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The Sinking and Rescue of USS Rich DE605
Melvin Carlson, TM 3/c, PT504

    We approached the Rich from the port quarter when a tremendous explosion erupted about 50 feet behind the ship. One of our officers called to the bridge of the Rich: "Do you need any assistance?" The reply: 'We just sent a party below to investigate the damage. Standby if you like." Just a little later - another tremendous explosion cut off about 40 feet of the stern and it floated free. We then went around to the starboard mid-section when a third explosion lifted the ship up about seven feet, crumpling the mast like a toothpick. Men were blown high into the air with some landing in the water and some on the deck. We then went immediately to the port mid-section and started the rescue efforts.

    Radioman Foehner and Quartermaster Gretter went aboard and started getting men to the gunwales. Gunner Puckulsky, TM Mel Carison and Comdr. John Ford assisted in getting as many men off as possible while Comdr. Bulkeley photographed the rescue attempt. Some of the men were horribly wounded. They showed remarkable courage because I don't remember one moaning or crying. One large young sailor with a foot cut off and just hanging by the skin near the heel was more interested in the PT boat and speed of the PT than his own well being. Ensign Mike Sharkey was at the wheel of PT 504 until the third mine went off. Then Lt. Sherwood, the skipper, took the wheel. We rescued 39 or 49 and brought them to another ship. Our deck was so red with blood that it was very hard to stand much less to carry wounded men. We did have a Pharmacist Mate 1/c on board that day. He froze - Sharkey grabbed him by his left hand and gave him a hard right cross to the shoulder: "These men are badly wounded. Start giving them morphine." He snapped out of it immediately and got to work. German 88's continued to shell for a time. A few days later a Fletcher Class destroyer took care of that gun. Sept. of 1992, while visiting Sharkey, he did not recall that he had hit this Pharmacist Mate in the shoulder. He may have been in shock also but he surely didn't show it. Our PT officers were on the whole, very fine men.

    DE-695 went down in about 15 minutes. QM Gretter became entangled in the wires of the mast and darn near drowned. I believe he was picked up by another PT and returned to our PT. Zagrocki from another PT went aboard the floating stern section to rescue some men and received the Silver Star. The book "SeaWolf' by William B. Breuer on page 126 shows a picture of Lt. Sherwood rescuing a man from the water. That is not Lt Sherwood - it is the writer of this letter. He out weighed me about 70 lbs. I weighed only 115 and needed help to get the men in the water up the Jacobs ladder. The second error on that page is the date of the sinking. It lists it as June 3rd. (That was before the invasion).

    The Rich had participated in the rescue of the personnel from DD Corry and DD Glennon. Many of these men were standing along the gunwales and many did not have life jackets on. This I could not understand at all!!! Good God!!! We were at war - in a mine field within range of shore batteries - and no life jackets!! Today there are only three crew members alive that served on PT504 that we know oft Sharkey, myself and Lloyd Lapham of Council Bluffs, Iowa. If you need any more just call me. I will do my best to help. Eric Severeid, the noted commentator from CBS News, said only one ship was lost at Normandy. That sure is strange - since I saw four go down and a minesweeper, a mine layer and one PT also went down. I feel the lost of life on those ships far exceeded the 700 men the Army claims died at Utah Beach.

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