The American Battleship
"Charter member of America's
The following story was sent to me from a woman named Sharon
Pryor. Her Dad served aboard the USS Pennsylvania and she has quite a collection of
memorabilia from those times. Her Dad passed away in 1987 and she has taken up the torch
and sent me this great little piece that he wrote a few days after the Pennsy was
torpedoed in Buckner Bay. It revels the true feelings and thoughts of Richard
as he struggles with the need to do all that he can to save the ship and the realization
of the horrors of the war and the loss of his fellow shipmates.
There is some things that
I did not understand and I put a question mark (?) by them. If by chance you might
know what he was talking about please drop me a line
and I will forward it to Sharon and clarify it here.
* I will be adding some pictures
of Dick Pryor when I receive them from Sharon. Thank you Sharon, Eileen
Pryor and Richard Pryor Jr. for sharing this with all of us.
Sent: Sunday, July 29, 2001 8:22 PM
Subject: article on pennsy
Sharon, the article mentioned LT GEN S.B.B. Well it happens to be LTGEN S. B. BUCKNER, JR, USA . He was killed on June 18, 1945, and relieved by MGEN Roy S. Geiger, USMC. The first U. S. Marine to command a U. S. Army field command. As I find out more I will let you know.
Don and Mary.
August 19, 1945
USS Pennsylvania, Buckner Bay, Okinawa
In a harbor just between Okinawa and Ie Shima, where
Ernie Pyle was killed, Buckner Bay LT. Gen
In a harbor just between Okinawa and Ie Shima, where Ernie Pyle was killed, Buckner Bay LT. Gen
It is one week later, I finally have the chance to write down what happen in the last few
days aboard the Pennsylvania.
It started the night of Aug 12, just after Japan's overture of peace two days earlier on
the 10th. Myself, Glenn, Jop, Bill, Lloyd and Strang were in #1 shaft alley on the
starboard side. Some of us were writing letters, others just talking. When at exactly 8:24
an explosion shook the ship from stem to stern. The other fellows all being new, I yelled,
" the magazine has exploded above us". We were three decks down under the water
and that is long way down on the Pennsy. I told them to clear the next deck as fast as
they could. I was afraid that another explosion would trap us down there. We made it
out OK by the grace of God only. I set Zebra on the 3rd deck hatch to stop the water from
flooding the compartments below. It was then that I found out that an Aerial Torpedo had
hit us in the fantail, just above where us 6 fellows were sitting. Officer Moore asks for
4 fellows to go back down and see what could be done to save the ship. R.W. Johnson, Jack
Kephardt, Litzike and myself went back down 4 decks to the alleys. Litzike stood watch on
the hatch and we three went the rest of the way down. Johnnie went into #2 alley, the
water was already knee deep. He needed to open the secondary drain valve so the
space could be pumped. When he came out, the water was rising so fast that it was now
waist deep. I went down next, the water was now up to my stomach and coming in fast, I
dove under and made sure that Johnnie had opened the right valve. By the time I came back
up the water was up to my armpits. I dove under once more and started back into the alley
to try to open another valve but the pressure was so strong I had to come up. The alley
was almost completely flooded by that time, it was about 2 or 3 feet from the overhead. I
was ordered out of the compartment by Officer Moore. We started down into #1 alley but
water started coming in from above us, again we were ordered out of the alley. In
addition to the flooding there were fires in the powder magazines above us, they ordered
us to clear the area and we closed all hatches behind us and cut off all the electricity
and let the sea take over what it would.
For the next few days many things happen. Mostly we fought fires and tried to prevent the
engine rooms from flooding. I managed to get along on 2 hours of sleep in 3.5 days, didn't
notice it much as we were very busy. Later we started checking up on damage and
causalities. #1 Screw was blown off, also #2 screw, #2 shaft bent, #1 shaft cracked, #3
screw sprung, #4 in good condition. This meant back to the good ole' USA. But 20 of our
crew will never see the U S again. 19 members of the "N" division and one Flag
Quartermaster who was visiting a friend. This is not unusual in war, but the fact the Japs
asked for peace 2 days before and had sent the terms to the Allies and had kept up their
attacks. We had called off all operations on that day. These men had seen most of the war
and had to die the last day of it. I am sure in my mind and heart that at this moment very
few on this ship want to let the Japan surrender, but we know more lives will be saved by
it. We are disabled worse than the Franklin ever was, we can only turn one screw and make
about 2 knots but we have no way of steering, our rudder is gone. We will undoubtedly be
towed to the states or at best to a repair base at Guam to enable us to make the USA.
Tomorrow we are scheduled to start home, it will be a sad job and hard for all.
Aug. 21, 1945