Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Rescue At Truk - Part 5

Saved from the sea after their planes crashed during the attack on Truk. These 11 crewmen stroll on the grounds of Honolulu's Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

Rescue At Truk

By Sgt. Larry McManus

THE Tang's final rescue took place just at dusk. Lt. Burns had heard earlier that an SBD (Douglas Dauntless) had been downed by ack-ack from Eten Island and had landed in the ocean 500 yards from Ollan Island, the Tang's familiar hunting ground. Burns had passed up this crew for the larger group.
But now the sub sped to the scene, arriving just as Lt. Donald Kirkpatrick Jr. of Evanston, Ill., and Richard L. Bentley AOM2c of Los Angeles, Calif., fired their last Very flare. Kirkpatrick had been shot down once before and was once pictured by Life magazine as the "typical dive-bomber pilot." Bentley enlisted in the Navy on May 8, 1942, his seventeenth birthday.
The two had rowed desperately against the wind, which was forcing them toward Ollan's shores. "Then, when the wind died down," Bentley said, "we figured to stick around for a while and if we weren't picked up we'd try to sail to New Guinea. We had our parachute for a sail, and even if that was too far for us to make, it would have been a lot better than sitting around waiting to die."
After rescuing Kirkpatrick and' Bentley, the Tang headed for sea and a 16-day patrol assignment. Comdr. O'Kane put the flyers to work standing watches so there would be enough bunks to go around. Even so, it was crowded.
"They can have it. I'll stick to planes," said Gruebel, who has a Jap plane to his credit. "If the Navy did away with the air arm. I'd go into subs, but not before."
"If you like the air so much," drawled Gunner White, "why don't you stay in it? Then, on our next run, we might have time to get us some Japs —instead of sailing around to fish you flyers out of the water."