Chester Nez, last of the original Navajo code talkers, dies at 93

Nez was one of the first code talkers recruited for the job in 1942, while the US was seeing its codes broken over and over again by Japanese code breakers.

I thought this was a pretty fascinating read. Read the article over at Ars Technica.

Pacific War biography of Lieutenant Martin “Marty” E Roberts

I just posted an eight-part biographical series as shared by Lieutenant Martin “Marty” E Roberts, who served aboard YMS-468 in the Americas and Japan. The write-up, photos, and trinkets attached are very fascinating!

Included:

  • A photo of the YMS-468 commissioning
  • An official Sacred Order of the Golden Dragon membership card, bestowed upon soldiers who cross the International Date Line by sea; more on Wikipedia, but its history is mired in controversy over hazing incidents
  • Many rare tourism photos of Nicaragua and war-torn Japan
  • The envelope and artwork sent in celebration of Japan’s surrender
  • A Pan Am travel card with beautiful period artwork
  • …and much more!

Jump into the full story, starting with part 1 of “Navy Days – A Letter to Joe”:

Thank you, Marty!

More information on the YMS-468 build specification can be found on NavSource.

Marty’s letter to grandson | Part 8 of 8: After the war

Some months ago, I was contacted by a sailor who served aboard a sibling minesweeper across the American, European, and Pacific theatres of WWII. Lieutenant Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC served aboard YMS-468 as Engineering Officer and later Deck Officer, from 1943 to 1946. Marty wrote up this biography of his naval service for his grandson and was kind enough to share it and his photographs with us.

This post is an eight-part series. Below is an index of all parts. Enjoy!

Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC | February 28th, 2014
Navy Days – A Letter to Joe


Part 8 of 8: Headed home and after the war


Soon thereafter my relief showed up and on January 3rd, 1946 I received orders home so the last time I saw the YMS-468 she was high and dry in a Japanese drydock. Our 4th officer, Clint Hill (an artist from Seattle) took over as Skipper and I learned some time later when Clint visited New York that they were sent over to Korea to sweep in that area. After that they were given orders to go to Singapore for some well-deserved R&R and on the way went through another typhoon in the East China Sea. Ultimately, the Navy sold the ship to the Turkish Navy! It’s hard for me to believe that little ship could travel so far around the world!

Having been relieved by a regular navy Ensign my orders were to proceed by the first available government transportation to the nearest staging center for further transportation to the officer separation center, New York, NY and then proceed home after release from active duty. Hallelujah!!

Actually, on January 7th I boarded the USS Baxter (APA-94) and headed for San Diego via Pearl Harbor. After a short stop at Pearl we departed but soon came to a grinding halt when the ship’s boilers lost power and we had to return to Pearl at reduced speed for repairs. As a result, I was sent to an officer’s club on the beach somewhere beyond the Pali Pass for R&R until I could continue home. The repairs were evidently going to be extensive so I was transferred to the USS Fond du Lac (APA-166) and finally arrived at San Diego on January 30th. On February 3rd, I boarded DC-3 and hopscotched across the US reporting in at NY the next day. February 6th I was detached with 2 months, 6 days’ accumulated leave and finally released from active duty on April 12th, 1946. At last I could rejoin my family and get to know our 2 ½ month old beautiful baby girl, Phyllis Ann.

Marty Roberts; Pan Am travel card (front); February 19, 1953

Marty Roberts; Pan Am travel card (front); February 19, 1953


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Marty’s letter to grandson | Part 7 of 8: YMS-468 moored in Japan’s occupation

Some months ago, I was contacted by a sailor who served aboard a sibling minesweeper across the American, European, and Pacific theatres of WWII. Lieutenant Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC served aboard YMS-468 as Engineering Officer and later Deck Officer, from 1943 to 1946. Marty wrote up this biography of his naval service for his grandson and was kind enough to share it and his photographs with us.

This post is an eight-part series. Below is an index of all parts. Enjoy!

Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC | February 28th, 2014
Navy Days – A Letter to Joe


Part 7 of 8: YMS-468 moored in Japan’s occupation


The City of Sasebo was up at the head of the inner harbor about a mile from where we were and we soon went to see what it looked like. I do not recall seeing any appreciable damage there, but if you look at a map of Kyushu you will see that Nagasaki is just a short distance to the East where the second atomic bomb was dropped. I must give the Japanese people credit for accepting their defeat in good spirit because they obeyed the terms of surrender and did not give us any difficulty when we went ashore. Here are a couple of pictures taken in Sasebo.

Sasebo streets with sailors in background; 1945

Sasebo streets with sailors in background; 1945


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Marty’s letter to grandson | Part 6 of 8: YMS-468 in Makurazaki Typhoon

Some months ago, I was contacted by a sailor who served aboard a sibling minesweeper across the American, European, and Pacific theatres of WWII. Lieutenant Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC served aboard YMS-468 as Engineering Officer and later Deck Officer, from 1943 to 1946. Marty wrote up this biography of his naval service for his grandson and was kind enough to share it and his photographs with us.

This post is an eight-part series. Below is an index of all parts. Enjoy!

Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC | February 28th, 2014
Navy Days – A Letter to Joe


Part 6 of 8: YMS-468 in Makurazaki Typhoon


About ten days after the surrender we were ordered to join a task force and proceed to Japan to conduct minesweeping operations in the Kyushu Island area. Our ETA was set for 16 September and we arrived on schedule at the narrow entrance to the outer harbor of Sasebo City. The problem was a major typhoon was following close behind us and we had a choice, ride it out at sea or go in the unfamiliar harbor. We sent one of our ships into the harbor to size up the situation since no US ships had yet been there. The decision was to go in. The larger ships like the AMs (fleet minesweepers) anchored, but the YMS’s were ordered to secure to some large mooring buoys found in the outer harbor; three ships to one buoy. In our case the first two ships shackled anchor chains to the buoy, but our skipper felt that when the wind got strong that buoy would heave around so much it might snap a chain, so we attached our 1″ towing cable instead, the cable having some give to it. Here is a picture of three ships on the mooring buoy.

Sasebo; Three YMS's (incl. YMS-468) taking harbor before the storm; September 1945

Sasebo; Three YMS’s (incl. YMS-468) taking harbor before the storm; September 1945


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Marty’s letter to grandson | Part 5 of 8: YMS-468 in battle, up to Japan’s surrender

Some months ago, I was contacted by a sailor who served aboard a sibling minesweeper across the American, European, and Pacific theatres of WWII. Lieutenant Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC served aboard YMS-468 as Engineering Officer and later Deck Officer, from 1943 to 1946. Marty wrote up this biography of his naval service for his grandson and was kind enough to share it and his photographs with us.

This post is an eight-part series. Below is an index of all parts. Enjoy!

Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC | February 28th, 2014
Navy Days – A Letter to Joe


Part 5 of 8: YMS-468 in battle, up to Japan’s surrender


Our first operation consisted of more than 80 ships in an echelon formation that extended clear over the horizon and took all day to sweep one pass through the line of mines. Luckily for us, the Japs were meticulous in laying these mines in quite a straight line. Other ships were assigned the task of following the sweeps to destroy the mines that were cut and popped up to the surface from their anchored position just below the surface. Some days we were assigned that job and it really was fun to explode the mines with rifle fire as seen in the pictures below.

Around this time we began to hear some vague rumors about the testing of a new unbelievably powerful bomb. But no other news concerning it.

Mine disposal off Okinawa; July 1945

Mine disposal off Okinawa; July 1945


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Marty’s letter to grandson | Part 4 of 8: YMS-468 on the US West Coast, into the Pacific Theatre

Some months ago, I was contacted by a sailor who served aboard a sibling minesweeper across the American, European, and Pacific theatres of WWII. Lieutenant Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC served aboard YMS-468 as Engineering Officer and later Deck Officer, from 1943 to 1946. Marty wrote up this biography of his naval service for his grandson and was kind enough to share it and his photographs with us.

This post is an eight-part series. Below is an index of all parts. Enjoy!

Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC | February 28th, 2014
Navy Days – A Letter to Joe


Part 4 of 8: YMS-468 into the Pacific Theatre


Thus fortified with supplies, we left Pearl and headed for Johnston Island, a small atoll southwest of Hawaii and then set course for Majuro Island, another atoll, in the Marshall Islands which had been recently liberated from the Japanese. During this leg of our trip we crossed the International Date Line on June 18, 1945 and a few interesting events occurred. I still have the certificate commemorating the crossing. It’s called “The SACRED ORDER OF THE GOLDEN DRAGON” and was conferred on Latitude 11°-25’.

Sacred order of the Golden Dragon card bestowed for crossing date/time line; June 18, 1945

Sacred order of the Golden Dragon card bestowed for crossing date/time line; June 18, 1945


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Marty’s letter to grandson | Part 3 of 8: YMS-468 through Panama Canal, in prep for battle

Some months ago, I was contacted by a sailor who served aboard a sibling minesweeper across the American, European, and Pacific theatres of WWII. Lieutenant Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC served aboard YMS-468 as Engineering Officer and later Deck Officer, from 1943 to 1946. Marty wrote up this biography of his naval service for his grandson and was kind enough to share it and his photographs with us.

This post is an eight-part series. Below is an index of all parts. Enjoy!

Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC | February 28th, 2014
Navy Days – A Letter to Joe


Part 3 of 8: YMS-468 through Panama Canal, prep for battle


Once the war in Europe was over we got orders to head for the Pacific and join the effort to finish off the Japanese. We headed South through the Caribbean (I loved the music we picked up from the islands along the way) to Panama stopping at Coco Solo on the North end of the canal for a short bit of shore leave. Each ship was required to assign an officer and two men to shore patrol duty to police the place and I drew the short straw for a 4 to 8 watch and had to report to the local police station for assignment. My men and I were instructed to relieve the watch at the “Pension Americana” and our orders were to “keep the peace” on the second deck! There was a steady traffic of soldiers, sailors, and marines up the stairs and down the hall. One soldier came up the stairs and I recognized him from my hometown. His reaction was “don’t tell Mom you saw me here!”

Later, several Marines from the aircraft carrier USS Franklin appeared. Their ship was returning to the East Coast for extensive repairs after being badly damaged by Kamikazes and this was their first shore leave. They’d had a lot to drink and the girl one of them was “visiting” in a room down the hall began to scream out loud. I went in to find him strangling her by the neck claiming she didn’t give him the change she owed him after he paid her. I called down the hall for a couple of his buddies to get him out of the place and take care of him so I didn’t have to put him on report. They did and peace was restored, the girl recovered and in fact we found that the change she gave him somehow got kicked under the bed.

Passage through the Panama Canal was uneventful and we proceeded up the Central American coast stopping at Nicaragua to refuel. This was a poverty-stricken country, as you can see from these pictures.

Nicaragua; mix of YMS crew and locals while on shore leave; Far left, front: Al B Wiles, Lieutenant (jg) (Skipper, Commanding Officer) of Jackson, MS; Dark officer's hat, right: Clint J Hill, Ensign (Communications Officer); 1945

Nicaragua; mix of YMS crew and locals while on shore leave; Far left, front: Al B Wiles, Lieutenant (jg) (Skipper, Commanding Officer) of Jackson, MS; Dark officer’s hat, right: Clint J Hill, Ensign (Communications Officer); 1945

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Marty’s letter to grandson | Part 2 of 8: YMS-468 on the US East Coast

Some months ago, I was contacted by a sailor who served aboard a sibling minesweeper across the American, European, and Pacific theatres of WWII. Lieutenant Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC served aboard YMS-468 as Engineering Officer and later Deck Officer, from 1943 to 1946. Marty wrote up this biography of his naval service for his grandson and was kind enough to share it and his photographs with us.

This post is an eight-part series. Below is an index of all parts. Enjoy!

Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC | February 28th, 2014
Navy Days – A Letter to Joe


Part 2 of 8: YMS-468 in the US


In the spring I received orders to report to the Gibbs Shipyard in Jacksonville, FL as Engineering Officer and part of the nucleus crew for the YMS-468, then under construction. The skipper, Ed Leach, and I were responsible for seeing that all the equipment designated for the ship was installed and the ship readied for commissioning. This was accomplished in August 1944 and with the remainder of the crew aboard we sailed out to sea heading north for Little Creek Naval Base in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia for shakedown exercises. On the way, just off Savannah, GA, when I had the bridge, I got a call “Fire in the GALLEY!” In addition to my several other duties I was Damage Control Officer, so I had to turn the con over to the Exec and rush to the galley. Smoke was pouring out of the vents above the electric range, but no flames could be seen so I had to order the men to get an axe and chop a hole through a beautiful new cabinet to get access to the area behind the range and fill the space with CO2 from our fire extinguisher. This put out the fire and we diverted to the Charleston Naval Base for repairs which were expertly done in a very short time.

YMS-468 commissioning with crew; Jacksonville, FL; August 31, 1944

YMS-468 commissioning with crew; Jacksonville, FL; August 31, 1944

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Marty’s letter to grandson | Part 1 of 8: In training

Some months ago, I was contacted by a sailor who served aboard a sibling minesweeper across the American, European, and Pacific theatres of WWII. Lieutenant Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC served aboard YMS-468 as Engineering Officer and later Deck Officer, from 1943 to 1946. Marty wrote up this biography of his naval service for his grandson and was kind enough to share it and his photographs with us.

This post is an eight-part series. Below is an index of all parts. Enjoy!

Marty Roberts of Raleigh, NC | February 28th, 2014
Navy Days – A Letter to Joe


Part 1 of 8: In training


Hi Joe,
Knowing your interest in things naval, I have been collecting some more information about my experience in WWII and particularly about the task of clearing mines laid both by the Germans off our Atlantic coast and by the Japanese off Okinawa and around their islands.

Not so often referred to is the first naval engagement the US got into after entering the war. Hitler quickly decided to attack our shipping coming out of Delaware Bay from Philadelphia and Chesapeake Bay from Baltimore. This was done by his U-boats using both torpedoes and by laying mines in the entrances to these bays. One of his subs actually succeeded in getting into Chesapeake Bay and laid some mines there much to the embarrassment of our navy since this was also their largest base on the East Coast! Their attention was naturally focused on Pacific operations due to the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor.

Ensign Marty E Roberts, 1943

Ensign Marty E Roberts, 1943


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Man known as kissing sailor in WWII-era image dies

Earlier this week, the famous sailor kissing in Times Square died at the age of 86. Glenn McDuffie died March 9 in a nursing home in Dallas.

After World War II, McDuffie, who was born in Kannapolis, N.C., and moved to Houston in 1960, became a mail carrier and semi-professional baseball player. (AP)

Read the full story on WTOP, DC.

Glenn McDuffie, kissing sailor; 2007

Glenn McDuffie, kissing sailor; 2007

YMS ships lost in the Pacific

I’ve compiled a list of all of the minesweepers lost to Pacific actions, storms, and accidents.

Date Ship Fate Source
1944-09-24 YMS-19

Mine

  • Fate: sunk
  • Cause: mine
  • Location: off Palau, Philippines
  • Coordinates: 6°53’58″N 134°9’44″E
  • Action: Battle of Peleliu
wikimapia.org
1944-10-01 YMS-385

Mine

  • Fate: sunk
  • Cause: mine
  • Location: in Zowariau Channel, off Ulithi, Caroline Islands, Micronesia
  • Coordinates: 9°51’56″N 139°36’59″E
wikimapia.org
1944-10-17 YMS-70

Storm, Typhoon, Foundering

  • Fate: foundered
  • Cause: tropical storm
  • Location: in Leyte Gulf, Philippines
  • Coordinates: 10°56’N, 125°12’E
  • Action: Battle of Leyte
uboat.net
1945-02-14 YMS-48

Gunfire, Shore Batteries

  • Fate: scuttled
  • Cause: shore batteries, fire, & scuttling
  • Location: in Corregidor Bay, off Manila, Philippines
  • Coordinates: 14°25’N 120°34’E
  • Action: Battle for the Recapture of Corregidor
wikimapia.org
1945-04-03 YMS-71

Mine

  • Fate: sunk
  • Cause: mine
  • Location: off Bongao Island, Philippines
  • Coordinates: 4°58’N 119°47’E
wrecksite.eu
1945-04-08 YMS-103

Mine

  • Fate: destroyed
  • Cause: mine, beaching, & intentional destruction
  • Location: off Okinawa, Japan
  • Coordinates: 26°13’N 127°54’E
yms299.org
1945-05-02 YMS-481

Gunfire, Shore Batteries

  • Fate: sunk
  • Cause: shore batteries
  • Location: off Tarakan Island, Netherlands East Indies
  • Coordinates: 03°27’N 117°32’E
  • Action: Battle of Tarakan
uboat.net
1945-06-18 YMS-50

Mine

  • Fate: scuttled
  • Cause: mine & scuttling
  • Location: off Balikpapan, Netherlands East Indies
  • Coordinates: 01°18’S 116°49’E
  • Action: Battle of Balikpapan
wikipedia.org
1945-06-26 YMS-39

Mine

  • Fate: sunk
  • Cause: mine
  • Location: in Makassar Strait, off Balikpapan, Netherlands East Indies
  • Coordinates: 1°19’S 116°49’E
wrecksite.eu
1945-06-26 YMS-365

Mine

  • Fate: scuttled
  • Cause: mine & scuttling
  • Location: in Makassar Strait, off Balikpapan, Netherlands East Indies
  • Coordinates: 1°18’S 116°50’E
wrecksite.eu
1945-07-09 YMS-84

Mine

  • Fate: sunk
  • Cause: drifting mine
  • Location: off Balikpapan, Netherlands East Indies
  • Coordinates: 1°19’0″S 116°48’0″E
  • Action: Battle of Balikpapan
wikimapia.org
1945-09-16 YMS-98

Storm, Typhoon, Foundering

  • Fate: foundered
  • Cause: Typhoon Ida (category 1)
  • Location: off Okinawa, Japan
navsource.org
1945-09-16 YMS-341

Storm, Typhoon, Foundering

  • Fate: foundered
  • Cause: Typhoon Ida (category 1)
  • Location: in Buckner Bay, off Okinawa, Japan
navsource.org
1945-09-16 YMS-421

Storm, Typhoon, Foundering

  • Fate: foundered
  • Cause: Typhoon Ida (category 1)
  • Location: off Okinawa, Japan
navsource.org
1945-09-16 YMS-472

Storm, Typhoon, Foundering

  • Fate: foundered
  • Cause: Typhoon Ida (category 1)
  • Location: off Okinawa, Japan
uboat.net

In most cases, all or most of the crew survived as the damage didn’t cause immediate sinking and left time for abandoning and rescue. The biggest exceptions are the ships lost to Typhoon Ida, whom I also don’t have coordinates for. Those ships were lost to storms and their crews set adrift with most dying in the storm or to sharks.
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F2 Granville Lee Rumble, obituary; died at sea, serving aboard YMS-427

Here’s the obituary and gravesite of a soldier killed in action while serving alongside YMS-299, on a sibling ship. View the original on Find a Grave.

Granville Lee Rumble, served aboard YMS-427, killed in action

Granville Lee Rumble, served aboard YMS-427, killed in action

Name: Granville Lee Rumble
Age: 19
Served: US Navy, Fireman 2/C
Location: Pacific Theater of Operations
Story: Injured while doing mine sweeps. Buried at sea in 1945, alongside two other crew members.

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Stone Family Shipyard journaled history

Here’s a cool find! The William F. Stone & Sons Company in Oakland, California built the YMS-299. Someone from the Stone family has written up a story about the shipyard with a pile of photos, including one of the YMS-299 in 1942, before she went off into battle.

YMS-299 in Oakland, CA; 1942

YMS-299 in Oakland, CA; 1942

From the presentation:

Wooden Boat Building in San Francisco Bay: One Family’s Story

A memoir of the Stone family: William Isaac Stone, William Frank Stone, Lester Frank Stone

Presentation to the Alameda County Historical Society at the Encinal Yacht Club,
Alameda, California, January 26, 2012

by Roberta O’Grady, granddaughter of W.F. Stone and Niece of Lester F. Stone

Read the rest of this entry »

Obituary of John F. Enright, Age 77; Vet US Navy, Radioman Second Class; Served on YMS-299

I ran across this obituary of a soldier who served on YMS-299 and thought I’d share it.

Source: Chicago Tribune News

Enright, John F.
October 17, 2003

John F. Enright, age 77, Vet US Navy, Radioman Second Class, SV6, of WWII and Korean War. Served on the USS Haven, USS YMS 299 and USS New Jersey. Married for 50 years to the love of his life, Charlotte Enright, nee Cannon; best friend and devoted father of Diane (Larry) Pawelski, Mary Beth (Sam) Bick and Denise (Mike) Hurley; proud Gumpy of Tim and Matt Pawelski, Brian, Dan and Kevin Bick, Kara and Ryan Hurley; loyal and loving son of the late Ann Kelly Enright; wonderful brother-in-law to Florence Cannon and the late Rita (the late John) Felker and Donald Cannon; much loved uncle of Jack (Camille) Felker, Mary Denise (Wally) Veazie and Susan (John) Arvetis; will be missed greatly by his faithful companion, Chico “Dutch”. Visitation Friday 3 to 9 p.m. Funeral Saturday, 8:45 a.m. from the Andrew J. McGann & Son Funeral Home, 10727 S. Pulaski Rd., to St. Christina Church, Mass 9:30 a.m. Interment Holy Sepulchre Cemetery. Retired Engineer of Illinois Bell of 42 years.

See the original: articles.chicagotribune.com