Memorial Day

5-25-15

Burial at sea on USS Boston CA-69

Burial at sea on USS Boston CA-69

Since beginning the website / blog, we’ve been careful to keep politics out of the discussion.  Pretty much everything has been politicized over the last decades, frenzy-feeding the deep divide in this country.  Today is the day we temporarily put aside the political cauldron and take time to honor those who have served our country in peace and in war;  those whose lives have been damaged in that service, and, finally, those whose lives were lost in service to our country.

So I am now going to make an observation that transcends politics.  Since the end of WWII, we had a brief respite before our young were redeployed into Korea.  Another brief respite before they were sent to Vietnam.  A period of “sort of, almost” peace, with “limited engagements” worldwide followed into the end of the eighties. Then came Iraq, and we’ve been at War now for two and a half decades.  When is enough enough?

steve

 

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…But not a drop to drink

5-18-15

During the height of the Philippines Campaign, the task force ships, including TG3.1 (the Boston’s task group) engaged in a strong and prolonged air war against targets on the Japanese super-stronghold island of Formosa (Taiwan).  TG38.1 was less than one hundred miles offshore when the first of many counterattacks by Japanese fighter planes materialized.  What happened next is referred to as the “Retreat of the Crippled Cruisers” and “the Streamlined Bait,” among other things.

Boston’s sister ship Canberra, identical to CA-69 in every way except for her camouflaged paint job, was hit by airborne torpedoes on Oct 13, 1944.  Over the course of the battle, her replacement ship, the light cruiser Houston, was torpedoed during two separate attacks.

As mentioned in the last post, potable water was available on ship by the process of desalination  –  not by storage tanks.  That whole system worked fine, providing the ship was under power.  As you can imagine, when the Canberra has hit admidships at the waterline, there was massive flooding, fires and casualties in the engine rooms.  She lost all power.

Below is a picture dated Oct 20, 1944, in which the Boston (r) is pumping fresh water via lines to the Canberra.  Tow ship can be seen in the distance.

WATER10-20

steve

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Water, water everywhere . . .

5-9-2015

I grew up in central Massachusetts.  My backyard was an urban lake (Indian lake in Worcester).  Winters were spent iceskating, summers swimming and boating.  Water, water everywhere . . .  I now live in the Bay area of Northern California.  In case you haven’t heard, we are in year four of an historic drought  –  apparently the worst in 1,200 years.  Gov. Brown has been trying to stay ahead of the curve on this problem, and now we have moved from “voluntary conservation” to “mandatory conservation.”  There are plans for more water tunnels and desalination plants, among other things.

“Water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink…” Remember reading Samuel Coleridge’s Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner ?  The Boston, as did the other navy ships, made their own “fresh” water by evaporative desalination tanks on board.

From the Welcome Aboard booklet:

hermi2_Page_2

hermi-1The men were encouraged, whenever possible, to wash their uniforms in salt water.              Bob Knight (from Baked Beans, Vol. 1):  “Much of our laundry was done by tying our uniforms into a ball and throwing it on a line over the sides.  You’d have to be sure it was secure, otherwise your uniform was out to sea!  After a while you’d pull it up and dry it on the deck.”

steve

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UP THE DOWN STAIRCASE

5-2-15

In the Welcome Aboard booklet, a few things really caught my eye.  Let’s take a look at the section on TRAFFIC.  So you have a ship full of guys –  more than 1,500 sometimes, berthed on several levels below the main deck, and the General Quarters alarm sounds.  1,500 guys racing to get to their battle stations all at the same time . . . .

book2-1book2-2steve

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Welcome Aboard

4-25-15

Sue Cowan, daughter of George Pitts, sent me this really interesting piece of USS Boston history. It is a 5 x 6″ booklet given to the men before they mustered onto the ship officially for the first time on Commissioning Day, June 30, 1943.

p1The booklet gives the new men the lowdown on what’s what and what’s where.  Two “bad guy” characters are introduced to help drive home important points about safety, cooperation, etc.  They are the Rube, “Salty Snod” and the Imp, “Hermie the Nazi Gremlin.”

p3There will be more of this to follow . . . .

steve

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