20 october 2020


AUTOBIOGRAPHY. Oct 26, 1942. Hornet wounded are taken aboard the Northampton. Photo shows the USS Northampton attempting to tow the USS Hornet on Oct 26.

I was on the well deck observing the treatment of the wounded, and in rather a daze from the day’s activity, and I was for the first and only time in my life witness to triage, the act of assigning priority to wounded men. A young Doctor with a Corpsman in attendance was going among the wounded, and I could hear him instruct the Corpsman to give morphine and he would say “This one won't make it, make him comfortable,” or “This one needs immediate attention, get him below to surgery,” or “This one is okay he can hold for a while.” They came to a litter in which the burn blackened hulk of a man lay, and the Doctor made his examination, and said “I think this one will make it.” And from the red gash that was the mouth in that blackened charred face, came the words “Fucking A Doc. Fucking A.”

The following day we buried many men at sea, and I was happy to know that he wasn't one of them. We steamed at flank speed back to Noumea, and the closest hospital. So ended the Battle of Santa Cruz, and we had suffered the loss of the Hornet, and the crippling of the Enterprise, while inflicting damage to two Japanese carriers. However the losses Japan suffered in aircraft and crews was to be a deciding factor in the war for the South Pacific.

Back again to the Nickel docks, and while there, we took on ammunition and supplies. Again a chance to see Noumea, and again the line at the Maison Rouge was more than I cared to cope with. Another steak with all the trimmings, but remembering my three day hangover, I passed on the annisette. As a matter of fact, to this day I am not much for the taste of licorice.