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William F. Heavey, Jr., oral history interview, June 30, 1997

Date: Jun. 30 1997 | Identifier: OH0160
Commander William Heavey is third generation professional military officer, with both his father and grandfather graduating from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. In this interview Commander Heavey describes growing up in a military family and attending the U.S. Naval Academy. He comments on service in the USS DICKERSON, conducting patrol and convoy duty in the Atlantic early in World War II, and reassignment to the USS ARKANSAS for the invasion of Casablanca. He further describes reporting to new construction with the USS HAINES (DE 792); duty in Europe and North Africa; an incident created by a violation of blackout conditions; duty in the USS MARYLAND during "Operation Magic Carpet" ; and service aboard the USS TOPEKA in Japan and China. Interviewer: Donald R. Lennon. more...



EAST CAROLINA UNIVERSITY
ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW
Lt. Commander William F. Heavey, Jr.
USNA Class of 1941
June 30, 1997
Interview #1

Donald R. Lennon:

What I would like for us to do today, and I have a feeling we will probably be coming back for additional interviews whenever I return to D.C. in the future and you're available, but I would like for us to start with some discussion of your background, your childhood, being part of a military family, your education, and what caused you to decide to go to the Naval Academy.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

It will sound duplicitous, as I've already covered a lot of this with you.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, that is why I said we will look at that in more specifics.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, the Heavys have long been associated with the U.S. Army. George Washington had Wade Hampton Heavy on his staff, and my family claims to have come straight down from that branch of the family. Also, my father and his two brothers went to West Point, and his father and his grandfather went to West Point. My father was a brilliant officer in many ways. I could tell you a lot about him. He was second in his class at West Point, and I decided early on I was going to try to live up to that. A lot of my mother's family was also in the Navy. In fact Admiral Kidd, who was killed in Pearl Harbor, his wife was my mother's sister's cousin--I think that is the relationship. So, there wasn't a direct connection there.



Early on I became attracted to the Navy. When I was a Cub Scout in Panama, as I told you, we used to go out with the Fleet and spend the day out on the Bay of Panama there, which was a wonderful thing for a young lad to do. We went all over the ships and had a wonderful time. That was the smartest thing the Navy ever did, because it got all those young people interested in the Navy at a very young age. I think I was maybe ten to twelve years old at the time. So, I was really interested. Of course, I couldn't get an appointment, because my father had no political influence. Boy, getting into the Naval Academy without an appointment was a pain in the neck. But, the President gives all of his appointments to the sons of Army and Navy Officers. So, during my third year of high school, I decided that I better see what the exam is like, so I took it. I felt pretty good because I stood twenty-five on the list, but they only took fifteen. So, I figured I'd failed; I didn't think I made it. I hadn't really attended then anyway, but I felt that if I passed the exam, I could enlist in the Navy. They had never filled a quota from the Fleet and they always appointed one hundred men from the fleet to go to the Naval Academy. I already had passed the exam, so I thought I had it made. So, I took that route and before I actually got down to Norfolk to go to the training school for enlisted men, I got a message to report to the Naval Academy. I couldn't believe it. It turned out that ten of the first fifteen people who had passed the exam failed the physical. So, that just put me in. A friend of mine, though, he was also on the Presidential list, he said, “Bill, could you qualify for an appointment from Illinois.”

I said, “Maybe, I use to live in Chicago.”



He said, “Would you please take Illinois appointment because that would open up another Presidential opening, and I could have it." So, I was appointed from Illinois as far as the records were concerned.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, now as a military child, did the family normally follow your father whereever his duty assignments were. I know you said you were in Panama. Where else did you live?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, we covered most of the Army Posts. I knew Fort Benning well, and I knew Fort Humphreys down here as it was then known and is now (Belvoir?). My father, being an engineer officer, was not all military because the Army Engineers handled rivers and harbors. So, Dad was a District Engineer for the Great Lakes. We lived in Cleveland, Ohio. Using his influence, I got a job on an oil carrier out of Cleveland going up through the Great Lakes to Duluth, Minnesota. That was a wonderful experience for a young fellow interested in ships.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now, how old were you at the time?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Much too young. I was about fourteen I think. All I did was fold laundry for an hour or so, and the rest of the time I spent on the bridge. I learned to take sights and do some rough DR type navigation and so on.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you were getting your navigational training early on.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes. It was a wonderful experience. The problem is the unions found out that I was under age and that I had a job on this ship. They didn't pay me much but I didn't do it for pay anyway. Anyhow the unions stepped in and insisted that I be kicked out. ................ I think I made two trips up to Duluth. But it was a wonderful experience for me.



Now, here is where it gets rough when you think about it. I realized that I better go into the Naval Academy on this arrangement that was made, because I might not be able to get an appointment the next year. The trouble is I hadn't graduated from high school. I was a junior in high school. I really hadn't intended to go that early. So, I went straight out of my third year of high school to the Naval Academy.

Donald R. Lennon:

Will they accept students before they finish high school?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

All they want you to do is pass the exam. That's all they wanted to find out.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, you were kind of young for the class then weren't you?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I was sixteen, which was legal then. It's not legal now. But, you could be sixteen at the time. Which meant of course that I was a year younger than most of my classmates. Also, I had one hell of a time staying in the Naval Academy and not being kicked out for deficiencies. I found myself doing problems in spherical trigonometry, and I hadn't even had plain trigonometry. I spent a lot of nights after "lights out" sitting in the shower with a light trying to keep up academically.

Donald R. Lennon:

Most of your classmates finished high school or had a year of college or a year at one of the academies.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

If I had been smarter I would have been happier and probably more successful if I had waited out a year or maybe two years. But I didn't feel it was safe to do that because I was afraid I wouldn't get an appointment. So, I went in when I did. I didn't do as much as I could have and would like to have. I would have loved to have been much more active in sailing because it has always been a wonderful hobby of mine. To this day, I sail a lot. In fact I was sailing yesterday with Bob Hailer. I would have liked to take part in some of the other activities in the club at the Naval Academy, but I couldn't do that and



pass the academics. It was a fight for me the whole time there. In fact, when I finally graduated, in those days they put the class standings in the newspapers. I want you to know my father called all his friends up and he said, “My son was not the last one in his class.” which is what he had expected. I think the life of a Service Junior is not as bad as its been painted. I think you get a wonderful experience.

We lived in so many interesting places and went to so many different schools. Years later I worked for Senator Allen in Washington. He was a Senator for Alabama. He was a leading opponent of the Panama Canal Treaty. I remember my days as a boy at Belvoir High School. One of my good friends was Aromenes, and his father became President of Panama. I met President Arosmenes on several occasions, and he was adamantly opposed to the treaty. He thought it was a big mistake for Panama to try to push the United States out of the Canal. Well, I did my best to get him to speak up here in Washington. I believe that he spoke on two occasions, and received pretty good coverage. That was a result of having been in school in Belvoir. If I hadn't had that experience, I wouldn't have met the President of Panama. Of course, we lost the battle against the treaty; we only lost by one vote. I wonder if people remember that some times.

Louisville, Kentucky, was an interesting place. I lived there for a long time. My family always went up to Lake Champlain in the summertime because we had a summer place up there. I became very interested in the wars that had been fought on Lake Champlain which was kind of interesting. The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, and even the War Between the States all had elements that were decided by what happened at Lake Champlain.



Donald R. Lennon:

I'm not familiar with the Civil War engagements, but I certainly am with the Revolution and the War of 1812.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

It's famous, really. That was a stop for the underground railroad. It was right on Lake Champlain. Ther was a lot of interesting work in that connection up there. I got to know Lake Champlain, and I still love it.

Donald R. Lennon:

Should be nice sailing.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes. You just happened to touch my heart when you asked about sailing up there. I have to show you something. I know you can't make a recording of this, but you didn't fiddle around either. This is such a big event in our family that we had the wedding at the National Cathedral. We didn't want to go to any second-class, little place.

Donald R. Lennon:

How nice. Do it right.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Doggon it. The Taussigs were invited; they were supposed to come, and they didn't show up. I don't know why they didn't. But I do think Service Juniors or Service Brats, as we call them on the Army side had wonderful exposure to a lot of different things. My father was a military attache at the embassy at Paris for a while. He was also the Philippines. I picked up enough Chinese from my Chinese ahmah when we were in the Philippines, for a while. My mother was disturbed because I could speak better Chinese than I could English. Of course I can't even say my name now. That's the kind of exposure Service Juniors get. I think it's very interesting.

Donald R. Lennon:

I would think they would see the world from a different perspective than the rest of us.



William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes. And furthermore, in the peace time Army, between the wars, my father who had been a Major during the war at age twenty-two or three, went back to his permanent rank which was captain.

Donald R. Lennon:

There were no promotions during the twenties and earlier thirties.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We had a striker who did all the work around the house. We had a full time maid who took care of all the silver and linen and so on. My father had a car with a driver to take him to his jobs. We really lived pretty high on the hog. I thought I had a very wonderful life for a young person to live.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well now at the Academy, aside from studying to keep up, what are your memories of Academy life?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, lets see, I had some very good friends. I saw really did not see as much of them as I would have liked to. I had a succession of girl friends who had come to the Naval Academy, and most of them were Army Brats. They went to all the hops and so forth, which was very good for social development. I didn't have any serious affairs with any of them. I was too busy trying to pass the courses. That's what I spent all my spare time on.

Donald R. Lennon:

There were quite a few Navy Juniors. You talked about Captain Taussig and Kevin Hailor quite a bit as Navy Juniors. There were a lot of them in the class. Since you were an Army Junior, did they harass you about that any or did they...

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

It was a friendly get-together. Of course, I was always pro-Navy from the very beginning. I remember I crawled up on my grandfather's lap, he being the class of 1890 at West Point. He was missing the lobe of his ear. I said when I was young, “Grandfather, what happened to your ear?” He had been in the Mexican War and the end



of the Spanish-American War, and he had not gone over seas in World War I, but he was in the Service then. I thought for sure he would tell me something about a bullet taking off the end of his ear. Instead of that, I heard profanity. In the bosom of my family, for the first time, "He said in that first Army-Navy game of 1890 some goddamn Midshipman bit it off!" He was a wonderful man. He came to our graduation at the Naval Academy in uniform as a Major General Infantry.

Donald R. Lennon:

Wow!

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Of course, he has long since retired. He sat there and went up on the roster when I got my diploma from Frank Knox. I think he was the Secretary of the Navy at the time. I was twenty years old. I felt as if both my feet were six feet off the deck. I just thought it was the best thing that ever came along. My grandfather got up in the back of the Dahlgren Hall and sang out in a loud voice, which only an infantryman can do. He said, “Dammit son, at least you could do was go into the Marine Corps.” He was the founding member of this Club. There were a lot of old associations with that.

My mother and father were very ardent horsemen. My father was captain of the polo team at West Point, and my mother was an Olympic jumper. Horses and I though, just never got along. I could never catch up with them. About six months later, I went to McDonald's school outside of Baltimore, and there they insisted that I had to take care of a horse. That was the hardest thing to me.

But I can't think of anything in particular significance about my boyhood. I did a lot of sailing on Lake Champlain as a boy. I rigged my on sail on a Adirondack guide boat. I had a wonderful time, but I distressed my mother of course. She thought it was dangerous for me to be out sailing all over the lake. But, that was a great experience.



Donald R. Lennon:

At the Academy some of your classmates talk about the harassment in their Plebe year from upper classmen.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

You know, I frequently get questioned about that, because the idea of running Plebes today giving what's happened to some of the abusers is crazy--the Citadel is one of them, and other military where the junior classman had been treated abominably. But I don't recall ever being harassed in a way that was personally detrimental. We were harassed in the sense of being asked extensively about the laws of the Navy and thye tonnage of a cruiser, and the steaming radius of a destroyer. There were a lot of professional questions, most of which I later came to appreciate.

One went through a lot of times at the table with Plebes, which was "Fire in the paint locker". That is where all the Plebes are under the table, and they would be sloshed out with water--this was just part of the initiation. But the steps that we went through were the same steps you go through on a destroyer with a fire in the paint locker when you have to take it off. So, it had a constructive aspect to it. The harassment that I've learned about since: the midshipman woman being chained to a urinal--if you remember that awful scandal; our whole class signed a letter objecting to that and asked the Superintendent to take strong action. Do you know why? That young woman was the granddaughter of a Classmate. We decided that that was abominable and should never be allowed to go unpunished. They never did punish anybody for that. That's one of the things that annoyed us so much. So, when you talk about harassment in the Naval Academy, I'm talking about the fact that I think some of the perpetrators should have been punished for transgressions like that, and they weren't. That's too bad. Of course now, as I'm sure everybody's told you, they don't have anything like that anymore. It's a



country club compared to what it used to be. I know I was over there just the other day, and I was amazed to find the Midshipmen between classes not marching. They stroll along like a . . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

Like a college campus.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes, like a college campus. We had a band play martial music, and we marched to all classes backwards and forwards. It was a wonderful chance for leadership for somebody who had command of a squad for each one of these trips, and it was good for the Midshipmen too, not only did they get them there on time, but they were in uniform. They don't do that anymore. I'm very concerned about the way the Academy has evolved. You know, Admiral Larson, the present Superintendent is very strong on ethics and what is politically correct. I want to see more emphasis on ordnance, gunnery, navigation, seamanship, and discipline that goes with it.

I have a project which is probably independent of your recording here that I'm working on now, involving the Barbary pirates. I ran across this man up in Lake Champlain who is a retired sea captain. He is an elderly gentleman, and he has some of those priceless models of ships. He's made a specialty on the invasion of Algiers in 1803. I suggested to him that the Naval Academy would like to have them, and he said that he wanted to give them to the Naval Academy. So far, the Navy so far hasn't accepted them. I had an interview with the Curator of the Museum, who by the way is the godson of Rusty Crenshaw, and through him I received an invitation for this man to give these models to the Naval Academy. Well, there are some complications. The Navy won't take them unless they're appraised. They've been appraised now by Sothebys at a million and a half dollars. The Superintendent of the Naval Academy says I can't accept a gift of



that magnitude, but the Secretary of the Navy can. So, now we have a request at the desk of the Secretary of the Navy. Well, that's the mechanics of getting the ships there. I think we will achieve this.

Here is what I'm trying to do. That particular operation was the First Fleet operation of the U.S. Navy. They had operations with ship to ship Old Ironsides, Guerriere, and various other ships, but this was a fleet operation under Admiral Preble, I think it was. It was very successful. Part of the mission of the Naval Southern Command in the Mediterranean at that time was training the Midshipmen. Twelve Midshipmen took part in the invasion of Algiers. It's really interesting that of the twelve, eight of them later became admirals. In all honesty, the eight that made admiral, two of them were Confederates, but they're still admirals in my book. I'm trying to get the Naval Academy to concentrate on that period of our history; the fact that they were successful in emphasizing seamanship, courage, ordinance, and gunnery are important as opposed to the curriculum they have at the Academy now. Well, I understand that they don't even bother with celestial navigation anymore. It's too easy to use the satellite positioning system where you just push a button, and it tells you where you are. What I'm trying to do is get the Naval Academy to set up a commemoration of the Barbary Pirates War in 1803 on the 200th Anniversary of the year 2003. We'll have all these models there and a tremendous painting of the invasion of the Barbary Pirates in the museum. We want to arrange the models in the same relative order that they appeared in the painting. It will have to be done in such a way that you could walk around the models in front of the painting, because the models are planked on one side; but, they are not planked on the



other, so you can see the internal construction. So, you have to be able go around to see the whole thing.

I was over working with Bill Calvert who is Rusty Crenshaw's, the Curatror of the museum's godson and he thinks it is a good idea. We involved some of the young Midshipmen in the ship model club over there, trying to work out how we can set a commemoration for this. This young Midshipman looked at me, and he said, “Mister Heavy, are you sure you're going to be here in the year 2003?”

Donald R. Lennon:

What did you say? I'll check my calendar?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I said that I'll be doing the things that I'm trying to get done. Emphasized that the whole Naval Academy should be preparing naval officers to fight with a Fleet at sea. That's what I'm trying to get this commemoration to do. As you probably have been told, our Class at the Naval Academy was the last one that went out on these sailing cutters and learned how to handle a Fleet at sea under sail. They didn't bother with that after we left. I think it's a shame.

You'll see that I went on the DICKERSON, my first ship. On the DICKERSON as First Lieutenant, I had to take custody of all the title B equipment. Well, I was twenty years old in those days and the Chief who had custody of all the title B equipment was probably in his forties--to me he was an old man. I was going over the inventory, and I ran across one item. I said, “Chief, I'm not going to sign for this inventory until I see this.”

He said, “Sir, nobody has asked to see those. They're buried way down in the magazines. Nobody could. . . .”



I said, “I don't think you heard me. I'm not going to sign this until I see them.” So, he was obviously put out, but he went down there. He brought up twelve boarding cutlasses. In the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred and forty-one, a destroyer in the U.S. Navy had as a title B equipment boarding cutlasses. Well, I want you to know I took such good custody of those boarding cutlasses that I've got two of them in my den right now.

Donald R. Lennon:

Had an ulterior motive.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

They've got the date on them--1853. They are stamped right on the hilt.

Donald R. Lennon:

They were continuing to have them aboard ship in '41?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Nobody had seen them. They were buried down in the magazine in Cosmoline.

Donald R. Lennon:

When did they discontinue that practice?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I have no idea. I'm sure it was discontinued soon afterward, because by then people got down in the magazines to find out what else was down there. I love the thought about a transitional change in the Navy.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now, was the DICKERSON an old four piper?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Older than I. It was built around 1917. It was a very interesting ship. It had a wonderful Skipper J. K. (Raboul?) from around the class of about '27. The reason why I remember is because we got into action off of Hatteras. It must have been about the middle of '42, and we got a shell in the bridge from a submarine that was on the surface. It was at night. We didn't have radar in those days, it was before the days of radar. That shell killed the skipper and about four other people up on the bridge at that time. I was asleep down below in my bunk, which was not exactly a place for much glory, but at least I survived. I came topside and found out that the bridge had been incapacitated. I then called to the Chief Engineer who was down below. It was Harry Helfrig out of the class



of '39. I said, "Harry you are now the senior officer of this ship. We lost the Skipper, Exec, (and so forth). You are in command.”

He called back and said, “Bill, I'm too busy down here. You take command.” That's where I got my first command, you might say.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, now what did they fire with to hit the bridge?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Oh, this was a gun on the submarine, on the deck of the submarine.

Donald R. Lennon:

O. k. I thought they only had small arm . . .

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Oh no, they had a four inch rifle. That's what they caught the bridge with.

Donald R. Lennon:

I'm surprised they didn't try to use a torpedo on you rather than a . . .

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

They probably would have, but I guess they were just as surprised as we were. After all if they had been expecting us, they would have been submerged--they were on the surface. To this day, there is a lot of controversy about it. There's a wonderful book you may have read called Operation. I forgot the author's name of the book, but its by a German submarine Skipper. He talks about that operation off of Hatteras, and he confirms that they did get a destroyer by surface action.

Donald R. Lennon:

I wonder if they realized that it was a destroyer when they fired on it?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Probably not. In fact, since we were blacked out, I don't think they could tell what they were shooting at. They probably got a reflective light from the moon or whatever.

Donald R. Lennon:

Saw a form?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes. The waves, of course, are hard to conceal at night. But, that was my first action. It was an eye opener. That was before the war now, really. God, it must have been before . . . .



Donald R. Lennon:

So, that was '41 instead of '42?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Early '41, yes.

Donald R. Lennon:

When you were on Neutrality Patrol?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Exactly, exactly. In fact, I got a star on my mine. We had a Neutrality Patrol ribbon, and if you had any action you would get a star on your ribbon. Well, I received a star from that. But later, I received an interesting star when I guess I was on the HAYES. My Skipper told me that I would have to go ashore in the invasion of Southern France as the Gunfire Control Officer, because the officer assigned to that who had been briefed adequately was ill or not available. I went to an LST; we were going to make the landing the very next morning at four o'clock. I didn't have much time for briefing, preparation, or anything. The little I did get done scared the dickens out of me, because they were talking about German strong points here, and guns over here--and here is where they need gunfire support, and so forth. All of this was marked on a chart that I was supposed to have in my mind pretty much since I wouldn't have a chance to look at. I did have a seaman with me who had a radio on his back. Luckily, the phone connection to the radio was hooked up so I could speak with gun control on the various ships and call for fire on these various coordinates when we got to shore. Army people came along and cut all the rank insignia ........ off of me and colored my face with salve. I said, “What are you doing?”

They said, “Well sir, when you go ashore, we don't want you to get flash burns from the gunfire support, so this will help protect your face. Also, if you get captured we don't want anybody to know that you are an officer, so this will conceal the fact.” I was the scaredest person you could imagine. I didn't expect this kind of operation that I



would ever have to do. This wasn't part of my job description. Really, I don't think I have ever been so scared in all my life. I hit the beach, the ramp went down, and all of these people went roaring out, yelling "Geronomo!". The first thing we saw was a girl in a two piece bathing suit pedaling a bicycle down the beach. It turned out that our intelligence was lousy. The German installations that were all on my chart were gone.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were gone?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Were gone. The nearest German was . . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

The Germans had pulled out?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, they pulled out some weeks before and the nearest one was, I don't know, four or five miles away. In the whole invasion, I don't think we lost more than five or six people and they were mostly from casual gunfire. I tell you, I got a decoration for that landing also. I want you to know that I'm prouder of that than any of them.

Donald R. Lennon:

You thought you were going right into the jaws of death.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I sure did.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, on the Neutrality Patrols, what basically was your assignment? Did you just patrol the Atlantic coast back and forth? How far did you patrol?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Actually, from Boston almost down to Caracas, Venezuela. That whole area there. We had interesting orders, which I don't think were understood very well. One of them was to report any hostile ships--by hostile they meant AXIS powers, Germany. Of course every time we weren't at war with them, but we reported their positions. As soon as we reported their positions, a British ship would come up over the horizon and we would discreetly leave. We wouldn't witness any violation of the Neutrality Patrol. That was our function really, to make sure the German access . . .



Donald R. Lennon:

You were sighting for the British war ships?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

That's what it amounts to.

Donald R. Lennon:

They were patrolling the Atlantic Coast heavily at that time, too?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, I don't know. They had some submarines over here at that time. Not as many as . . . Drumbeat. Operation Drumbeat is the book written by the German submarine Commander. It describes all the German submarine operations on the east coast of the United States. That's a fascinating book. Hardingen is a German submarine Commander who didn't write the book entirely, but he wrote a lot of it. He's still living in Germany today and a lot of his observances are in that book.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well when you were hit by the gun from the submarine, did you react?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We went to general quarters, but we didn't see anything to shoot at.

Donald R. Lennon:

You didn't drop depth charges?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

The sub disappeared. We didn't pick it up on our sound gear. So we went into Norfolk to take care of our wounded.

Donald R. Lennon:

That older destroyer probably had very little in the way of sonar equipment or anything else.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

It did have some sonar equipment, but it was nothing like they have today of course. In fact, the British had much better sonar equipment than we did. Later we adopted from the war when we worked more closely with the British; we then had their Asdic gear as it was so called. Later in the war, by convoying across with the British and Canadian escorts, we were able to know them much better; we worked very closely with them. One thing I wonder is if people appreciate today that we worked very closely with the English, although the problem being they didn't go across the Atlantic. What they did



was meet a convoy thirty or forty miles off of England and take the ships into England. We would refuel, go back, and pick up the convoy without usually even going to shore. So I went back and forth across the Atlantic--I don't know how many times. But when we did stop occasionally, like when we went into Iceland for instance, we'd have a big buoy, and the destroyers would nest at it; three or four destroyers at the same buoy. We'd always look if we could for a British destroyer to nest alongside of, because the British had the best bars ever seen. Their wardroom had wonderful scotch and any kind of liquor you wanted. It was wide open, because we didn't have a thing like that on our ships. However, we had steak and would bring the British officers over and serve them the thickest steaks. They thought, 'Boy this is the way to live.' That two way communications did an awful lot to cement our relationship with the English Navy. That area which was near the buoys were was a fjord in Iceland. They had a net at night. You would pull a net across to keep submarines out of the fjord, and the net was laced with contact mines. Well we were there one time when an awful williwa, a strong storm came up around one hundred and twenty knots. Fortunately the DICKERSON held pretty well, because we had a good secure mooring. One of the ships got loose from its mooring with even full steam into the wind was making stern way down towards that net. The Skipper became concerned. He reported the situation to the SOPA, the Senior Officer Present Afloat, and he got back real sesuccint orders, "Beach your ship!" So, they just turned it over and ran it up full speed on the beach. That's how they saved themselves from going through that net with all the mines. The adventures that we had in those early days of convoying were really pretty rugged. We were lucky in one respect, the stukas that came out of Norway making that trip up around the North Cape at Mermansk and so forth, they



all went after ships in the convoy. They ignored the escorts. That was lucky for us, because I don't think we would have survived some of the attacks that they launched on the ships of the convoy. But, we did get one stuka who came over and strafed us. It only hit us about four times, I think. But, it gave us a wonderful opportunity. We had a lot of title B equipment so that nobody could find it. It was on the books, but we couldn't actually locate it. So, we wrote that off as combat loss as a result of the stuka attack and that took care of our title B inventories. We didn't have any problems after that.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, did you do much antiaircraft?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yeah, but we had free swinging watercooled fifty caliber machine guns. That's the most ineffective antiaircraft weapon you can imagine. One of the problems is that in the excitement of the handling of this watercooled machine gun, we might come down and hit our own mast. So, we had a rather complicated pipe arrangement with an extension of the bottom of the machine gun so that it hit the pipe before the machine gun hit any of our own structure. That works fine as along as we were vertical, but if we were following a plane and going backwards, suddenly, the projection that hits the pipe is above the gun barrel hitting our own ship. Fire would come from it; that happened several times--not to my ship, but it happened to some of the others. Those early days of convoying in those old destroyers was something. Around that time, I decided that there must be a better life than this, and I put in for flight training.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well you encountered obviously a number of engagements, not only with the German airforce, but with submarine attacks on the convoys.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Not every night, but I would say two or three times a week we would pick up contact on the sound gear and drop depth charges. Of course, we never knew for sure



whether we got a sub, although in one or two cases we had a wreckage to prove it. That brings up another incident: Sheldon Kinney, you have to get his story from him. I believe he was a skipper of a DE . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

He was a DE skipper.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes, and they have a submarine right off of Staten Island on a shakedown cruise. He reported it to Ninety Church Street which was the address to the submarine evaluation board in downtown New York. They wouldn't believe that there was a submarine that close to Staten Island, and they wouldn't give them credit for a kill. He did the same thing some weeks later, and the crew came up and ........... lungs from the sub, and he got the Skipper, German Skipper. You ought to get the story directly from him, it's second or third hand from me. The story I heard is that Sheldon put a forty-five around his uniform, marched the skipper on a Staten Island ferry across to Ninety-Church Street, took him up to the board, and introduced him to the board. He said, “Now, will you give me credit for a kill.” I didn't have anything as dramatic happen to me that I can remember, but I remember talking about that for a long time.

Donald R. Lennon:

You spent one winter in Norway. How was the weather conditions on the North Atlantic?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

As I told you earlier, that is why I put in for flight training. Boy, there couldn't be anything worse than being in an old four pipe destroyer which is about three hundred and fifteen feet long and thirty some feet wide--that is about the same proportion as a pencil going through tremendous waves and high wind. Norway had very low temperatures. In fact, it was estimated that if a person went overboard, it would take less than three minutes to die on a count of the chill. Trying to chase a submarine at the same time was



also treacherous, because we had to get the speed up--that meant that when a wave came, instead of riding up over it, we just went practically through it. I sometimes felt that we were qualifying for sub (pair sail?). We lost some people overboard just from the sea. It was a horrible situation.

Donald R. Lennon:

Any danger of icebergs?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

There probably was, but it didn't become a problem. We had an early version of radar in those days that might have helped. It was a big bedspring looking thing and putting it up on the mast was quite a job. Of course, sixty-five knots of wind would frequently carry away the radar antenna. So, the radar was a very doubtful value. In those days too, the radar beam went in one direction only. We were limited in what we could do with it, because we were afraid an enemy might pick up the radiation, the frequencies and so forth, and give away some of the secure information about the radar technology. So, we were very limited in the early days of radar.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well now the DICERSON didn't have the radar on it at the time you were off Hatteras and got hit? That was early in your assignment aboard ship.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Exactly. I don't remember when, but it was much later when we got that. But of course, the answer I got to my request for flight training was a little bit discouraging. They said "Look you are now qualified in antisubmarine warfare, and we need people in ASW a whole lot more than we need pilots for airplanes. So, your request for flight training is denied." I got there later, but I didn't get there when I wanted to.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, was it at this time that you managed to get reassigned to the ARKANSAS?



William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I really didn't ask for that, but they were getting ready to invade Casablanca, and they needed people with gunnery experience on the ARKANSAS. I was sent there as a Gunnery Officer. That invasion of Casablanca was a very rough affair, and I don't think it's ever been given the right publicity. One thing though--the vichi French who were the enemy had the Jean Bart which was a big, brandnew, beautiful battleship. The Jean Bart had not been finished, though. It was lying in a Navy Yard in Casablanca, and it was not quite completed. That didn't keep it from firing. It fired its main battery at the ARKANSAS and other ships. We really had some narrow escapes from being shelled by these Vichi ships.

Donald R. Lennon:

But wasn't she a sitting duck more or less?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes, except we never could seem to get the range and get on it properly. She was then knocked out by naval dive bombing aircraft. They knocked the Jean Bart off. We never got it from the surface, though. Of course, the ARKANSAS was a great ship but it was built, as I remember, around 1911 or so, and it didn't have the fire control, the range, or the ability that the Jean Bart had. I think the Jean Bart and I stand to be corrected on it--I think that was sixteen inch shells on that. On the ARKANSAS, as I remember, there were twelve inch, and the Jean Bart had much greater range than we did.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now what was your duty station again on the ARKANSAS?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I was a Gunnery Officer. One of the interesting things about the poor old ARKANSAS was that the secondary armament, the four inch fifty caliber guns, could elevate only around fifteen degrees. They weren't intended for antiaircraft. They were intended for small craft.



We were being attacked by Vichi French aircraft coming in, and we couldn't figure out how to get the guns to do any good against these aircrafts. I can't say I did, but somebody came up with the idea. We hit the water on an avian plane and knocked it down with a geyser from the shell. Well, we didn't actually knock it down, but we sure scared them off.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did it work?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

It worked to the extent they didn't press their attack as much as they would have liked to.

Donald R. Lennon:

Looked like timing would have had to been perfect on something like that.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We could see a plane coming in, and we would fire in the water beneath it--it would go up the geyser. It's the only use an old gun has against a new aircraft. I can't say it was effective, but at least it managed to deter some of the attackers. Of course, another thing I remember about that after the combat part was over, was when we went into Casablanca and tied up at a pier. These poor, dragging Army people that we had landed would come down to the ship. Do you know what they were interested in more than anything else? Would we let them take a bath! Of course, they were grimy and dirty and they hadn't bathed in Lord knows how long. So we brought these people on board and lined up all of our head facilities for bathing. We also gave them a four square meal, which most of them hadn't had. I think that was the most effective; to me, that was very good Navy recruiting information. I thought about these poor people on the beach, the rough time they were having, and the nice time we had in comparison.

Donald R. Lennon:

Other than the Jean Bart and the planes, what other type of resistance were you getting on the ARKANSAS?



William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Mostly shore gun fire. But, that was a big operation. That was the first landing that we ever made on a hostile beach. The Army was mostly involved with this. We were screening them more than anything else. That was a very historic time.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, it looks like your guns would have been, unless out of range, very much needed for softening up the shore batteries.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We did. That's exactly what we did, as much as we could. Of course we also had destroyers doing the exact same thing, and they were closer in than the ARKANSAS was. We were also there in case the German's had turned up with a capitol ship, which fortunately they didn't. That German capability with the TIRRITZ, and the BISMARCK and these big beautiful (dorseland?) and some of the others, these big beautiful ships they had. I wonder to this day how people appreciate that those ships were creating all kinds of problems for the Navy, because we had to make sure that we always had the capability of stopping them and we didn't know where they were. Sometimes, as you know, the ESINEHOWER I think and also the other big German cruisers did get out from Germany and went around in the Atlantic and there was another pocket battleship that got out. But, those ships only two or three in number tied up all of our capitol ship capabilities.

[And too, basically wasn't there some questions whether an American battleship was sufficient to take the BISMARCK or the TIRRITZ?

Because they were so modern. They had beautiful fire control.

Donald R. Lennon:

The new battleships that were being constructed in the United States were primarily going to the Pacific weren't they?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

There were some in the Atlantic in the early days. They went to the Pacific soon after '42. Up until early '42, we had, I believe the SOUTH DAKOTA in the Atlantic.



Donald R. Lennon:

It was for a while.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Admiral Hailer was Commander of Battleships in the Atlantic. Bob Hailer could tell you much better than I how many of those big battleships, were in the Atlantic at that time. Without the Panama Canal, Boy, I don't know how long it would take to rotate these ships back and forth. They all had to go around the Horn.

Donald R. Lennon:

Any other recollections with regard to your duties aboard the ARKANSAS or assignments that the ARKANSAS had while you were aboard?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I wasn't aboard very long, and except for the invasion of Casablanca we made several convoy trips into Europe because we were concerned about . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

They were using a battleship for convoy duty?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes, because they were afraid of these German raiders that were bigger than any of the escorts; so it was up to a major caliber ship like the ARKANSAS to be able to give them a run for their money. We always had a big ship on those early convoys in the European Theater but not so much in the Atlantic. Once we got into the European Theater, that's where they would take over. I really don't know how many months I spent at sea without ever going ashore, because we would be fueled at either end. We would get our provisions by highline and wouldn't even go in to shore at all. Got into Londondary in Northern Ireland one time, I remember, and Iceland once or twice.

Donald R. Lennon:

Was it difficult to keep up morale under those circumstances?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

It was not so bad, because we all felt that we were needed, and we were doing something effective.

Donald R. Lennon:

You did not have time to really think about it, did you?



William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Exactly. Being busy is a good morale builder, I think, particular under conditions like that.

Donald R. Lennon:

Going from the ARKANSAS then, you were assigned to the HAINES which was a DE, which is quite a contrast to go from.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, I think we were building DEs rapidly at that time.

Donald R. Lennon:

This was new construction?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Brand new. In fact I was assigned to the HAINES before it was built. I went to Orange, Texas, which is where the HAINES was being built. I went out, what seemed to be an open field, and I couldn't believe, I didn't see any water, waves, or anything else. I said to the driver of the car that was supposed to be taking me to the ship, “There is no ships around here, this is an open field. Where are you going?”

He said, “Don't worry, I'll show you.” By golly, we ran across this ship being built in what looked like an open field. Actually, it was being prepared for a sideways launching into a narrow ditch that had been carved out of this field to build the ship. We were launched side ways, not end wise but beam wise into this narrow stream. I was newly assigned as a Navigator and Executive Officer of the DE and was very anxious about properly handling the ship. I finally got tired of logging the number of times we went aground.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now was this in the Galveston area?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes, Orange, Texas, was where it was. We sailed down, and finally arrived in Galveston. It was a long trip, and there were very narrow restriction waterways.

Donald R. Lennon:

Why were they building it way up there?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well. . . .



Donald R. Lennon:

Politics?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I don't know. They had the labor force. They had a steel mill not far away. I guess it was that the big yards were all full, so the small ships could build out in an open field like that, which is where the HAINES was built. It was a wonderful ship. It was a TE class, turbo electric class, and they could do twenty-three and a half knots because they had more power than the diesel ships. So, it was a darn good ship. It had very good sound gear on it and a modest radar.

Donald R. Lennon:

This was some time late in '42 probably?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes, by that time I think we still had single beam radar. We had gotten to a radar scope where you could look all around. That came later, though. Boy, what a big change that was. Really, when you look at that scope and see the position of all the ships around, you have to swing the screen around, pick them up, and then plot them to see their bearing distance.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well now, you continued your convoy duty with the HAINES once you were assigned to that?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

She had gotten into the Mediterranean. I told you about my trips down in Algiers in Mineskabir in some of those areas. She had some interesting assignments. One was to screen the invading forces of Anzio up in Italy, and that was a pretty rough landing. I told you about the landing in Southern France, which was another one that we made in those days. Those were busy times, and there were no idle movements.

Donald R. Lennon:

Here you have been on a four piper destroyer, and now a DE. Do you have any comparisons?



William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, the battleship was an old one, and the destroyer was an old one. I mean, it was really old. It was built back in the 1912 period, and the DE was brand, spanking new. So, my contrast of those was quite noticeable, very noticeable. It was much more comfortable on that DE.

Donald R. Lennon:

Beside the fact that it was the smallest of the three.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes. It had good heating; for instance, we were in the North Atlantic and the heating system to keep the cabins warm was much better than the old four piper. We didn't have this, but we had a steam pipe as I recall that went through to heat the whole area. If you were close to the pipe you would get a little warmth, otherwise it was cold and uncomfortable. That wasn't true on that DE.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well now, a lot of DE people that I've talked to claim that the DEs won the war.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, I tell you one thing, because of their number they had a very major impact. We didn't have as many older ships; proportionally the DE's were more significant because there was more of them. I think it is pretty hard to say they won the war because a lot of the people came from the earlier ships and were then transferred to DEs. So, one might make the argument that it was because we had the older ships that were being used, and that we had a congregation of people to take over the DEs as they were built. They were built pretty fast. They had a lot of them.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now you were an XO on the HAINES with a lot of the DE officers or reserve officers. Was that the case on the HAINES that you had a large contingent?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I think I was the only regular officer on the HAINES. My Skipper was reserve.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did this assignment have utilized yachtsmen from New England?



William F. Heavey, Jr.:

They had indeed. The amphibious Navy had a lot of yachtsmen people running it--the LCVPs, the LSTs, and all of those. They had a lot of yachtsmen people. I don't remember if we had an awful lot of yachting people. We had a lot of people who had merchant marine experience, and we had people like me who had come from older Navy ships. But, we also had naval reserves from colleges that had been commissioned in naval reserve officer courses. I think you can make a pretty good argument that those reserve officers really made the difference in the effectiveness of the Fleet, because like the DEs there were more of them. The regular Navy never could have done it, because there just weren't enough of us.

Donald R. Lennon:

Any specifics for recording purposes concerning the service of the HAYNES particularly in the Mediterranean or in the convoys that come to mind that need to be recorded?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, I can't think of anything you need. It was all convoying duty almost by the nature of it. It was a boring thing to do. We would sit there and maintain a peripheral position on a convoy and try to make sure we had something interceptive that was coming before it was received on the ships in the convoy.

Donald R. Lennon:

Did you lose many ships?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We lost some, particularly on the Murmansk Run. We lost half of the ships of the convoy. But in most of them, our record was much better. We lost some, one or two in a convoy of maybe forty or fifty.

Donald R. Lennon:

Well, those were large convoys then.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Most of the convoys that I was involved with were fairly large. They were pretty well handled. But, you realize without radar and at night particularly in bad weather you



have a lot of ships close together, and that is a hazardous situation right there. We used what we call a towing spar. I don't think a lot of people ever heard of a towing spar. It is about a six foot long carefully cut piece of timber with a metal piece on the bow that would, as it was towed through the water, throw surf up and water up in the air. Those were towed behind ships, so if you had a column of ships, each ship would watch for the towing spar and try to put its bow next to the towing spar. Even so, in rough weather at night those ships for their own safety would disperse. Boy, this was a problem for the escorts, because the escorts wanted the ships to stay together so we could protect them. So in the wee small hours of the morning, as soon as the sun came up, the first thing we would do is scurry around and give ship orders to get back in formation.

Donald R. Lennon:

It was like rounding up cattle or sheep or something.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

That is really what it was. It was the same type of thing. That was the dangerous period of course, because the ships were dispersed, and yet there was enough light from the sun coming up to silhouette them and make a good target for submarines. That is when we would have most of our problems in the early morning hours when the ships were dispersed quite some distance, particularly after rough weather.

Donald R. Lennon:

Ever had any problems of ships running together?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We had some minor ones, but fortunately we had no major ones. We had one or two side swipes which can be serious, but it wasn't to the point where we were going to lose the ship. Fortunately, most of that was in calmer weather. In the rough weather, the Skippers would disperse and that, of course, created the problem in the morning.



Donald R. Lennon:

Well, in the North Atlantic you were talking about three minutes of survival time. If those vessels that had been torpedoed, you pretty much lost the crew in every case, didn't you?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

No not everyone, because we were given life boats or life rafts. That would lengthen the time so that they could survive in the water. That three minutes figure was up in the North Sea; that wasn't in the normal part of the Northern Atlantic. I don't know what the survival time was, but it was probably twenty or thirty minutes anyway. In a life preserver, a life boat, or even on those rafts, we picked up people who had spent the whole night on them. It was pretty rugged survival and very much at the mercy of the sea conditions. Even though the Atlantic has a reputation of being very rough, and the Lord knows it can be, it's not always rough. A lot of the time, it is relatively passive. We were very conscious of our navigation, and most of it was by star sights--celestial navigation, because that was the only way that we could navigate. We were quite conscious of these planes, the big bombers flying across the North Atlantic to engage the Germans, and so forth.

Donald R. Lennon:

Right.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Those planes followed what is called pressure pattern navigation, which I think is fascinating. They all had altimeters, and the altimeter would tell them what their altitude was, but they also had a barometric means of determining their altitude, which is air pressure. So you compare the two--one being a radio altimeter giving height, and then the barometric would give another reading. The difference between the two was an isobar that plotted on weather charts so we could see where the planes would fly. We all thought that this was the most marvelous thing. It was the best means of navigation--the



Germans couldn't pick up any radio signals that would clue them off, and we thought this was the most modern thing in the world. This friend of mine pointed out that these so called isobars are exactly were the trade winds are. The ships had been using isobars navigation since about 1600, all following the isobars. In the South Atlantic they would go westward towards the new world and then when it came time to get back to Europe they would go up the northern route to follow the isobars back. So, here we thought we invented something brand new to get these aircraft over to England and the old mariners of the sixteen and seventeen hundreds they knew it well.

Donald R. Lennon:

No particular incidents or anecdotes that you remember from any of the Mediterranean involvement, beyond what you have already told me.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

No, I think I told you about the landing in southern France.

Donald R. Lennon:

I notice you have Sardinia and Corsica both listed here.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We were based in Sardinia and Corsica which is fascinating to me because Napoleon was born in Sardinia, and I was very interested in checking out his birth place, talking to some of the people there. What I didn't realize and found out later was that there were literally brigands up there. There were gangs that would hold up people and mostly take their clothes, money, and whatever. They didn't care whether you were friendly or an enemy. They were outlaws. I didn't know about all of this.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were wandering around the country side?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I didn't know about all of this, and I was wandering around trying to check on Napoleon's life. That is an interesting part of the world, though. We would have long periods where we would wait for orders to do various things, and that is when I found a chance to go ashore and check on some of these things.



Donald R. Lennon:

Now, was the HAINES the DE that you became Skipper of for a short while?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes, for a short while.

Donald R. Lennon:

I think you need to repeat that account for us.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Alright, the HAINES DE792 lost the Skipper due to his heart problem. He was beached, and I reported this to my Fleet Commander at the time.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now, where were you when this happened?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I think this was in the Mediterranean, north of Sicily and off of Italy. There was no other officer sent to replace him, I got no orders to take command, but I took command of the ship because I was the senior officer there. As I said earlier, I never got orders as Commanding Officer of the ship. I administratively took command, because there wasn't anybody else. Later, a Skipper came and relieved me.

During that time I went to Meriselkabir, which is in the northern Algiers area. By high line from a supply ship, we had received ice cream, and parts, spare parts, food and a movie film, which I wanted very much to show to the crew. It was Blood and Sand with Rita Hayworth. We never saw any movies. So, we got into Meriselkabir, and then we all blacked out because we had been under attack three or four weeks before. I decided to show Blood and Sand on the topside deck of the DE, because there is no place down below where we could get enough people to make it worth while to show the film. In those days, the films were shown by reels, and the reels were kept in a can. We would show reel one, and then we would have to wait and show reel two, and so forth. I went around the ship and we had a big tarpaulin across the screen and another one across the projector to make sure the light didn't escape someplace. It looked like the ship was pretty well blacked out to me.



We went ahead and showed the film. Somebody smoking a cigarette flipped it into that can full of nitrocellulose movie film, and it went off in the middle of the dark night almost like a bomb of fire shooting up. Every anti-aircraft gun within a range of, I don't know how far, knew we were under attack. They didn't know what they were shooting at, but whatever it was they were going to shoot at it, they all fired. The harbor had been under attack from Italian Limpateers, the underwater swimmers, who had put mines on the keel of ships. So at regular intervals, part of the doctrine there was to explode a depth charge in the water, and that would discourage the swimmers. Well, after this flash went up in the middle of the HAINES, everybody who had access to a depth charge figured he better launch it in the water. We just churned the whole harbor up with depth charges all over the place.

Donald R. Lennon:

How many fish did you kill?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Many. The SOPA called for me to come over and explain what happened, and I told him the gospel truth about exactly what happened. He was incredulous. We spent twenty million dollars worth of ammo, because we wanted to see Blood and Sand. He told me to get out of the harbor and not to come back. I got underway and went to Malta, and he said, “Get under way before sun up.” I later found out he didn't want to have to explain what had happened, so that is why he tried to get me out of there. We got out all right, but there was only one problem. I got a letter of reprimand for violating the black out regulations in Meriselkabir.

Donald R. Lennon:

Do you think that damaged you later on? Did that go into your record?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Sure, no doubt about it.

Donald R. Lennon:

Do you think that is why you didn't get command of the HAINES afterwards?



William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I don't know. I was transferred very soon after that. So, it is hard to say.

Donald R. Lennon:

Rita Hayworth caused trouble for a lot of people, didn't she?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Of course, it was very amusing when I think back on it. At the time, I wasn't terribly amused. I didn't want that letter on my record, I can tell you that.

[Sure, sure. Well, how if your ship's orders had assigned you to be in that harbor, how could you just leave and go to Malta without . . .

The Senior Officer Present SOPA . . .

Donald R. Lennon:

He can give . . .

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

He gives orders to ships in the harbor. Of course, it was also reported, I'm sure, to the squadron which the HAINES was part that I was leaving Merielkabir and going to Malta, which is the nearest harbor that was available to us. We've been there before, so we knew something about the area there.

Donald R. Lennon:

How did the men aboard ship react?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, they were not amused to find we were taken out, since they were looking forward to some R & R time. They thought that there would be a period of rest, and here we got out of there the same night that we arrived, so they weren't too happy about that.

Donald R. Lennon:

And this lead to your being sent back to, the Philadelphia Naval Yard for Damage Control School?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Somebody had the idea that I ought to be a Damage Control Officer on a ship in the Pacific, but I had no formal training as a Damage Control Officer. So, I went to the course at the Navy Yard in Philadelphia, which was in damage control for major ships, battle ships, and so forth. It was a very good course, and we got a lot out of that. One of the things they did was train us as divers and they had to have a practical test for us. If



you remember from that period of history it was about the time that the NORMANDY burned and rolled over her side in New York Harbor. Well, the damage control school in Philadelphia was assigned to the NORMANDY, and each of us had to go under water and weld up one of the ports in the NORMANDY. If we welded up the wrong ports we failed the course. We had to make sure we got the right port. Going into that muck of the Hudson River in cold weather in a diving outfit was quite a task and one that I do not want to repeat. Again, that is not part of the things that I went into the Navy for.

Donald R. Lennon:

Now were they using full diving gear or scuba?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

No, we had full diving gear then.

Donald R. Lennon:

Just for river diving even?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Yes. Well, part of the training was to learn to handle the equipment. Also, we had underwater welding torches, which are different because they have a stream of air that keeps the water away from the flame. It is important to understand the problems of underwater damage control, and that is what this was all about.

Donald R. Lennon:

So, you were a qualified deep sea diver?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We didn't go very deep, but we went deep enough.

Donald R. Lennon:

And from there, you were assigned to the MARYLAND in the Pacific.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

In Seattle, Washington. That is where I reported on board for damage control assignment. It was a good, older ship. We had an excellent crew and an excellent Skipper, it was one of the good assignments.

Donald R. Lennon:

You want to pick up there with what the MARYLAND went through?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We went to see Hawaii first, and then from Hawaii we were going to some of the islands further north when the VJ day came along. They dropped the bomb, which was a



good thing, because we were part of Operation Cornet, which would have been the invasion of Japan. Boy, that was a rugged operation, about three times the size of the landing at Normandy--the D-Day operation. If that had occurred, it would have dwarfed anything that you read about the invasion of Japan. For one thing, there are a lot more people involved. But as you know, the Japanese decided that with the advent of the nuclear bomb, they would call it off. Which called off Operation Olympic and Operation Cornet, which were the two operations for the invasion of Japan. The MARYLAND would have been involved with both of them. Our interesting task then was to bring Army troops back.

Donald R. Lennon:

So most of the other engagements had already ended by the time the MARYLAND got out in '45, before you go out to the Pacific on the MARYLAND?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I think I made mention on the outline that our job there was “Magic Carpet” which was the name for bringing troops back. Boy, we were jam-packed. We had every single place you could put a human being on the MARYLAND.

Donald R. Lennon:

There's a lot of space on one of those battleships.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

There sure is. Our big problem though was that we went immediately to two meals a day. We didn't even go to three, because we couldn't take care of the rotation. So, two meals a day is all we had.

I recall one of the things that I thought was so tragic about the armies being brought back like. Some of the men had a black cross on their forehead. A doctor would put it there with burnt cork or something to make a cross. The rest of us were all told that those people were mentally unbalanced and not to let them near the life rail, for fear they



would jump over the side. So that was the only treatment they had was the black cross on their forehead to mark them as mentally, damaged people.

Donald R. Lennon:

Were they really mentally damaged or was it battle fatigue?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Both I imagine.

Donald R. Lennon:

The results of combat?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

I presume it was, of course I didn't have any way of knowing, but we were all told that those are people we had to be careful of. Of course, the Army had medics who were assigned to take care of these people, but they couldn't be everywhere at once.

Donald R. Lennon:

You don't hear a great deal about the later wars, Korea and Vietnam. Instead, you hear a great deal about the mental fatigue that many of the men suffered after so much battlefield experience.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, I'm sure that happened in World War II in the Pacific. I just didn't see that side of it. I know I did see some released prisoners of war and had a chance to visit with them. Their condition initially was rather pitiful, but after they got some meat and potatoes and a chance to relax, their condition measurably improved.

At that point, I still had that request for flight training all that time. They kept coming to me and said, “Now that you're a lieutenant commander, you don't want to go to flight training, do you?”

I said, “Of course I do.” I felt that the whole future of the Navy lay in carrier aviation. So, I let the request stand. Finally, I did get to Pensacola, was trained as a pilot, and had a very interesting career, some of which I have outlined there.

Donald R. Lennon:

First, you got a period on the TOPEKA after you left the MARYLAND.



William F. Heavey, Jr.:

That was a very interesting time, because it was the post war period. We first went to Japan, Sasebo on the TOPEKA, which was a modern light cruiser CL67. I remember going into the harbor at Sasebo, and we had a Japanese pilot on board. He said in perfect English, “You see that ship over there,” and there's a Japanese ship that had been holed and run up on the beach obviously defeated in the war, he said, “That was my ship.” Here he was a pilot on our ship taking us into Sasebo. Then we went to China and spent some time in Shanghai.

Donald R. Lennon:

What was the situation in China at that time. This was '46?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

The Nationalist Chinese were still around Shanghai, but the Communist Chinese were fighting them some distance away, not close to where we were. We were very much aware of that. We had briefings about that conflict and what our position should be. We were pronationalist, but we never actually went to war with the communist.

Donald R. Lennon:

You were supposed to remain neutral I would imagine.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Well, we had to stay out of trouble as much as anything.

Donald R. Lennon:

Just like prior to World War II you were neutral.

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

We were neutral with Axis ships that were in the Atlantic, particularly in the Caribbean where there were a lot of them. That was an active part of that Neutrality Patrol, a lot in the Caribbean area. I spent quite a lot of time in Pearl, not Pearl, but I forgot the name of that beach now—the beach there at Sanhucia that we spent some time at. We particularly watched the French aircraft carrier Bern that had a lot of American fighter planes on board. We tried to keep that ship from getting back to Europe, because although it was a Vesi French ship, it still had some American fighter planes on board



from early agreements. We wanted to make sure they didn't get back to Europe. So our job was not to do anything about it, other than observe. That is all we did.

Donald R. Lennon:

No way you could obstruct?

William F. Heavey, Jr.:

Not legally, not that time. That was before we formally got into the war.

[End of Interview]

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