[ USS CHENANGO ]  A Personal Account of WWII Liberty in Okinawa
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  Liberty in Okinawa ...
(Journal 10 of 14)
  CHENANGO had spent eighty seven days in the Okinawa campaign, flying cover for the ground troop landings, refueling ships, and running supplies out of Karama Retta for disbursement to the fleet. We were replaced by another Carrier Escort. (I think it was Natoma Bay but not sure.) We were told that shortly after we left, our replacement ship had taken a suicide attack. She did not sink, but was put out of commission. That was the scuttlebutt on our ship. Shortly after that, Okinawa was secured. It was said that the battle of Okinawa was the hardest fought, most costly battle of the Pacific theater. It took more than three months to finish.

It was a long time since we had a liberty, so it was decided we would take a little time off, and send liberty parties to the beach of Okinawa. These same beaches were blood baths not to long ago. I was ready for a diversion. We loaded an L.C.V.P. landing boat with enough beer, sandwiches, and sailors that she could hold, and headed for the beach. It was a very choppy day the waves had this small boat up five or six feet, and down the same. I don’t think anyone cared, all we were concerned about was LIBERTY.

Now Karama Retta islands were only thirty miles away. There was a P.B.Y.(flying boats) air base in one of those bays. I had seen it when we went into the corner on two occasions. (Karama Rettas nick name was kamikaze corner.) And in an instant everything changed. I heard the noise. It was the sound of air craft engines, and loud. A flying boat, a P.B.Y. did not see us bouncing in the high waves. Its wing with the engine, passed right over the top of us. We could feel the wind of the props. The episode happened so fast that it was over as fast as it started. My ears were ringing, and my heart was pounding. That was too close.

We landed on the beach, and got our sandwiches and beer, and sat on the sand talking about what had happened. Of course there were several versions of it, but we all agreed that we were very lucky. Someone suggested that we rolled a sailor’s hat up, and make a football out of it. There were enough people interested so we picked sides, and commenced with the game. About a half hour later, tragedy almost struck again. A rifle shot rang out. And then another. We all dropped to the sand, and got as flat as we could. Japanese soldiers, leftovers from the Okinawa battle, had dug into the caves on the high side in the mountains. It did not take long, and a Team of Marines responded.

We crawled off of the beach, and made it back to the landing craft, and quickly departed. As we were leaving, we could hear gun fire, and that loud whoosh of flame throwers firing into the caves. THANK GODS THAT MARINES WERE ON THAT ISLAND WITH US. I wonder if protection was part of the plan. Kind of like when went swimming off the side of the ship. They set up rope ladders, and had armed motor whale boats patrolling for sharks. The Navy took care of their men. That was the last time I saw Okinawa, and that was just fine. Two close ones in one day were enough for me. "THANK YOU LORD"...

Next Journal: "Liberation on Nagasaki"

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Journal 2
Journal 3
Journal 4
Journal 5
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Journal 10
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Journal 13
Journal 14