The war's ending was great news for all of us out here. VE day was pleasant news, of course, but VJ day was of most importance because it marked the end of OUR war. We had a special dinner and an entertainment on the hangar deck. The Chaplain, Lt. (j.g.) Brown, led us in prayer and then the skipper, Capt. Walker, and the executive officer, Commander Gallaher, talked to us. We were in a gay mood and the show was fine, including singing and musical numbers.
We all know there is still a lot to be done in the Pacific despite the war's end. Just look at your map and see all the places where the Japs are. I think you will be able to see clearly that although the war is over, our job is not quite completed as yet.
The end of the war does mean, however, that censorship can be relaxed a bit and, although these obviously are not official remarks of the Navy, I would like to tell you something about what our ship has done during the 18 months that she has been in service.
The Sitkoh Bay was commissioned March 28, 1944 at Astoria, Ore. From Astoria, she went to Seattle where stores, ammunition, bombs and other materials were loaded and after a short cruise from Seattle to Alameda, she was off on her first long trip, which was to the Hawaiian Islands -- to Pearl Harbor. The stay in port was just long enough to give the ship's company a chance to take a look at Honolulu and the site of the sneak attack by the Japanese which precipitated this war, and then back to the States again. Since that time there have been more than a score of stops made at Pearl Harbor, sometimes just for a few hours and some times for several days.
In September, 1944, the Sitkoh Bay took part in the occupation of the Palau Islands and won the first engagement star for the Asiatic-Pacific area ribbon. The next big operation was the liberation of the Philippines. Most of the time during October and November, 1944, was spent in the Philippine area while operating as a unit of the 3rd Fleet, which was led by Admiral "Bull" Halsey. In this operation the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and a second engagement star for the Asiatic-Pacific Ribbon were earned and all hands on board became members of the "West of Tokyo" club.
After about four months of routine duty, there came an assignment which took the ship into the combat area off Okinawa in April, 1945 and led to her narrowest escape. After having been at General Quarters several times during the day because of the presence of Japanese aircraft, finally the real thing came along! One of those Jap suiciders, flying a "Frances" twin-engined bomber, decided the Sitkoh Bay was IT. The Jap was winged by a Marine Corsair plane, but he kept on coming in and was finally shot down by ship's gun fire so close aboard that debris was thrown on the flight deck when he exploded. You can imagine how relieved everyone was to see him explode in the water rather than on the flight deck and you can bet the men manning the guns got a big hand from the rest of the crew. This successful encounter with the Kamikaze pilot, who, by the way, very thoroughly achieved his mission of committing suicide, earned the third engagement star for the Asiatic-Pacific Area Ribbon.
So, in the year and a half, the ship has earned the American Area Ribbon, the Asiatic-Pacific Area Ribbon with three battle stars and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon. Those personnel aboard during the periods mentioned above, are entitled to wear the ribbons and stars. That is a pretty good record in itself, but the ship has done more than that. We are proud that the Sitkoh Bay delivered the first Army Mustang fighter planes which operated from Saipan and escorted the B-29 bombers over Tokyo. The Marine squadrons landed from the ship at Okinawa were the first land-based planes to operate from that island and did a magnificent job in helping secure Okinawa.
We have had long hours of work and short hours of sleep on many occasions. Holidays have been very few, but we think we have done an important job in helping bring this war to a close. During these 18 months, our ship has traveled considerably more than 100,000 miles. The Equator and International Date Line were crossed numerous times and in so doing the Ship's Company became Shellbacks and members of the Order of the Golden Dragon. Among the islands visited have been Majuro, Roi, and Eniwetok in the Marshall Islands, Manus in The Admiralty Islands, Guam in the Mariannas, Ulithi and Honolulu. Ports on the west coast of the U.S. visited have been Astoria, Seattle, San Francisco and San Diego. Between these ports many hundred of officers and enlisted passengers and many tons of aircraft and cargo have been transported.
The ship has another claim to distinction. We have on board a mascot -- a dog by the name of Puck* -- who has been with us since April, 1944. Puck, who is a Kerry Blue, has come to be quite a sailor. He has been initiated into the mysteries of Davy Jones and the Golden Dragon and carries his own identification card around his neck. Puck has earned most of the bugle calls and always answers promptly to movie call and sits on the hangar deck and enjoys the pictures just about as much as we do. "Torpedo Defense," the call that means "man all guns," sends Puck down below decks as he has learned from bitter experience that the firing of our guns hurts his ears and he tries to get as far away from them as he can. He hasn't been able to find any trees, but we do have a lot of fire hydrants on the ship.
This, in brief, is a saga of a year and a half of war in the Pacific. We will travel many more thousands of miles before we are finished with our job, but we are happy and relieved that the war is over and we are proud of the Sitkoh Bay and our part in helping to end the war.
* NOTE -- The following information, about the ship's dog Puck, comes from Brent Taylor, whose family was the original owner of the dog:
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