CALVIN OAKASON 03/22/2009 SURVIVOR STORY
This ship was known as the Busy Bee.
This is a short version of the night we were sunk @ 7:20 PM. I'm not going into the gory details.
I was aboard this ship from the day it was commissioned to the day it was sunk and was standing where the red arrow is located.
The first Kamikaze air craft hit right under me. I was in a ball of fire flying in the air and thought I must be going to hell.
I also thought of all the bad things I had done in my life and suddenly hit the water with my coat and helmet on. After
going down, I don't know how many feet I just did make it to the to the surface before taking a breath. I did not have my helmet
on and to this day I just can not believe what happened to it. It must have broken the strap upon hitting the water.
I immediatley reached down to inflate my life jacket which was the belt type two section and heard the air escape on one
section. I thought that was it for me.
Luck being with me I was not pulled down by the large propellers at the aft of the ship as she past me. It is my belief
that we where also hit with a torpedo that sheared the propeller off. The 5 inch cannon we had at the aft looked as if it was
melted over and off its base.
The Japs were also strafing the people that were in the water with 50 caliper bullets these pilots only had enough gas
to hit their targets and could not get back to their base where their funerals were held before the flight.
The waves were at 10 feet and the water cold many died of hypothermia before they were picked up
The first thing I did was to scream for help to no avail and then I heard a another person doing the same thing his
name was Osborne we finally got together and every ship that past us we would scream for help and could hear the men holler
survivors but would not stop because of fear of being hit.
I said to Osborne we have to quit screaming for help until a ship gets real close and then scream out which happened
5 hours & 20 minutes after being sunk. The U.S.S Edmomds a Destroyer heard us and flashed a flood light upon the both of us
and threw a life saver. Osborne was able to get the life saver first. They worked closer to me and I was able to get it. As
the first crew man touched my arm I passed out and later come to on the operating table but could not see my legs. I started
screaming where is my legs I thought they had amputated both and they pulled the sheet off me and I give a deep sigh of relief.
They then put me in a harness and gave me a green liquid and put me in a shower stall. I then vomited for several hours
before putting me back in a bed.
I was burned on both legs and had several shrapnel injuries. My testicle sack had a hole burned in it.
One testicle was hanging on my leg. I was not able to use my legs approximately 2 hours after being in
The ship had 2 tanks in the front which had 75 thousand gallons of aircraft fuel which exploded as she turn to her
side before sinking the planks that were on the flight deck after exploding hit all around us. The 2 of us were able
to swim for one of them and held on. We also saw some bodies not too far from us and swam over to see if we could help
them. Their heads were face down in the water. I reached for the head of one and it was not there the flesh was still warm.
I felt for his life jacket and it was not made by the U.S.
We where warned by the captain that these waters were shark infested but they were driven off by the concussion
of all the explosions.
The ocean was a fire with all the gas and oil floating on top. We were able to swim away from it.
There were many Sailors killed before we entered into our first conflicts zone we also lost many Pilots.
This is a short version of my Navy experience of being sunk, I arrived In Salt Lake City on survivors leave and my father
who was Fire Chief picked me up at train station and I spent the night at the fire station. All the fireman wanted to know
my complete story about 9 hours of it. I called my mother when I arrived and told her I would be home when dad was off shift.
She was so happy that I was back home and that she had read in the paper that the ship had been sunk and did not know if I was alive.
I had sent her a V-mail and circled the date which was not blacked out but she didn't realize just what the circle indicated.
About one week into my leave the War ended and I was late returning on my leave.
When I mustered out the Navy offered to make me chief if I would go on the crossroad experiment. I said no this was a group
of ships loaded with animals and they would explode an atomic bomb close to see what the results were.
I said that they would have to burn the forest and rake the leaves to find me again.
-- Calvin Oakason
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