Known to his shipmates as "Robbie", Seaman 2nd Class Richard Robertson reported
aboard the USS Bush as part of the commissioning crew of May 10, 1943. He was
25 years old and an expectant father.
Thinking about his soon to be new family, Richard notes, "First baby was due any day, back in Idaho. I worried about that - wanted leave to be there. Captain said, "You may have had to be there at the start, but that baby will be born whether you're there or not. Request denied." She was born May 22, 1943 in Boise."
Richard had previous experience working on steam engines with the railroad. It wasn't too long before the Navy learned of his background and he was put in the forward boiler room as a Fireman 2nd Class. Notes Richard, "I was not too keen on being below deck. When the ship was underway, we'd get rocked all around and never knew what was going on .... I really wanted to get transferred off the ship. Early on, I'd see others getting transfers. So I asked one of the Chiefs why I couldn't get such a transfer." The Chief told me, "We only transfer the ones we want to get rid of."
Richard "Robbie" Robertson
Fresh from Boot Camp - February 1943
Richard and Maxine Robertson
On July 23, 1944, Richard was severely injured while the BUSH exercised at
general quarters. As the ship shifted from shore bombardment to
anti-aircraft fire, a 5-inch projectile struck the ship's antenna spreader.
The explosion killed five men and wounded a number of others, including Richard.
Richard recalls, "We were told to take a break from our stations in the forward boiler room. We went topside and were cooling off on the starboard side, main deck near the No. 1 stack and the forward torpedo tubes. I was with my buddy, Ray Lockhart, another Water Tender. When the accident happened, shrapnel from the blast nearly blew my left leg off, and also hit my face and left arm. My friend Ray was dead, having been hit in the head and upper body.
Captain Westholm came to visit me in the hospital after we got back to Pearl. I told him I'd finally gotten my transfer. He said, "Yeah, you got off, but you got off the hard way!" I spent a total of about 18 months recovering from the accident.
More information on the events of July 23, 1944 can be found at the links below.
Deck Logs July 23, 1944
Accident Investigation - Board of Inquiry
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