Eugene “Gene” Sanzi went off to boot camp at Newport, Rhode Island on December 27, 1942.
He was 19 years old. Having taken typing, short hand and some other clinical work in
high school, Sanzi found himself tapped by the Navy to go to Yeoman school. That
selection meant another four months in Newport.
On June 15, 1944, Yeoman 3rd Class Sanzi reported aboard the USS BUSH at Mare Island in the San Francisco Bay area. The BUSH was finishing up repair and refit work. At the same time a number of her crew were being transferred off and new sailors were coming aboard. Says Sanzi, “I was a little nervous, my first ship. The first officer I met was Mr. Lilly ... Things seemed to be a little hectic ... some guys were on leave, others being transferred, the ship being repaired. I finally got squared away and I was excited about finally getting some sea duty. My new duty assignment was working in a small compact office, but I enjoyed it.”
Eugene Sanzi - Y3c
The ship’s yeomen reported through Chief Yeoman John Duryea. Sanzi remembers the other yeomen as Frank Dinda, Y2c, and two strikers, one of which he remembers was named Charles Taly. He recalls the office they worked in was too small for them all to work at once, so they worked in shifts. When not in the office, the yeomen would stand watch on the bridge with the Duty Officer.
Yeomen would help prepare the deck logs, war diaries and action reports necessary to document the ship’s activities. Sanzi reports “After a days watch was completed, the officers on duty for that 24 hours would check the log again to see if any changes had to be made. When they were through the log was brought down to the ship’s office to be typed. That whole transaction took awhile.”
Sanzi’s battle station was in the radio room. At general quarters his job was to copy down any messages intended for the USS BUSH over the TBS (Talk Between Ships) radio.
Sanzi memories of the ship’s tour through The Philippines brings forth names like Leyte, Luzon, Lengayen Gulf and Mindoro. He remembers the ship splashing attacking Japanese planes. At Iwo Jima he recalls the desolate nature of the island, and the tough time the Marines had there; and that it was “a great day when they raised the flag on Iwo Jima’s Mt. Suribachi.”
Sanzi was still aboard for the BUSH’s final encounter with naval and air forces of Japan. Sanzi says, “The first plane hit us, I think at midship. We were dead in the water. The Captain ordered everybody out on deck ... The Captain told us to abandon ship. A few of us stayed on the ship, but when the third plane was coming in I jumped in the water. From a distance I could see the ship sinking. I can still see the bow of the ship going under. The ship disappeared. I had a terrible feeling ... this was our home. It was a great ship, a great crew.”
Survivor Sanzi - 1945
Sanzi continues, “I was in the water for quite awhile. We had our life jackets on.
I remained calm, did a little praying and the doggie paddle for all those hours.”
Sanzi recalls his skipper, Commander R. E. Westholm, as being “a good leader” and that everyone liked Doctor Johnson. Sanzi spent 3 years and 3 months in the Navy. “My best memory was just being a member of this great ship”, says Sanzi. “I think about it everyday. Serving with all those great guys was quite an honor.”
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