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USS BUSH (DD 529)

USS BUSH Sinking - Medical Report

Lt. Johnson, BUSH Medical Officer
Lt. George Johnson - MC


After the loss of the USS BUSH on April 6, 1945 to three strikes by Japanese suicide planes, the ship's doctor, Lt. George M. Johnson, submitted a report to the Navy's Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. This report provided a medical perspective on the action that occurred. Such medical reports were customary following the loss of a ship and were routed via the lost ship's Commanding Officer.

Excerpts from Lt. Johnson's report follow, preceeded by the cover memo from Commander Rollin E. Westholm, the surviving USS BUSH Commanding Officer. In Commander Westholm cover memo, he uses the acronym "MC" when referring to Lt. Johnson. This acronym stands for Medical Corps.

To review Lt. Johnson's recap on the disposition of each man aboard the USS BUSH on April 6, 1945 click on the blue underscored text that immediately follows. Or return to the Final Action Reports index page by clicking on the second blue underscored line.

To Medical Report Pages Detailing Personnel Disposition

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DD529/A9

U.S.S. BUSH (DD529)

Serial: 55

24 April 1945,

FIRST ENDORSEMENT

From: Commanding Officer.
To: Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
Subject: Medical Department, U.S.S. BUSH (DD529) - Final report of.

1. Forwarded.

2. There are a few minor inaccuracies in the report which however have no bearing on the medical department's activities throughout the action.

3. On this and previous occasions, the medical department has demonstrated its readiness to meet emergencies with competent and well trained personnel. The fact that so many officers and men were able to render aid in such emergencies speaks well for the training given to the ship's company by the Medical Officer.

4. The work of Lieutenant George M. Johnson, MC, U.S. Naval Reserve, the Medical Officer, has at all times been highly commendable.

R. E. WESTHOLM.


U.S.S. BUSH(DD529)

c/o Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, Calif.
20 April, 1945.
From: The Medical Officer.
To: The Chief of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery
Navy Department, Washington, D.C.
Via: The Commanding Officer.
Subject: Medical Department, U.S.S. BUSH(DD529), final report of.
Enclosure: (a) Medical Department Activities of the U.S.S. BUSH(DD529) During and Following Action in the East China Sea 6 April and 7 April 1945,
(b) Surviving Officers and Enlisted Men of U.S.S. BUSH(DD529) Aboard U.S.S. HENRICO (APA 45).
(c) Wound6d in Action 6 April 1945- Enlisted Men.
(d) Officers Killed, Wounded and Missing in Action 6 April 1945.
(e) Enlisted Men Missing in Action 6 April 1945.
(f) Enlisted Men Killed In Action 6/7 April 1945.
(g) Casualties, Officers and Enlisted men Discharged to Duty.

1. Forwarded herewith are enclosures (a), (b), (c), (d), (e), (f) and (g) which is a final Medical Department report of the U.S.S. BUSH (DD529).
2. Health records are being opened in the cases of the Officers and Enlisted Men contained in enclosure (a), aboard the U.S.S. HENRICO (APA 45).

G.M. JOHNSON

c.c. CominCh, Pac.
ComDesPac.


MEDICAL DEPARTMENT ACTIVITIES OF THE U.S.S. BUSH(DD529)
DURING AND FOLLOWING ACTION IN THE EAST CHINA SEA
6 APRIL 1945 AND 7 ARPIL 1945

1. SUMMARY:

By order of Commander Task Unit 51.5 the U.S.S. BUSH (DD529) began patrolling Radar Picket Station No. 1 on 3 April 1945 three days following L-day (or initial invasion) for Okinawa Island in the Ryuku Group. Radar Picket Station was approximately sixty miles north of Okinawa. The BUSH patrolled from 3 April 1945 to 6 April 1945 during which time she fired on several Japanese planes shooting down one single-engined plane on 4 April 1945. On 6 April she was hit by three suicide plane crashes and sunk as a result of the damage.

11. CIRCUMSTANCES OF OCCURRENCE:

At approximately 1245, 6 April 1945, the BUSH went to General quarters. In the short period of time following this she shot down two single-engined Jap planes and the Combat Air Patrol shot two more. At 1515 a single-engined Japanese plane came in from the starboard side low on the water and struck the BUSH directly amidships in the region of the forward fire and engine rooms. The resulting explosion indicated the presence of a bomb or other explosive charge and left the ship dead in the water. The sick bay amidships was destroyed but no medical department personnel were injured. The health records were salvaged only to be destroyed later.

PHASE 1. FROM THE FIRST HIT UNTIL THE SHIP WAS ABANDONED.

Immediately following the first hit the distribution of medical personnel was the medical officer and two PhMs. forward and one PhM aft. For a period of several minutes it was not possible for personnel to move from the after to the forward part of the ship or visa versa. Both forward and after battle-dressing stations began to function immediately following the crash of the plane at 1515. Twelve men and one officer were treated for injuries. At least twelve men and one officer were missing from the forward fire and engine rooms. All of the injuries with two exceptions were first and second degree burns of face, hands and body. The two exceptions were motor paralysis of the lower extremities due to falls from gun stations at the time of explosion. All burns received morphine tartrate gr. and vaseline gauze dressings were applied to all body burns while petroleum ointment was placed on burns of the face. Two of the burned cases were rather severe. One received one unit of dried blood plasma I.V. while the second one received three units of dried blood plasma. At approximately 1615 the medical officer was able to make his way aft where he round PhM1c Joe Pelnar, USN aided by Ens. Coit Butler, USNR treating the wounded who had been placed on the main deck just forward of the fantail. A number of men had jumped over the side or had been blown over at the crash of the first plane. A number of these men were picked up out of the water. A provisional order was given by the Commanding Officer that if another plane came in, men were to go over the side.

At approximately 1630 a second Japanese single- engined plane came in from ahead, straffing as it came, and crashed into the same spot amidships that the first plane had crashed into. Five men were injured, two with bullet wounds of the lower extremities, two with lacerations, and one with multiple fragment wounds. These wounds were dressed, morphine given and one of the gunshot wound cases was given one unit of dried blood plasma. It was now not possible for personnel to pass from aft to the forward part of the ship.

At approximately 1645 a third single-engined Japanese plane crashed in from the port beam and crashed into the superstructure beneath the bridge. This crash demolished the forward battle-dressing station in the officers wardroom and severely burned PhM3c Albert D. Brody, USNR. Brody was on fire and immediately jumped over the side. He later joined a group of swimmers but was lost during the night. CPhM Clarence J. Homer placed two men with fractured legs over the side and all previously treated burn cases with the exception of one whom it was impossible to remove from the the battle-dressing station, a wing of the plane having demolished the transom on which he had previously been lying. With the exception of the two fractures it was impossible to have an accurate count of the number injured. The forward part of the ship had to be abandoned immediately. All casualties forward were equipped with life jackets and were simply lowered over the side and floated from the ship. At the after part of the ship following the third and last crash, the rafts were manned by able-bodied men but the men were forced to seek other means of support by PhM1c Joe Pelnar, USN and the casualties, all of which were equipped with life jackets, were placed in two rafts with two able bodied men assigned to each raft. These responsible men, picked by the medical officer, were given morphine syrettes. All wounded men evacuated at abandon ship from the after part of the ship were later rescued. All but three of those treated at the forward battle-dressing station were later rescued.

Shortly after the last of the wounded had been placed on a raft and floated away from the ship, the Commanding Officer came aboard the after part of the ship and suggested that the medical officer go forward by way of the gig, which had been salvaged, and search for remianing wounded-- no report being available from the forward battle-dressing station at that time. Subsequent explosions prevented this, however. At approximately 1820 a Japanese plane passed close astern, apparently inspecting the ship. It then climbed and dived on another destroyer several miles distant. At approximately 1840 the medical officer and the PhM1c abandoned ship being two of the last ten persons to leave and swam away from the ship as she was going under.

PHASE 2 WATER AND RESCUE

The temperature of the water was reported to be 70 degrees Fahrenheit. With the onset of night and of cold winds, the surface water seemed to cool rapidly. The sea was mildly rough. Types of support consisted of life rafts, life jackets alone, floater nets, powder cans, one rubber life raft, the Captain's gig, and an overturned punt. Rescue operations were conducted during the night by the U.S.S. LCS 64, the U.S.S. LCS 24, the U.S.S. LCS 40, and the U.S.S. ATF 108. The average time in the water before rescue was 7 hours. Many reports were given of men who were lost at the last minute by trying to swim from their means of support toward the searchlights of the rescue vessels. Many uninjured men slipped away from their means of support previous to rescue, some lost consciousness, and others became hysterical. The medical officer and PhM1c stayed together and found support alongside a floater net. Rescue was brought about by means of a combination battery-headlamp set which had been issued to the medical officer by the First Lieutenant. The medical officer was incapacitated for approximately 6 hours following rescue. Victor R. Albonetty, PhM1c of the U.S.S. LCS 40 did very fine work in caring for a number of survivors who were suffering from shock and exposure.

PHASE 3 TREATING WOUNDED AND ACCOUNTING FOR THOSE SURVIVING, MISSING AND DEAD.

The wounded were treated on A.P.A. transports and hospital Ships. The dead, with the exception of two officers whose bodies were not recovered, were sent ashore by A.P.A. 58 (U.S.S. APPLING) to the Army Graves Registration Service, Okinawa. There were 68 men and 5 officers missing. Twelve men and two officers were dead. There were 227 men and 19 officers who survived from a complement of 307 men and 26 officers.

COMMENTS

1. It is believed that the medical department was fully prepared, that it functioned efficiently, and that as much aid as possible was rendered the wounded before and during abandon ship.

SUGGESTIONS

1. The medical officer has seen a number of 2100 and 2200 class destroyers which have been hit by suicide plane crashes. The planes tend to crash amidships. It is therefore recommended that the sick bay amidships not be manned at general quarters--- distributing personnel forward and aft.


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