"Rescue Sailors"

A few of the faces participating the search and rescue of USS BUSH sailors on April 6 and 7, 1945 are pictured here. Several hundred men participated in the search for survivors from the USS BUSH on these dates.

The pictures are organized by the ship to which they were assigned. Ratings shown for pictured men are believed to be their ratings as of April 6, 1945.

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From the ATF-108 PAKANA
Martin Tschirhart - BM2c

He took the lead of a voluntary motor whaleboat crew helping rescue USS BUSH survivors. His diary entry noted, "A lot of them we saw were dead and didn't have time to bother with their bodies .... A lot of them were blind from salt water and flash burns."

Martin Tschirhart - BM2c
Martin Tschirhart
George Davis - EM1c
George Davis
George Davis - EM2c

Acting as engineer in the whaleboat with Martin Tschirhart, George recalls, "The skipper said he'd leave the mast light on for us, an action which really took guts. There were still enemy planes in the area." George worked and worked on one BUSH sailor that was in distress, and the sailor lived thanks to George's direct attention.

Donald Berg - MoMM1c

Gave artificial respiration to a BUSH survivor in bad shape. Recalling the incident in a July 1945 letter Don Berg wrote, "All the time another fellow and I were working on him, I was wishing I had learned how better in school, because now I was afraid that if I didn't do it right, I might kill him. After a couple hours, he pulled out of it and felt pretty good."

Donald Berg - MoMM1c
Donald Berg
Paul Wing - S1c
Paul Wing
Paul Wing - S1c

Among other things, Mr. Wing worked hard to save a young BUSH sailor name David Davey. "I was giving A. R. to a young man, the name on his shirt was Davey. Our Corpsman came by at one point and said he thought he felt a faint pulse, but after about two hours he told me to give up as the man had passed. The name Davey has stuck in my mind all these years."

Stephen J. Chromy - CM1c

One of the volunteers in the PAKANA whaleboats.

Stephen J. Chromy - CM1c
Stephen J. Chromy
Don Merritt - PhM1c
Don Merritt
Don Merritt - PhM1c

The PAKANA's one and only Pharmacist's Mate (their "Corpsman").

From the LCS(L) 24
Lt. William Russell - Commanding Officer LCS(L) 24
Lt. Russell - "At the Conn" somewhere off Okinawa 1945
Lt. William Russell - Commanding Officer

Lt. Russell is shown here "At the Conn" of the LCS 24, a busy ship during the Okinawan campaign.

During the rescue he greatly admired the efforts of USS BUSH Ensign Robert Buchanan to help his BUSH shipmates get aboard the LCS 24.

After receiving orders to stop search and rescue operations, Lt. Russell would make one more search. His reluctance to leave saved two men, one believed to be the USS BUSH doctor, Lt. George Johnson. The two men were adrift from the rafts and would likely have drowned without that "one last search".

From the LCS(L) 37
Harvey Miller - GM2c

"We stayed in the area all night, and when daylight came we found three more sailors, but it was too late, they were all dead."

Harvey Miller - GM2c
Harvey Miller
Gil Molstein - PhM1c
Gil Molstein
Gil Molstein - PhM1c

Typically, only one Pharmacist's Mate was assigned to an LCS(L). This individual had complete charge of all medical affairs aboard ship. When it came to medical issues, the Pharmacist's Mate authority even outranked the ship's commanding officer.

Pharmacist's Mates like Gil had a busy night after the USS BUSH sunk, as did many of their shipmates who pitched in to help.

LCS(L) 37 - Ensigns
LCS(L) 37 'Ensigns' (from left to right):
Bill Blake-Gunnery Officer; Joseph McEvoy- Executive Officer; Robert Deamer-Engineering;
Robert Wisner-Communications; Charles Theriot-Supply
On an LCS(L), the ship had a total of 6 officers - One Commanding Officer and five others. The five others on the LCS(L) 37 are pictured above.

About the rescue, Harvey Miller-GM2c remembers "Our Gunnery Officer, Bill Blake, and our Communications Officer Wisner, were both excellent swimmers. They asked for permission to go into the water to help find survivors, but the skipper gave the order that no one from our ship would be going over the side."

Gil Molstein, the Pharmacist's Mate above, worked side by side with Ensign Wisner and several other men as the bodies of seven USS BUSH sailors were recovered by the LCS 37. The bodies were placed on the fantail of the ship until instructions were received after daybreak (on April 7th) from Graves Registration.

From the LCS(L) 40
Clifford Brafford - F2c
Clifford Brafford - Ready for Action
Clifford Brafford - F2c

Clifford Brafford general quarters station was to sight and fire the forward twin 40MM gun on the LCS(L) 40. The night of April 6 and 7, 1945 enemy planes were still in the area. Mr. Brafford reports that as the rescue took place, "I was in the Director tub ready to fire if anything approached us."

Unlike ships such as the USS BUSH, on an LCS(L), the 40MM anti-aircraft guns did not have any radar assistance in aiming the gun at approaching enemy targets. On ship's like the LCS 40, these guns were trained, sighted, and fired manually. Mr. Brafford notes, "The gunnery officer stood right behind me."

Here is the rest of the forward twin-40MM gun crew on the LCS(L) 40.

Men pictured from left to right are believed to be: Harold Lance-rating unknown; Valentine S. Horvath-S2c; Bobbie C. Palmer-S2c; Lawrence H. Richardson-S2c; Henry P. Gallagher-S2c. (Ratings are as of the October 20, 1944 when the LCS(L) 40 was commissioned.)

This is the gun that Clifford Brafford fired. As he reminisced about his days in combat on the LCS 40 Mr. Brafford remarked, "We did a lot of shooting."

Forward Twin-40MM on LCS(L)40
LCS(L) 40 - Forward Twin-40MM Gun Crew

From the LCS(L) 64
Ensign John E. Littleton
Ensign John E. Littleton - 1944
LCS(L) 64 XO & Navigator
Ensign John E. Littleton - Executive Officer and Navigator

Ensign Littleton’s actions on April 6th proved instrumental in the successful recovery of USS BUSH survivors. A few week’s shy of 22 years of age, his attention to duty while under fire played a big role in keeping USS BUSH casualties from climbing higher.

After the first plane struck the USS BUSH, the 64 located BUSH and came alongside to take off wounded and otherwise assist. Ensuing attacks forced the LCS(L) 64 to breakaway from BUSH. It would be after dark before the 64 could return.

He recalls “During the brief time we were alongside we managed to get a bearing (using our PPI radar scope) on the eastern end of the largest island of the Iheya Retto which lay to the south. This proved invaluable later when we sought to find survivors.”

The LCS(L) 64 was the first to locate survivors, rescuing 95 BUSH sailors.

From the PCER 855
William Retallick - MoMM2c
William Retallick - MoMM2c
William Retallick - MoMM2c

When the PCER 855 reached the search zone late on the night of April 6, 1945, the USS BUSH was already gone. William Retallick was at his GQ station, the forward port 20MM gun. A few hours later he notes, "One of the men on the starboard forward 20MM, Paul Tucker, saw a tiny light about 2AM on April 7th. That's how we spotted the 17 men we rescued in two life rafts."

Pictured at right, four of the PCER 855's "black gang" members (sailors from the ship's Engineering Division). Clockwise from lower left:

Bob Henne-MoMM3c
Ray Giles-MoMM2c
Louis Minerding-MoMM3c
William Retallick-MoMM2c

Recalled Bill Retallick of his shipmate Louis Minerding's efforts in the rescue of USS BUSH sailors, "We had some trouble trying to get a line to them because of the strong currents. Louis Minerding, MoMM3c, then swam a line out to the Bush survivors ... a dangerous thing to do."

Bob Henne, William Retallick, Ray Giles, Louis Minerding 
1945 - PCER 855 Veterans

The PCER 855 was one of the smaller ships on the Okinawa radar picket line. She was designed for a compliment of 110 men. At 903 tons she was armed with one 3-inch gun, two single 40MM's and six 20MM's, and both track and K-gun style depth charges. Like the LCS(L)'s, the 855's guns were all fired manually without the benefit of radar assistance to direct fire. 3-inch Gun Crew from the PCER 855
PCER 855 - 3-inch Gun Crew

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