The USS Puffer in World War II

A History of the Submarine and Its Wartime Crew

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About the Book

Submarines were responsible for about 55 percent of the tonnage of the Japanese fleets sunk during World War II. The 22 percent casualty rate of U.S. submariners was the highest of the military services. This volume traces the career of the submarine the USS Puffer from the laying of her keel and her commissioning on April 27, 1943, until her departure for the scrap yard in late 1960. Compiled from interviews with former crew members, including the author’s father, Donald B. McDonald, as well as other contemporary sources, it follows the crew of the Puffer through nine war patrols.
Events recollected include the First War Patrol, which resulted in a record-setting 38 hour submergence because of enemy fire; the dangerous transfer of torpedoes while surfaced in enemy waters; and the wild bombardment of Japanese shore installations with the 5-inch deck gun. There are numerous wartime photographs and appendices providing a list of awards earned by the crew and a summary of claimed successful attacks. Brief biographies of the seven commissioned officers are also included.

About the Author(s)

Craig R. McDonald is director of information and data services within the University Division at Indiana University in Bloomington.

Bibliographic Details

Craig R. McDonald
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 335
Bibliographic Info: 120 photos, maps, glossary, appendices, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2008
pISBN: 978-0-7864-3209-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0969-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments      vii
Foreword by Commander John D. Alden, USN (Retired)       1
Foreword by Rear Admiral Maurice H. Rindskopf, USN (Retired)       3
Preface      5

1. QUALIFYING FOR THE SUBMARINE SERVICE
Boot Camp      7
Specialty School      11
Submarine School      13

2. BUILDING THE PUFFER AND THE BONDING OF THE CREW
Submarines in Wisconsin      16
Building the Puffer      18
Plank Owners      22
The Bonding of the Crew      29
Down the Mississippi River      30
Final Training and on to Brisbane      32

3. THE INITIAL OFFICERS OF THE PUFFER
Commander Marvin J. Jensen      34
Franklin G. Hess      36
Lawrence G. Bernard      38
Carl R. Dwyer      40
William M. Pugh II      41
Walter Mazzone      41
Kenneth Dobson      42

4. THE POLITICAL, PHYSIOLOGICAL AND PSYCHOLOGICAL
Torpedo Politics      43
The Physical Environment      45
Lack of Light      47
Sleep Deprivation and Irregular Sleep      47
Perception of Time      48
Heat and Humidity      48
Hypoxia and Carbon Dioxide Poisoning      50
Adrenaline      51
Summary      52

5. THE FIRST WAR PATROL BEGINNINGS
Repairs and Rest at Brisbane      54
The First Attack      56
Bad Weather and Disaster      58

6. THE DEPTH CHARGING OF THE PUFFER
The Dangerous Escorts      61
Caught at Periscope Depth      64
Heat and Humidity Rise      68
Sinking Deeper      70
Waiting It Out      72
Decision Time      73
Surface! Surface!      76
The Puffer’s Return      78
Awards      80

7. THE SECOND WAR PATROL
Distorted History      81
Corrected History      82
New Crew and Boat Repairs      84
The New Commander      86
Departure for Subic Bay      87
The First Attack      88
Frustration Again      89
Waiting for Action      90
No Christmas Presents      92
Happy New Year      93
Deck Gun Action      95

8. THE THIRD WAR PATROL
New Crew Members and Training      98
Lombok and Makassar Straits      101
Invasion Scare      102
A Second Chance      103
A Dangerous Destroyer      110
No Contacts and Return to Fremantle      112

9. R & R AT PERTH AND FREMANTLE
Companionship and Craziness      114
The Extreme      116
The Tragic      117

10. THE FOURTH WAR PATROL
New Crew Members      120
Repairs and More Repairs      121
Lifeguard Duty      124
Tawi Tawi—Carrier Carrier      130
Tanker Tanker      134
Mechanical Troubles      138
Resistance in the Sibutu Passage      139
Friendly Natives      140
Awards      140

11. THE FIFTH WAR PATROL
New Men and New Equipment      142
Return to the Makassar Strait      144
Shallow Water      147
Sibutu Passage      149
Basilan Strait Attack      153
Torpedo Transfer      154
Cape Calavite Attack      156
Another Assignment?      161
Awards      162
30 Days Leave      162

12. THE SIXTH WAR PATROL
A New Commander and a Larger Crew      166
New Weapons and Technology      170
Waikiki Bound      171
Okinawa      177
Dive! Dive!      180
Heavy Seas and Heavy Action      181
A Trap      186
R & R at Guam      187

13. THE SEVENTH WAR PATROL
A Full Boat and Refit      189
Lifeguard Duty      192
A Near Miss      193
Man Overboard!      196
Thirsty Lookouts      197
Air Support      200
Junks      201
Artillery Action      203
Return to Saipan      203
Midway via Wake      206

14. R & R AT MIDWAY
Arrival      211
Fun and Games      213
Navy Cross      216
Victory in Europe Day      220
Training      220
Good-Bye      224

15. THE EIGHTH WAR PATROL
More Personnel Changes      226
Back to Saipan      229
Back to War      231
Tragedy      233
The South China Sea      235
Java Sea and Bali      237
Fremantle      240
R & R in Perth      241

16. THE NINTH WAR PATROL
The Last Departure      248
The Numbers Game      251
Peace      254
The Last Loss      256

17. BACK TO THE STATES
54 or Bust      258
Subic Bay Wait      260
Off to Pearl Harbor      267
San Francisco      275
Navy Day Celebration      277
Home Again      279
What Next?      282

18. POSTWAR SERVICE
Hawaii      284
Seattle      289
The End of the Puffer      292
Reunions      293

Glossary of Terms and Abbreviations      295
Appendix 1. List of Awards      301
Appendix 2. Summary of Claimed Successful Attacks      303
Appendix 3. Postwar Puffer Service Roster      306
Bibliography      309
Index      315

Book Reviews & Awards

“McDonald affords a comprehensive record of the Puffer’s service, and the inclusion of first-hand accounts from former crew members adds a precious resource for future researchers”—The Journal of Military History; “engaging…author obviously devoted much time to in-depth research…McDonald’s work is masterful and commended to all hands”—USNI.