Mark A. Schaitel - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Mark A. Schaitel

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Mark enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 10, 1940. He arrived at Pearl Harbor on October 25th, 1940 where he was assigned to the USS Boggs. "Reporting aboard the USS Boggs was an adventure. Your first ship is the one you always remember." The USS Boggs was a World War I destroyer was made in 1919, specifically for anti-submarine duty. The accommodations were very spartan. "But a good ship's crew would sharpen her up for white-glove inspections! I was assigned to the deck force, learning bridge crew was a signalman ‘striker' I was to learn Morse Code and flashing light and semaphore flags!? Surprisingly, I got the job done." On December 7th, Mark was a qualified third class Signalman Petty Officer under Fleet competition.

When the attack began his ship was returning from sea duty with the USS Minneapolis (cruiser), and approaching between Barber's Point and the entrance to Pearl Harbor at six knots, waiting for the NETS to open (8am). Approximately 3 miles away. "When the attack began we sighted planes approaching over the Ewa beach area and received a voice message over TBS system ‘Attack on Pearl Harbor, This is NOT a drill!' and we immediately went to general quarters. At the time Mark was the quartermaster of the watch. The Officer of the deck on the bridge was Ensign T.B. Owen (who retired as Rear Admiral.) "We continued our approach to entrance with our guns mounted! We then received another message ‘Possibility that aerial mines have been laid in the channel!' Our captain LCDR Daid Roberts ordered that we string our paravanes (the mine sweeping system we employed)." He later received a letter of commendation from Nimitz for his actions. "We were witnessing the bombing and strafing by the Japanese planes. We were out of range and were no interest to them." As the USS Boggs slowly made its entry, it lost one of its paravanes on a buoy. "Midway in we practically got run over by the Cruiser USS Detroit, with signal flags flying, ‘All destroyers form on me!' as she departed! We continued on with our sweep. As we neared Hospital Point, the USS Nevada battleship backed up in the mud (to keep from blocking the channel.) At this time the second attack was over for some time." The USS Boggs looked to assist where it could by accepting casualty reports and picking up some survivors. They slowly circled Ford Island Air Station and after a hour were ordered to exit the Harbor. On exiting they were ordered to form patrol stations around Pearl Harbor and we were to keep a sharp lookout for submarines. "We joined up with the USS Ward for patrol. For the next 48 hours we were on full alert! It was quite apparent that everyone on the island was ‘trigger happy!' - several of our own carrier planes were shot down that evening, coming in from the USS Lexington, which was a couple hundred miles south of Oahu."

The whole island was on alert for further attacks and a possible landing force. All ships at sea were at General Quarters for any possible meeting with the Japanese Force - "It's lucky they didn't follow-up, because we didn't have much left to stop them. It was three days before I left the bridge and found my bunk. Most of the crew lived on soup and sandwiches." The USS Boggs re-entered Pearl Harbor on the fourth day, for a few hours, just for fuel, supplies, and mail. Each man was able to mail home a plain postcard, stating that he was well and would write a letter when possible. "Everything was censored." The USS Boggs returned to patrol as before - on full alert - and after sunset, steaming at standard speed and with a completely darkened ship. No smoking on the open decks. "We were fortunate to have survived. Japan lost the war by not following up their advantage."

"After Dec. 7th, our ship's duty assignments were very mixed! Besides patrol duties, we towed sled targets for all the new ships that were reporting to Pacific Fleets." The purpose of this drill was to test all their new guns at maximum ranges. Generally the sled targets were towed at 2000 yards at various speeds. Much of this was first time firing for most of the guns and crews. "One of our new Battleships, firing at a distance of 18 miles, put one shot directly over our bridge! - Mistaken Radar ID?! Three years on this job. No casualties."

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