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Interview with Everette Johnson [2001]

Mark Doud:

Hello, today we are at the office of Senator Richard Logan, in his office, and my name is Mr. Doud, and I'm joined today by Everett Johnson. Mr. Johnson was in World War II. He lives in Indianapolis. His address is 5745 Quail Crossing Court, Indianapolis, Indiana. 26347. Mr. Johnson was born on December 18th, 1922. He served, as I said, in the U.S. Navy. He was in the Naval Reserves when the war started, I believe. And he obtained the highest rank of chief quarter master while he was in the Navy. And Mr. Johnson, if you would like to maybe start with how you got introduced to the military service and maybe what basic training was like and just carry us on through your experience?

Everette Johnson:

Okay. I suppose the proper place to start is when I was a student at Tech High School, I had a very good friend, Charlie Jones, that I had gone through elementary grades with. And he had an older brother, Dale, who had enlisted in the Naval Reserve unit here in Indianapolis. So when Charlie and I were sixteen, we were pretty well convinced that this is what we wanted to do. And by the time we were 17, we finally convinced our fathers to sign the enlistment papers so that we could join the Indianapolis Naval Reserve unit. We were still in high school. But in 1940, when we enlisted, the draft had already started, so we had a lot of people who enlisted in the naval reserve, just because they didn't want to be called in the draft. And at any rate, the naval reserve trained on gun boats on the Great Lakes. So they had a two-week training cruise, in 1940, and we went aboard the USS Sacramento which was an old China gun boat that had been turned over to the Indiana group for training purposes. So we spent two weeks on Lake Michigan, training along with four other gun boats, from other adjacent states. And was very interesting for us. And at any rate, we were due to graduate from high school in 1941, the class of '41. But in May of 1941, our unit was called to active duty. So we had to check with the school principal and the office to see what would happen with our grades, and whether we could graduate. We managed to get the graduation okay, even though we wouldn't be there. So in May, 1941, May 21st, we left Indianapolis, along with the rest of the 17th division, Naval Reserve Unit and went to Toledo, Ohio, where we stayed for approximately two weeks. And then we went to the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, awaiting the ship that we had been assigned to. This ship was a ship that had belonged to the United Fruit Company and was used as a fast mail steamer through the Caribbean areas, hauling bananas, mostly. It had refrigerated holds and so the Navy requisitioned this ship as a store ship. And it was converted at Staten Island. They added some guns aboard, four three-inch .50 caliber, and a five-inch .51 caliber. And on June the 14th, we went aboard at Staten Island and the ship was formally put in commission. After loading the holds full of stores, such as fresh meat, vegetables, fruit, that all of which needed refrigeration, we went to Rhode Island. And the fleet was anchored -- the name of the city escapes me, suddenly. Newport, Rhode Island. And the Atlantic Fleet was anchored in the harbor of Newport and so we supplied stores for them. In late August of 1941, the fleet left Newport and sailed to Iceland with the first group of troops that were to be quartered there, so that it became a combined American and British base. The British had already landed at Reykjavik, and had a base of sorts there. So the U.S. troops just sort of added to that. But it was quite a remarkable trip. We sailed in convoy with battleships, cruisers and destroyers. And were even joined by an aircraft carrier before we arrived at Reykjavik. We stayed there, and unloaded stores, supplying the ships and the base, and then sailed back to the United States. And subsequent months, we sailed to most of the ports on the Atlantic coast of the United States, supplying units, naval units, mostly ships, but some bases in Bermuda and San Juan, Puerto Rico, we supplied with fresh stores. And in December of 1941 we were at Norfolk, Virginia. We had been in the Navy Yard, where they had added additional bunks so we could carry more personnel from one place to another. And so on December 7th, we were at the dock in Norfolk. And we had heard rumors about a Jap attack on Pearl Harbor. But none of us believed it until finally -- as a matter of fact, I was on watch at the gangway, when the executive officer came out and talked to the officer on deck and advised him officially, that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor. And shortly after that, why the -- I remember gunner's mate brought sidearms, .45 automatics to all of the gangway personnel. And we were given certain precautions about anybody coming close to the ship. When we left Norfolk we sailed to the Caribbean, and stopped at Guantanamo Bay, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, and picked up families of service personnel to bring them back to the states because they wouldn't want them down there during the war time. So when we came back to Norfolk we had a whole boat load of women and children, who certainly added to the sparkle of Navy life. But once we got back to Norfolk, it was all business, and we loaded the hull full of stores, and sailed to New York. And this was in January of 1942. And we left New York in a snow storm. And there was quite a storm out at sea, when we went out there. In fact, we sailed up through the East River and the Cape Cod Canal and anchored off Provincetown, because the water was pretty rough. And we thought it best to spend the night before going out to sea. Well, it didn't subside very much. It was a very, very bad storm. And it got very cold. We were headed for Halifax, Nova Scotia. And the water that came over the bow started freezing so that by the time we got to Halifax we had quite a bit of ice on the fore sails which had been chopped off in order to drop anchor. But we managed this all right and joined a convoy there out of Halifax consisting of mostly of merchant ships, and escorts were three Canadian corvettes. These are small ships, smaller than a destroyer. And they were visibly working to try to keep the convoy headed properly, and aligned properly. And it was a very slow convoy because some of the ships could only do 8 knots. The German subs were waiting for us when we left Halifax, and two ships were sunk the first night out. We were far enough away so that we could see the glow, and heard the explosion. But the convoy sort of scattered instead of staying together. And it was the next day before they could be marshaled and put back together again as a convoy. At any rate, we made the -- we finished the voyage which was to Iceland without any further mishaps. But it was rough weather all the way. Oh, one other incident that I recall, was that we encountered a very heavy fog. And in order to keep the ships in line, they used a device which consisted of a towing sparr that each ship would tow behind, off the stern. And this was a -- the sparr with -- throw a weight in the water so that the ship following could spot that wake and stay in line. At any rate, dawn came, and the gun crew on the three inch 50 on the stern of the ship spotted one of those towing sparrs and thought it was a German periscope and they fired two rounds before they could stop them from firing. They insisted that they hit the towing sparr. Everybody joked about that. At any rate, it was a very rough voyage from the standpoint of weather, the cold, and the waves were very high. And I still hadn't got my sea legs about me, so I had difficulties with sea sickness. I finally overcame that, thank goodness. As soon as we unloaded the stores, we sailed back to the United States, and continued to supply bases and ships, all along the Atlantic coast. We made three trips all together, to Iceland, all of which were quite interesting. The last ship, or the last trip that we made, was unescorted. We had no escorting ships but because our ship could steam at 18 knots, it was considered to be fast enough to dodge submarines. So we, of course, used zig-zag procedures and we never encountered any submarines. One trip, I can't recall exactly where we were coming from, but we were entering the harbor at Norfolk, and it was a foggy morning. And we encountered a German submarine on the surface. But he was able to dive and submerge before we could fire a shot at him. And, of course, we took off in the opposite direction very quickly, so we didn't have to dodge a torpedo. In June of 1942, our primary base was Norfolk. And we were at Norfolk when we learned that we were going to take aboard a contingent of Marines. And this turned out to be the 1st Marine Parachute Battalion. And they came aboard and we joined a convoy or a task force, really, consisting of cruisers and destroyers and other troop ships, and sailed through the Panama Canal and headed for Wellington, New Zealand. It took us a month to sail to Wellington. We unloaded the troops. And then from there we went to Sidney, Australia. We stayed at Sidney for some six weeks. And during that time, we learned that the Marines who had been transported to New Zealand were involved in an invasion at Guadual. So we later encountered some of these Marines on liberty in Sidney. And there were quite a few of them who had been injured and killed in this unit that were aboard. But we -- we, our ship, the USS Miza became a part of a group that we sort of called it MacArthur's Navy, because we were supplying men who were assigned to General MacArthur's jurisdiction. And these were Army men, as well as a few Navy ships. And we started supplying the units in New Guinea first of all. And eventually we moved from the New Guinea area to the Admiral Islands and then to Philippines. We, as a base, we used either Brisbane, Australia or Sidney, Australia. And we would fill up the hulls with stores and sail to the -- to the islands where the bases were located. And supply ships and bases there. And so it was a sort of a monotonous routine, really, doing that. But at least we were on the go all the time. And so it was -- it kept us busy.

Mark Doud:

What was the time frame, in June or July of '42?

Everette Johnson:

Well, we arrived in Sidney in July, 1942. And for the next three years we were doing this. And in all, we made seven round trips from the New Guinea/ Australia area, back to San Francisco. And in some cases we just stopped in San Francisco long enough to fill up the stores and then we would leave, so --

Mark Doud:

How long would that process take?

Everette Johnson:

The voyage would take about three weeks.

Mark Doud:

How long would the process take, to fill up the stores?

Everette Johnson:

Approximately a week. There would always be some things that had to be done. You know, some small repairs. And of course, we would have to -- would get the holds reloaded full of stores, depending on the loads that they would want to use to take with us. And we always had a large group of passengers, as many as 1,200 or 1,300 passengers aboard. And these would be Army, Navy, Marines, who were assigned to some unit. And so the Miza was used as transportation.

Mark Doud:

Was evidently passengers going out to battle?

Everette Johnson:

Some were coming back.

Mark Doud:

Injured?

Everette Johnson:

In many cases -- I would say most of the injuries that we encountered were people who has been ashore and who had skin problems, or malaria problems. So that it -- it meant that they just couldn't get them cured out there. And so sometimes they would send them back to the states or to a hospital in Australia. So we carried lots of people back and forth and just a continuous routine of that sort of thing. We had -- of course the Navy has a custom -- and it's a maritime custom, not just the Navy -- when you cross the equator you have a ceremony. Those who have been across the equator are known as shellbacks and those who are not are Pollywogs. So every Pollywog has to be initiated when you go across. So we had some pretty elaborate ceremonies. But in one instance, after I had been across a couple of times, why it was pretty routine for us, but we also had new people aboard, and especially the passengers. And so in this particular instance, I was part of what we called a goon squad. And we had to round up the Pollywogs and make sure that they got to the ceremony. And Will was a Navy Lieutenant who didn't really want to go. And we had to persuade him. And so he went through the ceremony and he was pretty disgruntled about it. Of course, we were all having a good time. However, about two months after this particular incident, we had gone from Brisbane, Australia, up to Milne Bay, New Guinea, which is at the eastern tip of New Guinea. And the morning that we entered Milne Bay, I had a abscessed tooth and it was really hurting like crazy. So I went to sick bay to see the doctor. We had no dentist aboard. And he said that he knew that there was a clinic that had been established in Milne Bay, and that he would arrange for me to get to this clinic, so he did so. I had -- they assigned a Jeep for transportation, wheeled me down to this clinic and these were wooden platforms that had been placed in position, and then tents. And so they had dental chairs and all of the equipment, everything there, x-rays, the whole bit, right in the jungle. And so I was put in a chair there and the dentist came in shortly afterwards. And as soon as he came in, I recognized him. It was this Navy Lieutenant that had been a passenger aboard ship. I didn't know he was the dentist at that time. And I wondered, you know, what was going to happen. I thought, well, maybe he won't recognize me. But, of course I had my records with me, and as soon as he saw -- he saw the name of the ship, and he told me that he'd had some problems on that ship. And the more he looked at me, he says, I know you, don't I? And I said, yes. And I told him that I was the guy that served the subpoena on him. And could see -- I didn't know, you know, whether to get up and run or what. The abscessed tooth was still hurting me pretty bad. At any rate, he just told me to settle down. He says he would take good care of me, and he did. He was very gentle, and after he -- once got the Novocaine in, why I didn't feel a thing. And he was very careful to explain to me what he was doing, and the reason for him doing it that way. And so -- but for awhile there, I was very frightened about that. We encountered a couple of air raids when we were at Wewak, which is an island off the western tip of New Guinea. Very close to the Indian Ocean area. But they were bombing an air field near us and we weren't attacked. In 1944, I had made Chief Petty Officer, chief quarter master, and so I was transferred from the ship. Went to San Francisco. And they gave me 30 days leave with instructions to report on to the receiving station on Treasure Island in San Francisco. I went home and I had a very good reunion with my family and had a great time on leave. And then I went back. Of course, I didn't know what ship I was going to be assigned to. But my name appeared on the list of those to be shipped out the very first morning I was there. And it turned out to be an attack transport. This was a brand new ship that had just been built. And as a matter of fact, put in commission the day before I went aboard. And it could carry about -- well, as many as 2000 troops. And it had landing craft aboard ship to put the troops ashore. After commissioning the ship, the U.S.S. Pitt, we went on a shake-down cruise down off the Channel Islands, off of southern California. Catalina Island. This took about three weeks. And included even a practice landing with troops from one of the Marine bases there, so that we had some experience with that. And then we went back to San Francisco to get a few necessary repairs at the shipyard. Then we were sent to Port Chicago, which is a small city on the San Francisco bay that was an ammunition depo. And they loaded several tons -- I don't know just how many right now -- of rockets aboard ship. These are assault rockets that are fired by special craft, so that they can fire, I don't know, probably 30, 40 of them at a time. At any rate, we had our corehold full of rockets. And when we had -- we had stores all loaded and all of the core hull loaded that we were going to take. We left San Francisco and this was in January of 1945. And we stabled -- we were headed to and we took about three days out, we had a fire, and a great deal of smoke. They poured a lot of water into the area. And because of the nature of the cargo we were carrying, it was decided that they would flood the lower holds so that it would make sure that they didn't set off any of these rockets. So -- the hulls were flooded. And we had a great deal of water. But we were able to put into Pearl Harbor. And on examination, it turned out that the fire was actually a hot bearing on our propeller shaft. So the bearing had gotten hot enough so that it had smoked some oil, really, that was on the propeller shaft, is what was creating all of the smoke. At any rate, they were able to repair the damage, we replaced the rockets, and sailed into Eniwetok, when we unloaded a number of them. And then we sailed to Ulithe, atoll, and unloaded the rest of them. As near as I could find out, those rockets actually were used at Okinawa. The invasion of Hiroshima took place in February of 1945. And we missed that. But we sailed from Ulithe to the Philippines, to Leyte, and we got there in time to take the place of a coast guard transport ship that had -- that had damaged it's hull on a reef. And they were scheduled to take part in the invasion of Okinawa. And had troops aboard for that purpose. In fact, that was the reason for their problems. They had gone in on a practice landing and hit a coral reef. So we went along side and we took the troops that were on the ship, Samuel P. Chase, I think, was the name of that ship. And so we loaded everything that they had and joined the task force that was sailing to Okinawa. So we sailed to Okinawa, and we arrived a week before the main landings because our troops were assigned to land at a group of islands just to the west of Okinawa. Was called Kerama. And this island group was needed because it afforded an anchorage for ships and a place that could become a sea plane base and a repair base. We managed to unload all of our troops in about two hours and a half, and ferried them all ashore. The landing was quite interesting to watch because we could -- we were close enough just about a quarter mile off shore, and we could see the troops land. There was some opposition, not a great deal, but some. And so we had -- we were in a good position to see all of this take place. We took the wounded back aboard ship, and served as a hospital ship there for about ten days. And the islands were conquered in about four days, I believe. And but in the meantime, the Japanese had initiated these Kamikaze attacks. And there were quite a few ships that were -- that were hit by Kamikazes. And a great deal of damage was done. In some cases, ships were sunk. We had an LST that was anchored right behind us that was hit, and sunk. A troop ship that had a group of Marines aboard was hit, and a great many people were killed and wounded. And we took those people aboard ship. We had -- we had a hospital unit that had been stationed aboard our ship temporarily, so we could handle a number of wounded. And so we would serve as the initial ship to take the wounded and then would transfer them to a hospital ship. Many of the troops were quite shocked at the reception they got, of course, a young Marine Lieutenant was -- he was not wounded, but he had been involved in some very severe damage control situations on one ship. And so they had transferred him to our ship. And he started aboard and he was still wearing his sidearm. And he just went ballistic and he pulled his sidearm and started shooting and he shot our officer of the deck. And then after he did that, why then he shot himself. And so we had -- and we had continually ships coming along side for fuel and for fresh water. So the ten days, I believe that we spent there -- it was more than ten days. It was better than two weeks, because the -- yeah, it was about 15 days. Finally, they sent us back to Saipan. On our way to -- no, it wasn't -- yeah, it was Saipan. They sent us back to Saipan. On our way there, is the date when President Roosevelt died because they -- the Captain announced it over the loud speakers, and we put our colors at half mast. Roosevelt was a very revered man in the Navy. We stayed at Saipan as sort of a back-up unit. But what they were doing, then marshalling the troops. And the ships that were required for the invasion of Japan. We didn't know what they were doing, but the stores -- we could see the stores that were being placed ashore there. They had huge supply hose, that things would be -- you know, like gasoline cans would be stacked, 40, 50 feet high, just in huge piles. Orderly stacks, but not piles. But it was obvious that they were preparing for something. But I believe it was in July, our ship got orders to go south. And we sailed again back down to Guadual Canal. And we picked up a base unit that was being transferred back up to Guam. We stopped at New Caledonia, had a little liberty for the people. And then we sailed to Rock (phonetic). Then in August we got orders to return to the states, so we sailed to San Francisco. And we landed in San Francisco three days before the first atomic bomb was dropped at Hiroshima. And so then, of course, the second bomb dropped on Nagasaki, pretty well convinced the Japanese to surrender. So because of this situation, I immediately -- because of all of the time that I had in the service, was given another leave and transferred from the ship, with orders to report into the recruiting station here in Indianapolis when my leave was up. So I came home and spent another 30 days very happy time here at home and reported into the recruiting station. They kept giving me leave extension and then eventually on September 24th, they put me in charge of about 45 men and sent us to St. Louis for a discharge -- the Lambert Field, which was a Navy flight training base, but which now is St. Louis Municipal Airport. But anyway, I was discharged the next day. September 25th, I came back home.

Mark Doud:

Very interesting. Okay, well, have you stayed involved with Veterans groups over the years?

Everette Johnson:

No, I really haven't. But about 12, 14 years ago, I join the America Legion. And I've been a member ever since. In 1991 -- well, eleven years ago now, I initiated the reunions that our ship has had, the Miza. And the first one here in Indianapolis, and that was, of course, 50 years after we had gone on active duty. And so I've been -- I've been involved with them since that period of time, since that start of the reunion. And also at about the same time, why somebody started a reunion for the U.S.S. Pitt, the other ship. So I also have attended those. Sometimes unfortunately, they have sort of interfered with one another.

Mark Doud:

Yeah?

Everette Johnson:

But I had a great time doing it. And, well, I'm going to a attend another reunion in October for the Miza. But there are fewer and fewer of us all the time. When the Miza was commissioned, when the Navy requisitioned the ship from the United Fruit Company, they had requisitioned two ships which were identical. And subsequently, after the war started, they eventually requisitioned all six ships that United Fruit Company had built in 1931 and '32 with identical designs. And they had used the three of these ships on the Pacific Coast and three of them on the Atlantic Coast, primarily as a banana boat to bring fresh bananas. And they were very fast and had refrigerated holds. And the ships, when they were built, had space for a hundred passengers, all first class. And so the accommodations were very good. And these accommodations, of course, later became accommodations for sailors, officers and men and passengers. So the mess hall for the crew was actually a dining room that was used for the passengers when it was in the service with the United Fruit Company. At any rate, all six of these ships were requisitioned by the Navy. Five of them were commissioned and used as Navy ships. The sixth, the Antigua, was brought by the Maritime Service with a civilian crew. But as near as I can figure out, they did about the same thing. And in their particular instance, they had duty that was for the Hawaiian Islands and to the Aleutians. So it wasn't quite as maybe interesting as ours is. Although, you know, I don't know that much about their history. At any rate, the reason I bring this up is, is that we managed to contact men who had been on these other ships. And so now this reunion that we got coming up, got men from all six ships. So we have an interesting time, telling sailors' yarns, you know.

Mark Doud:

Still, huh?

Everette Johnson:

Yeah. I know I left out a lot of things, but --

Mark Doud:

That's okay.

Everette Johnson:

I can't remember everything, either.

Mark Doud:

I was going to ask you, how many people attended the reunion of the Miza?

Everette Johnson:

Well, the last reunion that we had, I think that we had 19 sailors from the Miza. Of course, we all bring their wife's, those who have wife's living. This reunion that will take place in October, they're going to have it in Orlando, Florida. They've already gotten reservations from 35.

Mark Doud:

Oh, yeah?

Everette Johnson:

So, but if you died, that -- you know, by the number of ships, why you can tell that the people are reducing. And there are still about four or five Miza sailors, most of whom were in the Naval Reserve Unit who live in Indianapolis, that I stay in contact with. And, of course, Charlie Jones who was perhaps as responsible as any one for getting me into the unit in the first place, because of his older brother. We still stay in contact with one other. But he's living in California. I might mention, because a part of the story -- when we were called to active duty, and when the war started, why Charlie's father was a sort of a set-up man for Kroger. He would put new stores in operation and do all of the work necessary to make that happen.

Mark Doud:

Okay?

Everette Johnson:

And so he decided that he wanted to go to war, when the war started.

Mark Doud:

His father?

Everette Johnson:

His father. And so he applied to the Navy and they sent him in the Seabees. And the Seabees was a construction battalion that was set up by the Navy, primarily for building bases in the forward areas. He was sent to California for training. And so Charlie's mother had a young daughter and another son who were in school, and she decided she wanted to go out there. So she sold her house and they moved to California.

Mark Doud:

Is that right?

Everette Johnson:

And so Mr. Jones finished his training, eventually went to the Pacific, had some health problems and got a discharge because he couldn't -- he couldn't stay in the service.

Mark Doud:

How old was he, do you know?

Everette Johnson:

He was about 42, something like that.

Mark Doud:

When he joined?

Everette Johnson:

Yeah. Well, I think the Seabees have a number of people in that age group, yeah.

Mark Doud:

Okay.

Everette Johnson:

So it wasn't all that unusual, at any rate. So Charlie was a Californian when he got discharged, when he left the ship. He left the Miza before I did, because he had a knee problem of some sort that required surgery in a hospital. So they transferred him and then eventually wound up on another ship out in the Pacific. It was a freighter that carried dry cargo. And I never saw him after he left the ship, until after the war was over. But he married a girl here in Indianapolis that had lived in the neighborhood. And I was best man at his wedding. And so they're living in Torrence, California now. And I see him, of course, at the reunions. And he has come back to Indianapolis from time to time and I have visited out there. So we stayed in touch with one another, with e-mail in particular.

Mark Doud:

Yeah, so he is more than a friend, of family?

Everette Johnson:

Yeah.

Mark Doud:

Could I ask a couple of things? Do you care to elaborate on what the ceremony is about when you cross the equator or is that --

Everette Johnson:

Oh, I can tell you. It's quite the organization, the show. They appoint a king and a queen, even a royal baby. And of course Davy Jones has quite a responsible position, because Davey Jones is responsible for the subpoenas and making sure that every Pollywog gets initiated.

Mark Doud:

Davey Jones is just a name given to someone?

Everette Johnson:

Yes. And he generally looks like a pirate. Gaudy handkerchief around his head, and a patch over one eye, you know. And usually a cut, whatever, would make that, would serve the purpose. And they have -- they've a royal doctor. And you have -- but Davey Jones has a crew of men that serve the subpoenas. So they chase these guys down, and bring them to the court. And the subpoenas usually contain something, some information that is generally made up, you know. But these form charges that are brought against the individual, and punishment is assigned to the men. And so they usually have some kind of a water tank where guys can be dunked. And they usually find some sort of garbage from the mess hall that they could use and some pretty obnoxious stuff that the guys from sick bay provide. And so it sounds a lot worse than it actually is, I suppose. However, there is a -- there is a crew of guys who line up. That it's sort of a line that you have to run through, you know? Trying to think of the word for it, and I can't think of it. But these guys all have handles, pull-ups that are filled with rags that they pound you with. Which doesn't sound too bad, except that these things get wet. And when they get wet, it might as we will be a piece of wood, because it's awfully hard. So some guys get it worse than others, you know. But it's a routine that they go through. And sometimes the rigs furnish some gadgets that they could use that provides a low voltage shock, you know, which, scares probably more than anything else.

Mark Doud:

Do you remember what the punishment was?

Everette Johnson:

I don't remember a lot of that sort of thing. I went through about seven of those, and including the one on the Pitt. A friend of mine on the Pitt who was a Chief -- no, a Chief Pharmacist Mate, he had a handle-bar mustache that was beautiful. I mean it came out in a curve. And he had it twisted, you know, and just -- if anybody ever wanted to have a handle-bar mustache, they would have wanted this one. Well, this guy had never crossed the equator. And so when I found out, why I started putting him on about it, you know. And he became quite concerned and when I saw that he was real concerned I decided, well, I better back off a little because I don't want to give him, you know, too bad a story. And so he was very apprehensive when he went through. And I told him then that everything was going to work out fine, and I had an "in" with Davey Jones, and that he shouldn't have any worries. Well, it turned out that somebody had a pair of scissors and when this handle-bar mustache got in front of him he whipped the scissors out and cut off half of it. And that guy shaved his upper lip, and he swore he would never grow another one.

Mark Doud:

I didn't think the Navy would allow facial hair?

Everette Johnson:

Well, there was a lot of things that took place during the war years, I think that would not ordinarily have been condoned.

Mark Doud:

Yeah?

Everette Johnson:

But gee, you got to remember that practically all of the people who served in the Navy were civilians. Very few of them had a lot of Navy training. And --

Mark Doud:

Is this a good place to put in where you were drafted?

Everette Johnson:

Because you just figure it out. There was the Navy expanded about 200 times.

Mark Doud:

All because of all of the --

Everette Johnson:

Instead of about eight battleships, there was 22 cruisers and destroyers, and ships of all sorts, that they just didn't have time to train. So everybody got a little bit of training and the rest of it they were on their own. And, well, it worked. Gee, I tell you, when we would go into the anchorage at Ulithes. Ulithes was a huge H hole that you couldn't see across, because it was so far. It was maybe 25, 30 knots. And just picture that area being full of ships.

Mark Doud:

Really?

Everette Johnson:

I mean, there were all kinds of Navy ships. The small ones, the big ones, aircraft carriers. And so it -- it was just a huge display of naval might that nothing has been seen since or before.

Mark Doud:

Got any pictures of that?

Everette Johnson:

Oh, no. In fact, one of the things that they enforced pretty good, until finally towards the end of the war, was the use of cameras. So you had to -- you had to stay away from that sort of thing. It was against the rules and you just about had to abide by those. Eventually some of guys brought cameras aboard and started taking pictures. But -- in fact the Navy had some photographs taken that were official, but they were innocuous, you know. They would get groups of people. There is a few pictures, a few photographs and things there, that --

Mark Doud:

And what does a core master do?

Everette Johnson:

Navigation department aboard ship. He works for the navigator. And when -- the ship is operated from the bridge. There is where the ship's wheel and the controls for the speed of the ship, and of course the direction it goes. And so the quarter master is sort of in charge of enlisted group that's on the bridge.

Mark Doud:

Okay?

Everette Johnson:

And he maintains a log, a quarter masters notebook that contains all of the information with respect to condition of the sea, the wind speed. Everything that happens aboard ship is recorded and quarter master notebook and the time it occurred.

Mark Doud:

All right?

Everette Johnson:

And so they -- the quarter master has to be an expert helmsman. So he acts as an assistant to the officer of the deck. And as chief quarter master, I was assigned to the captain as an assistant. And so that whenever any navigation instruments, tools, of any sort were necessary, why I had to make sure that they were provided. So it's -- well, we had about five different commanding officers aboard the Miza. Only one on the Pitt. But I was only on the Pitt for eight months. So -- but each commanding officer is called a captain, which no matter what his actual rank is.

Mark Doud:

Oh, yeah? Okay, very interesting. Well, if it's all right with you, I think we'll go ahead and conclude this taped portion?

Everette Johnson:

Certainly.

Mark Doud:

All right. And say thank you for coming and sharing with us and putting it on tape and --

Everette Johnson:

Well, I hope that it is of some use, and some interest to somebody. I hope that you make use of this. But whatever, I don't know. Do you have an idea what may happen to this?

Mark Doud:

Something goes to the Library of Congress and they put it in there. I'm not exactly sure what happens to it, but they will probably include it in different -- what's the word I'm looking for -- capsules of different services, and what their roles were in the war. So if they did a capsule on how supplies were brought to, oh, naval units in the Atlantic, this information would probably be in there.

Everette Johnson:

Thank you.

Mark Doud:

Well, you're quite welcome.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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