George Hutton - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

George Hutton


George enlisted in the US Navy on December 7th, 1938. He arrived at Pearl Harbor in June of 1939 where he was assigned to the USS Nevada. "When the attack began I was performing morning ablutions in the crew's head – under the flagstaff where ‘Colors' was being performed. I thought the Marine squad had done their version of ‘Colors' when they scrambled." When the general alarm sounded (which happened immediately) everyone ran to their battle stations. They did this without much enthusiasm, but because they were trained to do it, even on Sunday morning they ran to their stations. "On the way forward to the #1 turret I heard lots of ‘grousing' and I joined in, but when I emerged from the ship to the weather deck I saw a Japanese torpedo plane – it had just released a torpedo at a range to hit the USS Arizona – moored just ahead of the Nevada – there was a repair or supply ship outboard of the Arizona which would logically take that torpedo – I think it was a dud. I remember that plane in my ‘Minds Eye' anytime I want to." George entered the turret overhang hatch and manned his gun – but it would not be used during the upcoming battle. "During the attack the people around me were the regular crew of the right gun turret #1, I was the gun captain because I was a GM striker. During the attack we knew that our area of the ship was taking some terrific hits. The loading platform dropped from under me when an armor piercing bomb exploded under the gun muzzles – the whole revolving part of the turret shook violently when a torpedo hit between #1 and #2 turrets. As the attack subsided we were ordered to leave the turret for fire fighting, and to act as replacements on AA crews - where most of the casualties had occurred."

George experienced a shock when he emerged from the turret. "When inside the turret I knew bad things were happening but I didn't see the ‘blood and guts' which resulted until when I was assigned as 1st loader on #1 AA gun. I saw a row of dead or severely wounded men lying on the boat deck. We were loading them into motor launches to go to the hospital or morgue. We lost 70 some good men on that ‘Day of Infamy' - as our President described it. George stayed on the gun for 3 days before being relieved and getting a regular meal. We did not shoot at any enemy but that night we fired at our own planes – we were so trigger happy – lucky our guns were inefficient, lacking electricity and air pressure, and we didn't hit any of them."

After the attacks the USS Nevada crew spent the next 3 ½ months getting water and oil out of the interior of the ship so she could be sailed back to the USA. We sailed back to Bremerton where she was renovated for 9 months. Most of the crew was transferred to new ships – "I was sent to the USS Copahee. We crossed the equator in September of 1942 on our way to the South Pacific and was with Japs in Guadalcanal. We took aboard a squadron of fighter planes which we catapulted to go to Henderson Field – the story is in the Navy log. I spent the next year ferrying planes from California to the SW Pacific – we would usually travel without escort. In August 1943 I was transferred to GM school, Washington, DC. I enjoyed learning more about my rate and did well, in school. As a result I was made instructor. I had met the girl who was to be my wife for the next 59 years. Life was great."

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