Paul Block, RM3c

7-31-14

Got an email from Rick Block informing me that his grandfather, Paul Block, passed away on the 27th.  Paul was a radioman who came aboard in early August, 1944, and stayed aboard until mid April, 1946  -  part of the mothballing of the great ship in Bremerton, WA.

After I published A Bird’s Eye View, I got an email from Paul saying he wanted to buy a book, but did not want to do an online purchase.  He told me that he knew my father (who was a signalman), and he remembered him well.  After Paul read the book, he sent me a letter, telling me how much he liked it. He enclosed a check for five more copies, with the addresses of his five sons.

As of this writing, I have not found Paul’s obituary in any of the three places Rick mentioned in his email.  I will follow up when the information becomes available.

Rest in Peace, Paul

 

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Late July 1945

7-25-14

(on July 16, 1945, in the desert near Los Alamos, New Mexico, a newly-developed bomb was tested [cynically called "The Trinity Test"]  for the first time.)

The ships of the Task Force were within one hundred miles of Honshu, Japan by July 24. The carriers would unload deckloads of fighters and bombers, targeting major industrial cities (e.g. Kobe) and the Kure Naval Base in the Inland Sea. The ships slowly moved northward up the coast, and by the 29th, the heavy ships, including the Boston, pummeled targets in and around Hamamatsu with their big guns.

The War was coming to a close, but nobody knew it yet.

July 25, 1945:  This morning planes took off the carriers to bomb the Kure Naval Base.  Several bogies were snooping around, a Myrth was shot down over 38.1.  During the late afternoon a group was picked up heading our way, but C.A.P. shot most of them down.  A few of them got through.  The British task group shot down a Grace and later another was shot down.  We are retiring from the area and we will fuel tomorrow.

July 28, 1945:  Early this morning planes took off to hit the Jap Naval Base at Kure.  More hits were reported on Jap battle wagons and heavy cruisers.  There were no Jap planes that came near the force during the day.  Bogies were reported, but they all turned out to be our own planes.  We retired from the area at about 1800 hours.

from Frank Studenski’s War Diary

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July 1945

7-18-14

The ship left San Pedro on June 1, after months of repair / retrofit construction and headed back to the Pacific via Pearl Harbor.  She left Pearl Harbor on July 2nd in a small group of destroyers and the cruiser St. Paul, and headed for Eniwetok (Marshall Islands).  On July 12, she left the anchorage and headed north to join up with the Task Force off the shores of Japan.

Frank Studenski’s diary entries:

July 16, 1945:  This afternoon we are about 730 miles from Japan.  After we join up with the fleet we will probably makes strikes  on the mainland.

July 17, 1945:  This morning we joined up with a group of tankers and cargo ships.  We have never been in a large group of support ships.

July 18, 1945:  This morning we joined up with some more tankers, we now have a large group of support ships.  It is getting a little colder out today, and it has been raining all day.

July 19, 1945:  This morning we are still on a westerly course, the sea is still very rough.

July 20, 1945:  This morning we met with the fleet and fueled from the tankers and got our orders to go in Task Force 38.4, Battleships – Iowa, Missouri, and Wisconsin; Carriers – Yorktown, Bon Homme Richard, Shangri-La, and Wasp; Cruisers – Boston, Quincy, Chicago, St. paul and two A-A cruisers.  All of the cruisers are sister ships.

steve

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the FOURTH of JULY

6-28-14

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.

steve

Hi, Mel

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More Okinawa

6-8-14

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.

www.planesoffame.org

www.planesoffame.org

 

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