LCI 356 and the DD Longshaw by Don Adair
Clarence Donald "Don" Adair
Greetings. My dad, Clarence Donald "Don" Adair served on the 356, and while going through some long lost papers, I found a letter recounting his participation in rescue operations aboard DD Longshaw on May 18, 1945. As luck would have it I stumbled on your web site soon after, hence this email.
The following is the transcription of the letter, and while my dad passed away in 1989, if you would like to use the content on the site you have my permission.
"June 27, 1945
Well at least I can tell you I was at Okinawa in the invasion & for sometime there after. While in that area we had many experiences I hope never to have to repeat. We were bombed, strafed, suicide places were diving at us, & the Japs on the beach even fired on us as they did at Iwo.
All our narrow escapes from Jap aircraft seems to take a back seat to a little incident we were in rescuing survivors from a stricken Destroyer off the coast of Okinawa. It was the D.D. Longshaw since reported as lost & I can confirm the statement. We were in real close doing our firing from off shore with our mortars & she was standing off pounding away & more or less looking after us. All at once heavy Jap artillery from the beach opened up on her & we could see nothing but two giant puffs of black oil smoke. She was blown in half. The only natural thing to do was to go and try to pick up the men in the water who had been blown clear of the ship by the explosion. There were several ships of our class on one side of her picking up the men so we decided to pull around to the other. In so doing we passed close to the stern of her and in so doing saw life still aboard. Two men were waving frantically for us to come for them. The ship was still burning furiously so we had to maneuver around to stay clear of the flames. In our haste to get to them we rammed one of their depth charges but fortunately it didn't go off. Now we did the only thing we could do & that was tie up to a ship with its magazines full of five inch shells burning like mad & still very much in range of the Japs. Naturally the shells were exploding & throwing shrapnel at all times. Nevertheless, we charged aboard to get anyone who showed any signs of life. There were quite a few alive but the dead outnumbered them many times. The decks of the ship were hot from the fire so we had to cool them before we could walk on them. As we searched the ship for life it was necessary many times to move arms, legs, heads, and whole bodies from our path so we could continue. Actually we walked through blood & guts. As I said before shells were exploding & shrapnel was flying. It rained on my helmet & a small piece nicked my thumb & aside from a few minor burns on my hands from moving something hot to get to a man I pulled through okay.
Many of us have been recommended for the Bronze Star & Silver Star Medals but that doesn't mean so much as we did save many a man's life. Now we are away from it all & I do hope it is sometime before we return.
Another little island we invaded was Ie Shima on which Ernie Pyle was killed. I saw the spot ashore there but Jap snipers were too abundant for me to stay & appreciate it."
The rest of the letter is personal in nature so I have not included it here. As it turned out, my father did receive a Bronze Star for his actions that day, and I believe his Captain (Edgar B. Wicklander) received a Navy Cross. I have also attached a scan of the 356 beached somewhere (apparently not that unusual I guess ...) as well as an "at ease" photo of my dad on board.
I may find additional materials related to his WWII service on the 356, and if so, would the project have any interest in seeing or reviewing them?
Let me know. Thanks.
Schenectady, NY USA