"Shirey's Plaque"

From the Bridge of the USS BUSH

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The plaque pictured on the right is a rare object. It is something that was physically attached to the USS BUSH on April 6, 1945 and survived her sinking.

The plaque was originally mounted on the ship's bridge, as a good luck piece. It is thought that the plaque was authorized by the ship's Captain in 1943 (either Commander W. F. Peterson or Commander T. A. Smith), though that has not been confirmed. It measures about 5" by 5". The plaque was mounted on the bulkhead, just in front of the ship's helm.

On April 6, 1945, during a short lull in the action, the plaque was removed by Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Bob Shirey. Bob was Gun Captain on the #42 40MM gun, which was near the bridge. His gun was one of only two guns (other than a few 20MM's) still able to fire after a kamikaze struck the ship. Two more planes would crash BUSH before the day was done.

Recalled Bob, "After the second plane hit, I removed a plaque from the bridge using a knife I had. It was a small wooden plaque with a St. Christopher's medal in the center ..... I also got a can of V-8 juice and a couple of the Captain's cigars. I returned to my gun, having a big old time drinking V-8 juice, smokin' a cigar, and shootin'...."

With regard to the 3rd plane to strike his ship, Bob noted "The plane went out and looped back right at us. As he came in, I was thinking if you can come in here and hit me, I can stand here and shoot at you ..... He really set a lot of the forward part of the ship on fire. I was knocked out and burnt a little, but didn't turn it in .... there was no need of it. There were other guys who were really badly burnt."

Bob Shirey, EM3c

Bob Shirey, EM3c, May 1945
(he's on the right)

Bob's life belt had a hole on one side of it. He placed the plaque and a lucky silver dollar into his life belt. The silver dollar had been given to Bob as a good luck piece by his grocery store manager (Mr. McGinley) on December 9, 1941, just after Bob enlisted in the Navy. With luck at his side, skill and courage, Bob, plaque and silver dollar all survived.

Bob Shirey, EM3c, served aboard the USS BUSH from commissioning date until her loss.

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