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By Robert M. Miller, UPI War Correspondent.
Appeared on the front page of the night final edition of the Akron Beacon Journal, July 14, 1944.

 

 
    ABOARD AN AMERICAN PT-BOAT, OFF FRANCE - Only a few hours ago, the USS Rich was a proud American Destroyer Escort loaded with hundreds of men.

    She had just removed some casualties from a damaged sister ship and had started slowly away, when an explosion rocked her.

    We were about a quarter of a mile away, and Lieut. Com. John D. Bulkeley, Long Island City, N. Y. of "expendable" fame ordered the PT-boat to the Rich's assistance.

    As we pulled alongside, Bulkeley offered aid, but the Rich's bridge replied that none was needed. The crew crowding the rails seemed more interested in the PT-boat than its own narrow escape.

    Then came a muffled roar as another explosion ripped the ship, shooting into the sky a fountain of salt water mixed with oil, bodies, and pieces of steel. We were only 50 yards away and the blast hurled the frail PT-boat from the water as if slapped by a mighty hand.

    As the great green wall of water fell away, it revealed the Rich torn in half behind the stack. The stern was drifting away. Oil gushed from her broken seams. Dead and dying were spread everywhere. A rising chorus of moans swelled from the injured, floundering in the oil and screaming for help.

    The PT-boat had not moved ahead 50 feet when the third blast ripped what was left of the sinking hull.

    The third blast toppled the foremast, with the heavy shaft and all the rigging crashing upon the men huddled on the forecastle bridge.

    From every section of the ship came cries and moans --- even the ship herself gave off a weird sigh as steam from her boilers escaped. The faces of those still alive stared with incredible eyes at broken limbs and moaned with excruciating pain.

    Another PT-boat removed what survivors there were from the drifting stern. The skipper of the other boat, Lieut. Calvin Whorton, former Los Angeles Times sports writer, dived into the oil film and rescued two men thrown clear by the explosion.

    We came alongside the main part of the ship and began taking survivors aboard. They mostly were mangled men, but some miraculously escaped and were able to carry their mates onto our blood-soaked decks.

 

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