The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (Full Version)

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vettim89 -> The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 12:38:12 AM)

Going back to WitP days, I have always wanted to do a narrative AAR. There were two reasons for this, first I am a great admirer of Cuttlefish, Herbisan, and Cap'n Madrake. I truly enjoyed the immersion into the game their AAR's provided. It gave the game a depth and flavor that I know many besides myself truly enjoy. The second reason is that I find myself becoming attached to my digital sailors, soldiers and airmen. I have mourned the loss of ships and pilot losses in a palpable way. The narrative AAR gives my little 0s and 1s a name and a face.

The background of my AAR will be following five men who were part of the USNA's Class of 1936. The reason for this is that I was reading a book entitled 1600 Men which was written by a member of that class. It was a loose narrative of their time at the Academy. These men would all be approaching six years in service at War's start; so they should be in good position to tell us their narrative of the War

Some comments before I begin:

1. The names I have chosen are purely fictional and/or taken from the Database. Any similarity to persons living or dead is purely coincidence
2. You will notice that some of my guys are far from the action at War's start. That was deliberate to either match up with the database or provide some background
3. I have never served (one of my biggest regrets in life), therefore any errors I make as far as standard operations, traditions, etc is poetic license (although I would appreciate PM's if any one catches an egregious error)
4. Historical facts may be altered slightly to accomadate my story. Please forgive me if at times I get a little loose with the facts
5. This is an open AAR. My opponent, Larry aka cap'n greasy is welcomed. As such, this AAR will trail the game by several months

Now, for the story:

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 12:39:44 AM)

Marine 1st Lt. Brett Castlebury entered the U.S. Naval Academy with full intention of being a Naval officer. Born in Saginaw, Michigan at the base of the state's "thumb", he had grown up on the waters of Saginaw Bay and Lake Huron. He was in the upper third of his class in every subject except engineering. In the summer of 1935 he boarded the USS Arkansas with the rest of his classmates for their First Class cruise. The ship hit violent weather on her way to a port call in Norway. Like many of his classmates, Brett struggle with seasickness during the crossing. One night while trying to make his way to the engineering department to stand the midwatch the ship hit a violent wave. Brett had no way to anticipate the rogue's approach being deep below decks at the time. The ship lurch to starboard throwing him into the port bulkhead. Awaking in sick bay later that morning with a splitting head ache, Brett decided he had had enough of that noise. He resolved himself he would finish his final year at the Academy and resign.

The Navy had other ideas for his future. Unlike previous years where USNA graduates were given the chance to resign after matriculation, the growing threat of war on two fronts made it necessary that all the Midshipmen were required to honor their commitment to the nation. Very few graduates opted for the Marine Corps at that time but for Brett it was an easy choice. After leaving the academy and getting one month's leave, he reported to the Marine Officers Training School at Quantico Virginia. From there he was assigned to the 1st marine Brigade until February 1941. At that time the Marine Brigades were increased in size to Division untis. Now a platoon commander, he and his fellow officers were responsible for training an organization that had literally tripled in size overnight.

In Decmber of 1941, Brett was Platoon Commander,3rd Platoon, Foxtrot Company, 2nd BTN of the 6th Marines assigned to the 1st Provisional Marine BGD at Reykjavik, Iceland. The 6th Marines would very soon find themselves in much warmer climes.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 12:41:19 AM)

LT(jg) Henry (Hank) Tyler was not exactly a model student at the USNA. Having more than a small rebellious streak in him, he was not what you would call a perfect fit for Navy. After an "incident" with the mayor's daughter in the small town of Olean, NY, his father gave him little choice. He was going to enter the military, and he did not want to go in as an enlisted man. Fortunately for Hank his father was good friends with the Congressman from his district and Hank was given an appointment. Being smarter than most people gave him credit, he was able to avoid any serious mishaps during his academy days despite some close calls sneaking back to Bancroft Hall after a late night rendevous with a female companion. He too had set his mind on resigning upon graduation.

His first assignment was as assistant gunnery office on the cruiser Astoria. Frankly, Hank was a poor officer and was constantly being ridden by his immediate superior LCDR Wilkins. He took to finding any part of the ship to lurk while not on duty to avoid running afoul of "Wilks". One of the best places he found was in the aviation department. He became friends with one of the SOC Seagull pilots ENS. George Keller. The good natured pilot kept offering to take Hank up for a "check ride". Keller honestly thought Hank would not be up to the rigors of flight and was looking forward to weeks if not months of gentle ribbing he could give his friend after he hurled mid-flight. Not only was he wrong but it was a day that changed then ENS Tyler's life. He was hooked from the moment the little float plane took wing. That flight was in the spring of 1937 and our young Ensign was a changed man.

LCmdr Wilkins never did figure out what got into his "problem child". After eight full months of nothing but grief, Tyler was suddenly a model naval officer. Like many men in his position, he naturally assumed his mentorship of the wayward lad finally came to fruition. Grading out nearly perfect for the final fifteen months of his two years aboard Astoria, Hank applied for and was accepted to Naval Flight School in the summer of 1938. While the other students struggled to learn all the material being thrown at them, his USNA education was an asset that allowed Hank to breeze through ground school. Like most men entering naval aviation, he had his sights set on being a fighter pilot. Then one day one of his instructors pulled him aside. This instructor had noticed Hank's strong independent streak and suggested that while his skills might be enough to land him a fighter position, he might be happier flying patrol aircraft. He explained that as a patrol pilot he would have the sky to himself and not be constantly inhibited by the constraints involved in flying off a carrier. Up to that point all Hank wanted to do was fly. He took his instructor's advice to heart and ultimately found the advice to be sound.

LTjg) Tyler was assigned to VP-51 flying PBY-5's out of Norfolk Naval Air Staion in December of 1941.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 12:42:43 AM)

LTjg) James West was born and raised in Charleston, SC. While his family ran a small hotel in Charleston, James was always drawn to the sea. In spite of the misgivings of his mother, he applied for and was accepted to the USNA after graduating high school in the spring of 1931. James loved the Navy life from the get go, and although the coursework at Annapolis was tough, he was known to all as being one of the most up beat members of his class. The only time he would ever get cross with any other Midshipman was if some one made the mistake of calling him Jim. His gentile southern mother had insisted the he always be referred to as James. Jim was a name for the uncultured in her mind and her son was being raised to be a gentlemen.

Assigned to the carrier Ranger after graduation, James also caught the aviation bug during his first cruise. Completing ground school and basic flight school in 1938, James like most of his classments was promoted to Lt(jg) in June of 1939. He was assigned to Scouting Squadron Six aboard USS Enterprise once completeing advance flight school.

James was aboard the Enterprise as she was delvering a detachment of Marine fighters to Wake Island in the first week of December of 1941

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 12:43:58 AM)

Lt(jg) Gregory Cummins came from a long line of Naval officers. His great, great, great grandfather had fought alongside Stephen Decatur in the War of 1812. His father was a Annapolis graduate in 1914. Unfortunately, an accident aboard the USS Polk in the North Atlantic partially disabled his father ending his naval career much too soon for the old man's taste. Growing up in Baton Rouge, LA where his father was a riverboat captain, Greg was raised to go to the USNA. Not wanting to chance the underhanded workings of Louisiana politics, Gregory's father sought and was able to secure a Presidential Appointment to the Academy which were almost exclusively given to sons of graduates. He excelled in all phases of the academic and leadership portions of the Academy curriculum and graduated in the top ten per cent of the class of 1936.

Cummins served his first two years aboard the battleship Texas as assistant to the Engineering Officer. His next assigment was as gunnery officer of the destroyer Warrington. While aboard Warrington he was asked by the DesRon commander to participate in the completion of the questionaire sent out by the Bureau of Ships regarding the design of the what would become the Fletcher Class of destroyers. His input on that project led him to being assigned to the Navy team tasked with the final design and fitting of the first of the Fletcher Class.

Greg was assigned to the Bureau of Ships, Washington Naval Yard in the nation's capitol in December of 1941

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 12:45:25 AM)

Lt(jg) Daniel E. Haskins, Jr. was born and raised in San Diego, CA. Known to every one as DJ (Daniel Junior), he planned to joined his father as a tuna fishermen off the coast of Baja California after finishing high school. In the fall of 1931, his father suffered a massive heart attack and died suddenly while unloading his catch at a local cannery. The depression had stretched his family's resource's to the limit and ultimately the bank took the boat. Having lost not only his father but also his livelihood, DJ was at a loss as far as his future prospects went. Fortunately his aunt happened to work as a secretary at the local Congressman's San Diego office. Having relayed to him her nephew's plight, she was able to get DJ appointment as the third alternate for the USNA class entering in the sumer of 1932. That meant that three other candidates would have to some how not meet the qualifications of the Academy before he could get accepted. The principal appointee got late acceptance to Stanford and withdrew. The first alternate failed the psychologic exam. The second alternate contracted polio during the spring of 1932. DJ learned later that this man had a complete recovery and entered Annapolis two years later. So, just like that, DJ was on a train for Maryland.

DJ's academy career was spctacular in no way. He finshed in the top third of his class, played for the water polo team, and only accumulated three demerits in four years. His first assignment was to the Cruiser Salt Lake City as assistant Navigator. For reasons that even he cannot fully explain, DJ decided to enter submariner's school after his first cruise. After completing the course at Groton, CT, he was assigned to S-30 as engineering officer. In June of 1940, he was assigned to USS Swordfish as Navigator.

Lt(jg) Haskins was still assigned to the Swordfish which was docked in Cavite Naval yard, Manila Bay when the war started.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 4:06:06 AM)

7 December 1941

Lt(jg) James West squinted into the morning sun as his SBD headed east toward Oahu. Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) and the rest of the Enterprise's air wing had launched just after dawn with orders to head back to Oahu. The carrier itself would arrive by the end of the day on Monday. Needless to say, there was more than a little confusion when they were ordered back to the Big E not even an hour into their flight.

The confusion turned to bewilderment then rage after they all were back on deck. It was then that the news of the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor was relayed to them. James thought Admiral Halsey was being more than a bit melodramatic when he announced the Task Force was on a "War Footing" as they had steamed west toward Wake Island a few days ago. Now James was thinking maybe the old man was "crazy like a fox".

The pilots of VS-6 were not given the time to collect themselves or their thoughts. Once the entire air group had landed, planes were immediately armed and readied for battle. The stubby F4F Wildcats were the first off the deck to establish a Combat Air Patrol (CAP). Next up was VS-6. The plane looked and felt much different than the first launch of the morning. The only load it was carrying then was two duffle bags belonging to James and his gunner, Gunners Mate Ted Williams. Now a 500 lb SAP bomb was slung below the fuselage and the machine gun magazines were full. No one would ever call the SBD graceful in appearance but James and the rest of the pilots in his squadron didn't really care. The "Daunty Lass" was a warbird and she looked the part today.

The Enterprise stopped at Pearl Harbor only long enough to refuel before heading south to meet up with the Lexington which had turned back from her mission to deliver a squadron of Marine dive bombers to Midway Island. James and his cohorts flew a series of search arcs that surrounded the task force. No one caught sign of the Japanese carriers but they knew they were out there some where. Considering the Japanese had six fleet carriers in the area to the USN's two, it was probably for the best that they didn't find them. There would be a day when the two forces would meet, but it wasn't 7 December 1941

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 4:08:25 AM)

8 December 1941, Cavite Naval Yard

If there was any disbelief in the minds of the sailors assigned to the ships in Manila Bay as to the start of war following the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, it didn't last long. Japanese bombers escorted by Zero fighters attacked the Manila air field shortly after noon. The smoke from the fires could easily be seen from the harbor. Lt(jg) DJ Haskins was one of many officers scrambling to get their ships ready for their first war patrol. The Swordfish had only arrived at Manila on 22 November. The engineering department had just completed overhauling the boat's diesel and electric motors. Now food and other stores were being loaded on as quickly as humanly possible. The boat's skipper, LCDR Smith informed DJ that their were going into harm's way. The boat's assigned patrol area was in the waters just south of the major Japanese ports of Nagoya and Kure. There was little doubt they would find targets in this area and even less doubt that the Imperial Navy would respond if they were discovered.

On the morning of the 8th Congress declared war against Japan. President Roosevelt ordered the US Navy to commence unrestricted warfare against Japan. For the Asiatic Fleet's submarine force, this meant no quarter was to be given for any Japanese ship whether it be a fully armed man-o-war or an unarmed merchant vessel. Most of the crew of the Swordfish gave little thought to what this meant. All they cared about was getting back at the Japs and the sooner the better.

The boat cleared Corrigedor Island late on the evening of 7 December (Actually it was the 8th because Manila is on the other side of the international date line. For sake of simplicity we will use the HI date for all posts). By the evening of the 8th, Swordfish was 50 nm due west of the northern tip of Luzon. In a few days, she will have penetrated deeper into Japanese waters than all but a few of her cohorts.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 11:21:09 PM)

9 December 1942

1st LT Castlebury is trudging his platoon back to the barracks in Reykjavik. The were on patrol to the west of the port entrance. Their is little fear here for an invasion by Germany. The consensus is that they lack the ships and men to get a force onto Iceland. The real danger lied in spies and sabotteuers. Brett has picked up a little Icelandic but still relies on English speaking locals to communicate in depth with the natives. He does't think the French he learned at the Academy will serve him well here.

For Castlebury, life just got easier. The rules of engagement handed to them when they arrived in March were clear as mud. They few times he had actuallly caught a suspicious character,the Icelandic authorities took him before Brett could get even one answer about why he was on the beach. Now with the US officially being at War with Germeny as well as Japan, at least they'll know they can, if necessary, detain or even shoot some one without setting off an international incident.

Being so far from the US main land, very little of the details of the Pearl Harbor attack are known to Castlebury and his men. Up to this point, they had figured that they would eventuallly be fighting the Germans. Now, they are not so sure. Logic and geography both suggest that the Marines might be best used in the Pacific. That was not for Castlebury to decide. He was more concerned with training his unit that contained far too many recruits straight out of Parris Island for his taste. That and keeping everyone warm. Being from central Michigan, Brett was used to harsh winters. Some of his men especially the southern boys had never even seen snow.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 11:21:46 PM)

10 December 1941, Federal Shipping and Drydock Company, Kearny, NJ

Lt(jg) Gregory Cummins was not where he wanted to be on this raw December day. Like most young officers stationed in DC, he expected and hoped to be reassigned to a combat ship when the war broke out. When Greg arrived at Washington Naval Yard on Sunday afternoon he was both surprised and disappointed to find out his scheduled trip to New Jersey had not been canceled. Instead of heading to sea, he found himself on a train the next day heading up to check on the fitting out of USS Fletcher.

The engineers at Kearny were concerned about the locations of the Mk6 K-Guns on the new destroyer. So Greg found himself on the deck of the half-fit destroyer going over data supplied by the Royal Navy regarding the stress the mount put on the ship when fired. After half a day's discussions it was decided to stick with the orginal plan as far as locations. It was determined that the mounts were all close enough to one of the ship's main frames as to not unduly stress the metal decking.

Greg resolved himself to talk to Cpt. Evans, the project's lead engineer and his immediate superior as soon as he returned to DC. He wanted to get out and fight not push papers around a desk. Unfortunately for Greg, by the time he reached Cpt Evans, he was the fifth junior officer who had bent his ear on this very subject. He was also the fifth junior officer who had been told in no uncertain terms that his job was to do what the Navy told him was his job.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/9/2011 11:23:44 PM)

11 December 1941, Norfolk NAS

Lt(jg) Henry Tyler was guiding his PBY-5 flying boat in for a landing after patroling for submarines all morning. He was not a happy man. One of the new pilots straight out of Pensacola damn nearly crashed Hank's PBY the previous day while landing. It was hard enough to fight the enemy let alone try to avoid being killed by your own side. The new kids were raw. Too raw for Hank's taste.

Bits and pieces of war news were reaching the States. Of course everybody knew about Pearl Harbor. The Japanese were also ashore in the Phillipines. Beyond that, Hank and his squadron mates were in the dark. Of course with Germany declaring war on the US on the 9th, it really didn't matter for the pilots of VP-51. At least for now, there concerns were finding U-Boats.

The one thing Lt(jg) Tyler really regretted was the ending of what his squadron called "check rides". Nothing melted a girl's heart quicker than the chance to sneak aboard for a training flight on one of the PBY's. Fighters might be sexier, but there wasn't room for a girl in the cramped compit of an F4F. Well, Hank never had much problems with the ladies any way; so it really didn't bug him that much. He would never admit it to himself nor anyone else, but it wasn't the opportunity for "romantic" adventures that drove him to sneak girls on board the plane. He truly loved sharing the thing he loved most in this world with any one he could. That of course was flying.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/10/2011 3:44:48 AM)

12 December 1941, Iceland

1LT Brett Castlebury was surprised how warm Iceland was in December. He mentioned it in the O-club, and one of the Navy meterologist started a dissertation on how it had to do with the Gulf Stream then proceded to try to inform our young LT of all the nuances of Icelandic weather. Brett just nodded and quite frankly heard very little after “Gulf Stream”. The only thing he came away from the conversation with was a deep sense of gratitude that God created people who found that crap interesting.

Still, he needed to keep his eye on his men. While it may not be cold, it certainly was wet here. He new from his days growing up in Michigan that even without sub-freezing temperatures, a wet man could get in trouble pretty quickly. He made a note to take to his platoon sergeant in the morning about the matter.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/10/2011 10:06:43 PM)

13 December 1941, South of the Hawaiian Islands

Lt(jg) West was starting to get used to the daily war routine. While he didn't fly everyday, the days he did was up by 0400, pre-flight at 0500, and launch at 0600. While no one in the Enterprise's air group had spotted anything as of yet, the pilots all new they couldn't let their guard down. The biggest fear at this point was a submarine attack. Word had reached the ready room that Jap subs had been sinking a lot of merchant shipping north and west of Oahu. Jim felt bad for those poor bastards. Most of the ships had been caught at sea when the war started and were trying to make it to the safest port.

Of course there was no sign of the Japanese carriers. The closest action to where they were now was when the Japanese took Wake Island on the 11th. Admiral Halsey was not a happy man when he heard about that but the truth is that even if the CVTF had headed toward Wake on the morning of the 8th, they would not have been nearly close enough to offer any help.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/11/2011 3:50:57 AM)

14 December 1941, Norfolk NAS

Lt(jg) Hank Tyler still didn't know about this new group of pilots assigned to VP-51 but he was beginning to be less concerned that one of them was going to killl him before the Japs or Krauts got to it. Scuttlebutt was that as soon as the new group of pilots had a little more experience that they were going to be deployed to the Pacific. Hank thought it was not necessarily a bad thing that they were training at Norfolk. He figured the nasty December weather here would most likely be worse than anything they would face out there.

Unless, of course, they sent them to Alaska. Damn, Hank had forgot about the bases up there. One thing Hank had learned about the Navy was that if there was something that you really didn't want them to do, you could almost be sure that they would do that very thing.

1275psi -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/11/2011 4:25:56 AM)


vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/11/2011 4:54:12 AM)


ORIGINAL: 1275psi


I am honored Herbisan [&o]

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/11/2011 3:20:47 PM)

15 December 1941, Washington, DC

LT(jg) Cummins arrives at his desk at 0655 on this crisp Monday morning. He is informed by one of the enlisted men that Captain Evans wants to see him ASAP. Still hoping to get a combat assignment and thinking this may be what the Captain wants to speak to him about, Greg heads straight for his office.

“Come in Greg. I have a new assigment for you”, said Evans as he motioned Greg to a chair

“I'm hoping this means I am getting the combat billet I asked you about last week”, replied Greg with more than just a small amount of hope in his voice.

“Nice try”, replied Evans half smiling. “No, you are being assigned to Captain Lawrence's team. You will be working up plans to upgrade the Navy's current destroyers with similar anti-submarine fittings that we are putting on the Fletchers”.

“With due respect sir”, Greg said slowly. “I can't help but feel my talents and training would be better used....”

Evans held up his hand to stop him and said, “Look Greg. You're a good officer. You know as well as I do that with all the ships we have in the pipeline right now that the Navy is going to need all the good combat officers it can find. Your time will come. What we need right now is people with the techinical expertise to make sure all those new ships are fitted out in the best way possible. There are precious few officers that have your mind for engineering. Can you try to understand that the Navy NEEDs you to be doing this work right now”

“Well, when you put it that way, how can I refuse”, Greg replied feeling both deflated and some how proud simultaneously.

“Its not like you have any choice in the matter. This is the United States Navy we are talking about here”, Evans said with a wry grin on his face. “Captain Lawrence expects you to meet with him this morning.”

“Well I best not keep him waiting then should I?”, Greg said as he stood.

“Best not”, Evans said as he extended his hand. “Good luck, Greg. I'm sure you'll do fine”

“Thank you, sir”, Greg said as he saluted,. And that was that.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/11/2011 5:30:34 PM)

16 December 1941, Formosa Strait

LT(JG) Dan Haskins was standing mid watch in the conning tower of USS Swordfish. The boat was on the surface making its way towards Japan itself. Dan had to admit that Admiral Hart was not being timid with the deployment of the Asiatic Fleet's submarines. He had expected that the sub would be place on a defensive station some where north of Luzon. Instead, Swordfish and more than a half dozen other boats were being sent into the very heart of “Injun Country” as the boats XO, LT Phelps , liked to call it.

Dan guessed it made little difference where they were going. He know that they were expected to find and sink any enemy ship that crossed their path. The orders from Admiral Stark were clear: the USN submarines were to engage in “unrestricted warfare” against the Empire of Japan. This was a serious departure from pre-war US Navy doctrine. The London Naval Treaty of 1930 had laid out specific rules for how a submarine could attack a non-combatant merchant ship. It involved the submarine surfacing, informing the merchant that it intended to sink it, and then allowing time for the pasengers and crew to abandon the vessel before the submarine commenced it's attack. Few in the submarine community viewed those rules with any degree of credence. Dan supposed that the politicians that came up with them never really considered how rediculous the concept of a sub sitting on the surface waiting for it's intended victim's human cargo to evacuate truly was. Did it ever occur to the writers of the London Treay that the whole time the sub was justing sitting there that the enemy would be calling for help?

Still, unrestricted warfare was a foreign concept to the officers and crew of the Navy's submarine fleet. Afterall, the US Government's objection to the German Navy's submarine campaign, especially the sinking of the passenger liners Lusitania and Sussex, was a major factor leading to the entry of our country into WWI. Dan made the mistake of bringing this up in the ward room on their second night out of Cavite. LT Phelps ended that discussion before it even started.

“If any of you yellow bellied lizards have any problems with how this boat is going to conduct this war, you better put it out of your head right now”, he screamed. “Because if I hear so much as a whisper of this garbage again I will personally throw the offending party overboard so he can swim home to his momma.”

Dan knew he was right. War was no place for a man to have a devided mind. Afterall, the Japanese hadn't worried about diplomatic niceties when they started the war, did they?

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/12/2011 1:12:10 AM)

17 December 1941, Iceland

MUD! Lt. Castlebury had never seen so much goddamn mud. For the last week his platoon had been trying to build beach fortifications near the port of Reykjavik. The weather was as much his enemy as any German force that would be stupid enough to try to invade Iceland. After this past week, Brett was beginning to think if the Germans wanted it, they could have it as far as he was concerned.

He had spent the better part of this gloomy day trying to “unstick” a truck that was up to its axels in the quagmire the locals had the guts to call a road. In spite of the efforts of two squads of Marines, all they had managed to do was sink the truck even deeper into the muck. He was giving the men a rest after the had unloaded all the building materials from the truck before giving it another go. He was just about to have his platoon sargeant, MSGT Wilson, order the men up to give it another go when one of the locals appeared with a cart drawn by a team of oxen. Brett smiled as he thought he just found the solution to his problem.

The odd collection of hand gestures, broken English and even more broken Icelandic that followed would have been comedic to any one looking on from the outside. Nonetheless, Brett was finally able to get his point across to his Icelandic host, and in no time the team was hooked up to the truck. With oxen in front and marines on the sides and back, the vehicle was soon extracted. Brett was amazed at how well the “dumb animals” worked together and accomplished in ten minutes what more than twenty men couldn't do in three hours.

“Pakki per (thank you)”, Brett said as his rescuer hitched his team back up.

“Ekki, pakki per”, replied the Icelander as he pointed his finger at Brett's chest. He then turned and headed back to where ever he was headed in the first place.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/14/2011 5:57:18 AM)

18 December 1941, Norfolk NAS

Lt(jg) Tyler was a busy man. CMDR Underwood had called the sqaudron together this morning and told them they were indeed moving west. They would fly to Pensacola later in the week then on to Corpus Christi, TX before finally heading to the west coast. The PBY squadrons on Oahu had all but been obliterated by the 7 December attacks, and the Navy needed eyes out in the Pacific. Hank had never even been west of the Mississippi River and now he was heading to places exotic places whose names he could barely pronouce.

A lot of the men in the sqaudron were all excited about “white sand beaches” and dark skinned native girls. Hank was too smart to get caught up in the hubbub. First, he needed to be sure his aircraft was in the best condition possible for the long journey ahead. More importantly though, he knew they weren't going on vacation. News of the Japanese onslaught in the Pacific was impossible to avoid. Wake Island was taken, Guam was taken, and US and Filipino forces were being overwhelmed on Luzon. All the confidence and surety that the US was going to kick Japan's butt all the way back to Tokyo that was so prevelant a week ago was fading fast. Slowly the reality that the US was in for a long tough war was setting into the men of VP-51.

Hank was no fan of Hitler, but, like most of his squadron, he was happy that they would be fighting the Japanese. It was the Japanese not the Germans who had attacked the US on 7 December. He had no delusions as to what he could accomplish with his flying boat against the might of the Japanese Empire. Still, he was more than happy to do his part.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/14/2011 6:01:00 AM)

19 December 1941, Southeast of Amani Shima

LT(jg) DJ Haskins is standing his usual mid-watch on the bridge of Swordfish. Suddenly a flash of light catches his eye off to the north

“Did you see that?”, Dan asks Seaman Torres who is on the bridge next to him.

“Yeah”, replied Torres. “What was it?”

“I think it was a blinker light”, Haskins replied as he was peering in the direction from which it came. He focused on the bit of ocean that was the source and finally could make out the shape of a ship.

Dan leaned over to the sound tube that lead to the control room and pratically shouted, “Captain to the bridge, enemy ships off the port bow”.

Almost instantly the ship came to life as Dan could hear the movement of men below him. It only took a few minutes, but by the time LCDR Smith reached the bridge Dan had identified the Japanese force as containing at least three destroyers escorting either a tanker or an oiler. As the skipper took Torres' place beside him, Dan directed him to the direction of the enemy ships.

“There, sir”, Dan pointed. “I caught the flash of a blinker light a few minutes ago. “

“Good job, Dan”, Smith replied as he scanned the seas to the north. “Looks like a fleet oiler being escorted by some tin cans. “ He leaned into the sound tube and barked, “Control Room, make your course 315. Sound Battle Stations, torpedo and prepare to dive!”

Instantly the bridge crew began securing all the top side gear and rushed below decks as the sub heeled over to the port. LCMDR Smith was the last man down the ladder as Torres dogged the hatch.

“LT Phelps take us down. Make you depth 0-6-0 feet, course 315, speed 7 kts”, Smith ordered calmy.

“Aye, sir. Depth 0-6-0, course 315, speed 7 kts”, replied Phelps. The 1MC blared the dive warning as Chief Schmidts directed the opening of valves and the proper angle of the boats's bow planes. In a matter of just a few minutes, Swordfish had settled in at 60 feet.

“Up scope”, ordered Smith. “There she is: fat and sassy. LT Phelps......” he said as he backed away to allow the XO a chance to see the target.
Phelps whistled, “Fat and sassy. Indeed. Thats an oiler for sure and a big one to boot”.

Swordfish was almost perfectly positioned for the attack . Two of the three destroyers were on the far side of the oiler as she approached. The destroyer on the engaged side had just reversed course and was trailing away from the sub passing left to right. Smith ordred the boat in to 3000 yards before ordering the torpedos to be fired. Stop watches were watched intently as the nearly two minutes it took for the torpedos to travel to the oiler slow passed. Chief Stevens was standing next to the sonarman who was listening closely through his headphones. The anticipated explosion didn't occur as the calculated moment of impact passed in silence.

“Two of the torps stopped running, sir”, the sonarman called out. “I thought I heard something, though. Kinda like a bell ringing”. Suddenly he shouted, “The destroyers have all sped up, sir. I think the spotted the torpedoes. Bearing of the destroyers changing. They are turning towards us!”

“Down scope”, Smith blurted with frustration. “Mr Phelps make your depth 3-0-0, course 2-8-0, speed 5 kts”. LT Phelps repeated the skipper's order back and the sub settled into the depths. The destroyers began dropping depth charges far off to Swordfish's stern. LCDR Smith had to make a few course adjustments to be sure, but it was not long before it was obvious that the Japanese had no idea where the sub really was. Still, it was the boat's first depth charge attack ever and the shock of the explosions even at a distance gave more than one man the worst scare of his life.

In twenty minutes, it was over. Smith ordered the boat back up to periscope depth only after he was sure the destroyers were at a safe distance. Unfortunately, the AO was no longer in sight. The skipper ordered the boat to the surface and once he was sure everythign was secure withdrew with Lt Phelps to his cabin. Dan knew what they were talking about. The Swordfish had attacked a lightly escorted cargo ship two days ago with similar results. Despite what seemed to be flawless calculations, all their torpedos had missed. And what was that “bell” sound the sonarman had heard?

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/14/2011 6:03:01 AM)

20 December 1941, South of the Fiji Islands

Enterprise was steaming west towards New Caledonia. News of the previous nights engagement by a combined force from three navies (RAN, RNZN, and Free French) had made its way through the ship. Even though the communications unit aboard ship was not supposed to blab about what they heard over the air waves, it was almost impossible to keep anything quiet. It was said the three quickest ways to communicate were telegraph, telephone and tell a sailor. Out here in the middle of the vast Pacific, it was unlikely any one was going to be able to leak any vital information any way. Who were they going to spill the beans to, the sea gulls?

Lt(JG) West was trying to get some sleep in his cabin. Unfortunately, the other pilots did not have similar ideas. Lt(JG) Carey was leading a discussion on how the USN was going to kick Japan's butt all the way back to Tokyo with ENS's Stone and Jaccard. These three were fondly known in the squadron as the “Three Bobs” being as the all shared the same first name. James had decided to opt out of this discussion as it was only about the tenth time he heard it since the war started. Besides James had seen the destruction the Japanese had left behind at Pearl Harbor with his own eyes. He had no doubts left in his mind that the Japanese Navy was a foe to be taken seriously.

Within the next two days, word would slowly make its way through the ship that the USN had lost both Boise and Houston after an encounter with a Japanese battleship near Menado. This news quieted the Three Bobs down for a few days. That development at least meant LT(jg) West could get to sleep more easily even if it meant the sleep was a bit more fitful

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/14/2011 5:10:29 PM)

21 December 1941, Washington, DC

Through out the world men were fighting and dieing in places that the majority of Americans had never even heard of just a few weeks ago. Japan reigned triumphant acrossed the Pacific. German U-boats were sinking Allied merchants at an alarming rate. Yet, on this day, many were huddled around radios listening to the NFL Championship Game on the Mutual Broadcasting Network. The Chicago Bears had defeated the Green Bay Packers a week before in the first ever NFL Division Playoff Game. Today, they were facing the New York Giants at Wrigley Field for all the marbles.

LT(JG) Greg Cummins spent the afternoon in the day room of the Bachelors Officers Quarters (BOQ) where he lived. In an organization as large as the US Navy, it was inevitable that there were small groups of fans for both teams gathered to listen to the game. Ensign Martz from Chicago and Ensign Lazzaro from New York were going at each other pretty hard before the game started. Of course each man defended their team ad naseum. And, of course, each man told the other how the Bears/Giants didn't have a snow balls chance in hell of winning the game. And, of course, it all ended with the inevitable, “You wanna put your money where your mouth is?”

Greg watched with amusement from the side. After all, as his daddy would say, “He didn't have a dog in the hunt”. The Bears defeated the Giants 37-9 with the last point coming off a drop kick (a fete that would not be repeated for 54 years). Ensign Lazarro returned to his room duly humbled and lighter in the wallet. For a few hours, the country thought about something besides the war.

Author's note: Two players who appeared in the game, Young Bussey and Jack Lummus, would be killed in action before the war ended.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/15/2011 1:30:19 AM)

22 December 1941, Iceland

1LT Castlebury was on his way back to the barracks having just left BTN HQ. It was official: as soon as the Army could get replacement troops to Iceland, the Marines were heading back to the states and then to the Pacific. He had just been told the rest of the 2nd Marines were already being deployed forward to augment the defenses in the Pacific. His unit would eventually meet up with the Division but it was going to take some time.

In the meantime, Brett was working with the company mess officer to attempt to make Christmas a little brighter for his men. The news of the war was nearly all bad. Morale was not in good shape. The gloomy weather of the Icelandic Winter was not helping things at all. With everything in short supply, Brett didn't have high hopes but the mess sargeant assured him the meal would be one to remember.

Even during the war the Icelanders celebrated Christmas well. The Yule season lasts for 26 days here starting on the 12th of December. The Icelandic Santa Claus are actually thirteen jólasveinn or Yule lads. They started appearing on the 12th and a different one came every day. Brett tried to get the full story from some of the locals but their English was as bad as his Icelandic; ergo not much information was exchanged. Still, Castlebury was sure it helped his men to see the trappings of the season even if they seemed a bit odd.

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/15/2011 4:59:12 AM)

23 December 1941, Norfolk NAS

The preparations for VP-51's move west are almost complete. The squadron has stood down, ground crews are going over each plane with a fine toothed comb. Even though most of the trip will be over land, CDR Underwood and all the pilots are concerned about the fact that there would be almost no maintenance support available if a plane had a break down in route.

LT(jg) Hank Tyler is in the center of his PBY talking with his flight mechanic Judd Stephens. The flight mechanic sits on a seat buried in the main wing pylon smack dab between the two Pratt and Whitney Twin Wasps. To say it is loud would be like saying there is a lot of water in the ocean. The PBY was noisy enough without being right in the middle of the source of that noise. Hank asks Stephens how he could stand it?

“Shoot Lieutenant”, Judd replied in his deep Georgia drawl. “Taint no big thing. No louder than the pigs used to squeal when we nutted them back home. Man can get used to bout anything if he puts his mind to it.”

Tyler contemplates that for a moment. Stephen was probably right. If it weren't true, why are there so many married people?

1275psi -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/15/2011 9:13:51 AM)

me thinks dan will have a short career in those waters[:(]

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/15/2011 8:11:17 PM)


ORIGINAL: 1275psi

me thinks dan will have a short career in those waters[:(]

Oooohh, foreshadowing. Stay tuned folks

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/15/2011 11:40:54 PM)

24 December 1941, The Coral Sea

Lt(jg) West was on the fantail of Enterprise taking his turn as Landing Safety Officer. Some of the senior pilots in all the squadrons of Carrier Air Wing 6 (CAW-6) had the additional qualification as LSO's. They had two duties of equal importance. The first was to make sure all the planes in the air got back aboard safely, and the second was to evaluate the junior pilots to help them improve on their landings. Bringing a high performance aircraft back on board a pitching carrier deck was hard enough in peace time. The possibility of having to bring a battle damaged bird back safely only heightened the pressure to make sure the young pilots had the process down pat before the shooting started.

ENS Stone, one of the Three Bobs, was on final approach. He already had been waved off on his first attempt, and the SBD only had so much AvGas in it's tanks. Stone had the problem of coming in at too high of an air speed or “hot”. He had not gotten comfortable enough in the Dauntless to trust the bird at near stall speed. Some pilots got the feel quickly; others did not. Considering landing on an aircraft carrier was nothing more than a controlled crash, it was understandable why some men struggled with it. Stone was approaching “the ramp” again but he was still too hot. With the fuel state so low, the Controlling LSO in front of West hesitated for a moment thinking about waving Stone off again. He should have done so.

The SBD hit the deck hard, and fortunately the tail hook caught the third arresting wire. The bird still had too much forward momentum, though and as it halted the nose pitched downward.

“Hit the deck!”, West screamed as the prop made contact.

Bits and pieces of planking were thrown violently in the air as the prop churned into the wood surface of the flight deck. Mercifully, the SBD's engine clunk to an abrupt stop to end the maelstrom. The plane's prop was distorted beyond recognition. and even from a distance you could tell the main shaft was bent. The entire engine would have to be written off and a replacement installed.

James stood up and was about to turn on the young pilot, but CDR Gallaher had already beat him to it. He couldn't feel sorry for Stone as Gallaher read him the riot act. The kid had better get it right, and he better do it soon. There was simply no time for slow learners. As it was, VS-6 was now down one airframe and likely would be as such for several days while the SBD was being repaired. West looked down at his clip board and wrote, “cut pass” next to Stones name – an unsafe landing with serious deviations from standard

vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/16/2011 2:55:32 AM)

25 December 1941

LT(jg) Greg Cummins stepped out into the cold night air. Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle had just concluded. Greg had joined Ensign Lazzaro and a few other of the younger officers who shared their Catholic faith in the long walk from the Navy Yard to the church northeast of the Mall. Now they were slowly making their way down Massachusetts Avenue in silence. There were plenty of other Catholic Churches closer to the Yard but Greg figured he may never have the chance to see what was truly a work of art. The service was very similar to what he had grown up with but some how it seemed more majestic in this setting. During the service, there was a beautiful performance of Ava Maria that just floated through the beautiful acoustics. Greg looked up and noticed that he was not alone in wiping the tears from his eyes.

They turned off Massachusetts onto Seventh and headed toward the Mall. No one was saying much as they walked. Like Greg they were all lost in their own thoughts. Around the country there would be many tables set for Christmas dinner with empty chairs. Many of them would never be filled again after the war. Thoughts drifted to home, to family, and memories of Christmas mornings filled with much more joy than this one held. The men in this group did not hold to delusions. They knew that many if not all of them they would likely eventually see combat. In fact many of them were aching to fight. While no one thought it would be him, they all knew some would not be coming back.

They turned onto Maine Ave and headed towards they gate of the Navy Yard. Greg wasn't sure who started singing but in a moment they all joined, “Silent Night, Holy Night......” Ensign Lazzaro it turned out had a magnificent tenor voice. He raise the note perfectly to the high note, “Pee-eacccce”. Without thought they all slowed as they approached the gate to be sure the song finished, “Sleep in Heavenly Peace”.


vettim89 -> RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon (12/16/2011 11:59:30 PM)

26 December 1941, South of Shokaku, Japan

Swordfish was spending a rare day on the surface. The boat's normal routine was to submerge during daylight and surface at night to charge the batteries. The constant patrols by Japanese aircraft gave them little choice. They had only spotted a couple of floatplanes at long distance, but LCDR Smith wasn't taking any chances. Today, however, the weather was so bad that there was little risk of being spotted by an aircraft. The clouds were hung low in a solid overcast and the wind was blowing nearly 30 kt. Wisps of scud were pushed across the gray sky as Swordfish plowed through the waves.

LT(jg) DJ Haskins was not looking forward to speaking with the skipper. As the boat's Navigator, he was required to give LCDR Smith twice daily position fixes for the sub's location. It had been two days since DJ had been able to get a good reading from the sky. Navigators relied on one of two celestial readings to fix their position. The could either use the stars or the sun. Using a sextant, a man could calculate the angle to the object he was using. Then by using the time and a series of charts, a remarkably accurate “fix” could be made if the man was good. It was the same method that mariners had been using for centuries. Of course that was all dependent on being able to see the sun and stars. Without a celestial reading, all DJ could do is calculate distance traveled at the indicated course and speed. This was easier said then done as ocean currents, sea state, and human error all played into that calculation.

DJ finished his calculation and made his way to Smith. As far as he could tell they were about 240 SSE of the westernmost tip of the island of Shokaku.

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