The American Battleship

USS Pennsylvania BB-38

usa-clear.gif (10636 bytes)   Richard (Dick) Pryor    usa-clear.gif (10636 bytes)
Thanks for the pictures Sharon           
"M" Division 
"Charter member of  America's Greatest Generation"

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 (Dick) Pryor 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.

* From: 
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 S.B.B. In a harbor just between Okinawa and Ie Shima, where Ernie Pyle was killed, Buckner Bay LT. Gen S.B.B. *

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.

Richard Pryor
Aug. 21, 1945