Monday, August 18, 2008

"Henry Was A Talker" Part III

I caught up with Wahoo and Glinski at Pearl at the end of that third patrol and there he was: still talking. But this time he was being loaded into an ambulance with one foot in a giant size bandage. First chance I got I visited him at the Aiea Heights Naval Hospital and got the details of what happened.

Wahoo had sunk a five ship convoy. One of the ships was a loaded troop transport that went down slow enough so that many of the Jap soldiers got off. Captain Morton decided to surface and inspect the debris. All guns were manned, including Henry's 20mm, and when they closed the area the Japs started shooting at them. So the Captain ordered, "Commence firing."

Henry said it was pure bedlam because not only were there Tommy guns, hand guns, and BARs, there was also the 4" deck gun blazing away. And of course, wouldn't you know it, the 20mm jammed and they couldn't get the thing cleared.

The barrel changer, wearing huge asbestos gloves, removed the barrel with the jammed live shell in one end, so he could put in a fresh barrel. Instead of putting the hot barrel into a tube full of sea water located on the side of the bridge, in the confusion the barrel changer dropped the damn thing on the deck. He was installing a new barrel when it happened: the jammed shell exploded! It sent shrapnel flying in every direction and it was Henry's right foot that got hit, tearing it up.

They got Henry below where the Pharmacist Mate Lindhe had to cut off a couple of toes using electricians' wire cutters. Lindhe kept Henry doped up so he didn't feel like talking for a while.

But at the Naval Hospital he made up for lost time because he was lucky enough to be in a ward with a bunch of Marines that had been shot up on Guadalcanal. Henry told them all about the Wahoo and when he got to the part about sinking a Jap sub in the Solomons they all cheered saying it was probably the bastard that had been shelling them at night keeping them awake. The shelling had suddenly stopped. The Marines figured that Wahoo had sunk the Jap so that made Henry their hero.

I saw Henry one more time when he got back to Pearl after a thirty day stateside leave. By this time I was on USS Silversides and on my way out. We had a couple of brews and he told me that the medical people didn't know what to do with him because he would always walk with a slight limp but he still qualified for submarine duty. He said, "If they would only give me a chance to talk to them we could get this all straightened out."

I never heard of Henry after that.

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Our thanks to Jim Allen for premission to reprint his article from "Polaris".

1 comments:

Linda Gates on 7:50 PM said...

Henry was my Dad...He was killed by a drunk driver in 1954. Thank you for the story, because I never knew him. He died when I was 6.

Linda Diane Glinski

 

About Me

The first 'grown up' book Paul Crozier ever read was "War Fish" by George Grider. Since then he has spent most of his life researching the U.S. Submarine Force in WWII and USS Wahoo (SS-238) in particular.

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This blog is dedicated to all who have served in the U.S. Submarine Force. Thank you for your service and sacrifice.

Admiral Chester Nimitz

"We shall never forget it was our submarines that held the line against the enemy while our fleets replaced losses and repaired wounds."

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