Dick and Betty Mingus
"Charter members of America's Greatest Generation"
I received this really great piece from Betty Mingus and She said I could share it with you........enjoy. Ken
November 13. 1998
This is the copy of a document Dick has had with his papers for over 52 years. The original is on a very thin parchment like paper with 2 holes in the top so it could be put into some kind of notebook. I was afraid it would not copy but did quite well, all things considered. I backed it up with a piece of white cardstock to help hold it down on the copier. It has been folded in about a 3x4 in square all these years. You can tell on the copies where the original is starting to disintegrate on the fold lines. Dick doesn't remember how he came to be in possession of this or if this is the actual original or a copy of it. He doesnt know who the author was. Wouldnt it be great if the author saw this on your WONDERFUL web site and came forward?
This diary was written in 1945 by an unknown author
aboard the USS Pennsylvania. This has been in Dick Mingus's possession since that
PLACE: Okinawa DATE: August 13, 1945
Last night at approximate 8:45, our ship the U.S.S. Pennsylvania, was hit by an aerial torpedo Just aft of the blister on the starboard side, which blasted a hole large enough to drive a huge truck through. The concussion was as great as the recoil of a twelve-gun salvo. It lifted me off the deck a few inches and moved the ship sideways several feet. Word was immediately passed to set condition zebras and all men standing near zebra-doors and hatches began doing so.
As water rushed in, the ship began to list and several fires were reported. Most of them in the ammunition magazines aft. When the word was passed that there was a fire in one of the main battery magazines, terror swept into the hearts of a number of men, and they moved to forward of the forecastle, grabbing life jackets as they went. And yet other men went about their duty with unaffected calmness. Some bakers in the bakeshop nonchalantly played a game of cards, smoked cigarettes, told jokes and drank coffee.
I hadn't been assigned to any battle station, so I divided my time between the galley, butcher shop and bakeshop. I was more than a little nervous, so it was difficult to stand still for more than a few minutes.
Shortly after we were hit several small craft moved in close to the ship, hoping they could assist in some way.
All the men in the third and fourth division had a chance to escape, but the men of the "N" division, whose sleeping compartment is located in after steering, were trapped and consequently drowned.
A diver went down through the hole which the torpedo had blasted in an attempt to bring up some of the drowned men. I watched as two lifeless bodies were lifted aboard. Both men were clad only in their shorts. Men stood ready with sheets and blankets, which were thrown over the deceased as they were placed in stretchers. After I had seen two men brought up and watched as the chief Quartermaster hastily checked their names off a list which he carried in his shirt pocket, I decided that I didn't need to watch any longer.
Men worked all night rigging pumps and hoses to pump the water out of the flooded compartments, but water rushed in through hatches and bulkheads which weren't watertight.
Repair ships which moved alongside sometime during the night, gave all the assistance they could. We borrowed lengths of hose from them to be used in pumping the water over the side.
Sometime this afternoon tugs came alongside and we hoisted anchor. A cable was strung from our bow to the stern of a repair ship and she began to pull as the tugs began pushing. Thus we got underway. Apparently the captain wants to get the ship closer to the beach, because, sitting as we were, a heavy storm, which isn't uncommon in this area, would have sunk us. At least that is my opinion.
During the day four bodies were recovered from the "N" division compartment, and memorial services are planned for tomorrow.
Shortly before dark word was passed for the secondary and anti-aircraft batteries to be manned. Men who didn't have a topside station began to move slowly inside.
We hadn't been waiting long when a plane made its appearance, and our starboard 5 inchers opened up, but didnt fire very long. At about this time a ship exploded and sank off our starboard side. Everyone seems to disagree on its identity, but nevertheless we all realized that a number of American lives had been snuffed out . Brave men who never had a chance.
There is talk of peace from Washington, in fact that's all one can hear over the radio, but the war is still on out here, very much so!!!
Okinawa August 14, 1945
Almost everyone was up most of the night, and every where I looked tired men are standing, sitting or flaked out on deck.
During the night men worked incessantly back aft shoring up bulkheads and pumping water out of flooded compartments as fast as it would rush in. We have about one foot less freeboard than we had yesterday afternoon.
We had another air alert this morning about 10:30. If we have to fire the 5 inch guns any more there is danger of the bulkheads giving away back aft, which would flood another compartment or two.
Memorial services were held for four men of the "N" division this morning on the forecastle. Everyone was very solemn as the two chaplains prayed and asked god to forgive these men of any sins which they might have committed through the frailty of human nature.
This afternoon divers recovered another body from the "N" division compartment. A watch was removed from the man's wrist which had stopped at 8:47. Meanwhile water is still being pumped over the side to keep the ship from sinking any lower than it already had.
We have been on the alert for any planes all evening, and some were reported in this, area, but as far as I know no ships have been hit tonight.
The radio said the Japanese government has accepted our offer, but there isn't any confirmation from the US as yet, but is expected early tomorrow morning.
Okinawa August 15, 1945
There is a large variety of speculation about where we are going to be towed to. I believe it will be Guam. In any event, all hands will be glad to leave here, I'm sure.
Most of this crew are nervous, and jump at the least noise. You'd find it next too impossible to get a member of this crew to trust a Jap even if the much talked of peace were signed.
When I think of all the young Americans that have been wounded, captured, tortured or killed in this war, I think of what Admiral King said recently, and wonder if America will soon forget these young men, and fail to exert every effort to keep the peace which was secured at such a high cost of human lives. I hereby quote Admiral King: " How long can the United States afford to continue the cycle of fighting and building and winning and giving away, only to fight and build and win and give away again. Rich as we are, we do not have the human or physical resources to dissipate our patrimony, generation after generation, in this manner"
Let us resolve to exert an incessant effort to maintain the peace, once it has come to the United States.
We were hit exactly one month after leaving the peaceful city of San Francisco, but it seems to me that we've been out here at least a year, and it will seem like another year before we get back.
At approximately 8:20 am this morning, our captain announced the war's end, but warned that we shouldn't relax our vigil for enemy aircraft for at least a few hours yet. He also asked that we join him in silent prayer for our shipmates who were killed on our ship less than three days ago. Thus all hands stood silently, some with bowed heads, for about two minutes. That was about the finest tribute we could pay to our departed shipmates who had met death at a time when peace was expected momentarily.
I write finis to these, my thoughts, of the past 72 hours .