Donnell D. Mills - MM2c

Missing In Action - April 6, 1945

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Donnell Mills hailed from Montana, having been born in March 1925 in Great Falls. By the age of 4 years both of his parents had died and Donnell was taken in by his oldest sister, Valera, who along with her husband. As he grew, his sister continued to be his legal guardian but he spent most of his time with his older brother, Earl, who continued to operate the family homestead growing wheat and barley and raising livestock.

When Donnell reached the age of 17, he was pestering his older siblings to allow him to enlist. In November 1942 his older sister relented and allowed 17 year old Donnell to enlist. So on December 7, 1942 Donnell joined the United States Navy. Soon he was on his way to the Farragut Naval Training Station near Coeur dí Alene, Idaho to complete his initial training.

After basic training, Donnell was assigned to his first ship and became part of the USS Bush commissioning crew, reporting aboard as a Seaman Second Class on May 10, 1943.

Donnell Mills became part of the ships engineering division. He must have been a capable sailor as by April 6, 1945 his rating had increassed to Machinist Mate Second Class.

Donnell Mill - MM2c
Donnel Mills - MM2c
On April 6, 1945, as destroyer BUSH lived her last moments in action against aerial forces from Japan, Donnell was at his station in the forward engine room. The first suicide plane to strike the ship hit right at the water line between the two smokestacks on the starboard side. The plane, along with the bomb or torpedo it carried, created a tremendous explosion. In an instant, Donnell and all personnel in the forward engine room were gone.

After the ship's sinking and rescue of surviving personnel, much time was spent in accounting for the disposition of each man aboard ship. Men such as Donnell, were declared missing in action as there was no body to recover. Getting even limited information to surviving family was a lengthy process by today's standards.

Excerpts from a letter to Donnell's oldest sister from the surviving Commanding Officer of USS BUSH read as as follows:

My dear Mrs. Massey,

It is with deep regret that I, Senior Survivor of the USS BUSH, write to you concerning your brother, Donnell Delayne Mills, who was listed as missing in action after the sinking of the BUSH. A careful review of the facts has led to the conclusion that he was killed in action.

At the time of the action Donnell was at his battle station in the forward engineroom. It was there that we received our heaviest damage and the area was a mass of torn and twisted steel mostly underwater. He must have been killed instantly at his post by the terrific blast and concussion of the hit. The circumstances of the damage and subsequent loss prevented recovery of his body or personal effects.

The loss of your brother is felt very profoundly by all of us who survived. As his commanding officer I have always known him to be diligent and cheerful in his work. His courage and performance of duty were in the best traditions of the naval service. I can only say that we share your sorrow and will always hold the memory of Donnell's sacrifice for his country in our hearts"

Very sincerely,

Commander, U. S. Navy
Former Commanding Officer

Pictured below is an example of the kind of documentation the surviving senior officers completed to provide the best information possible to surviving relatives of those sailors that perished in the action of April 6, 1945.
Donnell Mills - MM2c - disposition
Example of document completed by ship's executive officer regarding Donnell Mills"

Donnell Mills MM2c on Leave
Donnell Mills - MM2c - is the 2nd from the right in the above picture, The other uniformed sailor is Vernon Dryer, who happened to be home on leave at the same time as Mills. Dryer was not assigned to the USS BUSH (DD-529)
On Leave

Donnell returned home while his ship was back at Mare Island for repairs. He started a 16 day leave that began on May 21, 1944.

Special thanks to William Bachman, for sharing the results of his tireless efforts to be able to tell the story of Donnell Mills to Donnell's family.

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