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 Author  Topic: PT 162 patrolling with PT 109
Frank Andruss

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank Andruss   Send Email To Frank Andruss Posted on: Nov 2, 2014 - 1:53pm

For many years now I have been procrastinating about transcribing a letter I received in 1996. Crewmen was on PT-162 patrolling with the 109 when it was lost. I finally dug out the letter, which by the way was not in the box I originally put it, and transcribed it for the guys on the forum.

Nov 1, 1996

Dear Frank

Ive been slow to write this letter because I have to take myself back about 55 years and try to remember all the details of PT SERVICE.

I joined the Navy in June 1941 at the age of 19, went through basic training at Great Lakes and was assigned to Ford Motor Company, Dearborn, Mich, doing nothing much. I joined the Navy with my high school friend Jimmy Sanders. We both put in for Submarine duty. He was accepted but I failed the mechanical aptitude test. Jimmy was lost at Sea soon after that.

I then asked for PT boat Training & went to school at Melville, Rhode Island; I started my gunners mate training while there. Riding the boats while in School was a very cold job, winter time cold, with ice forming on deck, guns, and people. After graduation I was assigned to Ron 9 boat 162, Ron Commander was Robert B. Kelly. Jack Lowery Skipper, Sam Reynolds Exec, Johnny QM, Todd and Ogilvie GM 2nd, Shorty Sean Cook, Thompson, and Covington, M0 mm and Gallant Momm, we had a radio man & Torpedo man, but cant think of their names. In December 1942, we headed for Panama, went through the Canal and arrived at Taboga for more training. February 1943 we loaded the boats onto Tankers and headed for Nomea, New Caledonia, where we were unloaded and went under our own power to Tulagi, Solomon Islands.

Our Navy was still crippled by Pearl Harbor, so PTs were used to fill the gap. I had my first fox hole experience at Tulagi. We were mopping up at Guadalcanal and Washing Machine Charlie harassing us every day. We started our nightly patrols immediately, which were every night from then on. CO Kelly put us all on 4 hours duty and 4 hours off. We never got enough rest after that and were tired all the time. Something always seemed to happen when we were off so we were on edge all the time. Most of our patrol were routine and boring, but when things did happen it was a though all hell broke loose. Mostly we hunted and fought with Jap barges, as they tried to reinforce troops and evacuate wounded from New Georgia & other islands. We didnt have radar and depended on spotters from a PBY, to direct us to the enemy.

On one dark night we were hit with a daisy cutter, a personnel bomb, loaded with US nuts and bolts. Todd, our Gunners Mate relived me on the wheel watch & about three minutes later was hit by the bomb. He was in agony the rest of the night, also hit in the engine room was Hank Covington with Shrapnel cut across his back. Both men lay on deck the rest of the night, with a little Brandy as the only medication. Todd passed away two day later, and Covington recovered. We had nuts and bolts and scrap metal all over the boat and holes to be patched.

Later we were patrolling Blackett Strait about August 1st or 2nd 1943 when PT-109 was hit. As we moved slowly on patrol the 109 was ahead of us, then in echelon formation, the 162, and then 159. We were about 200 to 250 feet apart, and it was so dark, we could only see the wake of the boat ahead of us. I was on watch at the port 50 caliber gun tub looking through Binoculars and couldnt see a thing, until the 109 was hit.

The Jap destroyer, later known as the Amagiri, came from our starboard side about 250 feet in front of our 162 boat, and hot the 109 on the starboard side-looked like right in the center. Gas tanks on the 109 exploded, lighting up the whole area. The can sliced through the 109 and never slowed down at all, then disappeared into the night. We were stunned and never fired a shot, trying to realize what had happened. We didnt think anyone from the crew could live through that and Lt. Lowrey took us out of there.


The crew wanted our Skipper to go back, but we couldnt see the 109 any longer out there, and we never did go back. PT-159 also disappeared, and I dont know where they went. Later as Jack Kennedy was running for President, I went to see him in Spokane Washington. I was allowed to ride in an elevator with Kennedy, and all he said was where in the hell did you guys go. He also asked who the Skipper was and I told him Lowrey. In a later letter, I learned that Lt. Lowrey had a brain tumor and committed suicide after being discharged.

We then resumed our nightly patrols. On one patrol we were fighting a Jap barge when a bullet hit the air jacket on the right hand machine gun, bending it and pressing in the barrel. I straightened it out and it seemed to work ok. We had a lot of trouble keeping our guns working because of rust. Taking salt water over the bow was daily it seemed, and then came the rust. We tried all kinds of oil and grease, but nothing worked well.
My last day on the 162 was around January 1944. We were fighting a barge when that same gun, jammed or misfired. I tried to eject the round in the chamber, but it didnt eject. A new round was in position to load, but was only pressing on the primer of the round in the chamber. I opened the cover plate to see what was wrong. The guns were red hot, and we were under attack, so I was in a hurry.

The round in the chamber (I think) exploded and the second round blew apart and became shrapnel and grains of gun powder. I got the full force of this in the face, which didnt help my looks, and I thought I was blind. I was taken off the boat and sent to Treasury Island, then by plane to Guadalcanal. I slept for three days and three nights at the hospital, says the nurse. We were also visited by Eleanor Roosevelt while there. Then I boarded a tanker to Oakland Naval Hospital, where I had an operation on my right eye to remove all the shrapnel and shell fragments from my face.

Nothing could ever be as exciting as my time spent on PT BOATS. I always had a feeling that the 162 was a very unlucky boat, but it survived the War. I see Sam Reynolds every year at our reunions; he was the Exec on the 162. I think the thing that did bother me over the years was that we never went back to check on any PT-109 survivors, and I know some of the crew felt the same way. This letter is getting pretty long, and I have enjoyed telling you about some of our experiences on the 162. I was so glad to talk with you, hope you can read my writing, best regards to you and Walter Rogal.

Lawrence (Larry) Ogilvie
Ron 9 boat 162
Discharged after 5 years of service GM 1/c



 photo LarryOgilvie-01.jpg




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David Buck

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of David Buck   Send Email To David Buck Posted on: Nov 2, 2014 - 8:11pm
Frank,

Thanks for posting the letter it's nice to hear about the boats from one that was there, the time that he became injured must have scared him silly once he had some time to think about it!

And great that he recovered to be able to tell you of his time on the Boats.

By the way this is not the first time that I have heard that the Japs used U.S. scrap in their bombs, interesting!

D.buck

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Jeff D

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jeff D   Send Email To Jeff D Posted on: Nov 3, 2014 - 12:44am
Thank you Frank.


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Andy Small

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Andy Small   Send Email To Andy Small Posted on: Nov 3, 2014 - 11:42am
Great piece of history Frank! Thanks so much for sharing!

Cheers,
Andy


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Frank Andruss

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank Andruss   Send Email To Frank Andruss Posted on: Nov 3, 2014 - 2:18pm
Your welcome guys, it had been some time since I had seen the letter, and I was in awe reading it again, just picturing Larry in this area and seeing such an explosion right in front of him.


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Will Day

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A further first-hand testimony to how dark it was out there.....

Will

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Frank Andruss

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank Andruss   Send Email To Frank Andruss Posted on: Nov 5, 2014 - 7:32pm
Will when I had spoken to Gerard Zinser, also on PT-109 that night, he mentioned that you had trouble seeing your fingers on your hand with an outstretched arm, now that is dark...............


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Drew Cook

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Drew Cook  Posted on: Nov 7, 2014 - 6:09pm
Seems we can reasonably infer from Mr. Ogilvie's letter that Lt. Lowrey was probably the PT skipper in John Hersey's "Survival" article who "...put his hands over his face and sobbed 'My God! My God!'" after witnessing the ramming and explosion of the 109.


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