Joe Lewis

 

                                    List of Crew Members that joined the Lex with Joe Lewis

Robert Brassfield S1/c

Lowell Capps S1/c

George Crabill S2/c

Paul Digan F2/c

Forest Duncan F2/c

Frank Gilbert C3/c

Warren Handran F1/c

Glenn Jones S2/c

Harold Kinney F2/c

Darwin Lewis S2/c

Jewell Lewis 2/c

Maurice McGuire S2/c

John Parker F2/c

Walter Robinson S1/c

Lawrence Seal F2/c

Ward Seymour S2/c

Sinclair F2/c

Earl Thompson EM3/c

John TruhanF2/c-C.O.

William Van TuinenS1/c

 


Kamikaze


I was with a group of men who were assigned to the Air-craft Lexington had left for Calif. Our group waited several days for transportation to Calif. We were finally put aboard a tanker called the Tippicanoe for a five day journey to the Naval Receiving Station at Treasure island. Many frustrating days later we boarded a baby flattop, and were on our way to Pearl Harbor. To our chagrin the Lex had left for somewhere in the South Pacific. Suffering through another long wait we were put on a cargo ship, ending up at Majuro Atoll, where we finally found the Lex. This was in early March, 1944. I was immediately assigned to Aviation Ordnance, and began my apprenticeship learning how to maintain .50 Cal Machine guns on F6F fighter planes.  

My job kept me constantly on the go rearming the 50's in my two F6F's. Then we loaded the bombs and rockets, usually finishing just about time for the next launch. Most of us tried to grab a few moments rest, or a cup of mud, after the planes were launched. I do remember we had been under attack off and on during our operations off Luzon, in the Philippines. I was having some coffee when the ship's guns started  firing again. I ran to the outside catwalk to see what was causing all the guns to fire. A deck crewman stopped me and said, "Get down!" We were beside a 40MM quad and I thought, why is he firing towards the starboard side right over our heads. Just then the crewman dropped flat on the catwalk, the 40MM stopped firing, and I heard something exploding. Jumping up onto the catwalk along with the crewman I looked up toward the island and saw a 40MM quad blowing up. The aft end of the flight deck was strewn with debris. I also remember the ship going into a sharp turn with the horn blowing steadily. I ran back into my compartment and yelled, "We've been hit!" They all looked at me with that, "You're crazy look.

 

I have given lots of thought towards trying to remember all the confusion, and fear that passed through my mind on Nov. 5th, 1944. It evidently is something that etches itself into one's subconscious and comes back periodically in various forms. The ability to keep each incident in proper order, especially under certain conditions, requires going over and over, "exactly what do I remember almost 57 years later."  I turned and ran back to the catwalk, the crewman was still standing there looking at the island. The noise had quieted down somewhat, and the ship was back on an even keel. Carriers tend to tip sideways a lot when making sharp turns. Both the crew man and myself were observing people running here and there. I started looking at all the pieces of debris scattered on the flight deck, and I was shocked to see human debris with it. Not long after the deck was cleared, and we started landing planes again. Our duties temporarily took away the impact of what had just transpired. We buried our dead a few days later, something that is implanted in your mind forever.  I think that writing about this has helped me to ease my mind of this particular incident. I would like to thank Lt. Richard (Dick) Fullam for asking me to write about an experience while aboard the greatest ship in the Navy, The Lady Lex. MY Div. Officers were Lt. l. Miller & Lt. R. Deubner L.R.(Bob) Capps, AOM2/c & Roy Cantrell, AOM1/c have visited and remained friends for the past 57 years.

                              Jewell (Joe) Lewis AOM2/c V-5 Div. 1944-46

 

 
     
Copyright 1998 by Patty Cannon all rights reserved