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My Unforgettable Rich Experience
Berman M. Scott

    The beginning of the end for the USS Rich came on the morning of June 8, 1944, about 8:30. We left our position near the battleship Nevada and proceeded to the area where the destroyer Glennon had been damaged by a mine. 

    As we approached the Glennon, the motor whaleboat with its crew was lowered into the water and the crew proceeded to the port side of the Glennon. Shortly thereafter as the Rich maneuvered around the stern and came up on the starboard side of the Glennon, there was a tremendous explosion which sent a wall of water high into the air. We felt the force of the explosion which rocked the Rich. 

    We had barely recovered from that explosion when there was another explosion aft. We could see from our gun position that a section of the stern had been blown off. The torpedoes which were in back of our gun position were partly out of the tubes and were smoking and making a whirring sound. Since I was on the phones to the bridge, I reported the damage. I received orders for the crew to leave our position and go forward. 

    When the third explosion hit a couple of minutes later, I was standing on the port side of the three-inch gun on the forward deck talking to a crew member whose name I cannot recall. I was wearing a pair of moccasin shoes and I remember my feet slipping out of them when I left the deck. I remember holding my hands out in front of me because I expected to hit the gun or the bulkhead. I was blown over the three-inch gun and off the starboard side of the ship. I remember going into the water and struggling to get back to the surface. 

    When I came up to the surface, my lifebelt was up under my arms and my left arm was broken between the elbow and the shoulder. I then realized that I had gone into the water feet first and the lifebelt had broken my arm when the water suddenly forced it up under my arms. I had no feeling below the waist so I reached down to see if my legs were still there. I looked back at the Rich which was some distance from me. I knew that I could not get back to it with only my right hand and arm functioning. 

    A few minutes later I saw a PT boat heading toward the Rich and I waved and yelled for help. The PT boat came over to where I was and a crewman pulled me out of the water. It then pulled along side the Rich and remained for just a minute or so. The Rich was sinking rapidly and appeared about ready to go under.

    The crew of the PT boat took me out to a floating dock where there were several members of our crew. Most of them were walking around and did not appear to be injured. I also remember that there were a group of German prisoners standing on one end of the dock. 

    From there, we were taken aboard a landing craft and taken across the channel to the coast of England where a field hospital had been set up. We were taken up to the field hospital where we were checked over and sent on to a hospital. I was taken to the 51st Army General Hospital north of London near Worchester. To my knowledge, I was the only sailor taken there. I never did see or hear of anyone else from the Navy being there. I had fractures of both legs, crushed vertebrae and a fractured arm. I was in a body cast from my neck down to my toes plus an arm cast until after I returned to the States in mid-August. 

    I came back on the Army hospital ship Wisteria to Charleston, South Carolina. I received excellent care by the Army in the hospital in England and on the hospital ship back to Charleston. Even so, I was happy when the Navy reclaimed me in Charleston. I remained at the Charleston Naval Hospital until late November when I was sent to the Naval Convalescent Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina. 

    Henry Jasper and J. N. Moon from the Rich were in Asheville for a while. From the hospital in Asheville, I was sent to the Naval hospital at Fort Eustes near Norfolk. From there, I was discharged on June 13, 1945.

    I went home, enrolled in college, married my sweetheart who had waited for me, completed my education, and entered the field of education. Ruth and I each spent 34 years in public education before retiring in the mid-eighties.

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