My station was located on a 20MM gun in front of the pilot house when
general quarters sounded. I got to my gun and started to strap myself
in, but didn't succeed. When I became conscious again, I was lying on
the flying bridge on the gyrocompass platform. The gyrocompass had
broken off, and all that remained was jagged edges on the pipe where the
gyrocompass had stood. I looked down and my left leg from just below my
knee was pointed straight left. As if in a dream I reached down and took
hold of my pants leg and straightened my leg out.
I looked up to the front of the flying bridge, and Lt. Commander Pearson
was lying dead across the front of the bridge. About that time Lt. Ross
came by and said, "Freeman, if you get off this ship you'll have to
swim." Later the ship started listing and when the water got up above my
waist, I started swimming to a ship which was nearby that had a cargo
net hanging over the side. I reached it and grabbed hold of it. Two men
came down from the deck and grabbed me, and that's the last thing I
remember until I woke up in a hospital in England.
Roland E. Freeman
Footnote from wife Bertie: Roland was in St. Albans Naval
Hospital in Long Island, NY, for 3-1/2 years - came home, went to
college, and was in a management position for 30 years.
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