Ed Medeiros ~
A Hero’s Secrets
All rights reserved. ©2010 by Ed Medeiros
SECRET USN DOCUMENT - Some of the details of the battle were learned from the then secret report of the Chevalier’s Executive officer Lt. J.R. Hanson.
From: J.R. Hanson Exc. Officer
To: The Commanding Officer
Subject: Action report of enemy engagement night of 6 October 1943
1. Our task unit consisting of the U.S.S. Selfridge*, Chevalier and O’Bannon* in column was proceeding to join the U.S.S. Talbot, LaVallette and Taylor at a point 10 miles north of Sauka Point, Vella, La valla Island, New Georgia islands. As evaluator in CIC, I was able to observe all contacts made, but unfortunately my record of bearings and ranges of contact was lost with the ship.
ARTICLES 2 to 11 omitted.
12. In conclusion: The conduct of the crew and officers was phenomenal for their calmness, cool and collected reactions and their whole hearted cooperation in saving the wounded and jettisoning ship. Each man did his best to help his other shipmates.
World English Dictionary definition - A brave person, somebody admired, an idol, a champion etc. We have a great many heroes. Some well known and some no one know. Most of our heroes are known because of their actions involved in battles as members of the U S Military.
Alvin Yorke from World War I immortalized in the movie Sgt. Yorke. Most of us old ”geezers” remember Audie Murphy one of the most decorated men from WW II. A little known hero was a woman, Ruby Bradley. She was a U S Army nurse both in WW II and the Korean conflict. Big acts of heroism get the CNN headlines. Smaller brave events disappear somewhere, unseen, left behind only in our memories. Here for a second, then they are gone. Yet, one single good Samaritan can change a multitude of lives. Everyday people who offer help to Haitians, a teacher who faces a gunman, a cabbie who returns thousands of dollars left in his cab – these deeds go by – often unnoticed and unmentioned in the press or anywhere else.
- USS Selfridge
His story happened when he was nineteen, remaining a memory, silent for sixty-four years. A simple brave act during World War II that received no bronze star, no cross, no reward except saving a life. October 6th 1943, three US Navy destroyers, the U.S.S. Selfridge, Chevalier, and O’Bannon, were deployed in the south pacific in the vicinity of Vella Lavelle Island. They were engaged in battle with a number of Japanese ships and PT boats. The three US Destroyers were in attack formation with the Selfridge leading the a torpedo assault the Chevalier and the O’Bannon following close behind.
All three ships had fired torpedoes. Flames could be seen and explosions heard coming from the enemy vessels off in the distance. Suddenly and unexpectedly the Chevalier was hit by a torpedo. Fired from a small Japanese PT boat that appeared on the side away from the main Japanese force. The underwater missile hit just forward of the bridge, were the Captain and crew control the ship’s activity. The resulting explosion completely blew the bow section off the ship.
Due to the speed which the ship was traveling it would most certainly have caused the bulkheads (walls) of the Chevalier to collapse, sinking her within minutes. Luckily the O’Bannon following close behind, rammed the stricken ship on the Port side just behind the after boiler room. The impact slowed the Chevalier down, coupling the fast action of the crew, the wounded ship was brought to a hault.
- USS Chevalier
After reviewing the damage and considering all possible alternatives, Captain Wilson reluctantly determined that the Chevalier had seen her last battle, giving the orders to “abandon ship.” The Selfridge continued with the engagement and moved on. The O’Bannon though sustaining considerable damage was not in danger of sinking, remained behind to take the surviving crew members aboard. The surrounding waters were covered with oil and the fear of fire prevented the O’Bannon from coming along side to take on the stricken crew. She took a position about thousand yards off to wait for the Chevalier’s crew to make their way to her.
As a member of the ship’s engineering group, Joseph was stationed in the after boiler room close to where the O’Bannon hit. On impact he was thrown into the air hitting an overhead steam pipe. He sustained a minor burn on the upper arm just above his USN tattoo. When the order came to “abandon ship” Joe went to his station. His duty was to operate the engine of a lifeboat. Of the three remaining lifeboats, one was lost from the ramming, so the others were ordered to only take the seriously wounded to the O’Bannon. All able-bodied members of the crew were to leave the ship at the stern which was closest to the water and swim to the rescue ship.
Joe was approached by a shipmate who asked him if he would change places with him because he did not know how to swim. Neither Joe nor his friend had their lifejackets with them, having left them behind at their “battle stations.” Joe without giving it a thought gave up the safety of the lifeboat and changed places with his friend. He then entered the oil laden water swimming to the O’Bannon with considerable difficulty. The added weight of the oil on their clothing and the accompanying fumes made it tiring and some of the men where in danger of going under. They all helped each other and fortunately none of swimmers were lost.
- USS Obannon
Joe thought nothing of changing places with his friend, “just something I did,” he says. No parade, no CNN, no one knew of his bravery. Never shared his heroism with his family or friends. His response, “Hell, I saw more action on my second ship the USS Robinson when it was assigned to the Pacific.” I learned of all this when Joe and I were reminiscing about the old days and I asked him to break the silence of October 6th, 1943. Joe is also my brother, Joseph E. Medeiros, “My Hero.”
*Some amazing US history can be found here
Donuts on Dorrance Street
I could go on about the guy who was soda jerk at the largest department store in Rhode Island. How ever spring my Mother would drag me to this store to get new clothes as was the custom with Portuguese people at Easter time, but I think it might be too long.
This is a 1950′s Woolworth lunch menu. I remember going there with my mother when I was 9 or 10 years old. It was a treat to get a grilled cheese sandwich and ice cream soda. Some time we would get a hot turkey sandwich.
My mother used to go down the “street” almost every Saturday. Some time she would make me go with her. That was when my father would go to the “Portuguese” club on Warren Ave. If the truth were known I looked forward to going with “Ma”.
There were two five and dime stores next to each other. Woolworths and Kressges. If my memory serves me corectly only Woolworths had a lunch counter. One of them had a donut making machine set out in the front of the store. I was fascinated with it. It was not very big and enclosed with glass. Plastic was not used in those days. It had a tank, that looked more like a large roasting pan with partitions in it. It was filled with “Hot” cooking oil. The dough was automatically dropped in at one end and it flowed along cooking (frying) the dough. At precisely the right moment a “spatula” type device would flip the donut over and it would continue along until it was completely cooked. Then at the end of the tank it was flipped out by another spatula onto a tray. A clerk would put them in bags to sell.
The smell was “gorgeous,” but for some reason my mother would not buy them. This was long before Dunkin Donuts. I wonder how Dunkin makes their donuts?
Since there was only “one” car so Dad had orders to pick us up in back of the “New England” market on Dorrance St at 4PM. Occasionally Mom would pick up hamburgers for supper at the “White Tower” also on Dorrance St. that too was a treat.
Life was so simple in those days now that I think of it. It was not long after, World War II broke out and all our lives changed. It became very complicated.
All rights reserved. ©2010 by Ed Medeiros
I Am Older Than I Should Be
*Happy 79th birthday…guest author Ed Medeiros
All rights reserved. ©2010 by Ed Medeiros
Recently I celebrated my 79 th birthday. WOW!! Yes I entered this world on the 5th of February 1931. According to the story told in our family I am two weeks older then I should be. How can this be you ask. Let me digress. It was a cold February night, the streets were partially covered with snow. My mother (Mary) was expecting but she was not due until the end of the month.
The country was in the early grasp of the “Great Depression” Dad was only working three days a week. Ma also worked three days a week. She worked on second shift (3 PM to 11 PM) at East Providence Mills (a textile mill). As was the practice at the end of the shift Mom and my Aunt who worked with Ma walked home.
Although we had car (an “Overland”) dad stayed home with my seven year old brother Joseph (Josey he was called until he was a teenager and then he rebelled).
It was only three or four miles, approximately, no one really measured. Aunt Tina was married to Dad’s brother, Uncle John, they lived two blocks away. Uncle John took care of my cousins, Helen, Madelyn and baby Harold.. Mid as he was called by his chums was 3 or 4 years old. Uncle John did not have a car. In fact he did not get his drivers license until he was in his later years.
The two ladies were walking home this cold winter nite. As it happened just as they arrived at our house Mother slipped on the ice and fell to the ground. When my Aunt tried to help her up she fell as well but not on the ground but on top of my mother. They both laughed and managed to get to their feet they went into the house. After to usual cup of tea and mom convinced everyone she was ok. A little sore but the baby (me) seemed to be ok Aunt Tina went home.
Sometime just after sunrise Mom went into labor. The Doctor was sent for. Aunt Tina came back to assist. The Doctor was surprised and thought it was just “false labor.” He told my mother she was not due for two weeks.
He had calculated she would deliver around the 25th of the month. This would have been something. My brother was born on the 25th. I guess June was a good month for Dad.
But I had other things in mind. When both ladies fell and my Aunt landed on top of Mom, I decided it was time for me to make my grand appearance. So I was born late in the afternoon on the 5th of February TWO weeks before I was supposed to.
Thus making me two weeks older than I would have been had it not been for the fall of Mary and Tina.
I asked my Brother last week if he knew what was going on. He said, all he knew was his mother was in the bedroom with the Doctor and Aunt Tina. He remembers the Doctor showing him how to cut out paper ducks. Then all of a sudden he heard me crying.