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RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon

 
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RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/3/2012 11:35:55 PM   
vettim89


Posts: 3251
Joined: 7/14/2007
From: Toledo, Ohio
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13 June 1943, Perth, Australia

Swordfish is out of the dry dock. She is moved over to a pier at the sub base, and the crew is quickly loading the necessary provisions for the trip north. They will not be returning to Soerabaja this time as that base is now being threatened by the enemy and likely fall within a few days. Instead they will stop at a small port on Australia's NW corner to refuel before heading into japanese territory. This will shorten their time on station by four or five days, but it is better than being based out of Perth.

LT DJ Haskins is in the forward torpedo room with ENS Beasley checking out the torpedoes. There is a growing concern within the submarine community that there is something wrong with the Mk14 Torpedoes. DJ himself has seen several attacks come up empty when everything seemed to be plotted correctly. They are using these last few hours in port to open up as many of the torpedoes as time allows. The gyroscopes, depth mechanisms, and warheads are all given a through check out.

“You have an answer for this?” DJ asks

“No Lieutenant, everything seems to be in proper working order”, Beasley answers.

“What about you, Chief?” her asks CTM Reynolds who is assisting them.

“No, Sir, everything appears to be working as designed,” he answers. “Maybe the problem is in the torpedoes all together”

“Don't think I am following your there, Chief”, DJ says.

“Well, these things were designed mostly on paper,” Reynolds says. “A lot of the inner workings were based on ideas that had never been used before. Perhaps, the designers got it wrong.”

“Well, I have seen some of the memos coming out of BurOrd,” Haskins says. “They assure us that the torpedoes are not the problem.”

“Well, I for one think they are wrong,” Reynolds says. “If it were up to me, I'd just disable that goddamn magnetic detonator. That's what I think the problem is if you asked me”

“Well, Chief, you may be right, but we have orders to not do that exact thing,” DJ says. “Seems you're not the only one with that opinion as it has already been suggested.”

“Well, Lieutenant, what BurOrd doesn't know won't hurt them will it?” the Chief asks.

“Hmmm, that may be true,” Haskins ansers. “I'll run the idea past the skipper.”

DJ can tell from the look on the Chief's face that he isn't very hopeful about what LCDR Shane's response will be.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 211
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/3/2012 11:43:16 PM   
vettim89


Posts: 3251
Joined: 7/14/2007
From: Toledo, Ohio
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Special thanks to Thane who pointed out to me that Emily's letter about internment would have far reaching effects.

14 June 1942, Suva, Fiji

LT(jg) Hank Tyler is not assigned to fly today. He is in the squadrons “Operations Hut” helping CDR Underwood with some of the administrative duties. Never a fan of paperwork, Hank would normally try to find some way to get out of such duty. The Commander is about overwhelmed though, and it hardly seems fair that he and the XO would have to bear this burden all alone. Afterall, they also have flight duties on top of all of the “clerical” duties.

He barely notices the two men that entered the hut that asked to speak with Underwood alone. They disappear into his office for about five minutes. Hank cannot hear what they are discussing, but their hushed tones suggest that it is something they don't want everybody in the room to know about. The door opens and Underwood steps out with a look of concern on his face.

“Lieutenant Tyler, can we have a word with you,” he says.

Tyler stands and walks to the Commander's office. He doesn't know what is up, but suddenly a sense of foreboding comes over him

“Lieutenant, this is CDR Mowery and LT McElroy,” Underwood says. “they are from Naval Intelligence and need to ask you some questions.”

With that Underwood leaves the room closing the door behind him

“Have a seat, Lieutenant,” Mowery says. “An issue has arisen, and we need your cooperation on the matter.”

“Anything I can do , Sir,” Tyler says matter of factly. The Commander's pleasant demeanor does not fool him for a moment. This is a serious man who only troubles himself with serious matters. Hank can tell that just by the way he speaks.

“You know a woman named Emily Stebbins, correct?” Mowery says

“Yes, Sir,” Tyler answers. “I guess you could say we are dating though the geographical constraints do put a damper on it.”

“How long have you known Miss Stebbins,” Mowery asks.

Tyler pauses for a moment. At first it is just to do the math in his head, but he also is taking time to process why these two Intelligence weanies are so interested in Emily.

“Well, Sir,” he says slowly, “it has been just under five months since we met. We started dating while the squadron was based at San Franciso.”

“Yes, we are well aware of that, Lieutenant,” the Commander says almost not waiting for the answer.

“If you already knew that, why did you ask the question?” Tyler says.

“I wanted to see what you would say,” he responds. “When you first met Miss Stebbins, did you approach her or did she approach you?”

“I approached her,” Tyler says. “It was at a dance at the Whitcomb Hotel. If I may ask, Sir, why are you so interested in my girlfriend?”

“I think you better leave the questions to us, Lieutenant,” Mowery says sternly. “Let's just say we are concerned about her loyalty. She has been engaged in some questionable activities that may suggest she has Pro-Japanese sympathies.”

For four years Hank had reigned in his rebellious streak. It was the price he had to pay to first become a pilot in the Navy and then maintaining his qualification. This, however, was too much. These pukes from the Intelliegnece Office were accusing Emily, his girl, of being a traitor! He rose from his seat with fire in his eyes.

“Listen here, you sonofabitch!” he says glaring straight into Mowery's eyes. “If you think I am gonna sit here and let you bad mouth Emily, you are full of it!”

With that the door swings open and CDR Underwood rushes in. He grabs Hank by his shirt and slams him back down into the chair.

“Sit down, Lieutenant!” he says. “Gentlemen, a moment with my officer if you would.”

The two men sense that Underwood was not making a request and they leave the room. Mowery keeps his eyes fixed on Tyler as he steps through the door.

“Now you are going to listen to me and you are going to listen good,” Underwood says with no level of compromise in his words. “These men have the ability to take you from this room right now, no questions asked. They can not only strip you of your wings but also make your life a living hell. I am sure you have no doubts about your girlfriend's loyalty to the country, but I might point out that you barely know her. I don't know what this is all about, but I do know one thing: you are going to sit here and answer their questions calmly and professionally. If you fail to do so, I will ground you and send you back to the States myself. Do I make myself clear?”

“Yes, Sir,” Hank says in a beaten tone.

Mowery and McElroy return to the room and the interview begins again. They ask him dozens of questions about Emily: had she ever mentioned lack of support for the War, did she ever ask him to read pro-Japanese materials, does she associate with Japanese people, and on and on. The continue to grill Hank for over an hour. No matter how many times Tyler protests and assures them of Emily's loyalty, they do not seem to be satisfied. Finally, they run out of questions. They dismiss Hank and he walks out of the office and straight out the door. He walks down to the beach and just stares at the waves. Feelings of doubt and confusion fill his mind, but they are overwhelmed by another emotion: rage. He has no idea what this is all about, but he is going to find out.

What Tyler does not know is that on this day in Olean, New York, two grim faced men enter the Olean Savings and Trust building asking to speak with Mr. Tyler. Hank's father is grilled for over half an hour about a girl he has never met.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 212
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/3/2012 11:45:14 PM   
vettim89


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From: Toledo, Ohio
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5 June 1942, Hilo, Hawaii

CPT Brett Castlebury is watching third platoon's practice on the rifle range that has been set up for the Marines' ongoing training. He is beginning to become concerned that the men are getting too comfortable here in Hawaii. At least when they were in Iceland there was the real threat of encountering the enemy even if that was a very remote possibility. The nearest Japanese to where he stands now are on Wake Island. Brett doubts they were going to paddle their way over a thousand miles. With the threat of invasion growing more remote every day, the Marines are getting a bit laxed. He may need to change things up a bit to help them keep their edge. LT Reese seems to have things well in hand here; so, he makes his way back to the Company HQ.

As he turns to go, he is met by LT Broadway who is making his way down the mud road carrying something in a duffle bag.

“You look like a man on a mission, Lieutenant,” Brett says. “Whatya got in the bag?”

“Oh, just a little present for you Captain,” he says, “ but we need to go back to the range for me to give it to you.”

Brett turns around and the two men make their way down to the firing line. The 3rd Platoon is packing up and getting ready to head back down to camp. The Range Master is closing down the range for the day.

“Excuse me, Gunny,” Broadway says, “but could I trouble you to keep the range open for a few minutes?”

“No problem at all, Lieutenant,” he says. “We're not supposed to be done here for another half hour any way. What you up to, if I might ask?”

“Well, I acquired a new personal weapon for the Captain here and I thought he might want to try it out,” Broadway says with a grin.

The three men gather around a table as Broadway opens the duffle.

“Now, how in the hell did you get that?” Castlebury says.

“Just a little horse trading,” Broadway says still grinning.

“Well, this is definitely an upgrade,” Brett says as he lifts a M1928A1 Thopson submachinegun from the bag.

The weapon is heavy weighing over ten pounds. Unlike the Reising M50, the gun was known for its reliablity. They are exclusively issued to the Army which means Broadway somehow had conned one out of some poor soldier's hand. He slaps in a 20 round magazine in and chambers a round. He rips off a quick burst and immediately sees that what he heard about the weapon is true: it is highly inaccurate at full auto. He practices firing off short bursts and finds that he can achieve a reasonable hit rate. To his surprise, LT Broadway joins him on the firing line with a Thompson of his own.

“Two?” Brett says incredulously

“Couldn't let you have all the fun,” he answers with the same ear-to-ear grin on his face

The two men go through several magazines as the get accustomed to the weapons. Fortunately, the Thompsons use the same exact 0.45 caliber round that the Reisings use. Given the fact that the Marines had pretty much discarded their submachine guns, ammo shortage was not going to be a problem.

< Message edited by vettim89 -- 3/3/2012 11:48:14 PM >


_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 213
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/3/2012 11:51:46 PM   
vettim89


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From: Toledo, Ohio
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16 June 1942, Auckland, New Zealand

While the USN carriers are off on their little hunting trip, the Surface Action Group is stood down. LT Greg Cummins won't deny that he is more than a bit jealous of the sailors and pilots on the carriers right now. The fact that the raid has been dubbed a failure eases the pain at least a little. The rest does give the ships in the Task Force a chance to conduct some minor dockside maintainence and repairs. It had been more than five weeks since they had left Pearl Harbor, and the lack of combat did not mean the ships were not getting worn down.

Like so many other ports acrossed the world, Auckland now finds itself “occupied” by the US military. The men from the Surface Action Group represent nearly 6,000 men alone. The streets are filled with not only sailors but men from a number of support units based here from both the Army and Navy. The New Zealand people are warm and friendly hosts even if they are keeping their daughters practically under lock and key. The US servicemen are being polite guest for the most part although there are the inevitable alcohol induced fights that break out. The SPs are doing a good job keeping every one in line, and damage to a minimum.

Half of Perkins crew has been given shore leave for the day. Greg Cummins is sitting on his bunk reading some technical manuals when LT Doyle sticks his head through the door.

“Mr. Cummins,” he says sternly, “What exactly are you doing?”

“Just brushing up on the technical data for the FCS and torpedo mounts,” Greg answers.

“I would think you would have those all committed to memory by now,” Doyle says

“Not quite,” Greg answers thinking he actually almost has memorized them.

“Correct me if I'm wrong, Lieutenant,” Doyle says, “but I believe you have been granted a day pass for today have you not?”

“Yes, Sir, I have,” he answers, “but I thought my time would be better spent in study.”

“Well, LCDR Ford suspected that might be the case,” Doyle says. “he has instructed me to order you off this boat immediately. You are not to return prior to 1700 hours, and you are to leave all the technical manuals, specs, and any other US Navy documents official or otherwise on board the Perkins. If you have any objections, you are to take it up with him.”

Greg looks up at Doyle in disbelief. He can tell by the look on his face that this is not a joke. He puts the manual down and grabs his hat.

“Off you go now,” Doyle says teasingly. “All work and no fun makes Greg a dull boy.”

He makes his way to the main deck and up to the forward boarding ladder. Here Laird, Slocum, and Faber await him in a launch at the bottom of the ladder.

“Ah, our Fearless leader has arrived,” Faber says as Greg climbs aboard. “Hope you are wearing comfortable shoes, because we are going mountain climbing.”

“What?” Greg says

“Yup, we are going there,” Faber says pointing to a green bulge in the landscape to the Southeast.

The bulge is Mangere Mountain, an inactive volcano just to the South and West of Auckland's port. The men arrive at a RNZN pier then catch a tram to the city's edge. Its is only about a mile to the base of the mountain which in most places would be just a large hill. The man make their way up the Southeast slope to the summit which is about 350 feet above sea level. In the center is a deep crater belieing the mountain's formative process. Scattered around the summit are a number of stone works that are remnants of the Maori culture that existed her before European settlers arrived. Greg is impressed with the size of some of the stones that he realizes were moved here by man power alone. While not as impressive as the stone works at say Easter Island or Stonehenge, they still are a testament to the Maori's determination. The men spend a few hours walking around and enjoying the amazing views of both of Auckland's harbors: the shallow water inlet to the west and the deep water port to the east.

They make their way back down and walk to the tram stop where the had gotten off on the way out. After a twenty minute wait, the tram pulls up and they head back to town. A make shift Officer's Club has been set up near the port. They eat an early dinner there before returning to Perkins shortly after 1830. Greg returns to his cabin and reaches for his manuals. He drops them on his bed and instead heads to the Ward Room. His comrades from the day's excursion are gathered there with some other officers. He is invited to join a game of Bridge and accepts. As Greg sits and enjoys the comraderie at the table, he realizes this may be the first time he has truly relaxed in more than six months.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 214
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/3/2012 11:53:27 PM   
vettim89


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17 June 1942, Southeast of Noumea, New Caledonia

The USN's carriers are back on nurse maid duty. This time it is a convoy of freighters carrying supplies and more importantly a large number of aircraft to Noumea. Once there, the base will be officially operational. While not totally freeing up the carriers, it will help make Noumea even more secure. The four VFs are busy providing Combat Air Patrol (CAP) over both the flight decks and the convoy. The pilots in the attack squadrons are doing their usual search and ASW functions but with the exception of the submarine threat, no one expects much action this far South.

The pilots of VS-6 sit in the Ready Room biding their time. Other than the few men assigned to patrol duty today, there isn't a lot for them to do. That said, the need to be ready to fly at a moment's notice. The are all in their flight suits with their knee boards nearby just in case there is a sudden call for action. While their location implies enough safety that there isn't a lot of tension in the room, the men are not relaxed either. It is a routine they have become very familiar with during the war. In the just over six months after Pearl Harbor, Enterprise has been at sea for more than five of them.

LT(jg) James West is playing Gin with LT(jg) Bob Carey. It provides a welcomed distraction from the boredom.

“This is getting old,” Carey says

“How's that?” James asks not sure what he means by that statement

“This constant routine of playing Mother Hen to a bunch of transports,” Carey says

“Well at least its something to do,” James says

“Yeah, I guess after the Solomon's raid, I can't complain too much,” Carey says

“Well, that was a shot in the dark from the get go,” James says. “More of a aggressive patrol than an actual raid.”

“Would have been nice to have found at least a convoy or something,” Carey muses.

“Guess it just wasn't our day,” West says.

“Maybe next time,” Carey says. “Knock with two”

“Crap,” James says. “Thirteen left”

“Guess it still isn't your lucky day, James” Carey says smiling

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 215
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 12:55:30 AM   
vettim89


Posts: 3251
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From: Toledo, Ohio
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18 June 1942, Java Sea

Shark is slowly making her way through the maze of Japanese held Islands. Half of Java is now owned by the enemy as well as a good portion of Borneo and Sumatra. The Japs have a large base at Kendari which forces the USN and RNN subs to stay as far away from there as possible.

LT DJ Haskins is off duty technically but is in the sub's control room monitoring the boat's progress. Shark will transit the Eastern Java Sea then make her way up through the straits of Macassar. Unlike their last patrol, this time the will move around the North cape of Borneo then into the South China Sea. Radio reports are that the Japanese are landing on Mindanao and Palawan. Hopefully they will be able to run into some of that traffic while patroling that area.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 216
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 12:56:42 AM   
vettim89


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From: Toledo, Ohio
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19 June 1942, Hilo, Hawaii

CPT Brett Castlebury iis in the Company HQ this bright Hawiian morning. There is no firm date, but word has come down that they will be deploying soon. As usual, there is no indication when that will be or where they are going. Brett has gotten used to all the rumors that pop up whnever a move is announced. He has learned to filter most of them out. Scuttlebutt is not the most reliable information source. It is amusing at what some of the men come up with though. Having a map of the South Pacific and a vivid imagination can be a dangerous thing for a bored Marine. He's glad that Generals get to make these decisions because some of the places his men have come up with for a destination would put the Division is a dangerous position.

“No, Private, we are not heading to Rabaul or Truk or the Marianas,” he has said on more than one occasion.

Brett doesn't know where there are heading for sure, but he is sure that the Allied offensive is going to be a slow stepwise process.

“No need to stick your neck out just to get your head chopped off,” he thinks as he himself studies the map.

“If I were going to guess, I bet we are going here”, he thinks with his finger on an island chain Northwest of Fiji. The notation on the map says New Hebrides.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 217
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 12:57:52 AM   
vettim89


Posts: 3251
Joined: 7/14/2007
From: Toledo, Ohio
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20 June 1942, Southeast of Noumea, New Caledonia

The Surface Action Group is patroling just ahead of a convoy heading into Noumea. CINCPAC has decided that any valuable convoy needs an esort from now on. While certainly not in the Japs backyard, they are close enough to bases in the Solomons and New guinea where a IJN raiding force could make its way down here. Of course, they would have to get past the US carriers which are nearby. The carriers themselves are not visiable but the skies are filled with F4Fs, SBDs, and TBFs.

LT Greg Cummins is acting as OOD on the bridge of USS Perkins. Even in a non-combat situation there is a lot to be attended to for the OOD. First and foremost is keeping her place in the formation. They are in an anti-subamarine orientation now with the four cruisers in the center and the four destroyers circling around them. Greg is thankful for the new RADAR systems installed during the last refit as it provides information as to Perkins' position to all seven of the other ships in the Task Force. The ship's primary comabt duty at the moment is to search for and attack any submarines trying to infiltrate the screen. Greg keeps in constant contact with both the CIC and the lookouts. In addition, he needs to track all the aircraft that are flying about to verify they are indeed friendly. Cummins raise his binoculars to locate a new plane that CIC had reported was approaching.

“Inform CIC that Bogey 027 is a TBF, heading North by Northwest,” Greg says

The infromation is passed. He is informed of a new surface contact to the Northeast. He spins around and peers through the binoculars in that direction. It is a USN destroyer, likely a Gridley class. It must be part of the outer screen of one of the CV groups. He passes the information along like the last. This continues on for the entire time Greg has the Con. While RADAR is an amazing tool, it has added to the work load considerably. If things were this busy in such a benign setting, Greg is beginning to wonder what the situation will be like in actual combat.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 218
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 12:59:23 AM   
vettim89


Posts: 3251
Joined: 7/14/2007
From: Toledo, Ohio
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21 June 1942, Suva, Fiji

LT(jg) Hank Tyler has been in a foul mood for a week. His encounter with the Naval Intelligence pukes a week ago is still leaving a bad taste in his mouth. What's even worse is that CDR Underwood forbade him from writing Emily at all. He said that it would probably be best if Hank let the situation cool off for a while. The problem is that Tyler has no idea what “the situation” is at the moment. CDR Mowery had been very vague as to what “offense” Emily may or may not be have committed. How much trouble is she actualy in at this point? How much trouble is Hank in at this point? He has no idea.

Tyler makes his way to the Operations Hut. The CO has asked that Hank come up and see him. He has reason to suspect this may have something to do with Emily.

“You wanted to see me, Sir?” Hank says as he enter the office.

“Yes, Hank, sit down,” Underwood says. “I think it is time you write your girl again.”

“Has something changed?” Hank says hopefully.

“Not that I am aware of so far,” Underwood says, “but I think I made a mistake in telling you to stop writing her. After thinking about, it might be perceived
by some as suspicious that you suddenly broke off communication. Kinda like you had something to hide.”

“I don't,” Tyler says with a bit of venom in his voice.

“Didn't say that you did,” Underwood replies somewhat exasperated. “You need to understand that Intelligence types don't think like you and me. The see a spook behind every shadow. They're not a bad lot but their job makes them inherently distrustful. Keep in mind that Naval Intelligence still has a big ole egg on their face because they failed to detect the build up to Pearl Harbor.”

“Well, they should,” Hank says. “That was a pretty bad screw up.”

“Yes, it was,” Underwood agrees, “That also means that they are trying really hard to make sure nothing like that happens again. We have to accept that during war things change. What may be innocent behavior by a person in peace time can easily be construde as disloyal in war. You need to understand that fact. I do beleive that this whole thing is just a misunderstanding of some type by how you have described Miss Stebbins, but we have got to let this play out. Any attempt by you or me will only be perceived as an attempt to cover for her. Do you understand?”

“Yes, I guess,” Hank says dejectedly. “It appears I am powerless to help Emily, and if I try, it will only make it worse.”

“OK, did you bring the letters you have written in the last week to Miss Stebbins like I asked,” Underwood says

Hank hands him the letters. He had though it odd that the man that told him the CO wanted to see him also said to bring along the letters.

“Nope, Nope, Nope,” Underwood says as he leafs through the letters dropping each successive one into the trash can.

“Are you just taunting me, Sir?” Tyler says

“No, I am protecting you,” the CO says. “You need to assume that all corespondance you make for the foreseeable future is monitored. Everything you write will be read and dissected for any hint of double meaning.”

“Jesus,” Hank says. “Isn't that being a bit paranoid?”

“No, its not,” Underwood says. “Its my intention to do everything I can to save your career. In order to do that, I cannot take any chances.”

“I appreciate that, Sir, more than I can say,” Tyler says

“Just looking out for one of my own,” Underwood says. “No go back and write some new letters. Do not mention anything that is happened here. Talk about the weather. Talk about you squadronmates. Give no hint to her that there is trouble brewing. I don't want to give Intelligence any more ammunition. Got it?”

“Aye, sir,” Tyler says

Thousands of miles away in downtown San Francisco, the Stebbins family attorney is giving the same exact advice to Emily and her father.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 219
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 1:04:43 AM   
vettim89


Posts: 3251
Joined: 7/14/2007
From: Toledo, Ohio
Status: offline
22 June 1942, Hilo, Hawaii

Training is intensifying at Hilo. As soon as lift can be arranged, the Division is heading to the South Pacific. The trip will take more than three weeks and with the exception of PT, the men will be relatively inactive. CPT Brett Castlebury is working his men hard. He wants them in peak physical shape before they board the transports. They use the few Higgins Boats assigned to the Division to conduct some mock invasions. While it is nothing like the real thing, the experience of maneuvering on and off the boats is invaluable. Brett knows that eventually the Marines will likely have to take an opposed beach. If the men can at least get used to the evolutions of boarding and disembarking, that will be one less thing he has to worry about.

Brett is very happy with the five officers that have been assigned to Gulf Coy. 1StLT Broadway has been a Godsend. He is a good officer and a good Marine. Even though he is subordinate, the two men have struck up a warm friendship. The two junior officers, 2ndLTs Reese and Hodge, are coming along nicely too. They are very teachable and are willing to listen to both the superiors and their Platoon Sargeants. Brett knows from his own experince that leaning on that resource only makes one a better officer. He thinks of how MSGT Wilson had “trained” him up. The unit is about in as good of shape as it can be as the time to head South approaches.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

(in reply to vettim89)
Post #: 220
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 1:07:34 AM   
vettim89


Posts: 3251
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From: Toledo, Ohio
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24 June 1942, South China Sea

Shark has reached her patrol zone. The hope is that they will be able to intercept some of the Japanese convoys hauling material out of the Enemy's newly conquered territories in Borneo and Sumatra. The transit to the area was uneventful. The sub moved up through the Straits of Macassar where they had run afoul of a convoy a few weeks ago. They then moved through the Celebes Sea once again but this time did not linger.

LT DJ Haskins is on the bridge for the Morning Watch as the boat moves slowly NNE. The end point for this leg will be just west of the entrance to Manila Bay. It is an odd thought for him to digest. For more than a year, USS Swordfish had been based at Manila. She had patroled some of the same areas of ocean where Shark is heading many times. The fact that it is now an enemy base is a testament to how much DJ's world has changed in the past eight months. He thinks about the Filipinos that got left behind. Were the groups of small children still gathered around the entrance to Cavite Navy Yard plying the Japanese sailors the same way the did US sailors? He'd like to think that but his heart tells him that would be a dillusion. No, from everything he had heard, the Japs were brutal conquerors where ever they went. He fears that the natives of Manila are experiencing the same fate that the Chinese have for ten years now.

He has heard that the Filipinos are organizing a resistance movement. Several USN subs have already delivered equipment to help in those efforts. DJ is not sure how good of an idea it is for them to try to fight the Japs. They could just be bringing down even more harsh treatment from their conquerors upon the populace. Still, DJ can understand their desire to fight. Afterall, as LT Phelps had pointed out not so long ago, he would have pretty strong motivation if the Japs had occupied Califronia. Yes, he was sure, if the situation was reverse he would be doing everything he could to make the Japanese stay on his homeland as difficult as possible.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 221
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 1:11:10 AM   
vettim89


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26 June 1942, near Norfolk Island

You'd think somebody had a baby. Every man in Enterprise's Air Group is all excited about the new arrivals. Not the least of those are the pilots of VS-6, the carrier's Torpedo Squadron. The new arrivals are fifteen brand spanking new TBF Avengers. The dive bomber pilots were happy about the upgrade to the SBD-3, but that was nothing compared to the outright giddyness the torpedo plane pilots are showing about their new planes. Everything that was wrong about the TBD seems to have been corrected in the TBF. It is big, fast for an attack aircraft, long ranged, and can carry a huge amount of ordinance. The 0.30 cal defensivine machinegun has been replaced by a 0.50 cal in a stabilized turret. A turret on a Navy plane? Even the men of the two SBD squadrons are jealous of that little addition.

LT(jg) James west is walking across the hangar deck to “check in” with his plane captain about the condition of his SBD. Oddly, most of the pilots in the squadron have found the sudden urge to take a more personal interest in their aircraft's maintenance. James is walking across the deck in the general direction of his plane when he hears LCDR Gallaher's voice from behind him.

“West, get over here,” the CO yells.

James turns to see not only Gallher but the rest of the pilots of VS-6 gathered behind him.

“The maintenance people are bitching about how they can;t get their work done because the pilots in this squadron are all suddenly overly interested in their work,” Gallaher says. “In order to get them off my back, we are all going on a little tour so you and the rest of the screw balls in this outfit can see what you are really down here to see.”

With that, the Commander leads them over to one of the Avengers parked nearby. First of all, the thing is huge. No one would refer to its lines as sleek or elegant, but there is something beautiful in its utilitarian design. The internal bay is very roomy being able to hold a 2000 lb bomb as well as the standard Mk 13 torpedo. The big R2600 Twin Cyclone is the same engine used on the USAAF's B-25 which is to say it was very powerful. Unbelievably, the plane has a rear hatch the the rear gunner used to access the turret. So many things about this plane are firsts for the Navy. The entire center section of the crew compartment is taken up with radio gear. James figures this would come in handy on strike missions as the dedicated Radioman in the Avenger will be far more capable of monitoring communications. Gallaher says that VT-6's CO, said the plane “flew like a truck”. James isn't sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. After twenty mintes they all head back to the Ready Room having their curiosity satisfied. The maintenance crews are grateful to say the least.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 222
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 1:15:08 AM   
vettim89


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Authors note: I have fallen hopelessly behind the game action in my Dog's writing. Rather than fill space with short mindless posts, I decided to skip forward at two day intervals at least until I can catch up a little. That will be broken by game action as necessary.

28 June 1942, South of Noumea, New Caledonia

After the leisurely cruise to the South Pacific including the long layover at Atui, the Surface Action Group (TF22) seems to be constantly on the move. They have already made three trips from New Zealand to Noumea and are heading back for the next convoy now. Now that there are fighters based at Noumea, there is much less threat from an enemy carrier strike, but the threat of submarines remains high. Hardly a day goes by without a submarine sighting some where nearby. When the weather permits, even the cruiser's float planes are launched to aid in the never ending search for the submerged predators.

LT Greg Cummins finds his hatred of submarines to not have lessened at all. The fact that he is now worried more about I-Boats instead of U-Boats makes no difference to him. In his mind, submariners are still a bunch of sneaky low lifes who lack the courage to take on their opponents man-to-man. No, they skulk around in the water trying to weasel their way into a convoy to torpedo nearly defenseless merchant ships. They are not warriors; just cold blooded killers. He makes no effort to hide his feelings from his fellow officers.

“You know, Greg, you are a bit obsessive about submarines,” LT(JG) Larid offers.

“Its my job to be obsessive about submarines,” Cummins responds

“True, but your emotional involvement may get in the way if you are not careful,” Laird says.

“I fail to see how wanting to detect and eliminate a threat to every ship in the US Navy is getting emotionally involved,” Greg says

“If you say so, Captain Ahab,” Laird say smiling

“Ahab?” Greg says thinking. “The submarine tasks me; he heaps me. Yet he is but a mask. 'Tis the thing behind the mask I chiefly hate; the malignant thing that has plagued mankind since time began; the thing that maws and mutilates our race, not killing us outright but letting us live on, with half a heart and half a lung.”

“Yeah, like that,” Laird says shaking his head.


_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 223
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/4/2012 1:17:11 AM   
vettim89


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30 June 1942, Southwest of Noumea, New Caledonia

The men of VS-6 sit in the Ready Room waiting for the order to man planes. A Hudson patrol bomber from the RNZAF squadron based at Noumea has spotted some shipping northwest fo the Island. The planes have all been prepped and loaded with 1000lb bombs. LCDR Gallher informed the pilots that information is sketchy as to the nature of the threat, and a small strike from Lexington's VB-2 has been sent out to investigate and attack whatever is out there. The men are tense. Even the usual card games are missing. There is too much nervous energy to sit still and concentrate at the moment.

LCDR Gallaher leaves periodically to find out what news there may be, but returns each time with nothing to help clarify the situation. Was there a Jap Task Force out there trying to hit Noumea and the shipping there? Already both sides had been able to interfere with the other's unloading of merchant ships by sneaking some cruisers and/or destroyers into a port. This is the very reason the carriers have been patroling the waters South of New Caledonia. The morning passes without further sightings or additional information being passed down. Finally, at 1230, Gallaher returns with news.

“It seems the Japanese force was a single ship only,” the CO says. “It was their version of a Q-boat, a merchant ship secretly armed as a surface raider.
Lexingtons group put one or two 1000lbers into it and she is a goner.”

“Just our luck,” LT(jg) Carey says. “We can't even get in on a lousy milk run against one lightly armed ship”

“Our day will come, Bob,” LT(jg) James West says. “Its only a matter of time now.”

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 224
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/10/2012 6:00:48 AM   
vettim89


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Sorry about the lapse in this AAR. The intense action in the game has taken up all my time of late.

2 July 1942, South China Sea

“How come every time we show up, the Japs seem to run away?” LT(jg) OJ Moss asks

“Maybe our reputation proceeds us,” LT DJ Haskins answers.

“Yeah, 'cause we're the scourge of the Japanese navy,” Moss says sardonically.

The Shark has made exactly two attacks since DJ has been aboard for the net result of no hits. For the most part that has been simply because they have only encountered Japanese shipping twice. Secretly, DJ is beginning to wonder if it may have to do with LCDR Shane's cautious nature. He seems very unwilling to put the boat into harm's way. Anytime they even get a sniff of a patrol aircraft, he changes course to put as much distance between him and the aircraft's potential source. DJ wonders if it ever occurred to the skipper that the reason the Japs are patrolling a certain area is because they are protecting something valuable. He wisely keeps his thoughts to himself, but he knows he is not alone in his feelings. No one would dare speak anything allowed against the CO; no one is interested in starting a mutiny.

DJ does wonder if there may eventually be a reckoning. Every day they pick up sighting reports and reports of attacks by both USN and RNN submarines. Is their going to be a point where COMSUBFORCESWPA is going to question Shark's “poor luck”. He just hopes no one ever asks his opinion. He does not want to be put in a place where he has to choose between disloyalty and the truth.

He thinks back to his conversation with Artie Floyd before he left Melbourne. His misgivings about LCDR Shane had already began to form back then. Nothing he had seen so far had alleviated his concerns. The man was a capable seaman; he had shown that in getting Shark back to Perth after being damaged. He just seems to lack the killer instinct.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 225
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/10/2012 9:35:15 PM   
vettim89


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4 July 1942

Lt(JG) Hank Tyler is celebrating this Independence Day by flying a patrol out to the North of Suva. CDR Underwood had told him not to share what had happened with the Intelligence weenies. Hank had followed the order, almost. Mike Page had run into him the day Mowery and McElroy had interviewed him. He told Mike everything but something in the back of his mind caused him to make the Ensign keep it just amongst the two of them. He told the CO that Page knew. The skipper called Mike in immediately and put the fear of God into the poor kid. Hank was sure Page would keep his mouth shut.

Flying was a nice break for Hank. The constant adjustments to the aircraft plus the extreme vigilance it took to properly patrol the assigned sector took about all of his mental facilities. He still loved flying. He loved the feel of controls in his hands and the fact that the plane felt like an extension of his being. The mental and physical challenge of even a routine flight still gave him a thrill. Most of all, he still loved the view of the world from high above and the odd sense of power it gave him.

The thought that it could all be taken away from him is amazingly frightening to him. If some one had told him a month ago that the two things he loved most in this world could potentially be at odds with each other, he would not have even considered that a possibility. Yet, now here he was facing that exact circumstance.

What he didn't know was that far away from where he was, things were already set in motion that would change the whole situation.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 226
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/10/2012 9:36:02 PM   
vettim89


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6 July 1942, North of Auckland, New Zealand

“Once more into the breach eh Greg?” LT Faber says

“I think we are going to dig ruts into this section of ocean if we are not careful,” LT Greg Cummins says.

Task Force 22 was once again escorting another convoy into Noumea. The whole process was becoming routine to the crews. Run up to Noumea, wait while the transports unloaded, then run back to Auckland. In fact, LCDR Ford had called an officers meeting before their departure. He was concerned that the crew may be becoming complacent. He warned them that just because things had gone so well in previous trips, the dangers were still very real. He charged each of them with seeing that their departments were at top readiness.

Greg had taken the CO's words to heart and personally conducted an inspection of the torpedo mounts, K-guns, and Depth Charge rails. As usual, they were all in top condition. His section had learned very quickly that he was not going to accept “just good enough”. Having found everything to his satisfaction, he returned to his cabin where Faber had just arrived after completing a similar walk through of the ship's Main and AA guns.

“Well, everything in my department is good to go,” Faber says, “though I doubt we will need it.”

“Definitely quiet down here,” Cummins says. “perhaps its too quiet.”

“Nah, except for subs, I don't think the Japs would send anything this far South.”

“You're probably right,” Cummins says, “but I got a weird feeling about this particular run North.”

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 227
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/10/2012 9:37:56 PM   
vettim89


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8 July 1942

Moving day once again has arrived for the Marines. This time it will be just a short hop over to Oahu. The Division will eventually make its way south, but for now they are just repositioning. Thankfully, there will be no mock invasions with this trip. CPT Brett Castlebury is happy to avoid another possible day like when they arrived at Hilo. The sound of CPL Lewis' leg snapping is still a little too fresh in his mind. There is insufficient lift to move the entire Division; so, there will be two trips to get everybody over to Oahu. The 6th Marines will go on the first convoy along with the 2nd marine RGT. The rest of the unit will follow in a few days.

“Well, Joe, it looks like we are finally going to get into this War for real,” Brett says as he stands on the pier waiting to board

“Yup, Cap, the Powers That Be must have finally come up with a good use for us,” 1stLT Broadway says

“You mean besides guarding coffee plantations and cattle ranches?” Brett says. “Oh, and don't forget icy Fjords in the middle of the goddamn Atlantic Ocean"

“Well, the American public does need its beef and morning Joe, after all” Joe say laughing

“The 2nd Marine Division, protectors of America's breakfast,” Brett says mockingly. “the Japs may be running wild in the Pacific but at least we still got our steak and eggs.”

“Well, its nice to know the REMFs have their priorities straight,” Broadway says

The loading continues without incident. It will take less than a day for them to arrive at Pearl Harbor.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 228
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/10/2012 9:39:22 PM   
vettim89


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10 July 1942, South of Noumea

The USN carriers are once again protecting a valuable troop convoy into Noumea. They have taken up a position South and West of the port , but still close enough to provide CAP over the unloading troop ships. It has been another mundane day for the men of Enterprise's air group. Nothing but routine patrols over empty ocean. There have been a few submarine sightings but no reports of action from any of the carriers. It is just another quiet day in the South pacific.

The men of VS-6 stand down with the sun's departure to the West. The grab supper on the mess deck before retiring to their cabins. Even though there has been no combat, they are still tired from the day's flying. Even without enemy action, the stress of being constantly at combat alert is wearing on the pilots. It will all start again early tomorrow morning.

“I wonder if the Japs have any idea what we are up to,” ENS Stone says.

“Well, there haven't been any reports of search aircraft,” LT(jg) West says

“Yeah, not even any of those sub based float planes,” ENS Jaccard says

“Well we can worry about that tomorrow,” LT(jg) Carey says. “I, for one am whipped.”

“Me too,” Stone say

“Me three,” Jaccard adds

The men strip down and climb into their bunks. The fatigue of the day weighs upon them, and they will all sleep well.

“Hey, James,” Stone says, “how about some words of wisdom before we go to sleep.”

“I'm too tired to think,” James says

“Oh, come on, James,” Carey joins in.

“Yeah, Daddy, ready me a bed time story,” Jaccard says

"Ok, something short and sweet,” James finally relents.

A Lion used to prowl about a field in which Four Oxen used to dwell. Many a time he tried to attack them; but whenever he came near they turned their tails to one another, so that whichever way he approached them he was met by the horns of one of them. At last, however, they fell a-quarrelling among themselves, and each went off to pasture alone in a separate corner of the field. Then the Lion attacked them one by one and soon made an end of all four.

“United we stand, divided we fall, shipmates,” West concludes.

“I like that one,” Stone says. “Thanks, James”

With that the four men fall asleep. Without knowing, it is the last night they will ever spend together.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 229
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/10/2012 9:47:10 PM   
vettim89


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11 July 1942, near Noumea, New Caledonia

(This excerpt will be told in the first person from LT(jg) James West's perspective)

Lt(jg) West rises at 0430. He dresses and shaves before making his way to the mess deck. The rest of the pilots in Enterprise's air group all sit quietly eating their breakfast of powdered eggs, bacon, fresh baked biscuits, and coffee. No one is particularly talkative this morning. A few men discuss the baseball season that is now at it's peak. Fans of various teams sing the virtues of their guys. Down here below the Equator, most of the news is weeks old at best. The men still use the presence tense while talking about their teams ignoring the fact that the games they are talking about happened a month ago. Being from the South, baseball has never been of much interest to James. Most people in South Carolina pay much more attention to college football and basketball. He still knows the names of the top players and teams like any American. He finishes breakfast and heads for the Ready Room.

West is not assigned to fly a scout mission this morning. Instead he sits with the rest of the pilots while LCDR Gallaher briefs the squadron as to the days activities. He starts with the weather which is surprisingly bad for the South Pacific. The sky is the usual broken clouds but there is a larger than normal chance of thunderstorms today. The pilots of VS-6 have gotten quite used to this pattern. Hardly a day goes by when they don't have to alter their flight plans to avoid a locally intense thunderstorm. While it usually is no more than a nuisance, occasionally it has been a real problem. There is nothing worse than trying to find a carrier with a empty fuel gauge while dodging lightning bolts.

The first sign that anything is up comes when word reaches the Ready Room that an enemy float plane has been spotted near the US carriers. West and the rest of the pilots dismiss the report at first. They are quite used to the Glen float planes from IJN submarines shadowing them. That changes quickly when word comes down from the CIC that they are tracking multiple aircraft approaching the Task Force. The Japanese have no bases in the area. This many aircraft can only mean that the Japanese carriers are some where nearby.

“Where the hell are the Jap carriers?” James says to himself.

The answer to that question comes at 1018 when the shocking news is passed down. PBYs out of Noumea have found multiple enemy carriers 300 NM NE of New Caledonia. That puts them almost 400 NM from the US carriers' present position. This is the edge of the SBDs range. If they are ordered to attack, they will only be able to take 500 lb bombs with them when they go. The Ready Room is suddenly abuzz. LCDR Gallaher is called to the CIC with the rest of the squadron commanders. He returns in a little more than ten minutes.

“All right,” he says. “we are going to load up for a max range strike. The search planes have already been recalled. Once they are back on board, we will spot the rest of the aircraft while they are being refueled. Its safe to say the Japs know we are here. We need to get the strike off as soon as possible.”

“At that range, sir, the F4Fs won't be able to escort us,” James says.

“No, they won't,” Gallaher says. “We hope to be able to pick up some escort from the VMFs based at Noumea. We still have more than an hour before launch; so, that may change between now and then.”

“Change for the better or for the worse?” James wonders to himself.

The pilots sit and fidget for the next hour. The news only grows more concerning as reports now indicate that over ten Japanese carriers are Northeast of Noumea.

“Jeesh, do the Japs have that many carriers?” ENS Stone says

“Dunno, maybe they are counting the same ones twice,” James says wondering if that is reality based or just wishful thinking on his part.

Reports filter down that the Japs are hitting shipping anchored in the harbor at Noumea. They all know that it won't be long before they come for the US carriers. Finally at 1130, the order is given.

“Pilots, man your planes,” a faceless voice comes over the 3MC.

Before the sentence is complete, the pilots are practically running for the door resulting in pile up as they try to squeeze through the narrow hatch. The go up a short set of stairs and they are on the flight deck. James makes his way to his plane. The plane captain gives him a leg up onto the port wing as he fights the weight of his parachute. He climbs into the cockpit and adjust his position until the chute slides into the hollow in the back of the seat. The plane captain makes sure he is well secured even as he has already starting the pre-flight. Behind him, his gunner, Wilson, is also getting settled in.

“Ready to hunt some, Japs, Wilson,” James says testing the intercom.

“You betcha, Sir!” the excited airman responds.

West flips the magnetos to the “on” setting, check his fuel mixture, and throws the starter switch. The big Wright Cyclone stutters at first but then roars to life. The plan is for the SBDs to take off first and wait for the TBFs to form up behind them. The hope is that the torpedo bombers will catch up on the way to the last known position of the Jap carriers. James is watching the gauges to make sure everything is normal as the engine warms up. Suddenly the radio breaks his concentration.

“Pelican Squadron, this is Pelican lead,” LCDR Gallaher says. “Noumea just reported a large Jap raid is passing to their West heading out way. We will launch now and make best speed to our target.”

James cannot help but notice that the CO failed to mention anything about fighter escort. The Enterprise turns into the wind and the squadron takes off in quick succession. They form up quickly and head Northeast. They haven't been in the air for twenty minutes before the airwaves are filled with reports that the Japanese raid has found the US Task Force. Gallaher orders the Squadron toward Noumea in hopes that they might be able to pick up some fighter cover while passing over the base. The good news is that the position of the Jap carriers is well known. The PBY pilots have been dodging the Zeroes all morning doing their best to keep tabs on the enemy's position. One good thing is that with their own strike aircraft in the air, the Japanese are unlikely to make any radical course changes for fear that their pilots won't be able to find their way home.

The pass over Noumea forty minutes after take off. Gallaher tries to contact the base but it is in chaos. James can see smoke billowing up from several ships in the harbor including what appears to be CVE Long Island.

“Well at least she delivered the fighter squadron she was carrying before they got her,” James thinks to himself

There will be no fighter escort. What few fighters that are left at the base are tasked to protecting it. The men of VS-6 continue on alone. There is no sign of VB-6 or VT-6. In the rush to get everybody airborne, there simply was no time to coordinate the strike. Instead, each squadron will make it's way to the last known Jap position alone. James surveys the skies around him. He cannot help but feel the eighteen dive bombers are like sheep to the wolves. It is indeed a very lonely feeling.

Nearly two hours pass before they finally catch sight of the enemy. At first they are just black dots on the surface of the sea with white tails behind them. Very quickly though the dots evolve into ship shaped objects. It is not hard to figure out which ones are the carriers; they are the ones in the center of a wide ring of other ships. Gallaher orders the squadron to attack the group nearest them. He barely finishes issuing the order when the Zeroes appear. The CO tries to keep the group together, but it doesn't take long before the cohesion breaks down.

Wilson calls out that there is a Zero on their tail. James spins his head over his shoulder and catches sight of the plane above and to his right. He pulls the stick hard right and practically stomps on the right rudder pedal. The plane heels to the right violently. Wilson opens up with his machine guns, but James' radical maneuvering foils any hope of him hitting the fighter. The SBD shutters as machine gun bullets penetrate the left wing. The Zero zooms past to James' left. He struggles to reorient himself and try to locate the carrier. All around him his squadron mates are in similar fights for survival. Some have already lost their battle as their SBDs are falling away trailing smoke. James finds the carrier again and turns the plane towards it. Within seconds Wilson calls out another Zero this time at seven o'clock high. West heaves the plane to the left as his gunner opens fire. Tracer bullets whiz past the cockpit as he tries in vain to shake the Zero. The tracers quickly converge with the edge of the fuselage and tear into the Dauntless. Suddenly James is blinded by a bright flash and goes blank for a moment.

When he gathers his senses, the plane is nearly out of control. The port side of the canopy is smashed and the wind screen is covered with oil. He fights the controls as he tries to regain some form of controlled flight. The altimeter is spinning downward at a frightening rate as the plane spins towards its left heading for the sea surface. James applies right rudder and stick with all his might to try to try to pull out of the death spiral. The only way out of this is for him to recover the aircraft. There is no way the could bail out even if the had to right now. Finally the plane responds to his inputs and stops spinning. He now is confronted with an even more frightening prospect: the plane is in a near vertical dive and is quickly running out of altitude. Suddenly, the thought hits him that the SBD is still armed with 500 lbs of dead weight that is slung beneath its belly. He pulls the bomb release then places both hands on the stick and pulls as hard as he can. Fortunately for West, the SBD was designed to recover from such a dive from the get go. The nose slowly raises and he pulls out with 500 feet “to spare”.

It is only now that James realizes he is hurt. His left arm is a mess and blood is clouding his left eye. In fact the entire left side of his body is in searing pain. He lets out a moan.

“You all right, Lieutenant?” Wilson says

“I've been better,” James says, “How about you?”

“Nothing bad, just a few metal splinters,” the gunner says

James now has time to survey his situation. He has a vague idea of his position going by where they were before the melee began. He turns the plane Southwest. He hopes they will at least make Noumea. He looks over the gauges. Not to his surprise, the oil level is nearly zero and the pressure is failing visibly.

“Wilson, we're not going to be able to even make it to Noumea,” James says. “There is no way I can bail out with my injuries. I'm gonna have to ditch. I'm gonna try to get some altitude so you can bail safely before I take her in”

“Don't bother, Sir,” Wilson says firmly. “I'll take my chances with you. Don't try to talk me out of it. Just do it.”

James considers debating the issue, but the oil pressure is falling fast now. He doubts he could get enough altitude for Wilson to bail out safely now if he tried. He eases back on the throttle and the plane slowly settles. He tries to lower the flaps but they won't move. The plane quickly loses altitude and the sea surface is now rushing by. He tries to squint the blood out of his left eye but it is a useless attempt. He eases the throttle back a little more as the last few feet of altitude bleed away. Just before the plane hits he pulls back slightly on the stick to flare it out then

SMASH.

James tries to tell Wilson to get out but his words fail him as he consciousness fades into blackness.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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Post #: 230
RE: The Dogs of War - companion AAR to Howlin' At The Moon - 3/13/2012 12:09:35 AM   
vettim89


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12 July 1942, Near Norfolk Island

“General Quarters, General Quarters, Air,” LT Doyle's voice booms over the 1MC.

With the rising of the sun, TF 22 goes into air defense mode. The results of the previous days battle are still confused, but one thing is for sure: the USN is bugging out. The men aboard USS Perkins are still reeling from what just unfolded literally before their eyes. The details are sketchy to say the least, but no one doubts the US Navy just lost it's first carrier battle. They had seen the small carrier USS Long Island blown to shreds right in front of them. Word is that USS Wasp met a similar fate. The condition and location of the rest of the US carriers is unknown for now. Before the Japanese strike aircraft had withdrawn, the TF had been ordered to pull back to New Zealand at max speed. By first light, they had already put more than 300 NM miles between the last know position of the Japanese carriers and the Task Force. Now, all they could do is wait.

LT Greg Cummins is in the CIC monitoring the RADARS. At this speed, the SONARS are useless. The only good thing is that the ship's present speed almost makes it invulnerable to sub attack. A sub would have to be fortunate enough to be lying directly across their path to even hope of getting a shot off. Cummins hopes there are no lucky Japanese submariners out there today.

“Did you even know the Japs had that many carriers, Greg?” LT(jg) Laird asks.

“Not exactly,” Greg says, “but it is not that outlandish when you think about it. We knew they used six carriers at Pearl Harbor. There were also reports of several small carriers near the Philippines when the war started. Doesn't take a math genius to add it up to ten or eleven.”

That was the number that had everyone so concerned. Four USN carriers were off Noumea when it all went down. Somewhere out in the vast Pacific there are two more. The old carrier, Ranger is in the Atlantic as far as anyone knows. Even if the USN had mustered its entire carrier fleet, they would be at nearly a two to one disadvantage. The loss of Wasp only adds to the problem.

“How we going to deal with all those carriers?” Laird asks

“Above my pay grade,” Cummins answers. “My guess is we will have to rely on land based aircraft to make up the difference.”

“Numbers are definitely not in our favor right now,” Laird says.

“We need an equalizer,” Greg says absently.

“Maybe our subs can pick off a few,” Laird says

That thought is particular distasteful to Greg. He had spent the entire War working on better ways to kill submarines. The fact that they now may indeed be the USN's best hope is just too hard to swallow.

_____________________________

"We have met the enemy and they are ours" - Commodore O.H. Perry

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