Memories of the U.S.S. Kearny

If you have any stories to share from your (or a relatives)
time aboard the Kearny, please E-mail Me

I recall an incident that happened when we were on our shake down cruise...
We anchored one night in the Chesapeake Bay and when the gangway light was on we could see thousands of crabs flowing by in the tide.....Some nets were quickly fashioned and fitted to the ends of broom handles--Our cook,,Think his name was Camp?? fired up the steam kettles and all hands top-side (officers and crew) were busy catching and cooking crabs.
And speaking of crabs - during the time we were blockading Martiique we went to St.Lucia for liberty and the entire ship became infested with body lice. We had to go to Norfolk to be de-loused.
A million good memories.

Our shipmate Jack Holt had a great sense of humor and always a quick reply for any question- - when he was asked where someone was he usually replied "he's up in the bread locker,loafing, the big crumb. Once he was practicing welding [being a metalsmith} and when asked what he was making he said "a spoing"He said "listen" and when the hot piece of steel that he was welding hit the water it made a noise "spoing"! Jack was transfered to the USS Curtis a few months before we went on convoy duty- - I saw him after the war ended in San Diego and he had not changed a bit.

Dave Naill

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After going through basic training at the U.S Naval Training at San Diego, California, I was assigned to the Electrician Mates School in Gulfport, Mississippi. It was a long five day trip across the southern states, in the middle of summer. We were on a troop train without air conditioning, that had to pull over on a siding every time a train with any priority would come through.
Electrical school was tough, as it was sixteen weeks of eight hour days of classes and two hours of home work every night. The competition for grades was fierce, as most of the class were young fellows just out of high school or college, and I had been out of school for years. We did get as far as New Orleans several times, but there wasn't' much else to do at that time.
After we graduated, one of my buddies, Lyal Burt, and myself were assigned to the U.S.S. Kearny, a destroyer, that we were to join in New York city. We were pleased with this assignment as we were the only ones in the class going to the Atlantic, the rest were going into amphibious duty in the Pacific, and that was not very good duty at that time.
We were soon to learn that the Navy was not as regulated as we thought. We spent nine days at Pier 92, which was the Naval receiving station for New York, and then another eight days at Norfork Virginia before our ship finally came in.
It was on February 1 1945 that we boarded the Kearny late in the evening, and were told by the officer of the day that there where no empty bunks on board, and we would have to find some place to sleep on our own, and to report to the electric shop the next morning. We did finally find a place where a pile of sea bags were stored and there we spent the night.
The next morning we reported for roll call with the electrical gang, and were told by the Electrician 1/C that they had a full crew and didn't know why they sent us. He took pity on us though,and told us he had a couple of young fellows in the crew that weren't doing too good and if we could talk them in to trading places with us he would be glad to have us. Burt and I shamelessly talked them into swapping, telling them what great shores leaves they giving on the base. We got their bunks and lockers and had a place to sleep that night. We later had reason to believe that it probably hadn't been that hard to convince them to swap. when we found out that a 300 foot long top heavy destroyer wasn't greatest way to cross the Atlantic in the cold stormy winter weather. We didn't know about about the times when the tilt gauge in the engine room would go past the point of no return, or when it would seem like we had run into a brick wall, but at last we were in the real Navy.
Gene Davis

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The last time I visited the 432 was in Norfolk OpnBase, just after one of the scraps with the British sailors from the ships undergoing repairs across the river in the Summer l94l and the 'efforts' to locate American whitehats who had been involved.
When I came aboard, and saw my brother's black eye and asked him about it, he was pretty much abrupt and closed mouth about the source but I recalled someone on board told me the shiner came from a wave of 4 or 5 Brits swarming him under in a second floor bar (name forgotten), and that Capt Danis and other skippers were supposed to check the tin-can crews for signs of combat.
Also, that Capt Danis was very proud to find that None of his crew showed any such "honors-of-combat".
Sidney Bobe

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Kurtz opted to remain in the navy after he lost his lower legs in the Kearny torpedo incedent.He became very profficient in walking with the new artificial legs and while in the New York area went over to Orange N.J. to the bar of boxer Tony Gallentos.
Kurtz was inclined to get a little noisy at times and while in that bar he was looking at the huge picture on the wall of Joe Louis layed out on the canvas with Tony standing over him. In his loud voice he began to berate Tony with remarks that it was an accident, and other remarks which caused Tony to punch him between the horns to the extent that he was knocked off the barstool and was laying out on the floor.
When Tony saw his artificial legs he ran out and picked Kurtz up and set him back on the stool- -He was so ashamed of hitting a guy with "wooden legs" that he was almost in tears.---He couldn't apologise enough, and I think old Kurtz probably had lifetime free beer there.
Tony Galento was perhaps not the greatest boxer ever, but he had a big heart.

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Oran, Algeria and Back

My first trip on the Kearny was from Norfolk , Virginia to Oran , Algeria. We were convoying a group of over forty ships of all types and sizes. We were the point ship and had two destroyer escorts covering the sides of the convoy. We criss-crossed in front of the convoy to give a broad sonar screen ahead. It took ten days to cross the Atlantic , and at least half of that time we were in very rough ocean. We had submarine soundings several times and dropped depth charges, but as we had to return to the convoy, I never knew if we did damage to any U-Boats.
When we arrived at the Straits of Gibraltar , it was a beautiful day. The sky was very blue and the sea was as smooth as glass. The convoy had to form in a long line to go through the straits, and everything was going fine until there were two booms, two freighters right behind us were torpedoed. Fortunately the ships did not sink. The last we saw of them, they were heading for the coast of Spain. I don't know why they let us go by first without trying to sink us , but we were all glad they made that choice.
We made it to Oran without any further problems , and after five days we took another convoy back to New York. Outside of having more heavy seas , with waves that sometimes seemed to come over the top of the ship, we had no more submarine problems.
I did however, have a problem of my own on the way back. I stood my watch on the search light , and one of the last things one would expect would be used while we were in submarine waters. Being electricians, we had a phone line that run over a hundred feet and down two decks where we had a nice warm spot in a storage spot for surplus sea bags , and there we could read by flashlight, and not have to sit up on the searchlight. We wore our head phones and answered to the roll call of all the watches , about every fifteen minutes.
The convoy was entering into the long approach to New York harbor when we come into an unexpected fog bank. The ships started to bunch up and got to close together, too close for the Radar to be effective. It was then that the order came over to telephones " Man the Searchlight!!" I had to jump up from my warm spot, and in the dark , make my way up the ladders and through the hatches. Trying to wind up the phone line, that kept catching on everything , and all the time they were calling over and over on the head phone to " Man the Searchlight!!". It probably didn't take but a few minutes but it seemed like an hour, until I finally got up the two decks and got the searchlight lit off . Then I was out in the open on a cold winter night with just a light work shirt on , not daring to tell anyone over the phone of my predicament. Finally a sailor dressed in warm foul weather gear, came across me sitting up on my perch and thought I was crazy , but I convinced him to go below and wake up an electrician to come up and relieve me. He was a very welcome sight, but it took me a long time to thaw out.

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Mt. Vesuvius erupted while we were anchord in Naples harbor. When the wind changed, our ship was coverd with vocanic ash !
We went to Palermo Sicily to hose down after the ( Texas ) dust storm hit us.
TM3 Guy Reed onboard 4/43-2/45

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QM3 Milton R. Breault

My dad passed away in August 1984. When I was growing up he told me about his time in the Navy. I never really fully grasped his involvement in the war until I recently received a letter that my cousin found that was sent to my aunt. The letter is dated 12/05/1944 . My dads name was Milton R. Breault he was from Kankakee Illinois.In his letter he writes how the Kearney left the States in Feb. of 1944 how they went to Oran Africa, went to Algiers and had many fist fights with the English sailors. He went to Bigerte then to Palermo. He told how they went looking for subs when a sub sunk a British cruiser and the Kearny sunk the sub. He wrote about the tough fights along the coast of Anzio and every half hour the Kearney would be shot at by German planes. He wrote that they would anchor in Naples find a nice tavern and the next night it would be blownup from air raids. He wrote about the close calls . He also said they were in Naples when Mt Versumius erupted and how much ash was on the ship. He wrote about the invasion of France on August 13 and how the ship was told it did not have a chance on making it out. He wrote that the Kearney was the first ship in, it went in about 2 miles and stopped then about 80 bombers flew over and bombed the hell out of the town. He said the Kearney laid smoke screen for the Nevada. He said he saw ten flashes from the beach he thought they were firing at the Nevada but they were firing at them. He saw one go between the stacks.He said they fired about 15 times at the Kearney hitting the ship once but not much damage. He said the ship started to head out when the skipper said that they cann't do that to the Kearney and went back shooting like mad and got it all. it said the fighting went on like that for about a month. He said liberty in Marseilla and Toulon were nice. I received this this letter the day i visited my dads gravesite and I am happy to share it with you..

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Kearny, Vulcan
by
JOHN G. LEMON
December 7, 1991

As a Navy veteran of World War II and the Korean Conflict, I recall very vividly where I was on December 7, 1941. "My" ship, the U.S.S. Kearny (DD 432), had been torpedoed by a German submarine about 350 miles south of Iceland on October 17, 1941. The Kearny limped into Iceland under her own power and tied up alongside the U.S.S. Vulcan, a destroyer repair ship. It was late in the evening when news of the attack on Pearl reached Iceland. Many of the Kearny and Vulcan crew members, including myself, were attending the movie. The film was stopped and announcement of the attack was made on the ship's speakers. There was little sleep that night. Most of the Kearny crew simply wanted to get under way and head for Pearl. However, repairs to make the Kearny seaworthy were not completed until near the end of December. We left Iceland on Christmas day and reached Boston on January 1, 1942. The Kearny had suffered the first casualties (eleven dead and many more wounded) of American naval personnel of World War II. The torpedoing of the Kearny was front page headline news, world wide, on October 17, but was soon forgotten in the turmoil of the global conflict which followed. As a former crew member, I would hope more Americans remember Kearny and the superb American seamen who lost their lives in that lonely battle of the North Atlantic, both before and after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Written by John (Jack) G. Lemon, recalling the events surrounding the attack on Pearl Harbor, on the 50 Anniversary of the attack. Published by a New Bern, North Carolina newspaper, December 1991.

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