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Traces of Texas


RETIREDFAN1

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On this day in 1945, the battleship Texas supported the landings for the battle of Okinawa, the final great amphibious assault of World War II. 

The previous day (March 25, 1945) the pre-invasion bombardment of Okinawa was about to begin. The crew of the Texas would hear the call to "General Quarters" and remain in that status for 50 days, meaning her sailors would be confined to battle stations in gun turrets, engine rooms, plotting rooms, and compartments deep within the ship. During General Quarters, all non-essential work has to stop. Each crew member is also assigned a battle station. The need to maintain constant vigilance to ward off attacks by Japanese kamikaze would push the crew of Texas to their limits.  Every 3rd day they would be relieved to take a shower and put on fresh clothes, before returning to their station.  They were fed K Rations, meaning they ate crackers and canned pork for weeks.

Over those 7 weeks the USS Texas would expend 2,019 fourteen-inch shells, 2,643 5-inch shells, 490 3-inch shells, 3,100 rounds of 40 mm, and 2,205 rounds of 20 mm ammunition.

No other ship is known to have kept its crew in General Quarters for so long, but the efforts paid off as the Texas left the combat zone unharmed and with all hands.  

5 months later Captain Baker was relieved of command of the Texas after 526 days, he addressed the crew:

“Well men this is it. This is what we have been working for since the attack on Pearl Harbor. I know how you men feel, and this is your night to howl.

I know at times I have given some of you men hell, and you know that, but every thing I have done to you, or for you, was for the good of the ship.

The Texas has been like a home to me, and I am truly proud of the men who made her that way. The people back home say the Navy is made of iron, but really and truly it is you men. The men of the Texas are made of iron. My heart has been with, and will remain with, the Texas and you men.

You know that the men of the fleet just marvel how we stayed at General Quarters for some 50 days. That is why I think we are here today. We were always ready for anything that should come up. Some ships got theirs while they were at chow, or at some other activity. We have heard other ships going into evening alert, but we were always there and ready.

I was kind of sorry to receive my orders this morning, and that I would have to leave you before the war was over, but now that this has happened I can always say that we saw it through together, and to the end! And we’ve been through a lot, and have seen some blood and thunder together.

I again say that the ship is yours tonight, and you can do all the yelling and howling you want to."

Pictured: USS Texas underway off Iwo Jima in Feb. 1945

Source: WWII Museum, Naval Archive, and TSHA Online

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