Message from the Chair Dear Friends Members, As of this writing, the Friends board is preparing to host the Annual Crew Reunion Luncheon. Every spring, members of the shipâ€™s crew, their families and friends attend an annual reunion aboard the USS North Carolina. Crew members arrive from all over the country to spend five days visiting their former home, catching up with old friends and reminiscing about times gone by. Originally 7,000 strong, the remaining crew members now number only a few hundred. Time has taken its toll among the crew in numbers but not in spirit. There is camaraderie among the crew that only those who have served together in war ever really understand. Getting to know these men has been an honor for me and further reinforces my deepest respect for them and all those memories of what has been termed the Greatest Generation. During the week the crew will spend time aboard the ship, visit some local sights and catch up on happenings from the past year. Saturday morning the crew will attend a memorial service on board the ship to celebrate their past and pay honor to those crew members who answered their final bell this past year. An honor guard and 18 gun salute will be provided by the USS North Carolina Living History Crew. A color guard will be provided by a group of Marine Corps reenactors as well as active duty Marines from Camp Lejeune. Immediately following the ceremony, the Friends will host a luncheon for the crew and their families and guests. In other Friends news, the Friends Board of Directors has been working on a number of projects. The Long Range Planning Committee has been meeting with the shipâ€™s staff to determine funding needs for the next three to five years. Among those needs are adding new technologies to enhance the visitor experience, new educational programs April 2013
and the funding of restoration programs that will allow the ship to open more spaces to the public. Our Marketing Committee has been working on a number of projects including bringing further enhancements to the Scuttlebutt, our website and our social media presence. Our Recruiting Committee continues to seek out qualified people to join the board of directors, especially those with specialized skillsets in fund-raising, marketing, legal and accounting. If you or someone you know would be interested in helping the Friends either as a board member or a volunteer, please contact us. We are always looking for talented and dedicated volunteers. One final note, I would like to extend my thanks and gratitude for two board members who recently resigned, Thomas Edwards and David Heath. Thomas has recently taken on a new job that requires much more of his time and leaves less time to dedicate to the Friends. We hope that Thomas will be able to rejoin the board when time permits. David Heath, although resigning as a full time member, has agreed to continue on as an advisor to the board. His skills in website design were critical to getting our website up and running. We will look to David in the future as the Friends continue to expand and improve our website. And lastly I want to welcome Nancie Giacalone as a full board member. Nancie is a huge asset to the Friends, not only as the editor of the Scuttlebutt, but also as a valuable contributor to the Friends. Please join us in welcoming Nancie to the Friends Board of Directors. Regards,
Frank Glossl, Chairman Friends of the Battleship North Carolina Vol. 2
Battle Stars of the Battleship North Carolina
New Georgia Group Operations 20JAN- 31AUG 43
The campaign to secure the New Georgia Islands, specifically Rendova, Arundel, Vella Lavella, Kolombangera, and New Georgia in the central Solomons was in large part to secure the airstrip at Munda on New Georgia. Due to heavy casualties on New Georgia, Arundel , and Vella Lavella, Admiral Halsey decided to bypass the 11,000 strong garrison at Kolombangera. This was the first intentional leap frogging of an island in the Pacific Campaign. The North Carolina was in an active supporting role during this campaign including the bombardment of Rendova which offered little resistance. The Gilbert Islands Operations, Tarawa and Makin 19NOV- 8DEC43 By the end of 1943 the Pacific Fleet was growing and learning. On the nights of 25NOV and 26NOV43 Task Group 50.2, while engaged in supporting operations in the Tarawa area, successfully repelled night air attacks. This was the first night air attack for the North Carolina and as such
Gilbert Air Action was a learning experience. The following is taken directly from the “After Action Reports” filed by the officers of the North Carolina as a result of what they learned from those attacks. 25NOV43 Task Group had been operating in an area of 40 square miles about 50 miles NW of Makin Island while covering the landing operations at Makin. It consisted of Enterprise, Monterey, Belleau Wood, Indiana, Massachusetts, and six destroyers. Enemy planes were known to be operating from bases in the Marshall Islands and indications were that Task Group 50.2 had probably been sighted and tracked during the day. The sea was calm, wind at about 14 knots. Sunset was at 18:17 and there was no moon so visibility after dark was limited to about 2.5 miles. By sunset all planes had landed on the carriers of this Task Group and radar showed clear. 18:40 – A single bogey (known as a “Snooper”), identified later as an Emily, began shadowing the formation. 19:04 – Radar contact with a group of 10-12 bogies that split into four groups. April 2013
USMC on Tarawa, November 1944 19:12 – The Japanese began dropping float lights at about 11 miles out. These lights burned brightly for at least 30 minutes. 19:32 – Five flares were dropped at the head of the formation, at about 19 miles, silhouetting the Task Group effectively. During the attack it was suspected that two, possibly three enemy planes were shot down by North Carolina.All others were turned back after receiving sustained AA fire from the 5” guns. Comments on the enemy Snoopers proved themselves to be very efficient. They are invariably sighted right at sunset when our CAP (combat air patrol) is being landed. They approach and make contact while flying just above the water where it is difficult for air search radar to detect them. It is evident from the accuracy with which the attacking groups approached that the snoopers had been tracking this group for several hours. Japanese float lights are excellent. They burned brightly for at least half an hour. They appeared to fire up, blinking at irregular intervals and to die down in between times. Because of the long range, the float lights may have been obscured except when floating on the crest of a wave. Comments on our forces There were no personnel or material casualties. The performance of flashless powder was superb. The modified 5-V formation is considered to be an excellent formation for repelling air attacks at night or day and proved very effective during this attack. The maneuvering of the formation was excellent. The attacking planes, in general, were kept astern and on the quarter which subjected them to fire for maximum time. This is the first night action in which this ship has participated. The efficiency with which the batteries were controlled, the lack of confusion, and the general excellence of performance is attributed to the state of training and high morale of personnel. All hands did their jobs enthusiastically and efficiently. Recommendations Gunners should be trained on firing on indistinct and intermittently visible targets at close ranges with high bearing and elevation rates.
continued on Page 3 Scuttlebutt Page 2
continued from Page 2
SG radar should be used to detect low flying aircraft, the SK has difficulty in tracking planes at low altitude. Tracers should be removed from all 5” and larger caliber projectiles. Radar equipped search planes should be employed to contact and destroy snoopers during daylight. Night fighters should be launched just at sunset when there is evidence that snoopers are around or that night air attack is possible. That greater emphasis be placed upon the training of crews in repelling night air attacks. Night AA practices should be fired at every opportunity. That emphasis be continued in drills on switchboard shifting of batteries and directors, and drill in shifting radartracked targets with the combined facilities of Plot, CIC, and Sky Control. That all Mark 14 gun sights be removed from 20mm guns at sunset when in waters where night air attacks are probable. That the fleet be supplied with a blind firing MG director at the earliest possible time. A satisfactory blind firing (radar controlled) MG director is necessary for the proper control of MGs on a dark night. Until such time as this director is available, effective fire can only be concentrated on those few planes which can be seen. The following night, 26NOV43, Task Group 50.2 once again repelled a night air attack. 17:03 – Snooper was reported on radar at 16 miles 17:39 – Snooper was shot down by CAP. Identified as an “Emily” 17:55 – Just prior to sunset, Enterprise launched two F6F and one TBF as a night fighter group 18:19 – Three separate groups of planes, 6-8 Betty’s each, appeared on radar 18:59 – All 5” batteries were tracking enemy planes within gun range 19:33 – The final 5” rounds were fired and the enemy disengaged It is believed that two, possibly three, enemy aircraft were shot down by North Carolina. The night fighters were effective shooting down two enemy planes and dispersing one group before it could engage the formation. There were six mentions in the after action reports of, “insufficient lead”, “lagging target”, “limitations in the Mark 4 radar”, and “prematures in Mark 32 fused projectiles” as reasons for so few enemy planes shot down. They were clearly satisfied with their ability to force the enemy to break off attacks after 30-45 seconds of sustained AA fire from the 5” guns but were equally concerned with their inability to accurately track and effectively destroy the enemy in a night air action. Much was learned, but changes still needed to be made. Bismarck Archipelago Operations 25DEC43 North Carolina was in a supporting role as carrier-based aircraft launched attacks against Kavieng, a Japanese base April 2013
which was leap frogged in favor of plans to invade it. It was eventually invaded later in the war and taken in 1945. Marshall Islands Operations 29JAN- 8FEB44 The invasion of Kwajelein, Majuro Atoll, and the bombardment of Roi, Namuur. 29JAN44 The bombarding of Roi 16:43 – Six bogies sighted on horizon at 10 miles 16:47 – USS Street commenced firing at bogies who turned away 16:48 – North Carolina requests CAP fighters to cover them 17:01 – Established radar contact with friendly aircraft at 30 miles 17:40 – Established contact with plane of CAP from USS Intrepid 18:13 – Sighted ship in lagoon, identified as a tanker. Prepared to take ship under fire. 18:19 – Commenced firing main battery. Lt. Commander Harrison of Fighting Squadron Six volunteered to spot for main battery after sending remaining fighters back to carrier. 18:21 – Observed direct hit on tanker from second salvo Now here is Lt. Commander Harrison’s view of the events: “Lt. Commander Harrison had an interesting experience over the AK. It seems that our fighter pilots, after completing their mission over the island, could not resist coming down to this AK and doing a bit of strafing. Yesterday afternoon Mr. Harrison and some of his boys were doing just that, enjoying themselves apparently, when they noticed a shell land about two or three hundred yards beyond the ship. In a few seconds another landed a hundred feet or so astern. Then they received a query from North Carolina, “Did you get my last transmission?” They answered, “No, what was your last transmission.” At this time they stated that it felt like every AA gun in this part of the world had started up. Through the noise they received from North Carolina, “My last transmission was ‘Salvo’.” Needless to say, Mr. Harrison and his group left there with despatch”. The ship was confirmed sunk. Support from North Carolina given to the Marines on Roi, submitted by former Air Defense Officer John Kirkpatrick, in 1991. “We had been bombarding Roi for two or three days and nights. I spotted a small house on the west end of the island. Ensign Rudy Speights had sky 4, and 5 inch mounts 8 and 10. I asked him if he could hit that house. He tried but failed. He shot all around the place, but couldn’t hit the target. Then, within one hour, we got a message from the Marines ashore that we had “cleaned out the Japanese trenches surrounding the ‘target’ and they were amazed with this wonderful display of gunnery.” Only then did we learn of the presence of the trenches. To research any of these events or to find personal stories such as these, contact the Museum Department at the ship. Next issue we travel to Truk, Saipan, and the Phillipine Sea as we begin to close in on the islands of Japan.
Scuttlebutt Page 3
The Friends of the Battleship at WHQR Helping out during their recent pledge drive
John Whitley on the air at WHQR
Michael Zalob on the phone (left) (above) Elaine Whitley and other Friends taking calls
The Friends of the Battleship at WHQR
David Keefe taking pledges
Sue Mason Carter on the phone
Pat Marriott on the air Elaine Whitley between calls at WHQR April 2013
JohnWhitley at WHQR
Scuttlebutt Page 4
Crew Stories: Memories of an Eighteen-Year Old in Combat
by Charles Neikirk as told to his daughter, Barbara Lasater
The USS North Carolina BB-55, was the first new battleship built during World War II. When the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, the Carolina had a “Hurry Up Job” to get her ready for action. On June 9, 1942 she was on the way through the Panama Canal to reinforce our pressed Pacific fleet fighting against Japan. The Carolina hurried on to Pearl Harbor with much gunnery habits training. It was long after a visit to Pearl that she was in action. In August 1942 the BB-55 earned her first Battle Star for Guadalcanal Landings. By December 25, 1943, the Carolina had earned six Battle Stars. Now I would like to share some of the personal remarks that I witnessed, by Seaman Charles W. Neikirk, age 18 years old. After two months at Great Lakes Naval Training Station, I spent three or four days on a troop train en route to Shoemaker, California. I thought California would be a fine place to be, and about 24 hours later, I was seated in a jeep with a driver and sent to a dock, berthed in LST #213 (Landing Ship-Tanks). The next morning, this fleet moved out under “The Golden Gate” through the bay and into the Pacific Ocean. This fleet consisted of four LSTs and three yard minesweepers headed to Pearl Harbor. Total armament of the seven ships would be about eight 40 millimeters, sixteen 20 millimeters and twenty 50 calibers. We were carrying trucks, tanks and equipment along with 400 passengers to be delivered to Pearl assignments. We were so loaded with supplies that we could only get 10 to 12 knots. Most passengers were sick and it took us 14 days to Pearl Harbor. After I left the LST #213 I went to a camp and was sent to barracks up in the hills above the harbor and housed by some construction military people. Now I thought this would be a nice place to stay! The first there, I was assigned to report to mess cooking and feed the baseball players after the ball game. While I was watching the game, the loudspeaker passed the word: “NEIKIRK, SEAMAN 1ST CLASS, REPORT TO YOUR BARRACKS! ON THE DOUBLE!” Well I was scared and ran about two miles. I thought someone lost a member of the family. When I got to the barracks, a sailor was sitting in a jeep and said, “NEIKIRK?” I said “Yes.” “Pack your gear seagoing fashion!” I was ready in about two minutes and was taken to the dock. There I April 2013
saw one of the most beautiful battleships that I’ve ever seen. The USS NORTH CAROLINA BB-55. After gawking at the ship and walking up the gangplank, I carried my belongings and finally saluted the Officer of the Deck. I was assigned to the 5th Division. This group was mostly deck force and gunnery people. We were ready to leave in two or three days and I was assigned to a 5” turret on the starboard side, forward on the main deck. We spent hours practicing handling ammunition and powder. I was placed under the turret feeding the powder hoists to two 5” guns and it was hotter than hell. Must have been 120 degrees and the cracking of 5” guns will drive you crazy. The gun captain said to me, “If you think it’s hot and loud, wait until you start bombarding these rocks! We will be using nine 16” guns and twenty 5” guns!” The gun captain was correct. On June 13, 1944, the North Carolina, Washington and Indiana approached an ugly place called Saipan Island. We sunk a troop ship loaded with Japs headed for Saipan. Then the Carolina fired 360 rounds of 16-inch and 2,096 of 5-inch. Most people don’t know this, but we used 2,096 shells using phosphorus materials. The cane fields were full of Japanese (the phosphorus burned the cane and the Japs) and we ran them into the bay. The Marines and Army secured the island on June 15th. On June 19, 1944, we joined with Task Force 58 and the carriers with Admiral Spurance and our great pilots. The occasion was called “The Marianas Turkey Shoot”. The shooting began around midmorning with the first of a day long series of attacks against Task Force 58 by Japanese land-based and carrier-based planes. The main effort was made by carrier planes, which attacked in four successive waves totaling 373 aircraft. The Japanese planes that reached our group received a murderous reception from the most destructive mass of naval antiaircraft guns ever assembled. According to an official report of the action, “the battleship, cruisers and destroyers ahead put up a tremendous barrage which, together with the burning planes all around the horizon, created a most awesome spectacle.” During several of my visits at battle station in the gunnery department, I was in the chow line and made an acquaintance from my hometown of Portsmouth, Ohio. His name Marion Rose, a Quartermaster Third Class, attached to the “N” Division. This means navigation and his boss was Commander Kemp Tolley. Mr. Tolley was rated Third Command behind the Captain of the ship. The “N” Division had only 27 people in the group. Marion Rose told me that we need you in our division and will ask Commander Tolley to get you transferred from the 5th Division to our group. I was transferred the next day, thanks to “Rosie”. I studied for a few weeks and became continued on Page 6
Scuttlebutt Page 5
continued from Page 5
Quartermaster Third-Class. We had a great group of people and good team players. Mr. Tolley usually stayed in the Chart House behind the Pilot House. Both he and the Captain have staterooms behind the bridge and never leave the bridge while at sea. During my stay on the North Carolina, we served under four different Captains; FRANK P. Thomas Frank g. Fahrion Oswald s. colclough b. hall hanlon I steered many times in the pilot house with the Captain sitting in the swivel chair on the starboard side and growling at the officer of the deck. Not very pleasant for a young seaman trying to read the compass and get on course. They were tough, very seldom ever showing a smile, but experienced seaman. Captains on warships usually don’t stay in Command more than 6 months at a time because of the stress. December 18, 1944 – Task Force 38 moved into the Philippine Sea with a “Typhoon”. Bull Halsey was in command on the New Jersey. Three destroyers sunk in the group. Hull DD-350, Monaghan DD-354 and Spence DD512. We lost 800 men on the 3 ships. January 8-20, 1945 – Bull Halsey led us into the South China Sea with BB Indiana and BB North Carolina, several cruisers and a group of destroyers into Camranth Bay. We had to enter relatively shallow, reef-filled water south of Formosa. “About 6 fathoms at the deep. Tokyo Rose sent message! We don’t know how you got in there. But How the Hell Do You Think You’re Going to Get out?” Our group sunk one cruiser, 44 Japanese merchant ships and 12 oil tankers. Several of our carrier planes in Lingayen Gulf were covering for our small group to protect us. We came out January 20. Halsey later declared this operation, “One of the heaviest blows to Japanese shipping of any of the war.” February 16-17, 1945 – Three days before the assault landing on Iwo Jima was to begin, Task Force 58 carried out a surprise air strike on the Tokyo area. Force 58 Group had 116 fast ships, including 16 aircraft carriers, 8 battleships, one battle cruiser, 14 heavy and light cruisers and 77 destroyers. Over 1,000 planes could be in action at once. These ships and crew numbered over 100,000 men. This “gang” running 25 knots including picket destroyers cover an area of 96 miles! Yes – the North Carolina was there! February 19-22, 1945 – Iwo Jima - North Carolina’s heaviest bombardment of World War II, 855 16” shells and 2,753 5” shells. We were there at our Battle Stations four days and nights. I was the Quartermaster in Battle April 2013
Two, a Steering Station, about 40 feet above the main deck working under Commander Harold Harnly, Executive Officer (he was next in charge in case the captain was killed). We also had a corpsman, one engine room talker and a junior officer assistant. We could not leave these stations. The hatches were locked and in order to get food, they sent sandwiches in a bucket by rope to Battle Two. We had no toilet facilities in Battle Two and you can imagine what we did in the bucket? We did have canteens filled with water. March 19, 1945—USS Franklin (CV-13). Japanese Bomber with two bombs came over the USS North Carolina and put two bombs through the elevator of the Franklin. I was in battle Two and could see the Jap pilot inside. I could see the guy smile! I thought he was going into us but his plane banked toward the Franklin. Our fleet commander told us to “Hold fire” because the Franklin was fueling planes on deck,. The “Big Ben” exploded three or four times and dumped planes and people overboard. They killed 724 men and 265 were severely wounded. When we passed the Franklin we changed course to keep out of the people and we threw all of our rafts, jackets, anything that would float. The destroyers closed in quickly for rescue work. Battleships will never stop for rescue work! March 24 & April 17, 1945. The Carolina visited Okinawa two times and, in my opinion, this was the toughest part of World War II that I witnessed. BB-55 was with Task Force 58 in this area for 40 days. Not only did we bombard, but Kamikaze Planes attacked nearly every day. During an air attack on April 6, North Carolina was struck by a 5-inch shell from a friendly ship. (I think it was the Pensacola). Killed three men, wounding 44. I viewed this from Battle II behind the signal bridge. The three men had a burial at sea and the wounded were transported to hospital ship. The Yamota (largest battleship ever) was sunk April 7 by Task Force 58 aircraft. July-September 1945. Please note showdown with Japan plus Epilogue to War’s End. From Tokyo Bay, the North Carolina viewed the signing of the surrender terms on board the battleship Missouri on September 2, 1945. On our way back home through the Panama Canal and up to Boston for a Hero’s Welcome! I was relieved from duty with an Honorable Discharge from the United States Navy May 6, 1946, at Lido Beach Long Island, New York.
Ribbons and Battle Stars are as follows: Good Conduct Medal American Theater Medal Asiatic Pacific Medal with 8 stars Philippine Liberation with 1 star Victory Medal Occupation Service Medal
Scuttlebutt Page 6
Did You Know?
• The Kingfisher scout plane currently onboard is not originally from the North Carolina. It was salvaged in 1968 from a crash in Canada in 1942. • The nickname “The Showboat” comes from the Rogers and Hammerstein musical of the same name. Originally used by Walter Winchell, a New York radio commentator, it was perpetuated by the USS Washington band at Hampton Roads Virginia one day and it stuck for good. • Each 16” gun barrel weighs over 96 tons. • With a crew of over 2,300 there were no casualties from 15Sep42 until 6APR45. Over 2 1/2 years. • In six years she had nine Captains. • The resulting hole in the hull from the torpedo attack was over 575 square feet.
Calendar of Events April 17-20 - USS North Carolina Battleship Association Annual Crew Reunion (Wed. - Sat.) April 20 - Battleship Alive! May 18 - Design & Damage Control May 27 - Annual Memorial Day Observance (Mon.) June 8 - Battleship 101 June 8 - Legacy Series: Armored Cruiser North Carolina and the Great War July 4 - Annual Battleship Blast (Thurs.) July 13 - Battleship 101 July 13 - Legacy Series: Under the Sea with Submarine USS North Carolina August 10 - Battleship 101 August 10 - Legacy Series: Blue & Gray North Carolinas September 28 - Battleship Alive! October 12 - Hidden Battleship
Roll Call Please join in welcoming our newest Friends. Scot Adair Richard Adams Doug Anderson Kathryn Batten Curtis Beck Dave Brauer Brittany Brown Martin Bugarini Lawrence Clark Alfred Dillard Jack Durham Freddy Ellis Bill Essman Scott Fields Kendall Fowler Michael Giddens Walter Gilman Leon Goldstein Scott Hamrick Camille Hanosek Raymond Hanosek Raymond Hanosek ( Jr.) April 2013
Jessica Johnson Kimberly Jones Scott Kochik Joseph Konen Ricky Lindley Dawn Marie Milagros Moore John Nicholson Sylvia Olejniczak John Pride Alberto Savoretti MD John Scholes MD Shane Scribner Alan Smith Jim Smith Derek Swain Nate Swain Xavier Tondeur Pridgen Watkins
October 29 - Batty Battleship’s Halloween Bash (Tues.) December 7 - Battleship Alive! All events take place on Saturday unless otherwise noted. Be sure to check the Battleship website for complete details about all of these events.,
A view of the bow of the Battleship North Carolina
Scuttlebutt Page 7