Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cliff Beasley, Coast Guard OCS Grad
My friend, retired US Coast Guard, Captain Walt Viglienzone, Pensacola, Fla., sent me this United States Coast Guard story and I consider it an honor to post it so others can enjoy this World War II story as told by the hero himself. Cliff Beasley, now lives in Pensacola, Florida.

by Cliff Beasley
I joined the Coast Guard in March of 1942 in Fort Worth, Texas and was given the high rate of Apprentice Seaman. When I told the Chief, I was due for graduation from college in June, he put me in the C.R.C. Program to attend the Academy. If I qualified after the 4 months school, I would be commissioned Ensign in the Coast Guard Reserve. Thirteen of us left Fort Worth by train, November 16, 1942, destination, New London. Arriving there, we were sent by truck to Groton to begin our training, and this is where the story begins.

I was in Platoon No.1, 33 men, and in this platoon were men from all over America, mostly college grads. Some of these guys had Ph.Ds’ in math, science, etc. and then there was the rest of us. The first month was set up for us to receive shots, learn to march, attend basic communication classes, row boats and try to get more military in our bearing and thinking. Marching for the most part was not too difficult, but we had one man who was a disaster. To the right, march, he would go left. About face, march, total collision. Right shoulder, arms, Yeh, you know!!! He was such a nice guy and we felt sorry for him so tried to help him the best we could, but to no avail. The next thing really caused concern about the man’s everyday problems. After taking our shots, we were sent to the docks to go out and row. This was to help our arms and help move the vaccines. At the end of the towing exercise, our Chief gathered us around to explain the nomenclature of the Double Ended Self Righting Monomoy. At the end of the lecture, he showed us the air tight tanks at each end of the Monomoy, explaining that because of their elevated positions, if the boat turned over, they would right the boat again. Also, since they were air tight, they were used to store items to keep them from getting wet. He then unscrewed the cover, to show us the insides of the compartment. At this point, our non marching friend said to the Chief, “Now that you have let the air out of the compartment, how do you put it back????” The Chief was at a loss for words except to say “Fall In” and off we went.

At the end of the month, our friend was called in and told he did not qualify to go on and was dismissed from the Coast Guard. We were all sorry to see him go. He was such a nice guy. A little over two years later, I was walking down a street in Kyoto, Japan, (after winning the war practically single-handed) and ran face to face with this same guy. He was in civilian clothes, which I thought was unusual. We stopped and talked and I asked him why was he in Japan? He answered “When I left the Coast Guard, I went immediately to Oak Ridge, Tennessee and was one of the scientists sent there to develop the Atomic Bomb.” He had been sent to Japan to observe the effects of the two bombs dropped.

Now that I think about it. Was he really that bad and dumb, or was he intentionally hidden until he could be sent to Oak Ridge?

A Coast Guard OCS connection with the Atomic Bombs...
What do you think?? Could be??? Maybe??
Damn the Torpedoes -- Japanese Corrosion Saved a Ship
Damn The Torpedoes – Full Speed Ahead

On May 17,1944, I reported aboard the U.S. Army FS-174 (Freight-Supply) at Higgins Shipyard, New Orleans, Louisiana. From there we went down the Mississippi, thru the Panama Canal and on to Hawaii, Funa Futi, Guadalcanal and then to Dutch New Guinea: entering Milne Bay the 28th of September. Our job was to move troops and supplies from one base to another, as directed by the Army. This included bases in Milne Bay, Oro Bay, Finchhaven, Hollandia, Biak, Morotai and the Admiralty Islands.

On the 27th of November, we were assigned to the U.S. Army, 4th - Engineer, Shore and Boat Regiment (4th ES&BR). This Regiment (or Brigade) was in charge of directing traffic during an invasion, such as troops and supplies landing on Blue Beach, Orange Beach, etc. We were to take in the necessary equipment, such as airstrip matting, 55-gallon drums of high octane gasoline, dozers, jeeps, trucks, etc. We would get as close to the beach as possible and unload in LCTs, LCVPs, etc. This we did at the invasion of Leyte and Linguyan Gulf.

With the surrender of the Philippines, we were ordered back to Hollandia DNG, to bring the last of the equipment and 50 troops to Manila. Now here is where the fun begins. On the 9th of March at 1505 hours, we departed Hollandia for Manila. Our station was midway back in the port column of the convoy and in the middle column, along side of us, was a big oil tanker. At approximately 11:00 a.m., on the 17th, the convoy commander ran up flags indicating -- "Submarine Port side– alter course 45 degrees to starboard." This we all did, and I ran to the port wing of the bridge to see if I could see the sub.

About this time, I saw a stream of bubbles coming straight at us. It is funny how you might read an article and how it comes back to you as if you practiced what you read. The article, written by a Merchant Marine read “If you see that your ship is going to be struck by a torpedo, grab a stanchion, bend your knees and open your mouth”. All of these things, I did. At 11:10, the torpedo struck the ship, shook the rigging, and noisily passed under us. I am sure the torpedo was meant for the tanker and not us. Chief Scarborogh, our Chief Motor Mach, came out on deck from the engine room looked up at me and shouted, “What the hell did we run over?”

Well, it didn’t explode or I probably wouldn’t be writing this. Fortunately, our ship was constructed with a double chine and then a flat bottom. The torpedo struck the 2nd chine (doubling in the metal) and then went on under. I later talked to two submariners and they said they had studied some Japanese torpedoes and that the firing mechanism probably saved us. A ball sits on a pedestal and when dislodged, activates the firing procedure. They found these balls were corroded to the posts, preventing the firing.

Anyway, I went off watch at 12:00 noon, went down to my quarters and changed my skivvies. What fun we had in the Service!!!!