USS Sargent Bay
Watch George' Story - George remembers a suicide plane attack, and reminisces about food aboard the USS Sargent Bay.
Profile by Randy Aafedt
George started grade school in Scottsdale and remembers skipping lunch hour to swim in the Arizona Canal. He says, “We’d get back in our Levis and make it back to school in time for classes.”
In late 1942 his family moved to the first civilian houses built at Williams Air Force Base. Although only a junior at Chandler High, on February 3, 1944, George enlisted in the Navy. “You know I had a lot of land around me, so thought I’d go out and try the Navy and see how that was.”
He was trained on ships’ engines at the San Diego Naval Training Station and was assigned to a CVE-83, the USS Sargent Bay.
“I was an Oiler. He takes readings, checks the oil, tests the water to make sure it didn’t have salt in it. Salt was a very grave enemy to your boiler water.” When a new chief of watch was assigned to the Sargent Bay, George moved to position of Throttle Man.
“The Throttle Man had a head set that he cupped over one ear, and had three hand phones. You was almost a telephone operator. We had as many gauges as a commercial airliner and had to keep an eye on all of that.”
They sailed into battles at Leyte, Palau, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa, but the Sargent Bay escaped severe damage by enemy fire.
“We considered ourselves a lucky ship. But we had one come pretty close at Okinawa. We had a Zeke dive on us. I had been on the fantail talking to this other guy and looked up. He [the pilot] was diving…he opened fire and he shot up a few planes and guys on the flight deck. But we hit him with a five-inch, knocked the whole tail end off him; he was so close to us that parts of the plane fell on the flight deck.”
George was in Long Beach, California when the Japanese surrendered. To celebrate, “This older Williams boy, and I went to shore… into a bar and had a drink and he says ‘you better buy a bottle.’ ” Outside of the bar they encountered a Chief and his girlfriend in a two-seat Chrysler convertible. “He said ‘Come on jump in!’ They picked up two or three other sailors and … we was all sitting up on the top. I think we drove till midnight, just celebrating. We drove around to all the hotels, thought we might run into servicemen. We drove down on