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Walter L. Small, Jr., oral history interview, September 30, 1996

Date: Sep. 30 1996 | Identifier: OH0158
Admiral Small, a native of Elizabeth City, North Carolina, is a member of the U.S. Naval Academy Class of 1938. During his first interview, Admiral Small recounts his background in North Carolina and his experiences at the Naval Academy. He comments on service in the USS PORTLAND stationed in Long Beach, California, before volunteering for submarine school in 1940. He describes duty in the World War I vintage submarine R-3 in the Panama Canal Zone and his reassignment to the new USS FLYING FISH in September 1941. For World War II Admiral Small reports on spotting a German submarine off South America, an attack upon the FLYING FISH by an American plane, and the problem of attacking Japanese ships with defective torpedoes. He also describes his eight submarine patrols in the Pacific, including encounters near the Truk Islands, Taiwan, the Palau Islands, and off China. He describes being depth-charged, chasing a convoy for seventy-two hours, a battery explosion in one of their torpedo tubes, and using ten torpedoes to sink a tanker. After commenting on assignment to new construction aboard the USS ICEFISH, he tells of being part of a wolfpack of three subs off the Philippine Islands, suffering depth charge attacks, taking command of the USS BATFISH, and being bombed by friendly fire. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...