Friday, May 20, 2011

Fullbore Friday


People like making excuses for themselves and others. We all have short comings and are human - those with character and maturity know this and accept their problems and move on. "No excuse, sir." Cliche, perhaps - but it speaks a lot to the person you say it to, as they know very well that things happen - they have been there too.

Jennifer Bowen at - we have the words of one man who speaks for many. His story and his ship. Good for perspective,
Seaman 1st Class Eccles in 1941 was a machinist's mate on the USS Smith, a 1,480-ton Mahan class destroyer. He was on the Smith throughout the war.

"I was seasick for the first two times I went out," Eccles said. "And that was no excuse. If you had a shift, you'd better be there, no excuses. If you were puking, you'd better bring a bucket. On a destroyer, if you weren't attacking someone, you were defending yourself. And if you weren't doing one of those, you were on watch. We were so busy we didn't have time to make excuses."
The USS Smith was in the Pacific patrolling the Santa Cruz Islands with a fleet of other destroyers, carriers and cruisers, Eccles said. His job was to keep the engines running, but like everyone else aboard ship, he was also a gunner and assigned to man the guns on the gunnery deck.
He had been assigned to those forward guns until, for some reason unknown to him, he was moved to a different location around the beginning of October 1942.
On Oct. 26, 1942, the fleet was attacked by Japanese planes. A carrier was sunk. A cruiser was sunk.
A flaming Japanese torpedo plane was going down, so the pilot aimed it into the USS Smith. It crashed into the gunnery deck Eccles had occupied just two weeks earlier.
"Here I am, I didn't have a scratch on me, and my buddies were flying through the air with their clothes on fire," he said. "We took the dead men and wrapped them up properly and slipped them overboard and then we went to New Caledonia to drop off the injured men."
The dead had to be buried at sea, he said, because on a destroyer there wasn't a spare square foot to properly store bodies.
Twenty-nine men were killed on the USS Smith that day, 28 were missing in action and 12 wounded.
One-hundred and forty Japanese planes were destroyed during the Battle of Santa Cruz.
"They say combat changes people," Eccles said. "That day definitely changed me."
Thank you Mr. Eccles. Fullbore.
Just a note - the Mahan Class was a little under 1,500 tons. Less than half a LCS. Look at the punch she carried;

Twelve 21-inch:
l One quadruple centerline mount between the stacks
l One quadruple wing mount on each side of the main deck abaft the after stack

Four dual purpose 5-inch/38:
l Two forward in shielded pedestal mounts (Dunlap and Fanning only: enclosed base ring mounts)
l Two aft in open pedestal mounts

1938: Four .50 cal machine guns
1945: One 40mm twin; six 20mm singles

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