Search This Blog

Monday, August 13, 2012

World War Two Sailor's Diary Found

Journal kept by a sailor on the battleship USS Idaho has been uncovered.

In Oro Valley, Arizona, north of Tucson, Salvatore A. Montegino opened a shoebox stored for years in a closet, containing a personal diary written by Jack Van Horn, a boson's mate second class, serving on board that ship.

Along with the diary, covering two years from July 16, 1943 to July 31, 1945, were two sets of flashcards, one to identify Allied and enemy warships; the other to learn pennant signal flags, semaphore and Morse code.

Also in the box were four newspaper clippings and a postcard-size photo of a group of sailors aboard a ship, none identified.

The USS Idaho has long gone to the scrap heap, but in Jack Van Horn's hand-written diary its memory lives on, telling about the historic events of which he was a part:

August 18, 1943: "Tokyo Rose claims the Idaho is sunk. I don't believe it!!"

Oct. 25, 1943: "Entered Pearl Harbor..."

Oct. 27, 1943: "The (USS) Oklahoma is being raised after nearly two years, but the Arizona is sunk for the duration."

Feb. 13, 1945: "Underway for Iwo Jima!! Where the hell does Rosie get her information? Maybe the Jap fleet will come out this time - I hope. I'd like to get this business over with & go home."

Feb. 14, 1945: "Another kid jumped over the side last night. So far all these guys who have cracked up are in their teens. Maybe they haven't lived long enough to know that what they are fighting for is worth all the discomforts we have to put up with."

Feb. 16, 1945: "Commenced bombardment (of Iwo Jima). Funny looking island with a dead volcano on one end called Surabachi."

Mar. 3, 1945: "Received ammunition off Iwo Jima from ammo ship. They finally changed the little flag on Mount Surabachi for a big one - looked like they couldn't get her up for a while but they did."

Mar. 25, 1945: "Arrived off Okinawa during the night - all quiet.

Apr. 12, 1945: "We got it today. Terrific suicide attack by God knows how many Jap planes - 55 were shot down in our immediate area. We got 5 in 4 minutes & received a suicide plane in our port blister ... When that guy hit us he really raised hell - I've got port stack, & the pieces of plane covered the entire platform - I pulled 5 pieces of Jap pilot off my clothes - the largest about as big as my hand - the explosion sure scattered him."

Jack Van Horn's last entry: "July 31 - Out for practice firing - can you imagine that!!"
Six days later, the Enola Gay dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. On Aug. 15, Japan surrendered and World War II was over.

On Sept. 2, 1945, in Tokyo Bay, Gen. MacArthur and the Allies accepted the formal Japanese surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri.

Nearby was the USS Idaho, with Jack Van Horn on board to witness the historic event.

Read the full story

No comments: