Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Life Aboard the Blue and Floyd B Parks

Albert "Al" Paul Dagutis was my husband's uncle. He served in the Navy during World War II and I told the first part of his military service history a few days ago. This is the rest of his military story.

After serving on the USS Harry Lee, which supported the North African and Sicily invasions before joining the Pacific Fleet in time to participate in the Gilibert Islands Operation, Al was transferred off the ship sometime after 16 Dec 1943 and traveled back to New York City to prepare a new ship for commissioning into the U.S. Navy, a Sumner-class destroyer, the USS Blue (DD-744).

USS Blue (DD-744) ; photograph courtesy of the National Archives and
Records Administration

He was one of 355 men and 19 officers aboard the ship on 20 March 1944 when she was commissioned at the New York Navy Yard in Brooklyn. In April the Blue went to the Caribbean for a month-long shake down cruise, returning to New York for alterations.

She left the yard on 6 July 1944 and joined another destroyer, a destroyer-escort, and the aircraft carrier, the USS Ranger, in Norfolk. Together, the ships steamed to Pearl Harbor. Upon reaching Pearl, the Blue joined Task Force 58 (which was temporarily called Task Force 38 when Admiral Halsey was present as commander of the Third Fleet). The task was composed of the newest and fastest ships in the Navy and included the Hornet, Wasp, Intrepid, Bunker Hill, Essex, Lexington, Franklin, Randolph, and Ticonderoga; the battleships New Jersey, Iowa, Missouri, Wisconsin, Massachusetts, Alabama, Washington, and South Dakota; plus dozens of cruisers; and more than one hundred destroyers. It must have been a fearsome sight!

USS Blue (DD-744) at the New York Navy Yard;
photograph courtesy of the National Archives and Records

The opening shots of the Philippines campaign in September 1944 were the Blue's first combat experience. The Blue spent a month in Philippine waters before being detached from the task force to perform several special duty runs to Guam, Eniwetok, Saipan, and Ulithi, a West Caroline island, which became the fleet's main anchorage during this period.

In October 1944, the Blue joined eight other destroyers and became part of Destroyer Squadron 61, known as Desron 61. The squadron steamed to the Philippines supporting the countless airstrikes aimed at Luzon and Formosa. On 19 December the Blue was caught in a violent typhoon, which sunk three other destroyers -- the Hull, Spence and Monaghan. She retreated to Ulithi to make repairs.

USS Blue (DD-744) at the New York Navy Yard; photograph
courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration

Ready for action by early January 1945, the Blue rejoined Third Fleet in time for its daring thrust into the South China Sea. After steaming through the Bashi Channel, they began striking shipping and military installations along the French Indo-China coast. Those strikes were followed by air attacks on Hong Kong and Canton, but further operations were halted by another typhoon. Again, the Blue was damaged, worse than previously, and returned to Ulithi for repairs. These repairs took about two weeks. The Blue rejoined Task Force 58 to support the invasion of Iwo Jima.

Here deck logs describe some of the fighting:

"Tuesday, 9 Jan 1945: Our troops land on Luzon -- we hit Luzon with our carrier plans -- one of the Jap Zekes (fighter) runs over us and is splashed by a Hellcat -- on our way to the China Sea through the Straits of Luzon which is 25 miles wide -- Jap plane coming towards our force splashes.

Friday, 12 Jan 1945: Our carrier planes make strikes against French Indo China. They sink a convoy of 4 DEs, 1 large transport & 4 attack transports -- also they are after a convoy of 6 DDs, 6 transports, 1 light cruiser but as yet we haven't the results. No dope on later convoy. Flash! We lost track of Jap convoy

Our carrier planes sunk 41 Jap ships and damaged 21 -- 120,000 tons sunk -- 70,000 damaged."

World War II era USS Blue deck logs; images courtesy of

Yet there was time for fun when in Ulithi:

"Went ashore on one of the islands on a beer party -- had four cans -- went coconut hunting with a few boys -- seen a movie at night."

But Al is last mentioned as being on the ship on the 10 February 1945 muster rolls. I believed he was transferred off the ship at that time and sent back to the U.S. to prepare another ship for commissioning.

He was present at the commissioning of another destroyer on 31 July 1945, the USS Floyd B Parks (DD-884), a Gearing-class destroyer, which was built in Orange, Texas, by the Consolidated Steel Corporation. She arrived at San Diego, her home port, on 16 November 1945 and sailed to the Far East four days later to join the war effort. However, Albert Paul Dagutis was honorably discharged from the U.S. Navy on 28 November 1945 so I do not believe he was on the Floyd B Parks when she sailed toward her post-war occupation experience.

USS Floyd B Parks (DD-884); photograph courtesy of the National Archives
and Records Administration

During World War II, Uncle Al served aboard four ships; those ships participated in some of the most memorable fighting in two theaters of operation: Sicilian Occupation (Scoglitti, 10-12 July 1943), Gilbert Islands Operation (Tarawa, 21-21 November 1943), The Volcanos-Bonin-Yap Raid (31 August-9 September 1944), Capture of the Southern Palaus (6 September-14 October 1944), Philippine Islands Raids (9-24 September 1944), Luzon Raids (5-6, 13-14, 18 November and 14-16 December 1944), Formosa Raids (3-4, 9, and 15 January 1945), and the Luzon Raids (6-7 January 1945, and the China Coast Raids (12-16 January 1945).

In my book that's a heck of a war!

No comments:

Post a Comment