November 1945

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Raising the US Flag on Mount Suribachi, Iwo Jima, February 23, 1945

November 1-2, 1945 – Thursday & Friday. SAIPAN TO IWO JIMA.  We remained at anchor in Saipan Harbor all day Thursday and then on Friday we made ready to ship out to Iwo Jima.  We topped off our fresh water supply and waited for our convoy to assemble.  We will travel in company with LCI(L)371 and LCI(L)1054 with orders to pick up men and bring them back to Saipan.The weather is decent with temperatures in the mid 80s and seas are normal.  Iwo Jima lies north of  Saipan some 700 miles and is almost exactly halfway between Saipan and Tokyo.  We got underway at 5:40 using all 8 main engines.  We should make pretty good time.

November 3 to 5, 1945 – Saturday to Monday.  We plied our way through normal waters heading north all night Friday, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday. On Monday morning, bright and early, we approached the little black island of Iwo Jima.  Iwo is a terrible looking speck of land out in the middle of nowhere.  The island has been rigorously mutilated with bombs.  This was a last strong hold for the Japanese who didn’t give up this island easily.  At 8:30 we anchored off shore in 6 fathoms of water, waiting to get into the harbor.  Just after lunch we were able to move into the harbor and we beached on Harbor Beach.  I didn’t have a lot of time but I took advantage of the stopover to make my way to the top of Mount Suribachi where one of my buddies took my picture.  At 2:00 pm the 119th U.S. Army Enlisted men came aboard with their gear for passage to Saipan.  Even though we weren’t here for very long this place made a deep impression on me.  So many men died here on both sides.  It seems like such terrible price for such a small island out in the middle of nowhere.  I’m glad the war is over.  I’ll be very glad when we can all get home.  By 6pm we were on our way back to Saipan.

Photo of Iwo Jima taken by Charles Dotterer with Mt Suribachi

Photo of a downed aircraft on Iwo Jima November, 1945

November 6 to 8, 1945 – Tuesday to Thursday.  IWO JIMA TO SAIPAN.  We made our way back to Saipan but the trip home was a bit choppy.  The poor soldiers that were aboard had a terrible time with sea sickness and guys were heaving over the side all the way back.  Thursday at 3 pm we sighted Saipan and by 5:00 pm we were beached at Baker Ramp alongside LCI(L)87.  After discharging our passengers, we welcomed aboard Lt(jg) Peter S. Angelides, DE, USNR 158434.  Captain Angelides will be our new commanding officer.  I can’t say that anyone is too broke up about Captain Thompson’s detachment.  I certainly envy that he gets to check out and I have to stay here.  We came on board together in May 1944 and it doesn’t seem fair that he gets to go home and I have to stay here.  As they say, nothing is fair in love and war.  The official ceremony for the change of command will take place latter this month.

November 10, 1945 – Saturday.  We remained beached today at Baker Ramp and the crew as mustered to meet our new captain.  Afterwards I wrote a few letters home:

Letter home 11/10/1945

Dearest Mother — We just returned from a trip to Iwo Jima.  We brought back about 200 Army discharges.  That’s the reason I haven’t written you sooner.

The boys surely got sea sick.  It was fairly rough all the way back and they had their heads over the side all the way back.

I climbed the famous Mount Suribachi and had one of my buddies take a picture of me while I was at Iwo Jima.  In fact I got to see all o the island.  It’s not much different from the rest except it has a dark colored ash or sand from Mount Suribachi’s volcano.  It’s the first volcano crater I’ve ever looked down into.  It was plenty hot down in it, steam coming out.

There is no chance of me getting a leave it looks like.  Till I get my discharge points I’ll stay out here.  It shouldn’t be over three or four months though.

It surely seemed cold up there (Iwo) to what it is down here.  It’s going to seem funny to wear a shirt again after two years.  Most guys don’t like tropical climate but, I rather enjoy it.

Do hope you’re well.  Will write you again soon.– All my love, Dale

 

 

November 11 – 21, 1945.  IN PORT. We remained at anchor all day Wednesday, and on Thursday we moved the ship only long enough to refresh our water supply.  Then for several days we have just stayed put in Saipan waiting for a new assignment.  As Thanksgiving approaches I have gathered my thoughts to write another letter home.

11.21.1945

Dearest Mother — Today is Thanksgiving and it seems less like it than it ever has.  We are having turkey for dinner but it will never taste half as good as those chickens and rosters we used to have with that delicious fruit salad.  Maybe another year I’ll be able to make it.

On the first of next month I’m pretty sure we will be heading for Pearl Harbor.  We are getting ready for it now.  Then shortly after we get to Pearl, we will probably go to the States.  It will surely seem good to get to Pearl where there’s at least some civilization.  Pearl Harbor is about 3,300 miles from here or about the same distance as across the United States.  Only we will probably stop at some point on the way, which will make the trip much longer.  It will mean  lot of work for me because of the navigation.  I’m not sure if I’ll go with the ship or not as I’m almost ready for a discharge.  I would rather go back with the ship though.

Received your November first letter today.  Seems there must have been some delay along the line, because I also got one from Myrt dated 12th November from Alabama.  Was sure happy to hear from you as I’ve not had mail in days. Am sure sorry to hear about your back.  Certainly wish it would clear up.  You must keep off your feet as much as possible.  You know you don’t have to do anything if you don’t want to.  Would sure hate to come home after two years out here and not find you well.  It would spoil every thing for me.

You don’t need to worry about Dean.  They take very good care of such things out here and if it’s too bad, they would send him home.  It is a terrible thing as I had it in my ears from swimming.  I had to go to the hospital nearly every day for over three months once.  Could hardly hear.  That was while I was at the Russell Islands.  Haven’t seen any of it since I came up here.

I am in very good health.  Am soft and fat as I’ve not had any physical work to do in a long time.  In fact, I don’t mind the Navy much now.  I have a very good rate.  Am now third to highest rated enlisted man aboard and live in officer’s quarters with two other enlisted men and tow officers.  One will be our new Captain soon.  I have been very lucky.  There is nothing I want special for Christmas.  In fact, wish you wouldn’t go to any more bother with your back as it is.  I will be home in two or three months anyway. The pictures were very good.  You looked good to me, looked very nice.  Don’t look like you’ve been ill at all.  Guess maybe you can’t tell too much by pictures.  We got plenty of nuts out here, the very best, all shelled.  Thanks anyway.

They are calling me for Thanksgiving dinner so I’ll close. – All my love to you, Dale.

I got some other letters from home today, including one from a crazy girl back home!  Its fun to have some mail waiting for us no matter who its from!

November 22, 1945 – Thursday.  THANKSGIVING.  We had a Thanksgiving meal together today but I’d much rather be at home with the family.  We are getting ready to head for home.  The word is that by the 1st of the month we will ship out for Pearl Harbor, then go on to the States.  I can hardly wait but I will be glad to go back with the ship.

November 25, 1945 – Sunday.  CHANGE OF COMMAND.  Today at 8:00 am we held a formal ceremony for a change of command about LCI222.  In accorance with BuPers Dispatch 142251 of November 1945, Lt. Henry S. Thompson D, USNR 189268 was relieved of command by Lt(jg) Peter S. Angelides DE, USNR 158434.  Captain Thompson was detached and reported to the receiving Station on Saipan.

November 27, 1945 – LETTERS AND GOOD NEWS.

11/27/1945

Dearest Mother — Just received a package from you.  It was surely in good shape, the fruit cake. Was surely happy to get it. Wish you wouldn’t go to so much trouble for me.  Thanks millions.

I have some good news for a change.  Should be leaving in a few days for home and a discharge from the Navy.  I have more points than any other man aboard. (37).  The points are lowered to 37 the 15th of December.  I’m supposed to get 21 days traveling time from here so should leave the first Dec.

The reason I have so many points, or that is one reason, because I have nearly all my time overseas.  Will be going onto 21 months.

The ship is supposed to leave around the first for Pearl Harbor.  Maybe I can come back on it. Will sure seem funny to get back in the States after spending so much time out here where there’s nothing.  Just received a letter from Dad.  He is well.  Must close now.  Will let you know when I leave. – All my love, Dale – Thanks for the nice fruit cake.  I have received lots of Christmas gifts already this year.

 

 

 

 

 

Letter Home 11/28/1945

November 28, 1945 – Wednesday.  LETTER HOME.

Dearest Mother — Thought I’d let you know they are about to start calling 37 point men.  I would be transferred to the beach now I think.  If they only had room.  Probably be leaving Saipan within this week.

Ship is supposed to leave the first.  In a way, I will certainly be happy to get back.

I received a letter from you today.  In it you stated you were worrying about Dean.  You shouldn’t do that.  He’s alright.  I received a letter from him dated November 6.  He was at that time still in Peleliu in the Carolines.  He is much better off there.

Did Dona enjoy her Thanksgiving at home?

I hope I return as healthy as I am at present.  I must weigh around 170 pounds.  And LCI life is considered a very unhealthy life so when I get home.  I ought to really do alright.

Will let you know when I leave Saipan.  It shouldn’t be long.  Hope you are well. – All my love, Dale

 

 

 

 

 

November 29 to 30, 1945 – Thursday & Friday. We continued making preparations for departure to the Hawaii, taking on fuel and provisions for the trip.  Several of our crewmen were transferred today but I remained aboard.

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