Breining's personal recollection of the last days of the 469
I was seventeen, three days after
Pearl Harbor, but didn't join up until '42 with
about six others from Newark, NJ (there is a point here).
We went to boots
together at Coddington point, Newport,
RI, and then to Boston to put the
DeHaven into commission (don't remember the date). Our
of a rough ride in or near Casco
Bay, Maine. All I remember was being sick
forever. Thank the Lord we were very much needed in the
Pacific so we didn't
hang out too long on the east coast.
I think I was still sick until we entered the
Panama Canal. So much for tincans!
After the Panama Canal, our first
port of call was Tongatapu where I got sick
again. I pigged out on coconuts with the other city boys
from Newark. Then to
either New Hebrides or New Caledonia
where we stripped the ship of all
flammable material. We left shortly, in company with
other ships for the other
Canal (Guadalcanal) and Tulagi.
Most of what was is written by Mr. Herr appears to be
very accurate. However,
I recall two things differently.
One, I don't believe we were making 20 knots
because we were still pacing the LCM's and two, one more
person left the pilot
house beaten, bowed and bloody.
I was a signalman striker at the time and both my watch
and GQ station were as
the talker stationed at the bulkhead
just aft of the helmsman. I was the Captains'
connection to the lookouts, guns, etc. The bomb that
blew up #2 mount and just
about "everything forward of the
stack" trapped me somewhere inside of the
bridge. I must have been out for a short time ( stunned,
more than likely) and the
first thing I remember was panic
and the thought that I had very little time left.
The only light I could see came from a large hole in
the deck (or more likely the
overhead). I looked down and saw
what could only be described as hell. I knew I
couldn't get out and really freaked. I screamed for help
and a voice somewhere to
my left yelled "over here". When
I tried to go "over here" I found myself caught
under lots of junk. Being pretty nutty by now, I broke
loose and crawled to where
I had heard the voice. God helped
me and I saw the light, literally. Believe it or
not, I had been in the pilot house but only had to step
into the water. I can
remember in bootcamp how I hardly
passed the swim test and now I'm Olympic
material. I did turn in time to see the DeHaven slip
under. When I finally
remembered to inflate my life belt
I discovered holes in it. Fortunately for me
there were empty 5" 38 aluminum powder cans floating
nearby which I used until
I found some guys on a life raft.
I managed to hold on until sometime later when
we were picked up by one of the LCM's.
I ended up spending a horrible night
on Guadalcanal and was flown from the
island the next day on a DC3 to a hospital in Noumea.
Later is was transferred to
a hospital in New Zealand so I
lost contact with my shipmates and never really
had a chance to compare notes.
I did meet up with a marine that
told me he and some buddies were at Cape
Esperance watching us get beat up and betting on how
long it would take to sink
us. He said it only took seven
Many wonder why the guns of the DeHaven were late to respond
to the attack. I
know why the guns did not begin
firing until the last minute. The Jap planes that
got over us came from the direction of Henderson Field.
The skipper was
concerned that the planes might
be ours so he asked me to ask the lookouts to
report as soon as they could identify them as enemy.
Nothing! Once more the
question and once more nothing.
Then the captain exclaimed, "damn, tell them to
hurry up!" After I relayed his message, soon came the
reply, "They're Japs, we
can see the meatballs!".
All the delay in identification combined with the slow
speed of the ship gave the
aces that dove on us a real field
day. Bye-bye DD!
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