Our 4th of July celebrations – fireworks, picnics, patriotic parades, (days off from work!) are a reminder of the bloody struggles our young nation endured to break free from the King of England.  It also reminds us of the continuum of blood spilled throughout our history in war after war over the last two and a half centuries.

Here’s how the crew of the USS Boston spent Fourth of July, 1944:

This morning at 0500 hours our planes were launched to bomb the bases and airstrips of Iwo Jima. At 1530 hours the Boston, Canberra, San Juan, Santa Fe, Mobile and about 15 destroyers went in to bombard the island.  We fired our 8″ and 5″ guns. We got in close to the island to fire 5″ shells.  We launched one of our catapult planes for spotting duty over the target.  We were hitting the southern airfield where almost seventy aircrafts were lined up.  We also hit gas storage tanks.  We were hitting all our assigned targets.  Looking through the binoculars, I could see a lot of planes on the field blowing up.  There was a lot of large fires and explosions.  The smoke was thousands of feet into the air.  A ship was leaving the harbor, so we immediately opened fire on her, a destroyer went in to finish her off.  One of the planes from the Santa Fe, that was spotting for us, was shot down by three Jap fighters.  The crew was picked up by one of our submarines.  All together this day 116 Jap planes were destroyed and five ships were sunk or damaged.  This was a great way to celebrate the Fourth of July, killing Japs.

Frank Studenski, from his War Diary, USS Boston CA-69.

A moment of silence to remember all the officers and crew of CA-69 who have passed away….  Frank, it sure was great meeting you!  Sorry you left the building.


Hi, Mel

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More Okinawa


By the time the invasion of Okinawa rolled around (March 1945), the Japanese were clearly losing the War and had all but lost their once-formidable Navy.  All their defensive strategies, from Operation A-Go to holding their defensive ring of islands and  atolls across the Central Pacific had long-since failed to stop Fast Carrier Task Force 58 and various amphibious landings from closing in on the Home Islands of Japan.

By the end of the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea (late October 1944), Japanese military leaders were encouraging pilots to crash their planes into American ships – the birth of Kamikaze.  By Okinawa, the concept developed into a full-blown defensive strategy.  Instead of random one-off kamikaze attacks, massive flotillas of kamikaze planes attacked the US ships in waves, sometimes several hundred at a time.  The Japanese term for these attacks translates to Floating Chrysanthemums.  How nice.

{The Boston was called back to San Pedro (CA) for repairs and advanced radar retrofits in preparation for the Ultimate Amphibious Landings  -  the Invasion of Japan.  She “missed” the Okinawa Campaign.}

Below is my “last shot” from the Planes of Fame Museum in Chino, CA.  It is a Japanese Ohka (Cherry Blossom)  -  a modified German V2 rocket with a 2500 pound warhead that the Japanese converted into a “piloted rocket bomb.”  During Okinawa, fortunately for us, they were only able to deploy three of these monstrosities  -  all aimed at the Destroyer Radar Picket Lines.  One dropped in  (at speeds of over 500 miles per hour  -  so fast they could not even aim any of their guns) on Mannert L. Abele (DD-733). The destroyer was split into two pieces and sunk in less than 25 seconds.


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Tomorrow, June 6, marks the 70th anniversary of the massive amphibious assault on the beaches of Normandy, which we call and remember as D-Day.

I have always been struck by the “disparity of history” in the media coverage and collective consciousness of  World War II between the War in Europe and the War in the Pacific.  I will not go into a long rant about this, as I do not want to diminish the incredible events of D-Day.  The soldiers, sailors and civilians on both the “delivering” and the “receiving” end of that assault deserve our full attention.

I also do not wish to compare, line-item by line-item, the scale and scope of the last two Pacific “landings” – Iwo Jima and Okinawa.  I do wish to take a peek at a few aspects of Okinawa, however, as we absorb the magnitude of D-Day.

Logistics:  Supplies were in the pipeline from the US and Canada from the summer and autumn months of 1944.  Prior to “L-Day” (Landing Day) on March 22, 1945, ships were afloat for several months, pushing westward across the vast Pacific Ocean, rendezvousing at locations from Guadalcanal to Ulithi to Leyte.

From Vol 14: Victory in the Pacific by Samuel Eliot Morison:   The ships and   craft employed in the amphibious phase of this operation numbered 1213, of 45 different classes and types, from 179 attack transports and cargo ships down . . . . . The over-all figure of 1213 does not include the 88 ships of Task Force 58, the 22 ships of the Royal Navy’s TF 57, the 95 ships in Admiral Beary’s logistic group, or the service forces and fleet trains of both Navies, which together would add over 100 more.  Assault troops numbered 2,380 of the Navy, 81,165 of the Marine Corps and 98,567 of the Army.


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Harry J. Nickel, S1c


H NickelPlankowner Harry J. Nickel, mustered onto CA-69 on Commissioning Day, June 30, 1943 and served aboard her until he was transferred off the ship at the tail end of Occupation Duty (12/26/45).

photo submitted by Harry’s granddaughter,  Tonya Nickel

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SBD Dauntless divebomber

SBD Dauntless divebomber

From the Planes of Fame collection:

daunt plate

DAUNTLESS: adjective 1. not to be daunted or intimidated; fearless; intrepid; bold: a dauntless hero . (

Today is the beginning of Memorial Day weekend.  I can’t think of a better time to be typing the word “dauntless” on my keyboard.

When my brother Bill and I started this website; we were determined to keep it free from politics or any other agenda.

This Memorial Day is particularly poignant, however, because Truth is holding up a gigantic mirror for us to look at   -  what’s looking back at us is the tragic national shame swirling around the VA Hospitals and Health Care facilities.  This situation was a long time in the making.  Its roots lie in the confluence of a huge influx of veterans needing care after Iraq and Afghanistan and years of budget cutting by the decades-old joke that is and has been our Senate and our House of Representatives.  Congress allocates the money, and they have systematically failed to hold up our promise to our veterans – you serve our country, and our country will be here to help you afterwards.

Shame on them, and shame on us for sending them back to Washington.




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