At War in the Pacific

Personal Accounts of World War II Navy and Marine Corps Officers


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About the Book

More than 16 million Americans served in the military during World War II—and nearly 3 million of them spent time in the Pacific theater. Before the attack on Pearl Harbor, the United States looked to graduates of the naval academy to fill its need for qualified officers. To supplement the number of academy graduates, new programs were created, including the Naval Reserve Officer Training Program, the Civilian Pilot Training Program, the Naval Aviation Cadet Program and what were later called “V” programs. Despite these efforts, the military buildup was slow. After Pearl Harbor, all branches of the military became dependent upon officers rushed through training programs, some of which hardly lasted longer than the enlisted men’s boot camp—the so-called “ninety day wonders” are just such an example. Recruited and trained in a variety of ways, the officers came from varied backgrounds. From a Japanese language officer and a Marine Corps fighter pilot, to a master rigger and a Navy weatherman, the author presents the tales of more than 20 Navy and Marine officers, offering the story of the war through their personal experiences.

About the Author(s)

Bruce M. Petty served for two years on the U.S.S. Yorktown during the Vietnam War. A California native, he has lived in Saipan. His writings have been published in The Pacific Daily News, The Marianas Variety, Umanidat: A Journal of the Humanities and Journal of the Pacific Society. Formerly a nuclear medicine technologist, he currently writes in New Plymouth, New Zealand.

Bibliographic Details

Bruce M. Petty

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 207
Bibliographic Info: photos, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2373-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Preface      1
Timeline of the War in the Pacific      7
Glossary of Terms      11

Senior Officer Aboard the USS Nevada, BB-36, Pearl Harbor, 7 December 1941—Rear Admiral Francis Thomas, USN (Ret.)      15
From the USS Honolulu to Senior Aviator of Scouting Squadron Ringbolt—Capt. Larry Pierce, USN (Ret.)      25
Marine Corps Fighter Pilot—Lt. Col. H.A.P. Langstaff, USMC (Ret.)      34
Carrier Air Group Sixteen, USS Lexington, CV–16—Lt. Cmdr. James Arquette, USN (Ret.)      46
Navy Fighter Ace—Cmdr. Alexander Vraciu, USN (Ret.)      54
Landing Signal Officer, USS Chenango, CVE-28—Cmdr. Frank Malinasky, USN (Ret.)      71
Sailor/Marine/Fighter Pilot—Capt. Bernard W. Peterson, USMCR (Ret.)      78
Aboard the USS Bailey, DD–492—Stanley M. Hogshead      89
USS Arizona Survivor—Joseph K. Langdell      96
HMAS Canberra and the Battle of Saveo Island—Lt. Cmdr. MacKenzie Jesse Gregory, Royal Australian Navy (Ret.)      100
“The Helena Doesn’t Answer”—Cmdr. Bill Barnett, USN (Ret.)      108
Aboard the USS Zane, DMS–14—Capt. Joseph B. Drachnik, USN (Ret.)      114
Aboard the USS Long, DMS–12—Benjamin F. Cator      124
Aboard the USS Charles Carroll, APA–28—Lt. Kenneth Barden, USNR (Ret.)      132
USS LCI (L)–981—John F. Harrington      139
My Flight with Lt. Arthur G. Elder—Bernard Isaacs      153
The Mustanger—Lt. Cmdr. Warren Decious, USN (Ret.)      157
The Rescuers—Capt. William C. Meyer, USN (Ret.)      163
Japanese-Language Officer—Willard H. Elsbree      171
Navy Weatherman—Dr. Gaylord Whitlock      178
Master Rigger, Mare Island Naval Shipyard—Cmdr. Eddie Martinez, USNR (Ret.)      184

Selected Bibliography      191
Index      193