May 14, 1944 – Noumea, New Caledonia
I couldn’t believe we were dropping anchor in this bay at the southern tip of New Caledonia. The word was passed that only ten percent of the crew would get ashore on liberty. We all knew that the senior officers and higher rated crew members would be given first preference. I definitely was not among this elite level. I really didn’t mind that much because I had so much to do for my own pleasure aboard ship.
One of many cartoons making fun of fellow USS LaVallette shipmates aspiring for female affection on liberty during WWII in the Pacific Theater.
I do admit that Noumea is considered a great little liberty town. It would have been a welcome relief to see some pretty young French girls whose reputations had already given us good reason for winning the war, just to accept their feminine tokens of appreciation.
October 6, 1943
The Marcus Island raid, 900 miles from Tokyo, was a success. Out carrier task force destroyed eighty-five percent of this island, leaving a message to Japan of its vulnerability to our reach. Our task force headed back to Pearl Harbor for fuel, ammunition and supplies. In preparation for my ship’s new assignment, we conducted test firing of all guns at sea while heading for Purvis Bay in the New Florida Islands, where we joined forces with other destroyers for operations in the Solomon Islands. In just a few days we will be sent to destroy Japs up the Slot. Continue reading
The Brooklyn Navy yard served as our base during our shakedown period. The adjustment to being with so many new shipmates was fun.
Brooklyn Navy Yard, September 1942.
We certainly were diverse in so many ways. Human nature and temperament helped in understanding one another. Character graded the measure of friendship we would develop. A good sense of humor was a major plus. Prejudices raise red flags and second thoughts. Being thrown together with 350 men from every conceivable background of ethnic, economic and cultural persuasion makes for a most fascinating family.
I awoke with a start. Being awakened out of a dead sleep at night by the loud speaker system is usually associated with the emergency command for sounding “General Quarters”—meaning “Man your battle stations” My sack was ringing wet with perspiration. I rolled over hoping this was just a dream.
“First division man the crash boat!”
February 14, 1943 – New Hebrides Islands
Just looking at the beautiful shore invites a curiosity that all adventurers involuntarily pursue without caution. The heat of high noon was blistering as our motor barge neared the shore of the recreation grounds. We were only five minutes from the palm-studded beach, which was actually owned by the Colgate-Palmolive-Peet Company. Millions of manicured palm trees were grown in these tropics for their products. There were no wild animals of a threatening nature that lived here other than spiders, flies and lizards. Such an environment made living here a Paradise.
USS LaVallette (DD448) Subic Bay, Luzon, Phillipine Islands, 1945
The nightly annoyances of Washing Machine Charlie (an enemy plane) caused unending interruptions of our sleep in Subic Bay.
USS LaVallette (DD448) Dry Docked in ARD 7. Subic Bay, Phillipine Islands April 2, 1945
The LaVallette was hit by a land-based controlled mine on February 14, 1945, which was D-1 day in taking Corregidor. When she was taken in for repairs, I climbed down a ladder to the bottom of the dry dock. I wanted to see the damage inflicted by the explosion and record it. The immensity of the ship that is never seen below the water line was mind boggling. The stench of death seemed everywhere.
USS LaVallette (DD448) West Coast of Luzon January 7, 1945
Seaman First Class Mario J. Zazetti.
USS LaVallette (DD448) January 7, 1945
Crewman sitting on an ammunitions container, cautiously relaxing, one hour after our planes shot down a Betty (enemy torpedo plane) off Mindoro, en-route to the Battle of Luzon.