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 Author  Topic: How Liebenow, Skipper of the PT-157, got assigned to PTs


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of TheBridge  Posted on: Jul 8, 2012 - 4:42pm
I spoke to William 'Bud' Liebenow, Skipper of the PT-157 while in the Solomon Islands, recently and he said how he got into PTs in the first place. Here is his brief anecdote....

After getting into something that was called the V-12 program, he went through initial training at Notre Dame University and came out as a Seaman 2nd Class. He then was sent to Northwestern University in Chicago to complete his Officer training and became a midshipman. Just around graduation time, there was a posting that anyone interested in PTs would first need to be interviewed. Liebenow was really not familiar with PTs other than knowing they were smaller ships, boats if you will, and thought it better to be on a boat then a large ship.

The interview process was that interested midshipman were paired up and sent into a room for their interview. Liebenow was paired with a guy named Clinton 'Red' McClain. The 'Red' came from his strawberry blonde hair. McClain had became a full-back for the NY Giant Professional football team after attending Southern Methodist University. Liebenow recalls he was a very solidly built guy (he was 59, Weight: 190). Football did not provide the extraordinary level of income we have seen in more recent times. Indeed, in the early years of professional football players they had to have another job in the off-season to support themselves and their families. So Clinton left football and joined the Navy.

Liebenow and 'Red' went in for their PT interview. The interviewer was none other then Lt. Cmdr. Bulkeley** himself. After a series of questions and answers Bulkeley, looking at their college transcripts, said 'your academic scores are not that high'. 'Red Clinton looked back at the Commander and raised his hand to his own head and said 'we may not have much up here', he then put his hand on his heart and continued 'but we got a lot in here!'. Buckley said 'you're in'. Bulkeley also said he needed two aspirin.

Both Liebenow and 'Red' were assigned to RON-9. Liebenow, as noted earlier was the Skipper of the PT-157 and 'Red' was XO of the PT-159.

A photo of Clinton Red McClain is at this webpage. He is fifth from the left, bottom row.

** If you're not familiar with the legendary John Bulkeley and his role with PTs in World War II click on this link


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Nathaniel Smith


Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Nathaniel Smith   Send Email To Nathaniel Smith Posted on: Jul 9, 2012 - 4:51am
Buckley must have had a lot of fun with these interviews. I have read about two more:

After we had been at Columbia U. for about two months, either during June or July of '42, Lt. John Buckeley came to our school. As noted, he and Robert Kelly had become famous for fighting Japs in the Philippines and taking General McArthur away to safety. A movie, They Were Expendable, came out about their exploits on PT boats. Our military effort needed a morale boost because very few things had been going our way since the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and this served a great purpose. Buckeley made a rousing blood-and-thunder speech about the dangerous guerrilla fighting that PT boats performed and said that he would immediately meet [with] anyone foolish enough to volunteer. It seemed most everyone was tired of the formality and spit-and-polish of the big navy, so about 200 showed up for the interview with Buckeley. The interview didn't last long. He had his feet on the desk when I walked in, and pointed to a piece of paper on his desk and told me to read it. It said something like Men in action in PT's in Philippines=112; killed in action=87; missing=12. What do you think of that?, he asked. I replied 'They were pretty rough on you guys, weren't they?'. He asked me why I wanted to commit suicide, and when I told him that I had no intention of doing so, he told me that I was in the wrong place. I responded, Somebody has to ride the boats and fight, don't they? Buckeley asked where I was from, and after I replied, he said, 'I believe you South Carolinians are the fightingest men in the world. I'll see you at PT boat-school in Melville. He chose 11 out of the many volunteers, including me and my friend Frank Pressley from Due West. There were many times since then that I wished I hadn't been selected. Stan B. Marshall, Skipper PT-153

Buckeley also interviewed me in a similar fashion to yours [Stan's]. I particularly remember him asking me very sternly, McElroy, can you eat Monkey meat? and I very enthusiastically replied, Yes sir, yes sir. When we were in the Russells and having our first meat which we complained the cookswere ruining with that dark brown gravey, only to learn that we were eating horse meat, my first thought was I should have considered that monkey meat bit more closely. Only days before, Ham Smith and I made some ropehalters and rode two horses over parts of the island, but the next day there were signs everywhere, There will be no more riding of the horses, we are trying to fatten them up. We thought that was the dumbest thing we ever heard until a day or so later two horse heads floated by our PTs, and we realized the source of the dark brown gravey. John E. McElroy, Skipper PT-161


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