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"Charter member of  America's Greatest Generation"
Fireman / First Class, "M" Division

From: James K. Harriott (email address no longer valid)
Sent: Monday, May 31, 1999 11:56 AM
To: Ken Munro
Subject: Story from Arnold Strang

Hello Ken,
Well, my father-in-law is in town for my daughter high school graduation and I have a story for you to read and use. It relates to the torpedo hit taken which Dick Pryor wrote about. I just happens that this is being sent to you on Memorial Day.

Let me know if this story is what you are looking for. Dad will be here at this address until approx.
Saturday June 5. If you have time, let me know what you think.

Thank You
Jim Harriott

Buckner Bay, 1945

On the night of August 12, 1945 at approx.2030 we took two aerial torpedoes from a Jap plane, right in the fan tail. We had just pulled into Buckner Bay, Okinawa and had dropped anchor about 2 or 3 hours earlier. We had already received order to be a part of an invasion force to attack Japan, we had received word the war was over and were awaiting further orders.

I had the watch in #1 shaft alley. This is where the shaft's from the engines goes through bearings and out the strut bearings into the water where the propellers are for the ship. There were some other guys down there with me writing letters. We had just finished painting the bulkheads and overheads and the deck plates while we were underway heading to Buckner Bay. Jop Whitley had a guitar and we were singing songs, having a good old time. The other guys down there with me were a guy named Bill and a couple who's last names were Glenn and Lloyd. I'm sorry I cannot remember their full names. Also with us was Richard (Dick) Pryor.

There were two torpedoes that hit out ship but only one exploded. The second torpedo followed the first through the same hole into #4 battery magazine but didn't explode. Men were sent down the hatch to #4 and disarmed that second torpedo. If that torpedo had exploded the ship would have been sunk and I wouldn't be here to tell this story.

When the torpedo hit in the fan-tail it picked up the back of the ship. The ship came down and then bounced up and down, knocking us off our feet. I yelled, "TORPEDO", the lights went off and finally came back on. We went forward to the ladder and up through the scuttle and dogged it down. Number 1 shaft alley was taking on water and #3 alley was already full and shooting water up to the overhead. We went up the ladder to the third deck. We were supposed to go aft and cross over to the port side and forward to get out but 3rd. deck was flooded so we had to go through a scuttle hatch into an ammunition hold. I believe it was ammunition for our 5'' 38 caliber guns. We called the engine room and told them where we were. They told us they would let us out as soon as they could. When we entered the ammunition hold we started shoring up with timbers against the bulkheads. Each compartment has axes, wedges and timbers for just that purpose.

After a time, approx. 3 or 4 hours, with water coming into our compartment, they finally let us out. I went directly to #3 engine room, was stopped at the hatch and was asked there for 2 volunteers to go down in #3 engine room. The hatch would be dogged down by the Marine standing there and there would be no way out. Nick Balcerski, Machinist Mate 1st Class said he would go, so I said I would go if Balcerski goes. Our job was to keep operational all the pumps, electrical panels, turbines, exhaust trunks etc., all necessary to keep the ship afloat. We were given sea rations and were locked in for approx. 3 days and 4 nights without sleep or relief.

In the meantime a 30' x 40' patch was welded on the hole caused by the torpedo by the ship fitters. We were without steering or propulsion so we were towed to Guam by three sea going tugs. I want topside and sometimes you could not see the tugs because of the heavy seas, very high waves. We were in dry dock a Guam for approx. 30 days. They straightened the #4 shaft and fixed the temporary patch. We headed back to the States under our own power but still shipping water all the way. One screw, #4 was all we had, running at about 2 knots. North of Hawaii we had to stop as #3 shaft, which was broken, had slipped back and dragging down so we could not move. Divers were sent down to cut it loose while Marines were up on deck to shoot at sharks or anything that bothered them.

We returned back to Puget Sound in Bremerton, Washington navy yard around Thanksgiving, I believe.

I regret all the men that lost their lives and have deep sympathy for their families.

       Arnold Strang F 1/C
"God Keep America Free"

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