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  Personal Experiences

 

Jay D. Higgins
Service Dates=1941 through 1946
Address=315 Race Track Street
City=Auburn, CA
Posted by Son=Jay Higgins, Jr
Relation=Son

USS Lexington CV2

 

Naval history and the newspapers reporting on the Coral Sea battle tell how there was a orderly evacuation of all hands and how the Captain was the last to leave the ship. My father, however, once told me a very different story about what happened after the ship was abandoned. He knew, because he was there, left on board. My father was assigned to damage control. He was sent, with buddy, to man pumps in the keel of the ship shortly after the first torpedo hit. When the secondary explosion ocurred on the hanger deck it knocked out communications and then the lights. They continued to man their stations until it was impossible to do so. As they attempted to work their way up they were blocked by fire. He told of walls melting from the heat. Finally they managed to move to the bow of the ship and get to the flight deck. His buddy decided to try to make it to his burth to get a gun. My father said he never saw him again. He recalled trying to move to the high side of the ship, as he had been trained, to jump to the water, but when he got there he couldn't see the water because of the list. He finally jumped from the low side. Once in the water he was unable to get away from the ship so he just floated with the current. He said the flames were shooting high in the air above him. As the ship had been abandon earlier in the day, there were no other ship around. (The battle had moved away and it was some time later before the destoryer returned to sink her.) He was alone in the water. Eventually he was recused after 23 hours.

My father never talked about his experience on the Lex or in the water, but he did this one time when as a teenager I pushed him to do so.

I would love to talk with anyone who might have know him or worked in the same areas.

 

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