Battle Reflections

Sea Stories

“I never did get scared at the time because we were all well trained. We knew our jobs and we did them. It was just automatic. You didn’t question. You didn’t have time to get scared. You were doing a job. After it was over and you could think about it a little bit, you could say, ‘Man, what could have happened?’ At the time you were actually engaged in action, you didn’t think about things like that. You just did what you were to do…. I knew I had good shipmates. They were trained and they knew what to do and they did it.”

-Donald Rogers, Boatswain’s Mate 2/c

“The fact is that you are concentrating, and the adrenaline is running like mad at that moment when you are in combat. It’s exciting, and you just have to be so alert.”

-LT(jg) Ralph Sheffer, Fighter Director Officer


“It got very personal. There was no question in my mind who they were aiming at. Every bomb or torpedo was aimed at my precious butt. I am sure every other man aboard ship felt the same way.”

-Donald Wickham, Musician 2/c


“If any one wasn’t scared, they’re crazy!”

-Louis Favereaux, Electrician’s Mate 3/c


“The way you kept track of exactly where the enemy aircraft were, if you didn’t know, was that first of all the 5-inch battery would open up and you’d hear all that racket and feel the ship shaking as those guns were going off. We had twenty of them, ten on each side. They would open up at a range of approximately 14,000 yards. As the aircraft drew in closer, the next battery that would open would be the 40mm guns, which made a distinctive noise that was decidedly different from the 5-inch guns. Finally, when the range was very close, the 20mm guns would open up and even if you know nothing else, you could tell from that sound essentially how close the enemy aircraft were and when to begin praying.”

-Lieutenant Ben Blee, Combat Intelligence Officer



“One thing I could always remember, we were way down below and the sound effects to us were a little different. I could always tell when the Japanese planes were coming. First of all you heard the 5-inch guns go boom, boom, boom, boom. After a while, you hear the 40mms cut in. Then you hear the 20mm’s trill, trill, trill and they are going to be right overhead. All of a sudden it is quiet. Then about ten or fifteen minutes later all of it will start again. That is the way the battle went.”

-Jerry Gonzales, Machinist’s Mate 1/c


“Not so obvious were there effects on the inner man. When NORTH CAROLINA was at last on her way back to Pearl Harbor for repairs she carried as passengers 250 survivors from ships that had been crashed by kamikazes. In outward appearance all seemed normal. Then at sunset out came the clang! Clang! Clang! Of the general alarm calling our crew to battle stations for the usual evening stand-to. The reactions of the passengers were dumbfounding. They fell apart. Some dived under tables, other screamed incoherently or dashed about aimlessly. All were casualties of war no less than those who had stopped a bullet.”

-Commander Kemp Tolley, Navigator