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Personal Experiences

USS Bunker Hill

Roger Vost

Service Dates: 1944

Nashua , NH

I was on board the USS Bunker Hill when it was hit. My station
was Quad 12. I spent many hours in the water helping a man named Lopez to
stay afloat. I am hoping someone will know this man. I think he was from
the Los Angeles area.

If you could help it would be appreciated.



From: Mike and Terry Bloedel <bloedel@sprynet.com>

Date: Monday, January 24, 2000 4:34 PM

USS Bunker Hill
Walter Bloedel
Served1944 to 1945

Submitted by:

Michael Bloedel, Son of Walter Bloedel
bloedel@sprynet.com

My father Walter Bloedel served on USS Bunker Hill and USS Biloxi from 1944 to 1945. Looking for anyone that knew him or had any stories. Died when I was young.


Sailor=H. Leed "Pinky" Carmean

Service Dates=7/42-5/46

RName=Lesa Carmean

Relation=Daughter

R. Email=Lesac@mac.com

TextAreaName=Today (2/17/02) would have been my dad's 80th birthday. He
passed away 1/20/01, in Forest Grove, OR. I am writing this as a tribute to
him, Heman Leed Carmean, known by his friends and shipmates as "Pinky".

Leed began his career 7/42 as a US Merchant Marine, serving until 12/42 when
he resigned, as the merchant ship on which he served was heading to Russia
and, he didn't want to go there. "I knew what that was going to be like."

Dad was a smart guy, with an IQ of 165. Not wanting to be drafted, he
decided to join the Navy, figuring that by serving in that branch of the
military, he had the least chance of getting killed in the war!

Leed already had a civilian pilot's license, so initially, he pursued
military pilot training. He spent 1/43-4/43 at the US Naval Training Center
in Great Lakes, Ill. From 4/43-7/43, he attended USNATTC (Aviation Ordnance
School) in Norman, Oaklahoma in preparation for the USN Air Corps. Leed also
served there as an AOM3/c instructor from 7/43-3/44.

Although now qualified as a Navy pilot, back in the states word had spread
among the trainees how many Navy pilots were being killed in action. Dad
decided to pursue officer's training.

From 3/44-10/44, he was in the Navy V-12 Program at Central College in
Fayete, Missouri. During 11/44, he was in Pre-Midshipman School in Asbury
Park, N.J. From 12/44-3/45 he attended Midshipman School at Abott Hall, in
Chicago, Ill. And, in 3/45 he was commissioned Ensign, USNR in Chicago, Ill.


During officer's training, Leed learned that the Navy was in need of bomb
disposal experts. This job required high intelligence, steady nerves, and
almost continual training, as bombs and fuses were constantly being
re-designed! The bombs were highly unstable and the fuses were tricky.

So Leed and several buddies decided to pursue this route, in hopes the war
would be over by the time they got out of training. With his high
intelligence, Leed was admitted into the bomb disposal training program,
which kept him in the states and occupied throughout the war. From 4/45-5/46
he was at the USN Bomb Disposal School in Washington, D.C.

His classmates were a great bunch of guys, and up to hijinks constantly.
Leed was sharp as a tack and a real prankster. To his credit, his strategy
for surviving WWII by meeting the Navy's continuous demand for the latest
training in bombs and fuses worked.

Finally, during operation Magic Carpet, from 7/45-5/46, his time to serve
arrived. Leed served onboard the USS Bunker Hill in the Pacific as Bomb
Disposal Office Division Officer, and Jr. Division Officer J.O.D, O.D..

Since the Captain didn't know where to station this one-of-a-kind expert,
Leed was asked where he wanted to be stationed. Leed decided to position
himself on the bridge where he had a good view of the decks and got to be in
on the navigation of the ship. Occassionally upon landing, a bomb would fall
off a plane onto the deck, and it was Leed's job to dispose of it.

Since this happened rarely, the Captain figured Leed didn't have enough to
do, so he was also appointed Chief Mess Officer.



In this capacity, Leed's duty was to staff the mess and keep the food coming
constantly! It was a huge undertaking to feed the thousands of soldiers
being picked up off the Pacific Islands after the war. As they came onboard
the Bunker Hill, it was Leed's duty to personally recruit volunteers to help
in the mess, preparing meals for the men and washing up. A tough thing to
ask of guys who'd just survived fighting the Japanese.

The soldiers were "in pretty bad shape." The ones who weren't injured were dir
ty, hungry, and exhausted. But in exchange for serving in the mess, Leed
promised that the men who volunteered would get to take hot showers, which
sounded pretty darned good to the men. They also got to eat their meals
first.

Leed said there were so many soldiers onboard the USS Bunker Hill during
operation Magic Carpet, that the food line was a continuous circle around the
deck and it went around all day long. The men, who slept wherever there was
space, woke up and got right in the food line. They ate breakfast in line,
and stayed in line for lunch, ate their lunch in line, and stayed in line
again for dinner.

Although Leed was entitled to eat with the officers in the Officer's Mess, he
said he often preferred to eat with the enlisted men. Because, for some
reason, the officers had canned pears for dessert every single day! The
enlisted men had more varied dessert fare. He said he got "so damned tired
of canned pears!"

My dad loved the his days in the Navy. They were the best days of his life.
Dad went on to become an architect following his service, working on such
futuristic projects as the Seattle Space Needle. Leed enlisted in the
Reserves and was promoted to Captain.

God Bless him and all those wonderful guys! They were the "Great Generation"
and we owe them a debt of gratitude. There'll never be another batch of men
as great as the guys who served in World War 11. My Dad was a one-of-a-kind
original, and I miss him, his genius, and his sense of humor so much.

Sailor=James L Newelln

RName=Nancy Newell Bell
Relation=Daughter

My father James L. Newell served aboard the Bunker Hill after she was commissioned. The squadron joined the ship from San Diego as she departed for the South Pacific. He served during and survived both kamikaze attacks. Dad was awarded the Distinguished Flying Service Cross four times, the Presidential Unit Citation, and a plethora of other honors. Dad loved the Navy and served until 1960 including duty at Kanoe during the attack on Pearl Harbor, MATS during Korea and the Kearsarge in the late 1950s. He tried to contact crew members, unsuccessfully. before his death in October 2000 thru the Navy Personnel Office in Memphis. Recently I found original flight logs, letters to my mother during this period, and Navigator head sets used during this period. Just before his death I was able to take him back to Hawaii (he had vacationed there many times) for the last time. He told the first W.W.II stories he had told since then. We sat on the small hill overlooking Kenoe Bay just above the administration building as he recounted the image of the Bay in flames covered with aircraft fuel. The aircraft in flames and the frantic efforts to get the remainder of them off the ground to take down the Japanese. Dad recounted the images of the rising sun on the Japanese aircraft as they came over. He was an amazing man, he told these stories with great sadness, no bitterness or rage so common in some men after the war. Two days after beginning the clean up at Kenoe they sent Dad and several other teams over to Pearl Harbor to help there. Dad remembered his first glimpses of Pearl, still in flames, with horror. He said the smell was awful and the sky was still black, like an eclipse of the sun during mid day. He served in the MATS during Korea and on the Kearsarge later. He spent a great deal of time with the Japanese, now allies. His appreciation of the culture and honor of the Japanese was the legacy he handed down to us, not the hate and anger I have seen in some Vets. How lucky we were to share Dad's ability to always love the people and forgive their sins. He left an enduring commitment to Peace and the willingness to die for our rights and the safety we enjoy as Americans. He loved our country and me, his love helped maintain our relationship during the war in Viet Nam. I was in college and intensely against the war. He would patiently remind me that he would never agree with my position but he would willingly die for my right to say whatever I believed. Thanks Dad for giving me the best any kid could have.

Sailor=Jesus Barrona
Service Dates=January-June 1945

Chris Casillas
Relation=Great nephew

My great uncle was killed during the kamikaze attack near Okinawa. He was a gunner on the ship. That is as much information on him that I have and would like to know more. I would like to pay tribute to the only one of my family members to have died for our country. If any of his shipmates knows anything about him, please contact me. Thanks and God Bless.

ws anything about him, please contact me. Thanks and God Bless.

 

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