Eyewitness to Carnage

“I was on the forward port 40mm crew....the explosion of the crash blew us all into the water....the flash burned all my clothes off leaving only my belt. We gathered together as close as possible in the water and prayed a lot and sang ‘Sioux City Sue’--I don’t know why. After about two hours we were rescued by a plane from Rescue Squadron Three....one of the gun crew died on the plane from his wounds.”
Steve Johnson, Sonarman USS BRAINE
“I was engineer on our whale boat....the crew threw over five inch canisters for flotation devices for the men in the water. I made numerous trips to pick up men....I don’t remember how many, but I know the sharks beat us to a few. When the ANTHONY came alongside the BRAINE, I helped fight the fires and care for the wounded.....the training I had received at the Boston Navy Yard sure came in handy.”
Paul Hooks, Machinist Mate USS ANTHONY
“I really wasn’t prepared for what I saw…the horrible devastation perpetrated by the kamikaze pilots…bodies were strewn around the deck…frozen into the position….in the most grotesque manner…burned by the flash explosion…their clothes burned off. I helped our able Pharmacist Mate, John Paddock, cared for the wounded.”
William Mason, Yeoman USS LCS(L)86
“I was on the bridge and saw a lot of men going over the side of the BRAINE to escape the fire and some did not have on life jackets. Many probably drowned in the choppy waters.”
Kenneth Carlson USS ANTHONY
“I was in the Coding Room forward of the Radio Shack and a blinding flash knocked me unconscious. I woke up…there was a hole in the deck to my left with fire coming up…I picked up my life jacket and staggered to the superstructure and collapsed…two shipmates carried me down the port ladder, over the rail and pushed me into the sea…we held on to each other and swam, using canisters from the ANTHONY for floatation. When the LCS rescued me, men were firing rifles. When I asked what they were doing, they said, “There were sharks right behind you.”
Paul Conway, Yeoman USS BRAINE
“My battle station was on the high pressure air compressor in the after fire room…the explosion ruptured steam and condensate line and the fire room filled with steam…men were screaming. I was at the ladder that led to the main deck…I tried to climb up and was forced down by the steam burning my skin…I tried again and managed to climb the ladder and escape through the hatch.”
Adrian Brandt, Machinist Mate USS BRAINE
“I was in the forward repair party…this was my first intimate contact with the horrors of War. I had to train a fire hose on the burning 40mm which was loaded and trained directly at me. I was frozen by the carnage and had to be jolted into action by some harsh words from our Skipper on the bridge above me.”
Robert Wiedemer USS ANTHONY
“We left Kerama Retto to help. Our doctor and I first went to the BRAINE and then to the ANTHONY. There were so many severely wounded that all we could do was relieve pain and administer aid to the critically wounded. There were so many that it was impossible to keep any records.”
Darrell Helton, Chief Pharmacist Mate USS REEVES
“We came slowly along side…wounded were loaded on and placed in the officers wardroom and crews mess hall…many were suffering from burns and shock…there were dead bodies on the main deck and especially on and around the 40mm guns…many calls for help…fire and smoke amidships… exploding ammunition.”
George Andrys, Radioman USS ANTHONY
“I was on the port side of the flying bridge and saw the plane coming right at me…I could count the cylinders on the engine…I ducked behind the fire director which saved me…there was shrapnel flying everywhere…I went down to the main deck and helped fight the fires.”
David Manning, Gunnery Officer USS BRAINE
“I was a loader in No. 5 Handling Room aft…after the hits we all came topside and helped fight the fires…the order came to abandon ship…there were sharks in the water…the fellow I was with said he was going in…I told him not to, but he jumped anyway…a shark grabbed him as soon as he hit the water…he screamed “Help me,” I couldn’t do anything…I had nightmares about it even after I was married…I couldn’t do anything to help him.”
Frank Szymanek, Ships Cook USS BRAINE
“I was the gyro-compass man in the IC room…I heard this loud boom... the battery rack had dumped…the bulkhead was pushed in…none of us were hurt, but the smoke was so bad and we could not get anybody…we went out into the passageway and there was fire and smoke all around us…the hatch was jammed, but we were able to contact the Chief Yeoman on the bridge…he braved fire and smoke to clear debris from the escape hatch…we were right in the middle of the fire…I was by the Captain’s gig and trying to find a life jacket…the Captain ordered us to abandon ship…the smoke was so bad I could hardly breathe…I found a life jacket and jumped…the ground swells were real bad and I was alone…I saw the Corsairs overhead dip their wings…I saw several bodies…finally one of the LCS’s picked me up…I climbed up the cargo net amidships and looked backward and saw all the big sharks.”
John Niemritz, Electricians Mate USS BRAINE
“As we came alongside the BRAINE, I looked at where the after stack had been. The No. 3 boiler steam drum and all the piping and valves were gone. The No. 2 torpedo mount was still intact, but one of the damaged warheads directly over the badly damaged area, had shredded orange stuff hanging out of it. One of our torpedomen advised me that was TNT and not to worry because it could only be set off by a black powder booster and a little detonator.”
Pete Boyd, Engineering Officer USS ANTHONY
“I was the TBS Talker on the bridge when the first plane hit…it knocked me down…as the fires increased in intensity I climbed to the flying bridge…the fire was so hot my shoes were burning, so I jumped…almost as far as a four-story building.”
Donald Johnson, Communications Officer USS BRAINE
“I was in the Forward Engine Room on the Feed Pumps. We were forced to evacuate due to heavy smoke. I climbed topside and 20mm ammunition was exploding and I was hit in the knee and hands by shrapnel. Men were lying on the deck, some badly burned and others wounded. Body parts were everywhere. I was ordered to abandon ship and jumped with four others and stayed together. We saw sharks, but they did not come near us. I was picked up by the LCS(L)86 and treated by their pharmacists mate, John Paddock.”
Walter C. Gaddis, Machinist Mate USS BRAINE
“I was at my battle station at anti-aircraft control on the flying bridge…the plane was on fire headed right at us…there was a big explosion…I saw the second plane hit…all hell broke loose…smoke and fire was everywhere…we had to get off the flying bridge…I took off my shoes and jumped into the water…I saw the gun boats picking people up and men firing rifles…I saw sharks, but they did not come near me…when I was picked up I looked back and saw a shark hit someone in the water and throw him into the air.”
Louis Hall Jr., Sonarman USS BRAINE
“I was Gun Captain on the forward starboard 40MM. The explosion killed everyone but two…one was thrown into the sea…my clothes were burned off and the foam inside my sound phone helmet melted to my head…I was burned and had a compound fracture of my left leg…someone helped me down the ladder and into the Captain’s gig.”
Arnold Papanti, Seaman USS BRAINE
“Crew members in the bow section…cut off from communication with ship’s command abandoning ship…sharks were beginning to appear as we picked up men in the water, some of them were injured. We recovered one who had not made it, hanging pale and lifeless in his Mae West, a leg torn away, the opposite arm gone…we machine gunned the sharks. In their mindless savagery they started tearing each other apart…turning the ocean crimson with their own blood…a small boat fished out another shark victim…the upper torso…the legs gone.”
John Rooney USS LCS(L)-82 From his book - MIGHTY MIDGET
“John A. Paddock…pharmacists first class…was our doctor…who possessed one of the rarest gifts…the healing touch. When the BRAINE was hit we went alongside to care for the wounded. One fellow was dug out of the wreckage of a 40 mm gun with broken bones and one leg hanging by the bits of muscle and doubled up along his side. Against advice John chose to try to save his leg rather than amputate it… somewhere today there is a man walking because of John.”
H.N, “Sam” Houston Commanding Officer LCS(L)86 From his book - THE HOOLIGAN NAVY
“landed in moderate swells and an eight knot wind and picked up ten survivors…five men were in a life raft…another hanging onto some wood, one holding onto a life jacket and two were supporting themselves on debris…plane took off at 1014 and returned safely to base. Enroute one man died from burns and wounds.”
R.P. Waters Jr. Air Intelligence Officer Rescue Squadron Three
“My battle station was in No. 1 gun. When ordered to abandon ship, I jumped and the wake of the ship almost pulled me under....I swam for about thirty minutes without a life jacket and found a raft with other men on it....picked up by rescue plane.... a lot of commotion... the plane's crew was running back and forth.... there was a Jap fighter plane on their tail but was driven off by the Corsairs..... kept praying and saying 'let's not get shot down now'.... one man died of wounds....”
Arthur Quinn, Seaman, USS BRAINE

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