While the ship was in San Pedro, CA for repairs (March 27 to June 1, 1945) the “Kingfisher” catapult planes were replaced with faster “SC1 Seahawks”.
” I remember the time we lost Lieutenant Grutzmacher, one of the gooney bird pilots. You know what a gooney bird was? The catapult plane with the big pontoon on it – an SC1 Seahawk. He was spotting for us on one of the operations; I don’t remember if it was Iwo Jima, but it was one of the islands where we were firing our 8 inch guns . . . He came back to get on board – they have cranes to pick him out of the water.
Anyway, the ship turns in such a way that it smoothes all the water near the stern. A big area nice and smooth and he lands in there and he motors it in close to the ship and they put a hook on and the pick him up. Well,this time he hit a ground swell and it flipped the plane upside down. He got caught in it; he didn’t have time to get out and he went down. Gone. I saw it with my own eyes.” Pat Fedele