THE VERY WET SAILOR
ROY D BRINSON
The summer of 1945 I was aboard the heavy cruiser Salt Lake City CA25. It was my privilege to serve on this "One Ship fleet", (so named by the New York Herald Tribune, 14 FEB 1943, for having fought more actions and sunk more ships than any other surface vessel in the history of the United States Navy). We were riding anchor in NaHa Harbor Okinawa with the rest of the Cruiser Division 5 sweating out a Typhoon. Reports kept coming in that it would miss Okinawa, but suddenly it veered toward us and we received orders to make a mad dash for the open sea. I was a Fire Controllman and one of my duties was to man the phones, for the Anchor Detail, as Talker to the bridge. As always, the Navy does things the Navy way. We already had the Anchor up and were hosing it down, which would have taken about five more minutes, when the shrill of the Boson’s whistle sounded over the loud speaker followed by the order "RELIEVE THE WATCH". Here came my relief Talker so I gave him the headphones and had just opened the hatch on my fire control shack several hundred feet away when a huge wave struck the bow. It was like fifteen feet deep on the deck and right on top was my relief still wearing the headphones being swept overboard. The cry went out over the PA system "MAN OVERBOARD". We were in rough water and couldn't stop to pick him up, however, a tanker riding high, soon signaled that they had picked up our very wet sailor. In JULY 1945 we anchored in Saipan with (CD-5) to be issued winter clothing for the planned Northern Invasion of the Japanese homeland. We were on our way to Kiska to join other parts of the Fleet for the winter offensive. Needless to say this was very exciting! It was here we first heard about Uncle Sam possessing a new "Super Bomb" that we were going to drop and end the war. Bets were being made that the war would be over in two months. This was an exciting time for me, a 31-year-old Sailor with a wife and a boy back home. My ambition was to be a civilian!.
We dropped anchor 15 AUGUST 1945 at Kiska in the Aleutians when President Truman came over the radio with the glad tidings "THE WAR WAS OVER". The Big Bomb had brought the Japanese to their knees and this sailor had survived the Great War. It was nearly the end of a long wet trail and some had been aboard for five years. We did not cheer, the entire ship lapsed into a total silence, then suddenly realized that by the grace of god, and we were indeed "SURVIVORS". Within hours after dropping anchor, we received bags and bags of mail, precious mail. I had a letter from my brother Truit, a Chief Storekeeper stationed on Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. Truit spent the entire war on this lonely island with the worst enemy of all "boredom". He relates that back in July that a sailor came to his office (tent) to apply for emergency pay, clothing and transportation to Pearl Harbor for reassignment. Now I will allow Truit to do the talking. In July 1945 a sailor came to my office to ask for emergency pay etc. I sat there typing the forms, 6 copies no less, when he informed me he had lost his ship. When I asked him the name of his ship he replied, CA 25 USS SALT LAKE CITY. In horror, I quickly asked if the ship had gone down? The sailor replied "that he had been lost overboard in the Okinawa storm". The next question I asked was "if he happened to know a sailor by the name of Brinson". He gave a startling answer, "that was the SOB that should have washed overboard instead of me".
The time December 25th 1945, Christmas with our entire family. After finishing our turkey at mother and dad's I related the first part of this story up through the sailor being washed overboard. Then my brother took over and related his half of the story. This was some tall but true "tale" for our after the war family reunion of eight brothers and sisters. In 1956 while operating a Super Market in Borger Texas, a young man came to my store to see me. He served in the War and I took him to lunch. This man was from Elk City Oklahoma. He was the sailor that was lost overboard off the USS SALT LAKE CITY.
Five men live here in Hutchinson County, Texas, served on the Salt Lake City at various times in World War 11.
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