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.