Lowell R. (Bob) Capps, AOM2/Cv-5 Div. 44-45
was with the same group of men sent to the Lex that
Jewell (Joe) Lewis was in. We (Joe and Me)
practically went into the Navy together. We met at a
Naval Supply Depot in Seattle in July, 1943.
We often wondered why, when we were only 12 miles
from the Lex, in Bremerton dry dock, we were sent to
join her after she had left. But, after three ship
rides and three agonizing weeks, we finally caught
up with this huge flat-top. We were awed by the size
of the ship when we walked up the gangway into the
noisy, cavernous hangar deck. Joe and I were taken
to our quarters to get settled and spent the rest of
that day being taken around the ship by one of the
men in the Division we were going into. The next day
we were introduced to a 50 cal. Machine gun and were
taught how to take it apart, and put it back
together, until we actually did it blindfolded..
After that we learned how a bomb rack functioned,
and how to load the bombs with an easy to operate
bomb hoist. Our next learning adventure was
how to belt 50 cal. ammo. There were four of us that
sat around this belting machine that had a tray. One
of us would put an armor piercing shell in the tray,
another an incinderary and the other a tracer.
The other man kept the belt links coming in
properly. If we thought this was a lot of work, we
had no idea what was coming when we went on a
About a week or so later we
would learn when we hoisted anchor and sailed off
for a group of Japanese Islands called, if I
remember, Milii, Woleai, and Palau. This is when I
learned I had been assigned two F6F Fighter planes
to maintain the guns and keep them full of ammo.
Each plane has six 50's and each gun has three cans
containing 150 rounds of ammo all belted up.
That meant I had 36 cans to keep full if the pilot
shot it all up, and they usually did. We had
an ammo storage room on the port side of the flight
deck that held about 300 cases of 50 cal ammo.
When my planes landed and taxied to their spot on
the deck, I opened up the gun compartment on the
wings, cleared the guns and took all the cans that
needed filling to the ammo room to be filled.
This went on at least four times a day. Then
at the end of the day when the planes were spotted
for the next morning launch, I cleaned and oiled my
twelve 50's. At 3:00 A.M. next morning we were
up loading bombs, rockets and sometimes, we put
napalm in the belly tanks. We were lucky on
this strike, no Jap planes came out after us.
Our next operation was to
support the landing at Hollandia, New Guinea. This
was an exciting trip for all of us newcomers as we
were "polywogs", waiting to cross the Equator.
Our captain, Felix Stump, was "nice enough" to let
the "Shellbacks" initiate us into the realm of
Neptune Rex. It's hard to run through the
"Whipping Line" with your clothes on backwards, and
bare feet. But, it was a great experience, and we
were awarded our "Shellback" certificate.