Archive for category Stories

Bomber Pilot, Ignatius “Naish” Loncao Remembers His Service in Okinawa

Here is another great vet story posted in honor of today’s holiday. B-24 bomber pilot, Ignatius “Naish” Loncao talks about being drafted, shipped overseas, and his service in the Japanese air space. You can find that article on the Livingston County News website.

Your service has not gone unnoticed. Thank you, sir.

US Marine, Ralph Irwin on the Battle of Okinawa

US Marine, Ralph Irwin gives his humble account of the Battle of Okinawa, saying “I am no hero. I was just one of the lucky ones.”

This is a great read over at

I sincerely thank you for your service, Ralph.

USS Rhea Photos from Jim Sherret

I received the below photos and story from boatswain, Jim Sherret, of the Canadian Navy cadets from the late 60’s to the early 70’s. I quite like the Christmas lights photo.

USS Rhea; Port Stanley

USS Rhea; Port Stanley

Read the rest of this entry »

YMS on YouTube

I took a look on YouTube to see what kinds of YMS videos there are. Surprisingly, there were more than zero…which is about what I expected to find. Here’s what I found:

Read the rest of this entry »

MV Rhea Almost Sinks In Harbour, 1972

This story was submitted by Vernon A.C. Mills, a cadet in post-war service aboard the ship. Thanks Vern!

Being the following incident has happened many years ago, I will try to be as accurate as possible. It would be best to keep in mind that at the time, I was only 15 years old, therefore everything seemed so critical and disastrous. In all honesty, I can’t remember if the winter of 1971–1972 was particularly bad or not, after that amount of time the best I can say is, “I’ve had a sleep since then” and winter is winter.

It was during the very early spring thaw that a fairly large log had floated downstream on the Talbot River through Port Stanley, Ontario and somehow managed to get jammed between the pier and port side of the ship. Due to the strong current of the river and high winds, the constant rocking and sway of the ship, a fairly large hole had been punched into the hull right at the water line on the port side slightly forward of amidships. I believe it was Lieutenant Harrington, who at the time was at his place of employment, had been notified that the Rhea was sitting low in the water and had a noticeable list. Read the rest of this entry »

M.V. Rhea Tally Cap, Shoulder Flash and Stories

In correspondence with Vernon “Vern” A.C. Mills, he’s been giving me some more bits of information about the post-war doings of the ship as a cadet training facility. Among his saved trinkets are a cap tally (a band that would have been worn around a sailor’s hat) and a shoulder flash (patch). Thank you to Vern for sharing these!

M.V. Rhea cap tally (band) and shoulder flash (patch); 1970s

M.V. Rhea cap tally (band) and shoulder flash (patch); 1970s

Vern served on the ship in the 1970s, alongside Charles Donaldson, the other former cadet whom has sent me a great number of photos of the ship.

Vern also pitched in this humorous bit of information:

I just remembered something that will give you one hell of a good laugh. During my time on the Rhea, I always worked in the galley with another guy named Brian Shuart. It was Brian who got the rest of the crew and even the officers to call me, “Captain Heartburn”.  Oh yeah, my culinary skills have improved since then. (I think)


A Brief History of the USS Rhea (MSC(0)-52)

NOTE: This history was included in the packet of photos and stories from Chuck Donaldson. It is actually labeled as an appendix, but I’m not sure what it was an appendix to.

The U.S.S. RHEA was built by William F. Stone and Sons Company of Oakland, California. She was launched on 14 November 1942 with Mrs. Lester F. Stone of Almeda, California serving as sponsor.

The U.S.S. RHEA (AMS 52) was originally commissioned as the YMS 299 on 7 April 1942 with Lieutenant F.H. GENTRY USNR as the first Commanding Officer. This ship is a Wooden-hulled minesweeper with an overall length of 136 feet and a beam of 25 feet. Her displacement is about 300 tons, her draft nine feet. Two 500-Horsepower General Motors diesel engines turn her twin propellers for a maximum speed of about 15 knots. She is fully equipped with modern electronic devices including Radar, Sonar and Loran. One 40 millimeter and two 20 millimeter rapid fire anti-aircraft guns comprise the armament of this vessel. While this type of ship is very seaworthy, it is not unusual to experience rolls of from 45 to 50 degrees. The complement of the ship is four officers and 30 enlisted men. Read the rest of this entry »

HBO Series: The Pacific

If you haven’t heard, HBO is airing a new mini series tonight about the Pacific War. It is in the style of the Band of Brothers series. One of the neat things about the website is an area for people to post their own stories.

You should read through them, or post your own:
HBO’s The Pacific, Stories

I don’t have HBO, so I’ll have to watch the episodes in delay, unfortunately.

October 10, 1997, YMS-299 Sinks and is Scrapped

On October 10th, 1997, Rhea sunk due to a rotted hull and was left sunk for a month before being raised on November 11th to be scrapped.

Below is the local newspaper article (and transcription) from the next day (October 11th), provided by post-war cadet, Charles “Chuck” Donaldson.

WWII Ship Takes Plunge; Toronto Sun, October 11, 1997

WWII Ship Takes Plunge; Toronto Sun, October 11, 1997

WWII ship takes plunge

MESSY SPILL… Oshawa marine rescue personnel work to clean up diesel oil that was leaking from the MV Rhea after the ship sank yesterday morning in Oshawa harbor.

Former U.S. navy mine sweeper sinks in Oshawa harbor

Toronto Sun

OSHAWA—A mine sweeper that led U.S. military forces into Tokyo harbor at the end of World War II sits on the bottom of Oshawa harbor today after a mysterious sinking.

The MV Rhea—a 136-foot-long mine sweeper converted into a home—sank in about seven metres of water yesterday while tied to the Oshawa dock that has been its home for the past decade.

Harbormaster Donna Taylor said the ship appeared fine during a visual inspection at 10 a.m. but, 10 minutes later, it was sinking rapidly.

Phil Murphy, a tenant on the ship, had left for work when it went down. But it’s assumed that his cat was trapped in their cabin and unable to escape, Taylor said.

Taylor said emergency personnel from COMRA (City of Oshawa Marine Rescue Association) were immediately on the scene and prevented an estimate 1,600 litres of diesel oil from escaping into the harbor. The harbormaster said the former U.S. navy ship also saw action in the Korean War after World War II.

Later it was used as a training vessel.

The Rhea is owned by Gary Zulauf of Oshawa, who was away on a camping trip and had not been reached yet by authorities.

Taylor said that, although the Rhea was being used as a home, it was in the process of being restored as an operational [boat?]

YMS-103 Action Report; April 25, 1945

I got this action report from Richard Thornton, son of the captain who drafted it. It details the events leading up to the the beaching of YMS-103 in the first month of the Okinawa operations. You’ll see YMS-299 was in the same detail. My grandfather discusses these events in his journal as well.

YMS-103 Action Report; April 25, 1945; Table of Contents

YMS-103 Action Report; April 25, 1945; Table of Contents

Read the rest of this entry »

Audio Letter Home, December 15, 1943

This is a pretty great piece to have. This is my grandfather, about to finish up boot camp. He is just over 19 in this recording and eerily has the exact same accent as he did into his 80s, albeit sounding much younger. Below you can play the original audio recordings, though I’d advise reading along with the transcripts.

The LP had aged over time and has hairline fractures across the surface. The disc itself is a coated disc of some kind, so the audio surface is what is cracking and warping in pieces, like old paint on a wall. I was able to get a pretty good ripping of the audio anyway, with a bit of static and some truncation on the second side (recorder malfunction?). The indiscernible portions are due to Chuck talking too quickly and with accent, moreso than the hardware degradation.

Audio Recording, Side 1:

CDP audio letter home, side 1; Hawaii, December 15, 1943

Well, I finally finished my training after several weeks and boy am I glad to be out of there. They’re hollerin’ at you and well, it just seemed like nobody gets along with each other. I ah, have to be a platoon leader, why (indiscernible) ah, paid a lot more…’til then, why, standing guard duty and such things as that. Why, they just seem to bother me a lot. I don’t know. As far as my health is now I, regular job, sleeping regular, getting up regular, and exercising and everything like. I feel pretty good, just once in a while, why it bothers me.

I put in for the music school but, ah, well I went out and tried out and there was no openings. So they, I either sent to music school or I’d have to go to sea. Well, I didn’t get to go to school, but I joined this motor machinist school and I didn’t like going very well at first, but now why, ah, what they say it’s supposed to be one of the best schools there are. We ah, learn all about the diesels, how they run on gas, we’re what they call a suicide squad. I don’t know how true it is, course I haven’t been in long enough. We go to school at 7:50 in the morning and get off 11 o’clock for chow and have to go back and clean up the place by noon. Then, we go from 12 o’clock ’til 4:45, then we clean up the place ’til 5 o’clock.

Audio Recording, Side 2:

CDP audio letter home, side 2; Hawaii, December 15, 1943

[truncated] (indiscernible) chow and get through chow, then we get liberty every night. Fortnight, we have to stand some guard of some kind. You get behind on your lessons, they make you, ah, study from six ’til nine. So far, I’ve been keeping up. I hope I learn it better. Most of the guys have had some training in some way. Either taking it in college or high school or have some jalopy to fix up. Well, I don’t know too much about it, but I think I can get along alright. I hope anyway.

Well, it’s the first time in my life I ever really been around ships and boy it’s sure exciting seeing these marines every day coming and going on these ships. They just go out and just gives you the feeling of (indiscernible) I’m just looking for the day I get to go out there. I hope it won’t be long. This school was supposed to last eight weeks and then either you go to an advanced course, or else uh, they send you to school to focus on the landing guard (indiscernible) do something (indiscernible) going back to Japan. Four out of three men on the boat. I guess we’re part of the boat after we get out there. I hope I get put on a (indiscernible) sub. I’ve announced for sub duty but, I have really a very slim chance of that. They only send four men out of the class and there’s 40 men in the class, so I doubt if I have very much chance.

I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and a Merry Christmas. And tell everyone hello for me and sure wish (indiscernible) don’t know what you miss (indiscernible) Well, I miss Don and I miss all of you (indiscernible) [truncated]

It sounds as though he says “fourth night” when talking about standing guard. I don’t know if he actually meant every fourth day, or if he actually said “fortnight”, The Old English word for every two weeks (every fourteen nights).

LP Front:
Audio letter home from boot camp; Chuck Paul at 19 years old, 1943

Audio letter home from boot camp; Chuck Paul at 19 years old, 1943

Read the rest of this entry »