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Feb 15-17: Anti-Aircraft Fire ~ USS McCallaw Mail Ship
~ International Dateline
Fleet Ships: Reid, Cony, McKean, Gulf Queen, McCallaw ~ Autographs
. . . type) were close by. They had come from Nandi, the port at the west end of Viti Levu. The McKean, of course, was with us; and the four ships cruised in a southwesterly direction looking for the Minneapolis. All day, until 4:00 PM we sailed away from Pearl Harbor. Then anti-aircraft fire was reported ahead -- three bursts. A signal. Shortly thereafter we sighted four ships. All this time, two planes from the Mississippi had been patrolling.
The four ships were the damaged Minneapolis, the destroyers Reid and Cony, and our old friend, the oil tanker Gulf Queen. We were now quite a force: one battleship, one cruiser, five destroyers, and a tanker. They made a beautiful and impressive sight as we turned and headed toward the east.
The McCalla delivered mail to the McKean and then steamed toward us. As she approached, the order "Stand by to receive mail!" was given. She shot a line across our bow, and our men hauled in what appeared to be an aluminum cylinder containing the mail. RFD out in the middle of the Pacific.
Taylor was sea sick again. He rooms with Dr. Shoor, who still eyes me hopefully. After twelve days at anchor, I though I might notice the change when we got to sea again, but not a qualm. Did I feel salty!
Tuesday Feb. 16. General quarters at 4:45. Went upon bridge at 5:00 and watched sunrise. At 10:00 we crossed the International Date Line and it was again Monday the 15th. Screwy!
Monday, Feb. 15. I hope you are as confused as I was. We got orders from the Mississippi to set our watches to 1:30 at 12:00, still further confusing me. Bridge. Croft and Shoor beat Taylor and me three straight rubbers. Taylor plays his cards well, much better than I; but he knows no bidding conventions. If he had, we wouldn't have done so badly. It was a lazy life: read, sleep, and play cards.
Tuesday, Feb. 16 again. The ship rolled so violently that it awakened me and I couldn't get to sleep again. First I would be banged up against the side of the ship, which is steel; and then pitched almost out of bed on the other side. At midnight, I went down to the wardroom and had a cup of coffee (still no sense). The ship rolled so that it was an adventure fraught with danger to life and limb to move from one end of the wardroom to the other.
Sighted the heavy cruiser Portland. She crossed in front of us and continued on, probably for Pearl. She was torpedoed in the battle of Santa Cruz Islands (I believe). Got it around the fantail, but was patched up at Sydney.
No bridge. Canfield instead. I started it shortly after I came aboard, and it developed into an orgy of solitaire before we reached Pearl. Sometimes as many as seven games going at once.
Feb. 17. About 7:00 AM, immediately following General Quarters ("Secure from General Quarters!"), we made a sub contact. I dressed and went up to bridge. The ships were all zigzagging furiously. The Shaw and McKean charged frantically in all directions. They reminded me of a couple of hens with chickens trying to dodge a hawk. But they were looking for the hawk. Presently we got another contact 300 yards ahead. We lost it. At 8:00 another at 9:50. I was writing in my diary in the wardroom when the report came down through the speaking tube from the bridge. For the third time, I rushed topside. It is a good thing that there is noth-. . .
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