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Richard E. Warner oral history interview, October 17, 1994

Date: Oct. 17 1994 | Identifier: OH0146
Mr. Warner relates his experiences as a U.S. Navy Reserve Officer and Destroyer Escort commander during World War II. He comments on his childhood in California, where he participated in Sea Scouts as a youth and graduated from The University of California--Berkeley in 1938. While in college he participated in Navy ROTC and reported for reserve duty in 1939. Mr. Warner describes his training at the subchaser training center and his service on the USS 631 and PC 1245. Details are provided of service as executive officer of the KENDALL C. CAMPBELL (DE 443) and his assignment to the USS GEORGE (DE 697). He comments on action as part of a Hunter-Killer Group (October 1944-August 1945) at Iwo Jima, Leyte Gulf, Lingayen Gulf, Kerama Retto--Okinawa, and off Tokyo Bay. He also comments on entering Yokosuka Navy Base in Japan. Mr. Warner was released from active duty on October 16, 1945. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...



EAST CAROLINA MANUSCRIPT COLLECTION
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW #146
Commander Richard E. Warner, USNR (Ret)
October 17, 1994

Richard E. Warner:

. . . an affluent town, which is surrounded by the city of Oakland in California. The town is Piedmont and it's strictly residential, not commercial. It was all residential, a nice area. I attended grammar school, high school, and participated in all sports. With regards to my interest in the sea or the Navy, I started sailing at eleven years old at a lake, which was right in that area just down below us; so I've been sailing all my life. In high school, Boy Scouting was in our community--it was very popular. I had a very marvelous father, and he was active in scouting. I was the only son, and I had one sister.

So, at nine years old--it was before the Cub Scouts had started, but they had what they called Boy Pioneers; so scouting in our area actually started when I was nine years old. That led to Boy Scouts; and in Boy Scouting, I became an Eagle Scout at thirteen and a half, maybe fourteen years old. Our whole troop became Eagle Scouts; and from there, we



organized a Sea Scout Troop, one of the first Sea Scout troops on the West Coast. That was in the high school days when all of the members in the troop, probably twenty-five, were Eagle Scouts. Then we became the Sea Scout organization, and we all became what you call a Quartermaster Sea Scout, similar to an Eagle Scout, but older. Then, we all went our own way. I was probably about a year older than most of them, and I was the first one to go to the University of California. I found out about the Naval unit and so I jumped on that. Of that particular group--of those, say twenty-five in that Sea Scout Troop--probably fifteen of them went on to UC-Berkeley and also were in the Navy unit. The tendency there was to like the water and so forth.

The Navy unit was quite selective at UC-Berkeley. There were almost one thousand applicants. Military training was compulsory for two years, and so you had your compulsory to go. You go Army, unless you get accepted by the Navy. The Navy, out of almost one thousand, selected seventy-five. That was the maximum class, seventy-five, so it was fairly a choice organization. Each member of my class in the Navy unit had some particular thing that he was good at; whether it was athletics, or whether they're in journalism, or whatever. They're all good and of median intelligence, at least. We put in our four years in the Navy; and during that time, like in 1936, I remember the German battleship GRAF SPEE came to San Francisco. So we were looking at a couple hundred German cadets, and all good looking guys like we thought we were.

Donald R. Lennon:

What year was this?



Richard E. Warner:

That was in 1936 probably. We went on board and visited them. We knew at that time it would just be a few years, and we wouldn't be looking at them the same as we were that day.

In the Navy training, we took one cruise on--it was either the battleship TENNESSEE or CALIFORNIA--in 1935. We went to the Hawaiian Islands. The battleship went up to Seattle and picked up the ROTC unit, the freshman and sophomore class of the University of Washington with our group, and then we went to the Islands. We began to see, at least our feeling was in hind sight, that we were still playing with World War I equipment. There wasn't any advanced equipment. I remember them. The battleship carried a float plane on the stern, and they catapulted this guy off; he was supposed to observe the gunnery fire in battle, but they had no way to get him back.

Donald R. Lennon:

They didn't have a crane that could pick him up?

Richard E. Warner:

They had a crane, but when the battleship is going in a battle, you're not supposed to stop and it was a big problem. They had an experimental sled, and they had the crane back there; but the poor pilot after he got hooked onto the sled, had to climb out of the plane and go up and try to hook this big hook into an eye on the plane.

Donald R. Lennon:

No radar at that time either, was there?

Richard E. Warner:

No. There wasn't any radar. We didn't get radar until maybe way into the middle of World War II.

Donald R. Lennon:

Not even old “bed springs?”



Richard E. Warner:

No. Bed springs? Well, we slept in hammocks.

Donald R. Lennon:

I meant the radar they used to call “bed springs.”

Richard E. Warner:

No. There wasn't anything like that. In fact, there were no anti-aircraft guns on the battleship at that time. The five-inch guns were along the main deck, and they can only elevate maybe thirty degrees; but there were a lot of these things that in hind sight, we can remember. Then in our last year, we were on a four-stack destroyer. By that time, our class was down to maybe forty out of the seventy-five. We went up the coast of California, Oregon, and Washington, which is pretty rough, and we met the destroyer that had the University of Washington guys on it. We went on up to Alaska and would try to have target practice, for example. Sometimes it would be too rough; we couldn't train and elevate the gun fast enough to keep up with the roll of the destroyer. There, again, they had no provisions for anti-aircraft.

So anyway, we graduated as ensigns in 1938. Now things were really rough, because the Germans and English were just about to clash; so, we were tempted to get a little more active in the Naval Reserves. Oakland had one reserve unit which had a destroyer, but all of the enlisted men and the officers were all from World War I. There were probably twenty of us trying to get in. We'd take some Sunday cruises with them, but we weren't part of that active reserve.

I did take one cruise in 1939. I went to San Diego and spent two weeks on a new destroyer, the MAURY, DD401--brand new. There, I started to get impressed with the



Navy's capabilities, because during shakedown there were two of them. Those ships would go forty-three knots, that's the reason they're destroyers. We ran for four hours one day--I remember--at flank speed which was forty-three knots, and we passed each other. We were passing each other at eight-five knots; it was quite impressive.

Donald R. Lennon:

The reservists that you mentioned being holdovers from World War I, you're talking about men who have passed their fighting (?) period? They were at least in their forties by then.

Richard E. Warner:

Oh yes, they were. What happened was when they called out the reserves in 1940 which included myself, in this particular case none of them could pass the physical exam. There's no way that they could. So that particular destroyer stayed in San Francisco, and of course it was manned by active personnel there. We were trying to get a little more active in the reserve, because we knew that we were going to be called up. On November 8, 1940, when the national draft came into effect, we received orders like I guess they did for the Persian Gulf deal; telegram from Washington, twenty-four hour standby notice. They were going to activate us within twenty-four hours. Christmas came. New Year's came and went. Of course, we all had civilian jobs. I talked to my employer. At the time, I was in manufacturing and was the production manager in a barrel company. They had just then gotten a contract to manufacture depth charges, and they called me in and said, "You'll be the superintendent, because you're in the Navy."

I said, "All I know is that it's round and it's got a hole in the middle." So I was



involved in the manufacture of depth charges, and this was right at the time when we got this twenty-four hour notice. I noticed the letter in here where they requested deferment. I had to have them do that, or they would have fired me anyway. But they refused to defer me, of course. We would go to San Francisco to the Twelfth Naval District, I believe it is. However, we couldn't get any answer as to when we were going be called in; how we were going to be called in, what have you.

Donald R. Lennon:

You really didn't want a deferment though, did you?

Richard E. Warner:

Of course not. No way. I had to do it or otherwise I wouldn't have had a job the next day. So finally we found out, probably through the wives--as most of the information came of officer promotions or transfers--we found out that they were calling the reserve officers up alphabetically. Myself, being a W, was in the last group that came up in May. Then a whole group of us were called in and our orders were to Corpus Christi, Texas. We had to look on a map to see where Corpus Christi was. In the Saturday Evening Post, of which I think some copies are in this scrapbook that my father made for me, showed the construction starting on Corpus Christi Naval Air Station. Having just been married, I got the cast-offs. You get your own bedroom set, and you get the cast-offs. The Navy came in very nicely and crated everything. An ensign in those days had so much allowance in weight, but they crated everything just to get it down to Corpus Christi. It did take six or seven weeks to get to Corpus; and when it got there, it was about double the weight that we were allowed. The one part that I remember about Corpus, we all arrived--young kids--and



there was no paycheck, because I still owed them four or five hundred dollars for the overweight on the furniture, and they wouldn't give us the furniture. There were no officers' quarters, no quarters for our wives. We had to scrounge. Those of us that got down there first set up boarding houses for the other officers coming down who were married.

At Corpus we had basically nothing to do. Just the first cadets were coming down, and we'd have to be there at five thirty in the morning to wake them up, watch their table manners, and get them off to Ground School. Then we had nothing to do during the day. The town is fifteen miles from the Air Station. There was no gasoline for our cars, so we stayed in the station. Then we put them to bed at night. I finally got a little tired of that, and I got transferred into what I should do. I was in the Base Repair Department as a maintenance officer. In the meantime, the orders came out that anybody with a deck officer rating was to go to sea, which we wanted to do. So that's when we had a chance. I wanted to get into small ships, so I was in one of the first classes at Sub Chaser Training Center.

Donald R. Lennon:

That would have been April of 1942?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, it was. It was April of 1942. We went to Sub Chaser Training Center in Miami. After about three weeks, we were kind of a little frightened in that we weren't so sure about our navigation abilities and so forth. But, we found out that we were all basically in the same boat. Then I was assigned skipper of the SC631 that was built in Camden, New Jersey, by Mathis Yacht Building Company. The nucleus crew was there already and that was my godsend, my nucleus crew. The nucleus crew consisted of about twelve, I guess. I



had one chief boatswain's mate, and one first class who had been a chief and got kicked back. Both of them were China sailors, and they taught me some pretty bad habits (you might say). However, it was very important that they were there, and they knew that little ship; because they had gone to motor machinist school, the signalman had gone to the signal school, and the radioman . . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

Is that the kind of boat that they've been using on the river patrols in China?

Richard E. Warner:

No, it wasn't. That's the one in this print that I showed you. It was just a new boat. This is one of the first ones that came off, and they were built by the yacht builders like Mathis, Sparkman, and Stevens. Then, they started building them out in the West Coast, too. I was there for maybe a couple weeks in Camden, and then it was accepted by the Navy. (This is a little amazing story). It was accepted at three o'clock in the afternoon at Philadelphia Navy Yard and was commissioned at three o'clock in the afternoon. At five o'clock, I went into a room similar to this and there were five other junior officers like myself. I was a full lieutenant by this time, and there was the Admiral of the Philadelphia Navy Yard. This is the time when the German subs were just cleaning house on the Atlantic Coast. This was August of 1942 and he said, "We've got to get these ships to sea." These other five had been there a long time. One of them had been there for four months or five months after being commissioned.

Donald R. Lennon:

Why wouldn't he get them . . . ?

Richard E. Warner:

It was just hard to believe, but this was the case. I remember the Admiral said, "If



anyone cannot go to sea tomorrow, raise their hand," and everybody else raised their hand. He looked over at me and he said, "I was just on board your ship two hours ago and commissioned it."

I said, "If it's commissioned, we need fuel, provisions. I need a few more crew members, but we can go tomorrow."

He said, "I like that spirit." So all that night, we got provisioned. We had fuel. We took on ammunition, and at eight o'clock the next morning we started down the river.

Donald R. Lennon:

What was the hold up on the other ships?

Richard E. Warner:

They claimed they didn't have spare parts, and there was something else to do, and so forth.

Donald R. Lennon:

The war had been going on for almost a year by that time.

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, from December to August.

Donald R. Lennon:

Nine months.

Richard E. Warner:

Yes. Of course, these ships were just coming. You see, that 631 wasn't the first of the group. It was maybe one of two ahead of me, but one of them was still in the yard with something to do. That morning we started out without a radioman and without a signalman. Is that the Delaware River from Philadelphia?

Donald R. Lennon:

Yes.

Richard E. Warner:

We went down the Delaware River. We did have charts, but the first thing we did was go right in the middle of a mine field. When we realized it, they came out and showed



us where we were supposed to go. Then we went to Cape May.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, they had rivers along the Atlantic Coast mined?

Richard E. Warner:

Oh yes. The entrance to the Delaware was mined. The entrance to the Chesapeake Bay was mined, and that had a net. Of course, they also had a net at the Delaware clear across. We had to go over and go through the net to get out, but we didn't know that. Mind you, this is our first day we're heading for sea.

So, we went to Cape May. Cape May had a Section Base up on the Cape, a Navy Section Base. A convoy came along the next morning, and we joined that convoy heading for Norfolk. The only other escort was a Canadian trawler; and so by law and when you're in American waters, the American ships took over. So here's Lieutenant Warner who hadn't gotten his feet wet yet, and I'm in charge of this convoy. It was a sizeable convoy, coming down the coast. We turned into Norfolk at the sea buoy sometime late in the afternoon. It took until well after dark to go in past Virginia Beach where they had a big net going across there. In the interim, we had taken on an Argentine ship, an Argentine freighter, a neutral. He got into the middle of the group going in, they filed into the bay, and we got in through the nets about midnight. It was stormy and rainy. All of a sudden there was one explosion, and soon after followed by another. Two of our ships were hit and sunk. So, we spent the rest of the night picking up survivors. We didn't have any sound gear, by the way.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were the German subs in the Chesapeake?

Richard E. Warner:

Not yet. No they weren't. But this was at night, and these two ships were blown up



and sunk. The nets were closed then. As I said, we picked up survivors and took them into Virginia Beach. They had a Section Base in there, which is fairly close to Norfolk. Then we didn't even have time to turn around; we just went into the base. They picked me up by station wagon, took me to Norfolk, and wanted to know why I let the German sub come in. I explained to them that I didn't have sound gear, for one thing. That was going to be put on in Miami. They also had some local craft that escorted it that were coming in and out. Fortunately for me the Admiral who was really adamant was Felix Gygax, and he had been one of my instructors--I guess. He headed up the ROTC unit in Berkeley, and he called me by my first name. He said, "Dick, you're in trouble."

I said, "I can't explain it. I'm positive a German sub didn't get in. If they got in, they couldn't get out, they're still in here." I said, "But I think it's mines. I think it's got to be a mine."

That's what it turned out to be eventually. This Argentine ship; they never have been able to pinpoint it, but that's the only way those mines could have come in. Those were lowered after the net was closed; they were magnetic mines, and two of them exploded, sinking two separate ships. The other thirteen mines in a period of one month, were retrieved by our Navy mine sweepers in the bay. They got them before they hit any of the other ships.

Donald R. Lennon:

WOW!

Richard E. Warner:

These were the ships that were preparing for the North African Invasion.



Donald R. Lennon:

That took a gutsy effort on the part of the Argentines to sabotage the American Navy right there in its own port.

Richard E. Warner:

That's a lot of guts. I've seen it written up a little bit, but never did anybody ever accuse the Argentines of doing that. So that afternoon finally with this admiral's help, they took a little report from me on this thing. At that time, they were deciding that it was the mines and it wasn't torpedoes. So, we immediately turned and we went down the inland waterways, because the net was closed and they wouldn't dare open the net. We only drew six feet, so they told me to barrel down there. Well I kind of felt sorry for some of those people that had little boats and so forth, but we went.

Donald R. Lennon:

So you came down through the Dismal Swamp Canal?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, we came through inland waterways from Norfolk. We were supposed to go out at Morehead City. Well, we ran aground about six times. Mind you, this was the second day this boat was in commission, and I'm beginning to think, 'Warner, there's no way the Navy is going to keep you.' So finally it got dark, and we came to the little town of Belhaven. I told the gang, "This is it," because there was just the nucleus crew. We didn't have the full complement, so we tied up to the dock of Belhaven. You would think the battleship MISSOURI came in.

The townspeople came down--a marvelous town--and they said, "Can we have a party?" So, we went to the schoolhouse on a Sunday night, I remember. We went to the schoolhouse, and they put on the most fabulous party for us. The party went all night long,



and it was pretty hard for the sailors once they got loose. So instead of us going immediately the next morning, we had an open house so these people could go down and see this little sub chaser. I remember that we served them breakfast. I've been back to Belhaven since, just because it interested me.

So then we got to Morehead City and they said, "Out." There was a convoy that was coming down. It had fourteen ships without escort, and all fourteen of them were sunk. They were sunk right there. Apparently the submarine was tied up at night at the sea buoy, and most of it was by surface fire that they sunk them. There again, we picked up a few of the last survivors and brought debris and so forth into Morehead City.

Donald R. Lennon:

No sign of the subs though.

Richard E. Warner:

No. Well, we didn't have sound gear.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, how are you going to chase a sub without any?

Richard E. Warner:

It was going to be put on down in Miami. Then another convoy came by. We joined that, went down to Miami, went through the school, and they put our sound equipment on. Then, the ship was assigned to Pacific Fleet. Honolulu was where we were supposed to go; but every time we tried, something came up. For instance, we went from Miami to Key West which was a convoy center. When we got there, I said, "Well, when are we going to go? I've got to get through the Panama Canal."

They said, "Well we've got a convoy going to Guantanamo." So we got involved in the local convoy, and there were convoy centers as I said at Key West, Guantanamo,



Panama, and Trinidad. So instead of getting to the Pacific, we'd go down to Panama, turn right around, take a convoy over to Trinidad, go back to Guantanamo, Key West, and so forth. It all happened in maybe five or six months, but we never stopped. However, one time we hit Panama, and they saw my orders. So we went through the Canal.

Donald R. Lennon:

Back up just a hair. Did the Argentine ship get away or did they discover that . . . ?

Richard E. Warner:

There was never any evidence that they were the ones that did it.

But you see during that time, the German subs, by the time they got over to our Atlantic Coast, they had used up half of their fuel. They could only be over here for a few days, and they had to turn around and go back. So our intelligence later found out that they were getting fueled either out in the area around St. Martin, or St. Barts, or down in St. Lucia. They were somewhere over there. I know one of our assignments for two or three weeks was to look for them. Of course Cuba was an ally; so we were detached, and we would sneak into these various Cuban harbors at night really without any charts. Then we went completely around Cuba and over to the Mexico coast, trying to find out if we could just happen to run across a smaller fishing boat or something that might be fueling these subs. It later turned out that the Germans actually had a large submarine that was a tanker. They were pretty safe in the Caribbean, because our sound equipment didn't function that well and we didn't have any radar.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you run into any subs on the convoy duty you were involved in?



Richard E. Warner:

We had attacks, and we had ships sunk in our convoys; but we'd only have maybe three escorts, and we'd have convoys of up to sixty-four ships. One harrowing experience I remember. . . . Well, I didn't explain to you, but the convoys would have a convoy commodore and an escort commander (who was myself, because I was mostly the senior escort commander). I was just a lieutenant, but I'm on this little hundred and ten foot sub chaser. We were responsible for navigation too, of the convoy, which was ridiculous. One time, we were going just to the east of Cuba. There's a narrow channel there. I don't know what the banks are in there, but it's only fifteen miles wide. Well, it was the middle of the night; and it was stormy, and the visibility was poor. All of a sudden we almost ran into one of our own escorts, but he was coming the other way. He was coming from Guantanamo to Key West, and we were going from Key West to Guantanamo. They scheduled these two convoys, and we met in this one restricted area. There were a couple of collisions. We always had provisions for emergency turns, but that's the worst thing to do is to get broadsided by somebody else. So we just put on our running lights, and everybody kicked on their running lights; and for a couple hours, these ships milled around. We were only going six knots, because these were slow ships. So some of these experiences that I remember were pretty harrowing.

We hit Panama one time, and somebody forgot that they needed us in Trinidad. We went through the Canal, and then we left Panama. We headed for San Diego, and the Navy didn't even know we were doing it. We had to stop in Manzanilo for fuel, and there the



Mexicans had their guns on us. One of the reasons was that there was a German ship that was interned in Manzanilo. It had snuck out a couple nights before and had gone out, and they thought that maybe we had something to do with it. We got fuel in Manzanilo, and then we just went on up to San Diego. We were the first little ship like that that had gone through the Canal and had come up the coast. Am I talking too lengthy?

Donald R. Lennon:

No, the detail is what I want; what makes it worthwhile is all the specifics.

Richard E. Warner:

Okay. This is a detail that I'll never forget. As we came into San Diego, they asked who we were by signal tower. We're coming in, and we didn't have much fuel left. Everybody was congratulating me for finding San Diego, and I was congratulating myself. I mean all we had was a magnetic compass and a sextant, with rough weather coming up the coast. As we went past Point Loma, out comes an admiral's barge. He then comes alongside of us. I was in a skivvy shirt and cut-offs, and I hollered to somebody, "Where's my hat?" We got this admiral up and on board.

I saluted him, and he looked at me and said, "Where's the Captain?" I was very proud of it.

I said, "I'm the Captain."

He said, "I'll be an SOB!" I was out of uniform and so was everybody else in the boat. So, we went to the foot of Broadway in San Diego where we tied up and he said, "I'll inspect you tomorrow, tomorrow morning." Well by that time we had probably twenty thousand or so miles on us, and we thought we were good veterans. As I say, I wasn't that



good of an officer because I was fraternizing with the enlisted crew. When you're sleeping with them and eating with them and living on top of them. . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

You don't have much choice.

Richard E. Warner:

So, we went to the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego with a little bit of our torpedo juice, and we had a party. Needless to say, not everybody made it back at nine o'clock in the morning for the inspection; so the whole ship was put in hack over at Point Loma at the Naval Station at the Base. So, we were in hack. In the meantime, my first daughter had been born, which I found out six weeks after she was born and was in Berkeley. My wife was in Berkeley with her parents, so I went there. We were assigned to COMDESDIV70, just to assign us to something, but the ship was in hack over in Point Loma. I went anyway, and there, all of a sudden, I recognized a commander. His name was Helmcamp. He had been one of our instructors at UC-Berkeley, and he just couldn't figure out that we would do something like that. I explained to him that it took us thirteen to fourteen days to come from Panama. That was rough going through the Gulf of Tehuantepec, and you can't expect to have an admiral's inspection when you're coming in to port from out in sea.

I said, "By the way, I want to go to Berkeley to see my wife and my new child."

He said, "You're in hack. You can't go."

Needless to say, you know what I did? I went over the hill, got out, and went to the bus station, because there were no air flights out. But at the bus station nothing doing; so in my nice uniform with two gold stripes, I got out on the highway. I picked up the first car



that went by, and I got a ride all the way up to near Berkeley and stopped and called my in-laws. My wife was with her parents. Of course, I called my parents too, because they live right there. I overstayed my leave up there and then on the third day. . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

You didn't have leave, did you?

Richard E. Warner:

I didn't have leave; I was over the hill. I overstayed my leave, and there was a knock on the door and it was the MPs. So here I'm under arrest now, and they take me back to the Naval Air Station in Alameda--and that's one way to get air transportation. I got back, and then I had to go before the Board of Review; and now we had five admirals, as I remember. They explained to me that they were going to see whether I was going to be a lieutenant or I was going to be an apprentice seaman, and they said, "What have you got to say for yourself?"

I said that the only thing I could to say to them was to explain to them that I hadn't seen my child, and our orders were to go out in the Pacific from there. I was told I couldn't do it, and I just did it anyway. I figured if any one of those gentleman were in the same position, they would have done the same thing. Well, I got the answer back finally after waiting for some time. They said, "Yes, we would do the same thing, but don't do it again." When I left San Diego a few months later when I was transferred, I did have a 4.0 fitness report, because we were the only real ship in all the places. They had us out on patrol all the time out there. We went up there when the Jap submarine fired on Goleta, which was just above Santa Barbara. I remember escorting the LURLINE from the first CB detachment



that left from Port Hueneme. That was a very secret base, and the LURLINE took five thousand and all their equipment. I remember talking to the skipper of the LURLINE, and I told him that I was the escort. I asked him, I said, "How fast do you go?"

He said, "Thirty knots."

I said, "I better start the night before." They wanted me to get them out of what we call the Channel Islands down there. I did start that night, and they left earlier in the morning; but in the early afternoon, here comes the LURLINE going thirty knots. We could only make twenty-three, but we had at least given them a little satisfaction. Then after that, I got a relief and went back to Sub Chaser Training Center for a week or so, and then I picked up a PC which was built in Nashville, Tennessee.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did they float it down the Mississippi?

Richard E. Warner:

They started on the Cumberland. From the Cumberland, they went to the Ohio, and then the Ohio down to the Mississippi. It was pushed on a barge. That's fourteen hundred miles. I didn't ride it down. There again, they allowed me to go down and then my wife came back, so we had a couple weeks of fun in New Orleans. The nucleus crew was in Nashville, and that was sixty-five men and five officers.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, it was larger than the 631 that you'd been on?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, a 1245 and yes, it's the next step up. This is more or less the processing up that at least a few of us in the group that were at Corpus Christi, who were deck officers, that's basically what they did. Some of them got PCs to start with, but the others of us got an SC



and then a PC. You'd train the crew, train the officers, and then you go back. Then the next step up was a DE.

Donald R. Lennon:

On the 631 before you left it, had they improved the sonar equipment?

Richard E. Warner:

They put sonar on it. That went on in Miami.

Donald R. Lennon:

But you said that it really wasn't very powerful. I didn't know if they updated it.

Richard E. Warner:

It was the same sonar that even the DEs have. Of course the DEs came along later, but the SC did not have radar. We didn't have any radar. The PC was the first experience. Well the PC had a Gyro compass too, which was pretty good; but the SC--you were an old salt when you were going on magnetic bearings. We would do some of the craziest things: I remember one night when they had us out patrolling off of San Diego, and it was cold and miserable. So we kind of moved the watch in a little bit, because we were just going back and forth. Somebody moved the radio close to the magnetic compass, and the next thing we knew, we almost ran aground on one of the islands out there. We didn't realize that we were steering what the compass said, but that wasn't quite right.

The PC didn't last very long. There again, we went through shakedown. It was assigned out of Key West, and unfortunately, I made lieutenant commander and that was too much rank for PC.

Donald R. Lennon:

This was what, August of 1943, when you went to the PC?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, it would have been August of 1943. When I put in maybe the second time or something in Key West in the convoy control center, I got my lieutenant commander stripe.



At the same time there was a guy--I'll never forget his name--named Lamont Bryant, and he came from Richmond, right up the hill here. He was the escort commander from Key West, from the calm gulf. He had the job for six months and he hated it, so he convinced them that they should take me off the PC. So I ended up as a Convoy Commodore, and that was a six-month stint. It was terrible; but the main responsibility there is that at Key West, by this time, there were other countries assisting in the Naval program. The Germans had a PCS. I don't mean the Germans. I mean the Russians. The Norwegians had a PC, THE KING HAADON THETH. The French had a free French boat. The Cubans had a gunboat, CUBA. The Brazilians had an SC or a PC. So this was one of my primary responsibilities, that we would take off on a convoy which they knew there wasn't too much danger in. Then, they would give out some publicity on the fact that other nations were convoying from Key West to Mobile or something like that. The funny part about it was--it wasn't funny--that those ships didn't want to leave Key West, because they got American sailor's pay when they were in the continental limits. When they were out at sea, they got their own pay.

The Norwegians were pretty good drinkers and they got the grog every day. I had a hard time with that particular group, trying to get them to go out. They'd get as far as the sea buoy and turn around and go back, so it was normally our SCs, primarily, who would go on up to Galveston or go down to Guantanamo. We did make one run with a PC, when we took two troop transports from New Orleans and they were pretty sizeable transports. There



was only one other escort and this was in the early part of the PC duty. We did pick up two sub contacts there, and I think one of them was a positive one. We fired two different runs, but the ships were steaming at twenty knots or twenty-one knots; and because we could only make twenty-three, we couldn't stay long. We just had to report it. We figured that the submarines could only go twenty-three, so they couldn't catch us anyway; but we did have two different incidents, and I have copies of those reports at home.

That went on for six months, and that's when I went back to Miami again. We always cleared through Sub Chaser School.

Donald R. Lennon:

On the convoys that you were doing when you were the only ship protecting a convoy or a ship like you were with the LURLINE, you mentioned you were out in front of it. Were you really providing that much protection? Did the protection end, in the case of the LURLINE that was going fast enough that unless the submarine. . . .

Richard E. Warner:

With the LURLINE, we didn't provide any. On the LURLINE case, we had gone out that night. They came along and met me in the daytime, and the LURLINE would zig-zag. I guess it was the INDIANAPOLIS that caused all the furor right at the end of the war, and he wasn't zig-zagging. He almost rammed the sub apparently.

END OF SIDE ONE OF CASSETTE ONE

Richard E. Warner:

Okay. It was one of the convoys where we had started out in Key West, supposedly going to Guantanamo. We were supposed to take the other allied ships that were in this group, and they all pooped out at the sea buoy and went back to Key West. So, we ended



up with six little SCs. I was riding one of them, and we went into Guantanamo. We had heard ahead of time that this Commander Fuqua, who had been a gunnery officer on the ARIZONA and was badly disfigured from being blown overboard, was the commandant of the Guantanamo Navy Base, and we had heard that he had a soft heart for ships that showed some--whatever you might call it--flagging(?). So we decided to get the people in white uniforms--each ship's company which were twenty people per ship. We proceeded under a flag hoist after we had gotten the convoy in safely. Usually when you got there, you'd have to go out for gunnery practice and ASW work, and so forth. So, the six of us came in and made quite an impression on the Commander. We all six went up to the fuel dock; and just about the time we arrived, a station wagon came down and wanted to see the officer in charge of the group, which was myself. When I went to the office, he sat down. He was badly mutilated, you'd call it, disfigured. He just glared at me for a minute and he said, "You're either a smart-ass or a smart man, one or the other." He said, "This is the best unit we've ever seen come in here, and what can we do to help you?"

I told him that in the first place, we heard that we had to go out for gunnery practice and anti-submarine training, and I said that we were pretty apt at that now. He said, "That will be fine. You don't have to do that." I also said that we'd like to go to Santiago for liberty and he said, "That's out of bounds."

I said, "We heard that possibly we could go."

He said, "Okay, we'll send one ship."



I said, "Well, there's a total of six."

He kind of looked at me and said, "O.K., go. Be back here by noon." So we took off and had a great time, of course. The Bacardi Rum gardens were opened up especially for us, and we had instructed the crews that they would have to do their own self-discipline, you might say, if somebody was late getting back. Fortunately, some of them came back in rickshaws and what have you; but they got there at nine o'clock, and we got back to Guantanamo in time and had a great time. Other units that came in tried the same thing and they didn't get away with it.

After that deal, I put my six months in. In my own estimation, it put me back six months as far as the line of progression for promotion. I went back to Miami to Sub Chaser Training School, because every time we changed commands we went through Miami. So I went back to Miami, and that was only for a week that time. Just before my week was over, they called me into the personnel office in Miami and said that they were rushing me up to Brooklyn Navy Yard to relieve the present executive officer on the KENDALL C. CAMPBELL.

Donald R. Lennon:

This was in 1945, by this time?

Richard E. Warner:

No. This was 1944. This was in September . . . either the 27th of August or right in there, but at the end of August or the first of September to relieve this officer that the captain had given unsatisfactory fitness reports to. They told me to go home to the Navy quarters that we had, which was a hotel that they commandeered. I went up by train, I



remember, and arrived in New York at midnight or just before. I went over to the KENDALL C. CAMPBELL which was tied up in the Navy yard after it had come back from shakedown and was getting the final check-out to be on its way.

The next morning, probably at nine o'clock or something like that, 0900, I finally met Captain Johnson for the first time. He was a resident of New York, so he was just on the ship for a few minutes. The only thing he told me, he said, "I don't give a darn what you do with the ship, but I want an ice cream machine." This is another one of our funny stories, you might say. He wanted an ice cream machine.

I said, "Is that all?" I'm trying to find the ship's complement list. He had given a couple of other officers unsatisfactory fitness reports, and apparently their shakedown out of Bermuda was just not successful. I'm sure other ships went through the same thing. So I went ashore very quickly and went to the supply depot, and I figured it shouldn't be hard to order an ice cream machine. I found out very quickly that it wasn't allowed on a destroyer escort. It wasn't part of the equipment that went on it.

Donald R. Lennon:

I thought it had to be a battleship to have an ice cream machine.

Richard E. Warner:

I don't know about that. I went ashore, looked in the Yellow Pages, and I looked at a couple of wholesale supply places; and there was no such thing as an ice cream machine that could go on a DE. One thing led to another and early evening, I went to the officer's club and I was sitting next to Franklin Roosevelt, Jr., who was the skipper of the MOORE, the DE442. He had shaken down with the 443, and the first thing he asked me, "How are



you getting along with the new skipper?" I said I hadn't had a chance to really get along with him because I met him this morning. I told him that the only thing the skipper told me was that he didn't give a damn what else I did, but he wanted an ice cream machine on board. So, Franklin turned to one of his junior officers that happened to be propped up at the bar, too. He said, "Have we got one on ours?"

The guy said, "I don't know." So he sent him down to the ship and he came back in a few minutes and he said, "No."

Franklin said it would be a pretty good idea, so he said, "I'll call my dad."

Donald R. Lennon:

Nice to have family in high places.

Richard E. Warner:

So the phone call went to the White House, and very soon the President was on the line, and he was talking just like any other father would. He told Frank when we were going to leave, which was in a couple days, where we were going to go, and so forth and so on. He said, "Right here in the office, there's three or four guys with lots of gold braid on them, but none of them know anything about ice cream machines," he said, "I'll have to call you back." Things went on for fifteen, twenty minutes. In the meantime, Franklin went to the head. At this time, the telephone rang. I answered it, and it was the President. He said, "This is President Roosevelt."

I said, "Yes sir."

He said, "Is Frank there?"

I said, "Well, he went to the head. He'll be back in a couple minutes," or something



like that.

He said, "Just tell him that I've got an ice cream machine for him, and it will be in Norfolk for him when you arrive in a couple days."

I said, "Just a minute. We need two." I said, "I'm the one that put Frank onto this idea that we don't have an ice cream machine. I'm only the exec on the 443, but my skipper told me that that is all he wants is an ice cream machine, for right now anyway."

He said, "Okay, we'll get you one there, too." In the meantime, Franklin got on the phone, and they said good-bye and so forth. So I had the distinction of talking to the President of the United States to tell him his son was in the bathroom. When we did take off, we picked up two brand new tankers, and we went to Norfolk. No, I guess the tankers were in Norfolk, so we just went down by ourselves. Not much of a trip, but as we were coming into the Chesapeake, here came a couple of big barges with cranes on them and tow boats.

My skipper was an anxious guy anyway and he said, "What's that? What's that?"

I said, "Probably your ice cream machine is coming."

Sure enough, that's what it was. They took us into the Navy yard and the cranes were required, because they were too big to get down the companionways. So they had to cut out part of the whole afterdeck house on both of the ships, lift them up, and put the ice cream machine down.

Donald R. Lennon:

They were that large?



Richard E. Warner:

They're big. They were big stainless steel ones and, of course, the companionways were maybe thirty inches wide. So, then the sequel to that is that at this reunion that I just came from, I was telling the story about the ice cream machines. One of the firemen who's from North Carolina said, "Maybe that's the reason the first one disappeared."

I said, "Tell me the story quickly."

He said that when Captain Johnson came on board, he had one of these little wooden bucket things that had the cast iron wheel with the crank on the side. He said he had the mess attendants right there by his companionway that went down in the fire room number one. They were sitting there all day long turning the crank on this little ice cream machine, and that went on for most of the shakedown. But about a day or so out of New York when they were coming back, it disappeared. So when the Captain found out that his ice cream machine was gone, he put the crew on general quarters. He told them that they were going to stay at general quarters until he found his ice cream machine, or whoever threw it overboard admitted they threw it overboard. These guys said the officers talked to them and tried to convince them. They were in general quarters for well over twelve hours, and they never did find the ice cream machine. So to me, it's the sequel of “Mr. Roberts” [a movie] when Ensign Pulver ran up finally and threw the damn palm tree overboard.

Donald R. Lennon:

How did the CO react to this?

Richard E. Warner:

Who?

Donald R. Lennon:

Did your commanding officer react to getting this huge ice cream machine?



Richard E. Warner:

No. No. I never got a thank you out of it, but he ate ice cream all the time. He ate ice cream and drank New Orleans chicory coffee.

Donald R. Lennon:

He didn't even acknowledge that you'd done anything extraordinary?

Richard E. Warner:

No. This is fifty years later, but we had a lot of problems with it. He told me it's customary, and you have to do it. At eight o'clock in the morning, you give the eight o'clock report to the captain. Eight o'clock at night, you give a report. You tell him the chronometer has been wound, or the quartermaster is supposed to do all that junk, see. He would just grunt at you, but the next definite thing he'd say, "I'm senior to that damn Roosevelt." He had more numbers than Frank. So he said, "He's not going to get ahead of me on anything."

So we picked up two tankers, left Norfolk, and we escorted them down the coast. We went to Aruba, and they were taking on fuel. At one o'clock in the morning we arrived in Aruba, and he said, "Where's the entrance?"

The executive officer was responsible for navigation. I said, "It's right dead ahead of you Captain, maybe two miles or what have you." He cranks up the engine and gets us going again, and I reminded him that in the first place we were escorting tankers; we were supposed to wait until we got them safely in behind the net at Aruba, and the second thing was that the net was closed.

He said, "No it isn't." He said, "I'm going in." So, we went in at ten knots. The net was closed, so consequently we hit the net. It bent it this way and bent the tug on the one



side of the net. The two story barge that housed the personnel came and hit us sideways, see.

He said, "What's that?"

I said, "Hell, the net's closed. You can't get in." Then, they finally opened the net. That's not an exaggerated story.

Donald R. Lennon:

They didn't do any kind of investigation of him trying to go through the net when it was closed?

Richard E. Warner:

No, they didn't. We left for Panama. The tankers were only in there, and there was enough time to load. Then we take off again and we go to Panama. We hit Panama a couple days later. We hit it in the morning, and the two tankers and ourselves had lockage together. We went through and we got on the other side, because the tankers are fast. So we got through in one day, made passage. Then another episode shows up. He asks, "Where do we go? Where do we go?"

I said, "It's the dock right ahead there." We got about five hundred feet parallel from the dock, and he said, "Get the lines over." Well there was no way, and so we finally got some line throwing guns out. In the meantime we were going back and forth and back and forth, and young Roosevelt just slides in right ahead of us. Over the side, he's up the dock, and they're off. They're going on liberty, and we're out there going back and forth. Our engineering officer, Chet Hickey who was a mustang lieutenant now, a damn good guy, had a hell of a temper. Somewhere in the interim when we were still about three hundred feet



away from the dock and we maybe had the heaving lines over by this time or the gun throwing lines over, Hickey comes up with his bell book in his hand and told Captain Johnson, just like an umpire to a baseball player, "This bell book, I can't even write them down as fast as you're giving me the signals, as well as do anything about it." Old Johnson tells him he's going to put him on a report. In the meantime, we're working in closer. This went on for a while and somewhere in the interim when we got close enough, there was a German tanker that had been interned. It was there and tied to the dock right ahead of us, and we were going about two thirds ahead at the time. Our bow went right into the stern of the tanker and just opened it up, just like you would a can of tuna or something. It just put the shape of our bow in the back of them.

Donald R. Lennon:

He didn't even know how to go about coming alongside a dock?

Richard E. Warner:

No. He was a terrible ship handler. This guy was something else.

Donald R. Lennon:

I'm surprised he didn't turn it over to you to bring it in.

Richard E. Warner:

This was coming. This comes, but this is why to me, I just couldn't understand it. A destroyer escort, you can go back and dot the 'I' when you write a message. This was steam turbine, the best class of all the destroyer escorts. There will be some argument by the ones that have the turboelectric. There he had to go report to somebody, but he came back, and we were underway at about ten o'clock.

Donald R. Lennon:

It didn't do any damage to the. . .?

Richard E. Warner:

Oh sure. It made our bow look like we hit something. You're always pretty proud



of your own ship and you don't like to see a dent go in it or anything. The bow just creased, and it did a lot of damage to that German tanker.

Then we went up to San Diego. Then from San Diego, just a quick stop in San Pedro. We picked up a battleship, the COLORADO maybe, and we escorted her over to the Islands. Then, we were to leave the next morning for the Lingayen--no for the Leyte Gulf operation. At that time, there was a sinking of a merchant ship between San Francisco and Honolulu. So they sent us out again just as soon as we had fueled, and then we took off. There was a carrier, the CORREGIDOR, I believe it was CVE. So we went back and searched for that sub. In a way we were fortunate, because we were on the tail end of the ruckus at Leyte Gulf. We weren't in that group of the light carriers. One of our group--I forget the number--but one of the four hundreds, the Butler class, was sunk in that deal when they made the run on the deal. So, that got us over to Leyte Gulf..

Then we came back to Ulithi. We went out to the last of the Leyte Gulf Operation, and there we were with the TULAGI CVE72, which we were with for a good nine months. We were her escort. We had, normally, Roosevelt's ship, and we had the 441 and then the GAUSS (444) joined us.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were you having problems with Johnson during this time?

Richard E. Warner:

We had all kinds of problems with him. For example, we would have to keep eighty percent of our fuel capacity filled. We would fuel from our carrier every other day, and he was terrible at that. That was something else, too. He would go in and out. Those



big, six-inch fuel lines coming over, the two of them. They'd pop them, and the fuel would go all over the place. We'd also ram the carrier, and so later on when there were suicide planes and they started keeping track of the planes the carrier shot down, they had a picture of the plane. For every plane, they had a chevron down here. Every sub, not a positive but a sub contact, we had that and then right over on the same side, up on the bridge was a big 443 with chevrons underneath it. That was every time we rammed the carrier.

Donald R. Lennon:

He didn't particularly like that?

Richard E. Warner:

It was sad. It was just sad.

Donald R. Lennon:

Didn't anyone above him and realize how poor of a job he was doing?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, but as it developed--I didn't realize it--it's been confirmed afterwards by one of these DECO deals who is a retired president of Prudential Insurance Company, so I would say his judgment was pretty good. He was the first officer, and Johnson was talking about the exec. on a DE in Alaska. When that DECO and I got into a conversation he said, "Who are you talking about?"

I said, "Well, it's Johnson."

"My god," he said, "I was the exec." He said, "He was an alcoholic."

So I said, "Well my impression of him as it developed, he was a coward; but it may be the combination." Maybe he had to take a stiff one or what have you. Like when we would come alongside to fuel. Once you get alongside, the carrier would say I'm doing eight knots and they'd give you the course. So we'd set the turns on the propellers, and you



can stay right there. He wouldn't. He'd ring up two-thirds, so we'd be going ahead this way and going back that way.

Donald R. Lennon:

Do you believe he didn't know any better?

Richard E. Warner:

I don't think he did. He wouldn't listen to anybody. He wouldn't associate with any of the officers. I was a true executive officer. I had to be a son of a bitch, because what was developing there was this old James Cagney deal where he spent all his time sitting in the chair on the bridge. Down in lower latitudes where it was hot, a fireman would come out to get fresh air, and he wouldn't have a shirt on or something like that. He would then bull horn me, "Warner, Warner, report to the bridge! There's a guy down there without his shirt on. Put him on report."

I would try to evade any captain's masts or anything like that just trying to forget it for a while, but he was something else as far as this is concerned. Then the real trouble started for me. Then when we were maneuvering with the carriers--I might be talking too much.

Donald R. Lennon:

No. Go right ahead.

Richard E. Warner:

Ok. When we were maneuvering with the carriers, we would form the umbrella out in front. So they would come over the radio, "We're going to launch planes or take on planes." They'd have to come into the wind, because their maximum speed was nineteen knots. We'd get the message, and my station was in CIC as exec. I had a great crew in CIC, they were good.



All you can do to a captain is suggest, and he'd holler down, "What'd they say?"

We'd say, "Well at the signal of execute, we scramble. We suggest you go to course such and such, and speed such and such; and in eight minutes, we'll be in position," and it always worked. The other ships knew what we were going to do, so there was no problem of collisions at night.

This guy, the first thing he'd say is, "That's not right," and that type of stuff.

So, I'd try to correct him. I'd say, "This is what we suggest, Captain."

"That's not right."

So, sometimes, when we're supposed to turn right, he'd go left. Then about two minutes later by the time the reaction would come through the other ships on the radar screen--our call name was Madonna--"Madonna, what are you doing? Where are you going now Madonna? Watch out. Watch out," and so forth. We had some pretty near collisions. This went on for a long time. The CIC crew, we talked about which way he's going to say this time, left or right or what have you. We figured if we were to give him the wrong information, and we hit the carrier or we hit the other escort, we're at fault for sure. So we kept giving him the right information, but this was just driving us absolutely nuts.

One time in the Lingayen Gulf Operation, for example, our maneuver was to stop and wait for eight minutes. Then the course was a direct reciprocal of what we come up. The carrier was going to make a big loop. Then he gave us the old, "This is not right." So he rings up flank speed. By the time the maneuver was over and the other ships were in



position, we were twenty-three miles out of station; because they were going nineteen knots this way, and we were going twenty-three and a half in the other direction.

Donald R. Lennon:

No one was. . . ?

Richard E. Warner:

Finally the Division Commander did, but he was staying on Roosevelt's ship. He wouldn't come on ours.

Donald R. Lennon:

But it looks like he could see that this ship was. . . .

Richard E. Warner:

It was nighttime, but he knew what was going on. This type of stuff was just driving me batty. When we were coming through Suragao Straits in the Philippines, below Manila, for the Lingayen Gulf Operation was when we got into our first attack--suicide planes. In CIC, we had them all plotted. It was kind of serious because we were just two abreast. We weren't in a large formation, because it's narrow through there. There was some shore fire coming at us, too. It was at nighttime; and in this one particular incident, there was a slug of suicides coming. We had them all plotted. The gunnery officer, Frank Fisher, was a private school instructor from somewhere up in Massachusetts. He was a pretty good gunnery officer. We kept giving him the deals and telling him where to put the fifties. And then they kept coming in, and coming in, and coming in. The other ships, we could hear them shooting. Finally, in the sound-powered phones to Frank, I said, "What the hell is the matter? How come we're not firing?"

He said, "You better come up and look at the Captain."

I said, "Well I'll come right up, but you start shooting." So I went up there. The



poor guy was huddled in the corner and down with his life jacket and his helmets. That was okay. We got through it alright. As soon as that was over he called me down to his cabin, and I stood there. He didn't ever let me sit down, never did.

He said, “Don't you say a word to anybody.”

I said, “I won't Captain,” but I said, “It will be all over the ship. It probably is already, what happened, you know.” I said, “I can't keep that from spreading,” but I said, “if it happens again, you and I are going to have a nice big talk.” So of course it happened again, and we took a whole series of attacks. A 441 took a suicide plane right alongside of us. That's when the OMNIBAY got it, and a friend of mine was killed; two killed on the bridge of the CALIFORNIA. Then I told him, “Hell, I just don't know. I'm going to come up on the bridge when we go to general quarters. I suggest you just go to your cabin.” The first time he didn't, and then he started going to his cabin. The Division Commander hadn't picked this up yet. Well we went on like that.

We went onto Lingayen, came back, and then we went on to Iwo Jima. Now Iwo Jima wasn't bad for us. One time we went into Saipan and took a pretty good licking, but the Iwo Jima was okay. [In fact we went and saw the monument, this weekend, the new one--which is new for me.] We were anchored right there, and we saw that flag go up on the hill. We were the mail boat of all things, anchored after having been there for ten days. Then, maybe I'm rambling too much. I might be a little one sided on this, but then finally the orders came through in April for Leyte after Iwo Jima, and Okinawa was in process.



We almost ran aground in Okinawa at Kerama Rhetto. We didn't maneuver fast enough. Then--I laugh about this--Lieutenant Oberg was the Communications Officer, and we were all missing messages. We also had a Supply Officer on board. We carried a doctor for a while, and so I had them working in communications; but by the time you had to change strip cyphers every four hours, it was kind of ridiculous. That was the case, but Oberg says there's one message I'll never miss is when the order comes in for the captain's transfer. Well you can imagine what happened. Oberg missed it, and Roosevelt's ship came along side of us; on the big bullhorn this guy says, “Have you received the good news?”

“What news is that?” I can see Oberg just crawling back in a hole there.

He said, “Well, you haven't received it?”

“No. We don't know what you're talking about.”

He said, “Well, you've got orders. You can go home.” That meant that he was going home. So we very quickly made arrangements, and the relief showed up pretty fast since he came off another DE.

So I was still exec. Then a few days later my orders came, but it was in the same transaction. I had hoped to be able to take command, but they knew there was so much involvement around and so forth. So a guy by the name of Elmer replaced Johnson. I got the crew in whites--we stopped along the way somewhere--and we had the official transfer of command of the ship. I announced to the crew that Captain Johnson would be leaving, that he'd be on the port gangway for a half hour, and that they could come by and pay their



respects. You know, the only person who was talking to him was me. I was standing there talking to him. The officers wouldn't come near him, nor would any of the enlisted men.

So the whaleboat came alongside, and the crew was dressed in white with the coxswain standing back there like they do, you know. You could see the look on their faces. You knew something was going to happen. Sure enough, we got R. Windor in the boat. The coxswain takes it up to the bow of the ship, and he's about forty feet off. He does a one-eighty, comes right down the side of the ship, and the Captain receives a barrage of tomatoes and potatoes. The guys get on the siren and the horn, and it was just awful. The guy turned around the stern and came right back again, and they gave him another barrage. So, it wasn't a happy ship. Then, you can imagine when I had to try to explain this to the new skipper that came on.

Donald R. Lennon:

Why was your communicator officer not receiving the messages?

Richard E. Warner:

Well, he wasn't that good of a communicator officer.

Donald R. Lennon:

That's what it was?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, he was lazy. Yes, he was frightened. I just couldn't understand the junior officers. They were young. They hadn't any experience. They came on there, and it was their first duty. You try to instruct them. If you see something and you're going to bump into it unless it's a mine or what have you, the first instinct of anybody is to turn and get away from it. I said, “Don't do that on a ship. You head right for it until you figure out what it is,” and so forth and things like that. The crew got pretty good after a while. Oberg-



- why he missed the message, I just don't know. I'm sure he missed some others. I think the Navy was crazy. When I had my little sub chaser out in the Atlantic, They'd send this stuff to us in, what was it? One of the names was Helid. I remember the strip cipher, and you'd have to change that every four hours. Well, that little sub chaser had one radioman. He couldn't stay open twenty-four hours. There were two officers, and we were standing watch; so the messages would come in, and we had no way of checking them. Out in the Atlantic, they finally started talking in plain English. If it was very important and if they had a possible sub in a certain area, they had kind of a typical book code where we'd look in a book or something like that. Whatever it was, you could write it out or figure it out quickly if the radioman got most of it.

As far as the operations are concerned, in Okinawa we were on the picket line sixty-nine days. As I say, we bless it that the carrier TULAGI had air coverage up. We must have plotted some of them when we were off Manila coming in. They went in and hit the OMNIBAY . A couple flew right over us. We'd missed them. They came in unnoticed by both rings. On that particular operation when we were going up to Lingayen Gulf, it was the advance forces. We didn't have any troops or anything, but it had some of the old battle wagons. I remember an old four-stack cruiser, the AUGUSTA (or something like that) was in there. As we were going by Manila, a couple of Jap destroyers came out from Manila. They were ahead of us; and the old omen is just get them in our sights, and we'll shoot them. The old cruisers up ahead were shooting at him, and they couldn't hit him. So they



took three or four carriers, and OMNIBAY was one of them. They said the first one that reports ready with torpedoes. . . . They were bombing the shore as they went by. They were bombing Manila. So they brought the planes back in, and then were going back towards them. By this time, they were up over the horizon. When the OMNIBAY got it, they weren't the ones that were going to go get him. But, unfortunately, their bombs were all sitting on the flight deck. That was a horrible mess, that thing. It was just an inferno.

The last couple months, we were with a supply task force where we had escort carriers that had replacement planes. The planes had to be hoisted off the deck, because they couldn't fly them off since their below decks were full and there's stuff on top. We were just going back and forth, just off shore about twenty miles. I know we got detached, and we were one of the first to go in. We went into the Yokosuka Navy Base, and we were in there about ten days before the official surrender. The thirteenth of August or fourteenth, we received a radio dispatch--we were right in there--to cease all offensive operations. Everybody was relaxing considerably; and all of a sudden, we spotted a one-man torpedo submarine that was between ourselves and the DE on the other side. They beat us to it, and they hit him. It was launched by a mother sub, and we didn't get credit for sinking. They never could verify that, but that could have been the last submarine that was sunk during war.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were you still on the KENDALL C. CAMPBELL at that time?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, I couldn't get off. My relief didn't show up. I had been assigned to the



GEORGE. In fact on one of the trips when we went into Guam, we tied right alongside of the GEORGE just soon after. So, that would have been in late April. I moved all my clothes over aboard the GEORGE. This Fred Just--I remember talking to him and I said, "It shouldn't be long. My relief will show up." Well his name was Olson, and he didn't show up until the war was over when we were down in Subic Bay. I was on there for about four months. The skipper wouldn't let me go. I really wanted to get on the GEORGE, and I know Just wanted to get home, I'm sure.

I give all credit to the air coverage we had. It was interesting in this last reunion, one of the attendees was an ensign at the time, and we had picked him up. He was off the HOGGATTBAY and had gotten shot down, and we picked him up. He was very, very happy about that.

Donald R. Lennon:

I bet.

Richard E. Warner:

We probably salvaged thirty or forty aviators, we picked them up. Unfortunately, some of them, particularly the TBFs that had a man down in the bottom there, had a hard time getting them out. We got to the point, particularly after Johnson got off, that we were the ones that they liked. We were on what you call plane guard station, five hundred yards astern and ten degrees over to starboard. So at nighttime and even the daytime, our truck light on the mast was the indicator that they were five hundred yards away from the carrier and that they were so high above the deck. That's one of the reasons we picked up a lot of them where they'd crash getting on there.



There was one episode way back when we were with the CORREGIDOR going back to San Francisco, and they had a brand new air wing on there. One night they had a hard time getting the squadron back on, and they ditched about nine planes. The pilots were inexperienced, and it was fairly rough out there, and so they ditched them. They crashed a couple trying to land them. It took them a while to clear up the mess, and so they had to ditch the rest.

Donald R. Lennon:

It'd be easier to ditch them than it would be to crash them.

Richard E. Warner:

Another episode just before the war ended was that one of the escort carriers was completely loaded with fighter planes, and I guess good ones. Like you laughed that the SC cost one hundred and twenty-one thousand, so an airplane in those days cost maybe two hundred and fifty thousand or something. The main fleet and the large carriers were off somewhere, and they got fogged in. Their little boys couldn't find the carrier. We were in the clearer weather, so they told this escort carrier and he said, “I haven't got any room to land these guys.”

They said, “Well, throw them [the planes] overboard.” So, they started unloading all these brand new planes that were replacements, so that they could get the existing guys back. That was typical, which was okay when you think about it. When they were halfway through, they finally told them, “Whatever we told you to do, don't do it now.”

They said, “Well, we got rid of half of them already.”

Donald R. Lennon:

Trading one plane for another plane with a pilot.



Richard E. Warner:

Oh yes, well the pilots were valuable. I had all respect for them. As soon as they got ready to leave the deck, I had a sigh of relief.

END OF CASSETTE ONE

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you ever have any indication of what happened to Captain Johnson?

Richard E. Warner:

Well he was a sick man, and they sent him home; meaning he must have been hospitalized or what have you. R. Windor Johnson, it was. I don't know what the R. stood for, probably Robert. We figured he was probably born in 1900; so at this time, which was 1945, he was forty-five years old.

Donald R. Lennon:

He was a reserve officer?

Richard E. Warner:

R. Windor Johnson was a seaman, a signalman in World War I at seventeen years old. From what I gathered, he was not a talkative man. You know usually in other ships with a wardroom, you would play cards--and there was none of that going on. I had an awfully hard time trying to get a meeting of the officers where he would tell us basically what he wanted to do. He would never make a ship inspection. I inspected the ship every week--a portion of it.

Donald R. Lennon:

He just stayed off to himself.

Richard E. Warner:

He was absolutely removed from us. We didn't have any real chance to go ashore. Of course, the first thing that got set up in Leyte Gulf was the officers' club. I remember going ashore to the officers' club. Hell, I probably saw twenty or thirty people that I knew, but old R. Windor wouldn't go. He was absolutely aloof. He would come down, eat



breakfast, and I was to give him the reports. Naturally I'd sit to his right and Chet Hickey, the mustang, to his left. The rest of the officers wouldn't show up. They'd wait until he left the wardroom, and then they'd come in and have breakfast.

Donald R. Lennon:

They just didn't want to be around him.

Richard E. Warner:

They were scared to death of him. The third officer when I reported was a guy by the name of Coleman, who was a lieutenant--our first lieutenant. He had been on a destroyer. In those days if you had anybody that had previous sea duty, you at least thought you had experience. He gave Coleman an unsatisfactory fitness report.

Donald R. Lennon:

What about your fitness reports?

Richard E. Warner:

Did he have to prepare them?

Donald R. Lennon:

Prepare any on you?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, he prepared two on me. They were both bad, and I wouldn't sign them,

Donald R. Lennon:

What did he claim that you did wrong?

Richard E. Warner:

There was no claim to it.

Donald R. Lennon:

He just put unsatisfactory?

Richard E. Warner:

Unsatisfactory.

Donald R. Lennon:

Without any explanation of what you had done?

Richard E. Warner:

Nothing. That's right. If you get an unsatisfactory fitness report, you have to sign it and agree that the statements on there are maybe not correct or you don't believe in his judgment. I just wouldn't sign it. I told him, “If you want to go ahead and write up a letter



and explain why, you go ahead. Then I'll review it and so forth.” But Coleman, he signed his quickly and got off. I don't know what would happen to an individual like that.

Donald R. Lennon:

Anyone who plans on making a career of the Navy . . . bad fitness report and you're dead.

Richard E. Warner:

Oh, you're out of luck, oh yes. Johnson was not a businessman. I think he was a wealthy New Yorker, had been in World War I, and he had influence. He had connections of sorts, and he got a commission. The only duty that I know he had after he got his commission: he was the personnel officer at the Sub Chaser Training Center in Miami. That's where all of the assignments went out, where they notified BUPERS who to send out the orders and what we were going to be on the various ships. He was down at SCTC for quite a while. Then when he did go out, he was on this DE as exec. I mentioned this guy who told me his opinion of him. He's only on that, at the most, six months as executive officer. I've never seen anyone as incapable as that guy was. It had to be something, whether it was alcohol. . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

When you're in the middle of continuous engagements, you can't afford someone like that.

Richard E. Warner:

Oh, no. There's no way. That's what happened on the GEORGE. They got him off at Manus, and this Fred Just, who didn't have any training--he had enlisted as a physical education guy--ended up on a DE as eecutive officer. He was older and he came in as a lieutenant. He got in that position, but they had the same problem with their division



commander, a guy by the name of Hanes. All of that stuff should come in, if for example, they want to get a file going on the GEORGE. I don't quite understand why John Wilkerson doesn't have one. You read that stuff--the correspondence--and he's very sincere about what he did. I don't blame him. He is entitled to the decorations and so forth that he got; however, at the same time the others were right with him, working with him. I think they should be entitled to the same thing. You read that stuff, maybe there's a couple paragraphs on Heath Angelo, who was a reserve officer . . . HAZELWOOD, I guess he was on. [Hazelwood I think is a friend of mine . . . they got hit badly. I think he's the one that brought it back to the States, but he was an engineering officer.] But anyhow, Heath Angelo explains a little bit, trying to . . . I told him, I said, “Write, so I can tell those people on the GEORGE that in the opinion of a person like yourself,” because this Hillyer who was just a--and I shouldn't say this--but he was just a baker on the GEORGE and he claims that Williamson falsified the location of the ship and all that stuff. That's not right. There were a lot of times we didn't know where we were. Everybody had a terrible time to try to get the officer of the deck, when he got off of a four-hour watch to write his log up. You have to try to get them to write their damn logs. And then, the ship's history is the responsibility of the exec. officer, but you take that from the logs.

Donald R. Lennon:

What would you have done here on the KENDALL C. CAMPBELL if at general quarters the Captain had not surrendered the command to you as he did?

Richard E. Warner:

I would have just taken it over. There were people threatening to throw him



overboard. The way he got the crew all upset . . . and I was in a terrible position. I would stand there in the morning and give him the eight o'clock reports. I would have the chiefs all lined up prior to that. He'd make me stand at attention in his stateroom. I never sat down in a chair in his stateroom. He'd say things like, “You don't know what you're doing,” and “That's not right,” and all that stuff. We were just about ready to--I shouldn't say throw him overboard--but we were ready to basically put him in hack ourselves. Of course, the Division Commander was aware of this towards the end. It was a terrible situation. How we ever won the war that way, I don't know.

Donald R. Lennon:

You could have ended up on the wrong side of a court martial yourself.

Richard E. Warner:

Sure, it was in the Caine Mutiny that that happened�where the other officers were encouraging that guy to do it, and then they turned on him. Of course, that came after, so that wasn't anything to use as an example. Truthfully, I don't know. I used to work twenty-two hours. An executive officer can sleep at night, but I never did. Whenever we went to flight stations, I was up in CIC. I have nightmares over the guy still. But when I get confirmation from even a few of the crew who realized this. . . . As for the junior officers, it was almost like Ensign Pulver. If you remember in that deal where he goes up the ladder, and the captain is coming down the ladder. He says, “Are you new on board?”

“No sir.”

“What are your duties? How long have you been on board?”

He says, “Fourteen months.”



That came in “Mr. Roberts” [the movie]. That's the way these junior officers were. They'd hide from him. I'll mention to you again, one of the good things I did was the fact that (not to belittle the education system in North Carolina), but these guys--their daddies were bootleggers or what-have-you--were terrific mechanics. They'd get an old Ford V-8 and soup it up so it will go one hundred miles an hour. When we got them on board, maybe ten of them had never had shoes on before. There was really a lot of illiteracy. They really wanted to learn, and we taught them all how to read and write.

Donald R. Lennon:

I wonder what part of North Carolina they were from?

Richard E. Warner:

One guy that showed up for the deal was a farmer and had mules. His son just got out of the Navy as a lieutenant commander, so he's a college graduate. So I don't know about him. His name is Kitchen, but really I don't know. We had almost thirty guys over the hill when we left Brooklyn Navy Yard.

Another thing that I forgot to put in there was when we were in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. After we got the ice cream machine lined up, we didn't get it on. We were supposed to get underway at eight o'clock on a certain morning. Well, the shipyard had people come on and they said, “Hey there's no way. We're not finished yet.”

I said, “Okay., I'll tell the Captain.” I told Hickey, the engineering officer. I said, “There's no way. I couldn't get underway if we wanted to.” We were tied alongside of Roosevelt. We had welding lines over and everything else.

So somewhere along the line R. Windor said, “You're going to get underway.” He



goes down to Hickey, the engineering officer, and Hickey lights off the boilers. We were actually tied to the dock still with mooring lines. This guy was just giving me hell about it.

I said, “Nobody can report manned and ready as far as the special sea detail is concerned, nobody.” I said, “We're tied to the dock.” He was just chewing the hell out of me, and he actually put the damn things in back, and everybody looks around.

Donald R. Lennon:

With it tied to the dock?

Richard E. Warner:

With it tied to the dock. He conned Hickey into it and Hickey was a regular Navy mustang. He says, “The captain says to get those engines ready to go. I'm going to do it whether the damn thing is tied to the dock or not!” That was a pretty good shocker.

Donald R. Lennon:

What about Frank Roosevelt?

Richard E. Warner:

Hell of a guy, and he operated a good ship. Now there's a guy here who lives in Raleigh who was his exec. Eventually he was skipper of the MOORE. He ought to be participating in this. He's an attorney. I'll figure out his name and get it to you. He ended up being skipper of the MOORE, Roosevelt's ship. When Frank's father died. . . . Franklin and his father didn't get along very well; they didn't get along at all. Frank didn't want to go home. He said, “To hell with it. They don't need me.” But he got orders, and so he was transferred. He was a good guy. In Panama when we got through the Canal---he was a pretty good ship handler--he just brought it right up and parked it. Boom! He went ashore, and they came back with a pretty good truckload of liquor.

Donald R. Lennon:

All of you were out there inching back and forth?



Richard E. Warner:

We were going back and forth, and back and forth.

Donald R. Lennon:

That would be pretty humiliating, wouldn't it?

Richard E. Warner:

Terrible, awful. Every time we'd come alongside of the TULAGI, the Captain---he's a jovial guy apparently---was talking over the bullhorn to us. We'd say, “Now take it easy this time, Captain. How about leaving us alone?” This time we'd come in, WHAM! We hit oilers.

Donald R. Lennon:

Once the war was over, you had no plans for trying to remain on active duty, did you?

[This next part is about the projected invasion of Japan.]

Richard E. Warner:

No. The only things that I thought was that I felt that I've never seen so much might massed in one place. We had our orders on board which we'd had for a couple months, secret orders. We were in the first wave. We were in the landing in the first wave, and they were very nice. They told you what your chances of survival were. We were fifty percent survival, and they were going to land two million men the first day. That was the landing-- two million and the casualties were supposed to be ten percent. We snuck in a couple nights. This was when Elmer was a captain, though. We took in underwater demolition guys. There's an island south of Yokosuka, at the entrance to the bay. There's an island in there. We'd sneak in behind that where we felt that we were getting protection from radar. We didn't realize that the Japanese didn't have radar, or very little. Their subs didn't have it. That's why in this deal where the GEORGE and the ENGLAND and the RABY picked up



those six ships--those six subs--they picked them up on radar first. They were up on the surface and they had a detector like they've got now--the buzz bomb or the buzz breaker or something. That would tell them--most of the figures I've read--at ten thousand yards they'd catch them. They'd disappear at ten. So they'd probably know that they were that far, but they didn't have radar on the shore and we thought they did. We'd take these guys in, let them off on the island, and they were going in trying to check out the lay of the land because the landing was going to be just below the entrance there to Yokosuka Navy Base. We did that four, five, six times. We had those guys on board for maybe three weeks. As I say, we had a different skipper that time. We'd stay and wait for them. That was a little harrowing.

I was really upset that this present skipper wouldn't let me go and go to the GEORGE. So, that was one thing that kind of had me shaken up. The second thing is that we were one of the first ships into Yokosuka. For a couple of days we, more or less, were escorts as these ships were starting to arrive. The troops were still quite a ways out. Then we started seeing the Third Fleet, I guess. We operated with all these things, but we'd never seen the great big carriers. We'd seen the old battleships and then all of a sudden, these ships started streaming in when we were at anchor at Yokosuka Navy Base. We wanted to take the ship up to Tokyo, and they wouldn't let us. We were stationed right there. There were a few others like ourselves. That was another thing. Then the thing that really just made it, because I was away from my wife now maybe a couple years, was that after the surrender---and I didn't care much for Mr. MacArthur---all these big ships started back.



Here they were just streaming out of there, flying their homeward bound pennants and so forth. I was still exec., and I made sure that any enlisted man or officer that had points could get out and get on those ships, which they did. We just sat there. There was no operations officer, and there were fifty-four LCTs that did get orders to go to Manila. They had troops on them. I said, “Hell, the last operations officer that I saw was in Manila,” so we said, “Hell, we'll escort you.” So, we escorted them down to Manila.

Donald R. Lennon:

Just to get down there, right?

Richard E. Warner:

To get down there. When we got down there, then they sent us to Subic Bay and that's when my relief showed up. But the CAMPBELL almost beat me home, because there was an air disturbance, a threat of a typhoon or something around. So I had to stay at Subic Bay for ten days before I got air transportation in a four-engine flying boat.

Donald R. Lennon:

So you never reported to the GEORGE at all, did you?

Richard E. Warner:

Not yet. I was reporting to. . . . There were no operations in the Tokyo area or Manila area. That was just gone, but Olson had orders that told me that I had to report to Honolulu, because the GEORGE was by this time back at the States and was coming back into the area. So, I was to report to Honolulu, which I did. After I finally got air transportation, I remember it took us fifty-two hours to fly to Honolulu from Subic Bay. They were just jammed in. Of course we were having a good time in a way, but we were jammed into this big four-engine flying boat. Also in order to get the thing off the water, some of us would have to get back in the tail end and jump to get the thing so that it would



hop out of the water. When they landed, they went from Subic Bay across to Leyte, where they refueled and so forth. The next deal was I guess, Saipan. They couldn't go to Ulithi, so it would be Saipan. There they hit a buoy in the harbor coming into Saipan and screwed up the wing float. We said, “Oh hell, we can wire that thing back.” So we worked on it for a few hours and got that thing wired back. Then we went from there to Eniwetok to Johnson Island and then to Honolulu.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were island hopping?

Richard E. Warner:

Oh yes, for fifty-two hours. Then when I got to Honolulu and I went in to report with my orders, they said, “Well, the GEORGE is back at the States and was coming out.”

I said, “I want to get out. I want to go home. Let me go home. Give me air transportation. I'll go home, and then I'll guarantee that I'll come back and take command of it.”

He said, “No, you can't do that. You've got to take over the GEORGE now.”

I said, “Well, what's the next thing?”

He said, “Well, you get discharged. You want to get out of the Navy, get out of the Navy.” So, I had to wait another week or so. They had started rigging up some of the CVEs to transport people. We had fifteen hundred on the CVE that I was on, and we're standing up there. In the meantime I'd run out of clothes, because they were all on the GEORGE, and so they called “Lieutenant Commander Warner.” I went up and talked to the people doing that, and they said, “You're the senior officer in charge of this detachment



going home.”

I said, “Who's next?” They told me who the next guy in rank was.

I said, “Well, call him up here.” I had good quarters going back, but the crowning blow was when we got to San Francisco. We were going into San Francisco Bay, and I knew that my wife was at Alameda Naval Air Station to meet me. Anyway, all of a sudden they turn and start circling the Farallones. I was rabid, of course, because I know San Francisco Bay. [I've sailed that for sixty years.] I told the captain--he was brand new and he was careful, I guess--I said, “Captain, I'll pilot the thing in for you.” I said, “I know San Francisco Bay forwards and backwards.”

He said, “No, you just keep out of this.”

I said, “Hell, if nothing else, I could take it and run it aground in Alameda, and we could get off.” We stayed out there for twenty-four hours, and we watched all the other ships go by during that day, just barreling into San Francisco.

Donald R. Lennon:

He wasn't willing to go in?

Richard E. Warner:

He wouldn't go in. He went in the next day. My wife wasn't there. She finally found out. I guess I had to call and tell her that, “Hell, I'm here,” the next day. So I figured, just get out.

Also, I was very upset---I never finished this subject---that here we had two million men that were going to invade the first day, and you just couldn't believe the size of the Navy.



Donald R. Lennon:

You know you're talking about ten percent casualties, and you're talking about two hundred thousand men.

Richard E. Warner:

That's what they're talking about, sure. They thought the Japs were really going to defend right to the end. Thank goodness for Truman and the atomic bomb. We saw the bloom of the first one. We were down that way. We saw it, though we didn't know what it was. We heard there was a mysterious bomb, which we couldn't believe. Then, they let the second one go four or five days later, which to me was a godsend. Hell, the Japs knew they didn't have any Navy left.

Donald R. Lennon:

They wouldn't have had any country left if they didn't quit.

Richard E. Warner:

We did the typical raising hell while we were in Yokosuka Navy Base. There was an old battleship, their last battleship. It was sitting on the mud when it was in Yokosuka, whole bunch of us went over--enlisted men and what-have-you. We went over, found the sake locker, typically, and guys got souvenirs off the ship. To one guy who was at our reunion whom I remembered, I said, “You're the guy that got Japanese lantern.” This is typical.

I'd been on the battleship with this group. There were a whole bunch of us on there. One morning about eight o'clock when we were nested, at anchor but nested, all of a sudden I heard this frantic voice that said, “Fire in the after magazine!” Then they sounded the General Quarters. That's the worst thing you can do. I'm in my skivvies. I had a fire extinguisher in my deck--which was right next to the ward room on the main deck level.



I'm running back there with this fire extinguisher, you know, and everybody is running to get off the boat and climb onto the next ship.

So I stopped at the gangway realizing it, and I said, “Belay General Quarters. Gunner's Mates and anybody who will volunteer, come on back. We're going back to that after magazine [of the 5-inch gun].” So I went running in. It was the next level below the deal, and that's where all the projectiles were in shelves around there, where they handed them up to the gunners. Sure enough, the whole damn thing was on fire, and there was a guy laying on the floor. I got the fire extinguisher and got him out. I got the fire extinguisher out, and then we got the fire out. We didn't know whether the thing was going to blow or not. [This kid, Nickerson his name was, was here for the reunion.] We had to haul him [Nickerson] off. He had to go to the hospital because he was pretty badly burned.

Donald R. Lennon:

What caused the fire?

Richard E. Warner:

It was a gas, like a Coleman lantern.

Donald R. Lennon:

It was that Japanese lantern?

Richard E. Warner:

It was a Japanese signal lantern that he'd brought back as a souvenir. He goes down in the magazine of all places to do it, and it blew up on him.

Donald R. Lennon:

Of all places.

Richard E. Warner:

He was lucky. That was one thing. Then I came back after seeing how we were. We were burnt a little bit, but not bad. I was hugging the guys that had the guts to come in and do it. Then we look over, and the other ships have cut us loose. They're the ones that



should have sent a Fire and Rescue Crew over.

One other thing we did, and I'm reminiscing too much, but we borrowed one of these---when we first got there---floating tanks with the great big wheels. I might have been the only officer, but there must have been thirty or forty enlisted men, and we all got in this damn thing. We went across the bay over to an airfield over there, and we landed over there. There was a whole regiment of the home guard, and they were all lined up there when they saw us coming. I had my lieutenant commander stripes on, and I guess I had my insignias on. Here we come driving down in this damn thing, and we just wanted to get some souvenirs and some scenery. These guys to us. One guy could speak English, at least one guy. So I said, “Just put all your guns in a pile and just don't cause any trouble. We're not going to cause any trouble. Go home. Go home.”

“You mean we can go home?”

I said, “Sure. You're not in the military anymore.” So, they pile all these guns and swords. We went through and we took back---there were about two hundred and twenty guys on the boat---about two hundred and fifty rifles, one for each. We took back swords and so forth, you know, for souvenirs for the guys that were back on the boat.

Donald R. Lennon:

Of course, that would get you court martialed today.

Richard E. Warner:

Yes it would, but we did that. We took them back. In the meantime, we had a flat tire in the damn thing, but we kept driving it. We brought those ashore and put them back on the fan tail. The next morning, there was just a stream of bubbles going straight down.



That thing had sunk, but nobody gave a damn anyway about it sinking. Then I heard from these guys later on that they were going through those guns; one of them blew up in somebody's hands and blew a couple fingers off, but that was after my time. So, they threw them over the side. That had to be after Subic Bay. It was quite an experience.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you left the Navy in San Francisco?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, I did. I was discharged in San Francisco the first of November, and, of course, with all that time in the Navy and no liberty, I had three months of leave saved up. I went back to my company, the company I had left five years before, to the same job that I had five years ago. The company had built munitions during the war. They had a couple of plants where they made one-hundred-and-five-millimeter shells. They made depth charges. They built a couple of Liberty Ships. They had fourteen plants, and then very quickly they went back to five plants they had. So my competition with that company was tough. I probably had a chip on my shoulder for sure with regards to draft dodgers and so forth; so I wasn't going to get very far with that company, because they were now running five plants and these people coming from the fourteen were trying to get the management positions.

So I stayed with them long enough until the 1947 Honolulu Race came, a sailboat race. It was Ream Manufacturing Company, the largest manufacturer of barrels in the United States. They also made water heaters, but you can't find Ream now. Anyway, they were pretty big in those days.

Donald R. Lennon:

Ream is a well-known brand. In fact, my hot water heater may be a Ream.



Richard E. Warner:

It could be. It could be, but it's not owned by the original stockholders now. At that time, yes, it was an upcoming company. I had the chance to navigate their ninety-six foot schooner in the Honolulu Race, and also my wife was able to come over. I was getting compensated, but we had to pay for her ticket; so she came over. By the way that boat---not in our particular race, because we weren't the first boat in, because we really weren't racing--later held the record for maybe ten, twelve, fifteen years. When I came back, I quit the company. I did go back to work with them again when I received quite a good offer, and I took over their old Northwest operation.

That was basically all as far as the Navy is concerned, yet I always had a strong feeling for the Reserves. For five years between Ream and then when I left, I bought into a tool company, Mechanics Hand Tool (made socket wrenches). We were a partnership, and we sold that to Plum Tool Company. We built a home in Piedmont. So, I got active in the Active Reserves. I think I told you about the fact that the Navy said that if you were a seaman in the reserve, you had to have six months of active duty in the Pacific or the war zone.

Donald R. Lennon:

I think you mentioned that to Congressman Lancaster.

Richard E. Warner:

Okay. Yes. That's what we were fighting. We couldn't get any recruits. There was no way. Since we didn't have recruits, we couldn't get a DE as a training vessel or anything, so we spent the better part of two years making sure that that was changed. As far as the money is concerned, the family was coming along, and I'd gotten involved in a new



business, so the pay was pretty good. So after a couple years we had accomplished the main thing that we were after, which was to get the Naval Reserve part built back up a little bit. So then I got out.

Donald R. Lennon:

There's no danger of you being called back up during Korea?

Richard E. Warner:

Yes, there was. In fact, I had the option of either going to Korea or resigning.

Donald R. Lennon:

So you resigned.

Richard E. Warner:

So that's when I resigned. That's where the retired part came in. I was too old for that anyway. Let's see during Korea, I would have been--Korea started in 1951--thirty-one years old. I was born in 1915, so I was older than that.

Donald R. Lennon:

Thirty-six.

Richard E. Warner:

Thirty-six, yes. That was much too old, and there were other things going on anyway.

Donald R. Lennon:

This has been great. Any other thoughts before I turn it off?

Richard E. Warner:

I've been talking so much; I hope I haven't bored you.

Donald R. Lennon:

No, not at all.

Richard E. Warner:

Other times in the Navy, I was seen with enlisted men, who were basically my personal friends. If some guy who outranked me--if I walked by on a side walk and I didn't see him and didn't salute him, oh boy! Those were mostly the guys--and Corpus Christi had a lot of them--who came with us, and I'll never forget it. I mentioned the fact that they crated all of our furniture, and it wasn't worth a hundred dollars. It took us a good three



months to get our first pay check, and I remember--my wife was twenty-one years old--she was sitting in this convertible Buick that we'd brought when we got called into the Navy. So, it was a nice car and she was sitting in the car there, and all these guys were gawking at her. I came running out of the paymaster's office with my first check, and I ran by some guy, an officer. My God! He was one of these guys that had been called back, and he must have chewed me out for twenty minutes. I was standing there saluting, and he said, “Salute me! Salute me again!” He was awful.

I did a lot of other things. For example, if any of my enlisted men went on leave and had a reason to go home, we always told them that if you come back on time and there's no problems, it doesn't go in your record as being leave.

Donald R. Lennon:

That's nice.

Richard E. Warner:

Yes. It made a big difference to those guys, you see. I think that was a fair way to do it in a way. Cheating a little money out of the government, but we put our hours in for them for sure.

Donald R. Lennon:

In a time of war, too, things are completely different. I imagine that those Academy graduates who had sat out for ten years were kind of bitter.

Richard E. Warner:

Oh, terribly bitter. I don't blame them. When I got that twenty-four hour deal, I felt, “Boy, let's go,” but they didn't have any place to send us. Nothing. They saw on my record that I had been in the glee club somewhere along the line. Of the cadet regiment, I organized a glee club. It was one hell of a good glee club. It really was, but I wasn't the



leader. I found a guy who had actually majored in music. That made a big impression with Captain Bernard, I guess.

Donald R. Lennon:

That isn't what you were in the Navy for.

Richard E. Warner:

That is correct, and it also required extra time other than all the time we had to waste during the daytime at Corpus Christi. When the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, this one other guy and myself, Trudeau Thomas--he was a schoolmaster from New England somewhere, hell of a guy--we bought a star boat together. It's an Olympic class boat still now. It was over in Houston, and we went from Corpus. He had a car. Well, I had a car too. We borrowed an old trailer and dragged it back. So the day that the Japs bombed Pearl Harbor, old Trudeau and I were out racing. My wife came down, and we were in Corpus Christi Bay, and there are only two or three or four sailboats around there at that time. I haven't been there in ten years, but it's really a big place now, and I guess it's pretty nice. But, we were racing, and my wife came down. She hollered over to me and said, “You've got to come home back to the base. The Japs bombed Pearl Harbor.”

I said, “Trudeau, what do you think?”

He said, “Hell no, we're winning the race. We'll finish it.”

So we finished the race, and went back and got in our regular clothes, our khaki uniforms. It was his car, I guess, but we had a hell of a time getting gasoline, let alone tires. It was fifteen miles out of the air station. They wouldn't let us in, because we weren't in whites. You see, you had to go to war in whites. Those choker-necked things. We had to



go to war in whites. We had to come home and change our clothes.

About a month later, they had an alert that there was a submarine out off of Port Aransas. There's no way that submarine could shoot a projectile as far as Corpus Christi. They put the base on general quarters; we all had to stay on the base. Then, they scrambled around. Henry Stone, a great friend of mine, who lives up in Denver now, he was the gunnery officer. He finally found a fifty-millimeter machine gun, but they didn't have any rifling in it. They were getting a PBY ready to go out and bomb this damn submarine which they thought was out there. They didn't have any bombs, so they were filling one-hundred-pound-practice bombs with gasoline. This was ridiculous.

Donald R. Lennon:

This was after Pearl Harbor?

Richard E. Warner:

A month after Pearl Harbor. Then the next day, they flew a squadron or something of B-24's, I think. That was the biggest airplane I'd ever seen then. That was the Army, Army Air Corps coming down, but they were supposed to protect the base. Our preparedness was just awful, terrible. Those things come up that I remember. When we went in some place, and the Army wanted my fifty-caliber-machine guns on that little sub chaser, there was no way. When they put twenties on in Miami, then they got them.

[End of Interview]

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