Press Release




Enlisted Navy Correspondent.




Aboard the USS Patterson in the Pacific a little ba (*) men, 2 Officers and 4 crewmen in a small boat, made seamanship pay off in quanity when the escort carrier Bismarck Sea was sunk by Japanese aerial bombs off Iwo Jima in February.

The sextet comprised a rescue party launched from the destroyer at night in pitching seas that pulled dozens of despairing flattop survivors to safety. Odds were against salvaging any lives, but the rescuers didn’t stop to figure percentages.

Lt.(jg) George W. Jenings, USNR of 1865 California St., San Francisco, Calif. And Lt.(jg) Wendell H. Nedderman, USNR, of Lovilla, Iowa, commanded the party. Crewmen included XXX2/c R.W. Williams, USN, Georgetown, Texas; MM2/c Arne M. Bloomquist, USNR, 3107 Alamaba Av., Minneapolis, Minn.; MoMM2/c William F. Wendler, USN, 626 N. Cabell St. Bellflower, Calif.; and SM3/c Samuel J. Zanghi, USNR.

Flying debris and exploding ammunition made the trip hellish. "It was as if the whole carrier was being thrown over us in little pieces," described Lt.(jg) Nedderman.

Waterlogged, wounded and confused, survivors were not only unable to help their rescuers but almost swamped the boat, Lt. (jg) Jenings said. While Zanghi handled the searchlight and communicated with the destroyer by coded flashing light and coxswain Williams fought to control the tiller, the rescue craft pulled alongside a floater net supporting many men. Twenty or thirty tried to climb aboard at once and, to save the boat, the two Officers brandished pistols and ordered the crew to pull away.

"Then we directed the ship by our light and had the men in groups picked up, while we used the small boat to gather in singles or smaller groups," said the officers.

Another near-tragedy occurred when the boat’s tiller was lost overboard. Williams fashioned a makeshift tiller from a piece of pipe and was able to continue steering.

Consummate skill was shown by the life-saving detail in maneuvering the boat alongside the destroyer in heavy seas to transfer survivors. As the little craft rose to its highest point on the pinnacle of a giant wave, carrier crewmen were virtually thrown upward into the hands of strong-armed destroyer sailors.

Observers called it American naval proficiency at its best.




(*) note the page is torn at this point and I have no idea what the wording is.






This page was last updated on 06/30/03

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