(jg), Assistant Communications Officer, April 8, 2000

When the Bush returned from the western Philippines exercise and got caught up with the mail bag, we were sitting at the O Club at Samar, outside at a long table. Captain Westholm was at the head of the table, his back to the little club building .... whatever number of officers present flanked Westholm down both sides of the table. A sort of surprised yelp came from Howie West, who waving a page of the newspaper just received in the mail, yelling out the headline -- "Today 7 of General MacArthur's destroyers ...". Westholm was outraged. He stood up, banged his fist on the table. During his tirade, several of us noticed two Army officers coming out of the quonset doors onto the porch. Whoever was on Westholm's right hand motioned to him towards the porch. Westholm turned around, saw MacArthur and an aide standing there, and said, to the effect, "I presume you wish to speak to me, sir." He walked towards the building, went up the steps and inside with the General. I don't remember how long they were inside nor whether we were still at the table when Westholm came out. To my knowledge, those at the table never heard from him about the results of that private meeting.
... Hilliard Lubin, Lt.(jg), Assistant Gunnery Officer, September 28, 2000

The chart with BUSH's position still marked was on board when I left the 64 in June, 1946, in Green Cove Springs, FL, where it was being prepared for moth-balling. I remember thinking of taking it with me as a keepsake. I did not. I must have considered it too brazen an act. I wouldn't later in life and now, after the last week or so of intense recollecting and recording all this, I very much regret not doing so.
... John Littleton, Ensign, Executive Officer and Navigator, LCS(L)64, August 21, 2005

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