Friday, October 28, 2005

Diary Entry #1, 1943: California to Pearl Harbor and Beyond

My father kept a diary of some of his experiences in the Pacific Theater during WW II. I'll try to break this up by chapters or dates, so the blocks of text aren't horribly long. I've put some things in parenthesis for clarification -- and I am typing this from something I transcribed a few years ago from the original diary (that had some water damage) so I may have mangled some of the entries. My father was educated in the early part of the 20th century, so he has impeccable spelling and grammar. Any mistakes in this diary are most likely my transcription and proofreading errors.

My Life in the Service
the Diary of John Wesley Brown
La Junta, Colorado


September 9, 1943

This is my first attempt to keep a diary. I should have started this upon my entering the service of the navy, but things happened so fast that I, in great haste and excitement rushed off to join my companions in the service of my country, leaving my diary behind.

I will only fill in up to this date the things that highlight my memory.

In the little over five months that I spent in Frisco, there is very little to write about (?)day but much that I shall long remember.

I easily made friends with all my shipmates aboard the Eider. Also made some very close buddies.

It was just a sad a day as it was happy when we steamed into Pearl Harbour. Most of my close buddies were transferred to other ships. Yet after six months of war we were to be given a chance to prove ourselves and to fight our enemies on a real man 'o war. Yes, a heavy cruiser, the Astoria. She was in dry dock when we went aboard, and our first look at a heavy was from stem to stern, and from keel to masthead. We were proud and confident when we went aboard, and rightly so for our ship had been tried in battle and had tasted the blood of the enemy. Many were the tales our new buddies had to tell us of the Coral Sean and Midway battles, of Jap ships sunk, of zeros and mitzis shot down, of the sinking of the Lexington and the rescue of her crew.

We were keyed up to do our bit which was not to be too far distant. On the morning of July 7 we steamed out of Pearl Harbour and made up a task force of a half dozen heavy cruisers, the Aircraft carrier, Saratoga, a dozen tin cans and the oiler Cimarron. We were sailing on sealed orders--not a man aboard knew our destiny. It was an uneventful voyage as far as meeting the enemy. Every day was the same as the day before. One hour before sunrise we are awakened by the general alarm bell and the rush to your C.Q. station, before you are shut off by the closing of water tight doors and hatches. The bugler blowing C.Q. bumping into someone in a dimly lit passage way. Watching the planes warm up and take off so early that only their exhausts are visible.

All during (the) day we would have various drills, torpedo defense, target practice, both A.A. and main battery.

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