Invasion of the Marshall Islands

Sea Stories

Invasion of the Marshall IslandsJanuary 29-February 5, 1944

Invasion of the Marshall Islands January 29-February 5, 1944

“The next event of importance was our attack on Kwajalein Islands. We approached the island in daylight and sighted a Japanese Betty at 1635 and opened fire with our five-inch guns. We have been at General Quarters since early morning and my GQ station at that time was in Radio One as supervisor. When the enemy plane was sighted word was passed down from the bridge to call for help from our combat air patrol. My heart jumped. We had never had to do this from main radio. Voice transmissions had always been done from the bridge. I grabbed the microphone and gave the call sign for the combat air patrol and told them we were under attack by enemy aircraft and needed help. At 1715 four fighters of fighting squadron six from INTREPID arrived overhead but by that time we were no longer in danger. We did feel a little better with them close by.”

-Charles Paty, Radioman 2/c


“In January 1944, we were part of Task Force 58 for the Kwajalein Atoll. We were key players in this strike. On the 29th and 30th we bombarded Roi/Namur all night before the invasion. We started bombing before sunset and set a few fires and used the fires as reference points to cover the island. When we arrived on station there was a [freighter] in the harbor. This was the only surface ship we saw during the war. We shelled it and sent it to the main deck. The harbor wasn’t deep enough for it to go under. The next morning and all through the day we continued to bombard those islands. In the late afternoon we had just gotten the word to cease fire when Mr. Ross decided that there was so much activity with trucks coming and going all day to this one building that we should fire a six gun salvo at it. We had a direct hit and apparently it was an ammunition dump and not a ‘Red Cross’ building.”

-Harold Smith, Firecontrolman 1/c


Invasion of the Marshall Islands“We had sunk this freighter. It was in a harbor. They said there is a ship in the harbor so they were firing at ease and we were watching them bombard. I can remember you could see the flashes and see the three or six shells of ours go real slow like orange going further and further. Then I noticed three balls getting bigger and bigger in the same spot. Then all of a sudden it came over the speaker ‘take cover, take cover. They are firing back.’ And I saw some splashes way off. They couldn’t reach us. But man they opened up with everything. It was sunk in and to me it looked like 30 minutes flat.”

-Jerry Gonzales, Machinist’s Mate 2/c


Shelling Roi Island, Kwajelein, on January 30, 1944. “Every time we would hit one of these revetments loaded with warheads or bombs they would go off like an atomic bomb. A column of heat and smoke would rise then break into a mushroom. We have some wonderful pictures of that.”

-LCDR Richard Walker, Gunnery officer