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Recollections of the Whaleboat Crew


Daniel T. Westcott, Coxswain
    On June 6 at II bells, the whaleboat rescue party was called to recover pilot of crashed airplane. We saw a green discoloration and partly inflated orange Mae West life jacket. Our first attempt was a failure. Made turn and came back and tried with boat hook but the pilot went down before we could get him. On June 7 received survivors and took them and General Donavon to the Tuskie (Tuscarora). On June 8 were ordered to stand by the USS Glennon. No help was needed and saw recall flag. Saw first explosion and then were standing by the boat falls when the second tore off one third of ship. Looked to bridge for orders, were none so we took off to pick up boys blown into water. Could not tell who they were as they were covered with oil. Third mine went off under bridge so we went alongside to help remove wounded. Ship was sinking up to signal bridge so stepped off into water and was picked up by a PT boat.

Edwin B. Black, SEA2
    June 6 an American fighter plane crashed beside our ship. Could see the pilot floating but he sank before our rescue party could recover him. They brought back a piece of the plane.

Robert N. Bruno
    I was assigned as Bowhook on the motor whaleboat. After attempting to render aid to the Glennon, we were on the way back to the Rich a mine went off and then a second one blew the stern off. While picking up survivors out of the water, a third mine went off under the bow. We went back to the ship to help people on deck. I remember going up to the flying bridge and saw Commander Pearson tangled up in the mast with his legs broken as was the chief yeoman. I couldn't do anything so I ran down and started picking up sailors. I don't even remember who they were. I wanted to put them in our whaleboat but it was tied to the ship and went down with it.

Robert S. Aluni, SK3
    I was assigned to starboard forward 20 MM on the second deck. I was blown clear of the deck and came to in the water. Was picked up by our own whaleboat and recall at least one other. From what I have heard, the whaleboat tied up to the Rich and the crew were helping to carry survivors off. When the Rich sank so quickly it pulled the whaleboat down also, so I was back in the water again. (When Bob saw Bruno at our reunion in Surfside, he said, "You are the one who pulled me out of the water".)

Lt. C. V. Ross
    A fighter plane crashed into the water close by our ship. We put the whaleboat in and went to the area and saw the pilot floating. We approached him and attempted to hook his clothing with a boat hook but the water was so rough we could not get him with the first pass. We circled around and before we could get to him he sank. I felt terrible that I had not jumped in to hold him up until we could pull him aboard. I had no idea that he would sink.

Norbert C. Penner, SK2
    I was assigned to gun #21 which was just above the ammunition magazine on the starboard side. A mine blew about 30 feet of the stern off the ship. I leaned over the side to see what happened and that's when I got blown off the ship and into the Channel. Dan Westcott was in the small boat trying to help the DD that was hit from shore batteries. Dan immediately started back to our ship and that is when he picked me out of the Channel. He didn't recognize me since I was covered with oil and grime. The pharmacist mate threw me a hypo from the ship while I was laying in the small boat. Shortly
after taking the hypo, I blacked out and don't remember a thing until I got aboard a WI' and on my way to a field hospital in En land. (''Joe's'' letter enabled us to identify the second sailor picked up by our whaleboat after 53 years).

Robert A. Darrah
    One of my jobs was to be in the motor whaleboat when it was put over the side for any reason. When the plane crashed off the starboard bow, I was in the boat with the regular crew. We were unable to retrieve the pilot. Next assignment was June 8. Sent to aid the Glen-non. On way back first mine exploded. Tied up at boat falls when second mine blew fantail off We cut loose from falls and went back into the smoke. This is when we picked up Bob Aluni and Joe Penner. I think they were the only two we found in the water. While we were back there the third mine exploded which was the final blow to our ship. We went back to the falls and climbed aboard and assisted as best we could in getting everyone off who was still alive. The PT boats were tied up alongside and their crews came aboard and worked with us in saving every one we could.

Raymond C. Holler, CMM
    Was in the forward engine room and could not get out of the hatch to the weather deck as it was badly buckled so had to go out the passageway hatch and came out on the torpedo deck. After helping with first aid on the decks I went to our motor whaleboat and transferred men from ours into a rescue boat so they could be taken to a hospital. The Rich started to roll over. The second boat had tied up to the Rich but could not pull away as the lines were caught on the boat davit. I jumped into the other boat as the Coxswain could not make headway and cut the lines which released us.

Thomas W. Cook, MM3
    My GQ station was loader on a 20 MM aft machine gun. The first explosion threw magazines out of the ready boxes and I was repacking them when the second blast came. This is the one that blew me into the air and away from the ship. I thought I would never come down! I knew if I would fall back on the deck it would surely kill me, but I hit the water feet first. I was covered with oil and smoke. I could not see for more than a few feet. I could hear someone pounding the water and screaming, pretty soon that was all over. I knew my legs and feet were torn up so I just treaded water hoping to be picked up. ln a few minutes the smoke lifted and I saw the whaleboat of the Rich. I yelled as loud as I could and the crew heard me and pulled me from the water. In a little while they also pulled Norbert Penner out of the water. Went back to the Rich and tied up on starboard side. Crew went aboard. Ship was listing badly. I saw Chief Holler and asked for some morphine. Chief came down into boat and gave me and Penner a shot. I saw the ship was going down fast. I yelled for him to cut us loose. He dropped me, grabbed the knife out of my belt and cut the line. Hit the starter and pulled away. We laid off and saw the Rich go down in a very short time. (Tom cook was the third survivor we now know about that was rescued by the motor whaleboat crew.)

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Last update: Sunday, May 16, 2010