- US LandingShipInf(G) 559 during the Second World War -
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US LandingShipInf(G) 559
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Those known to have sailed in
US LandingShipInf(G) 559
during the Second World War 1939-1945.
- Horner James M..
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James M. Horner LSI(G) 559MOON BEAM May 1945 When we think of moonlight, it Conjures up memories of pleasant times and happiness. The addition of a lake, beach or ocean enhances its beauty. The position of the moon, high in the sky or low on the horizon, make little difference in the appreciation. It is usually a pleasant experience. That is not always the fact. Sometimes it can be a dreaded and fearful light. That was our situation in May 1945. Our assigned duty was close-in patrol of the east-coast of Okinawa near the battle line which extended east-to-west across the entire width of the island. The Japs were becoming increasingly suicidal. Any helpful information was quickly shared with all units in the area. The Japs had started using a Naval method of suicide-plane attacks. We had given this practice a name of “Running the Moonbeam.” While the moon is low on the horizon, the silhouette of a ship is very visible. Low flying planes could easily find a ship. One calm clear night, a Jap suicide plane found us. His circling above us was so slow and low that we could see the exhaust flames on his engine. We quickly saw the problem. We were too close to shore for him to come down behind us – placing us between him and the moon which was low on the eastern horizon! Then he was observing our phosphorescent wake in the dark waters beneath him. He was so close and low that the men talked in subdued voices, as if he might hear. We did not fire at him. Our first muzzle blast would have blinded us – and he would have a well defined target. We quickly decided that if he wants to look at a beautiful wake-light, we would give him one – then we could coast away into the darkness and await his next move. All eight engines were promptly set at “Flank Speed.” After one minute, at which time we had adequate speed, we stopped all engines and coasted away into the soothing darkness. The Jap, seeing this bright glow, promptly started circling this stationary area. The phosphorescent glow soon started to fade and he, apparently, thought he was climbing and he compensated for this by circling lower to the ocean. He ran into the ocean in near-level flight and his plane made a fiery streak burning gasoline and oil about 200 yards in length on the dark ocean surface. The men cheered as if they were at a ball game. The air seemed to get cooler. The night closed in with the silence. We returned to the former station – patrolling above the resting spot of a man, who, in other circumstances, could have been a friend. The moon was higher now. Somehow it seemed different – perhaps I just saw it differently. The exhaust of the engines blubbered contentedly as we cruised, slowly and more-thoughtfully, the area where our deception had led to destruction and death. Our ship received credit for another Jap Plane – and we never fired a shot. There is a well-known statement “All is fair in love and war” – but the moon can be a relentless reminder.Bob Horner
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