MARCH 10, 1945 -- JUNE 1,1945
The Petrof Bay had been commissioned in 1944 and had been
involved in three invasions with VC-76 aboard before we relieved
them. It had been a good ship and VC-76 a good squadron both
with fine records which we expected to live up to. The accommodations
for the squadrons officers were two and four man staterooms for
the lieutenants, a single for the squadron commander and nine
man bunk rooms for most of the ensigns. There were a few state
rooms for some of the less senior lieutenants and those ensigns
that didn't object to being deep in the ship in what we called
"torpedo junction". If one of those CVEs took a torpedo,
it would practically sink before you could get out of bed. That
is, if the torpedo didn't explode in bed with you.
Ready for fly away take-off
The ship was about 500 feet long and the flight deck was
about 490 feet and 70 feet wide. The landing area was contained
on the after third of the flight deck. For a fly-away take off
the forward two thirds of the deck was used. The ship had one
catapult for launching planes into the air. This was on the forward
left hand corner of the flight deck. The tail end of the plane
was snapped to the deck by a metal
hook with a breakable metal ring. The forward end of the plane
was attached to a wire rope sling to a hook in the deck. This
hook was only about 70 feet from the leading end of the flight
deck. The hook was fired down the deck by compressed air at a
speed of 70 knots. The plane was instantly traveling 70 knots
and was thrown off the front end of the flight deck where it
was now flying under it's own power. It is quite an operation,
exciting, a little spooky at first but once fired you are sure
you are going to leave to ship. All you need is for that engine
to keep running full power.
Life aboard a carrier is quite pleasant for the officers and
I would say that it is not bad for the enlisted men either. Certainly,
the food is a darned sight better on a large ship than on any
On March 10th we departed Guam for Ulithi. As we sailed into
the Ulithi anchorage, I was on deck, as I usually was when entering
or leaving a harbor. The first thing I saw was ships. War ships:
cargo ships, tankers, hospital ships every kind of ship you could
imagine. Thousands of them. All the way from carriers and battleships
to LCTs and PT boats. Impressed! You can't believe how impressed
I was or you would have been if you had been there.
The Petrof Bay dropped anchor amongst the "big boys":
the battleships and carriers and right along side the Indiana.
It was late afternoon so I decided that I would wait until the
next morning and try to catch a motor launch or a mail boat for
a ride over to the Indiana and surprise Melv. Early the next
morning I awoke, went out on deck and "lo and behold",
it was gone. Not only the Indiana but the whole damned "fast
fleet" was gone. All the new battleships, big carriers,
new cruisers, new destroyers and their support vessels were gone.
Mog Mog village
All that was left in the harbor were the escort carriers, old
battlewagons, old cruisers and an array of destroyers and invasion
vessels. The big fleet had left for a strike at Japan and place
a defensive force between the next island scheduled for invasion
and Japan. This island was to be Okinawa. What was left in the
harbor was the invasion force and it was loaded and ready to
go in a matter of a few days. I, the squadron and the Petrof
Bay were a part of that force. So again I had missed Melv. Maybe
it was a good thing, had I gone over the night before, I might
have stayed all night and spent a considerable time on a battleship
and not with the blessing of the Navy.
Mog Mog Cemetery
For the few days we were at Ulithi anchorage we were anchored
26 miles from the island called "Mog Mog". Other than
the warm beer, one of the two things I remember about Mog Mog
was how high the beer cans were piled. I guess when you pour
beer down the throats of a couple hundred thousand sailors and
marines, even for a few days, its not hard to make a mountain
of beer cans. The other thing I remember was the native cemetery.
The bodies were buried on top of the ground under slabs of rock.
because the elevation was probably three feet high and the bodies
won't stay under the surface of the ground due to water level.
Reminded me of the cemetery that Bloski and I visited in New
On the last evening we were in the Ulithi anchorage several of
us caught a LCT and rode to the island called Falalop to go to
a movie and just get off the ship for a couple of hours. Falalop
was another of the atolls like Mog Mog that lie in a circle and
formed an anchorage that was capable of harboring very nearly
the entire United States Navy. This island contained the only
air strip around the anchorage and was operated by a Marine squadron.
It was on the way in to Falalop that we were to see the USS Randolph,
CV-15. The Randolph had been left behind by the fast fleet because
of a big hole in her flight deck. On the day before we arrived
at Ulithi a couple of Japanese planes flew in from Yap Island
a couple of hundred miles away. One dove into the flight deck
of the Randolph and the other dove into the runway on Falalop,
probably thinking it was the flight deck of a carrier. I'll bet
that guy was sure surprised for a few seconds!
We were to be at the boat landing to meet the LCT at 2200 hours.
We left the movie at 2130 hours and was at the landing about
five minutes later. No LCT! It had already left and wasn't even
in sight. There were several of us and we lodged a loud complaint
with the harbor master. The basis of our argument was that the
invasion fleet was to hoist anchor before dawn the next morning
and we were suppose to be going with it. The harbor master knew
this was true and called for a PT boat and we were treated to
about a twenty mile ride at fast clip. Don't think this was PT-109,
though, unless they resurrected it.