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 Author  Topic: Interesting Event on board PT 658 during Rose Festival
  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Jun 19, 2011 - 4:48pm
Hello all,
Last week, we were taking some VIP's out on the PT658 during the Portland Rose Festival Fleet Week. We were pretty much overwhelmed by visitors but we had one event occur that gave me chills down my spine. First of all we had the son of Bryant Larsen, who was the first skipper of the PT109 (before Kennedy) Larsen served as CO of PT109 from delivery until April of 1943. He was there when the PT109 was based in Tulagi. Bryant passed away around 1998, but he was active in supporting the PT658 Save the PT Boat group. His son, Bryant Larsen Jr (aka "Skip" Larsen) came on board and rode the boat on this day and I just had given him a tour.

Picture of Bryant Larsen while he was CO of PT109


We were also honored to be able to give RADM Tom Rowden Commander Carrier Strike Group 11 a ride on the boat that same trip.He was also in town for the Rose Festival Fleet Week.

One of the WW2 veterans on the boat that day is named Geb Galle. He was a Machinist's Mate in WW2. I asked him what ships did he serve on and he said that he had been on two ships that were sunk. The first was the USS Nevada. He was down in the engine room of the Nevada during the attack on Pearl Harbor and had steam up enough to get underway. He had to abandon ship at Hospital Point. From there he was transferred to the USS Northampton, a Heavy Cruiser. The Northampton was sunk in action off Tulagi on the night of Nov31 Dec1 1942.
From Gene Kirkland's PT King website

"While American cruiser guns demolished destroyer Takanami into scrap suitable for the shipbreaker's yard, six Jap- anese torpedoes ripped into US heavy cruisers Northampton, New Orleans, Pensacola, and Minne-apolis with devastating results. The Northampton became the newest resident of Ironbottom Sound early in the morning of 1 December; the other three cruisers were so badly damaged that they would be out of action for almost a year. Two PT's from the the Tulagi 'splinter fleet' was pressed into service on the morning of 1 December for rescue duty; Lieutenant j/g Leonard Nikoloric's PT 37 picked up 86 of Northampton's men out of the water, and Lieutenant Westholm's PT 109 prevented 94 more from becoming shark bait"

Photo of PT109 with survivors of Northampton sinking. Photo is thanks to Gene Kirkland's website "PT King"


I asked Geb Galle and he said he was swimming in the Ironbottom sound after his ship had been sunk and he had been pulled out of the water by an 80 foot Elco PT Boat, I asked him if he remembered what number PT Boat it was and he said No. Then Bryant Larsen said, I know exactly what PT Boat it was....it was my Dads boat, the PT109! This had to be the PT109, since Nikoloric's boat PT37 was a 77 foot Elco. Guess whose father was at the wheel of PT109 on that day? Bryant Larsen. We stood there, on the deck of a floating operating PT658, and realized that Skip's Dad had rescued Geb on that day back in 1942. Then we all were silent as it sunk in. It was kind of awe inspiring at what all those men of the greatest generation had to go through. RADM Rowden first verbalized what all of us were thinking: "We all are deeply grateful for all you guys did! Thank You for your service!" Then I said, I have got to get a picture of this! So here it is. Jerry PT658 Portland OR

RADM Rowden, Geb Galle, and Bryant Larsen Jr stand amidships on PT658 at Rose Festival






Jerry Gilmartin

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Frank J Andruss Sr

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Frank J Andruss Sr   Send Email To Frank J Andruss Sr Posted on: Jun 20, 2011 - 1:27am
These are the days when all of the hard work and long hours pays off. If just one PT BOAT VETERAN, or WWII VETERAN comes onboard, it was well worth it. I also recived word from Jack Duncan that he had one hell of a time with you guys. PT-658 is gaining a wonderful reputation, and it is well deserved.


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TED WALTHER

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of TED WALTHER   Send Email To TED WALTHER Posted on: Jun 20, 2011 - 5:41am
Jerry;
Just an outstanding story!!! What are the odds that Bryant's son and this man would ever meet, and then to be on the 658 on the same day, what a nice day!
take care,
TED


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David Waples

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of David Waples  Posted on: Jun 20, 2011 - 7:36pm
Great story Jerry. Thanks for sharing!
Dave

David Waples

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victorkchun

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jun 20, 2011 - 8:38pm
Hi Jerry,
I read Bryant Larsen's PT 109 rescuing the survivors of USS Northanpton with great interest.
It mention Lt. Westholm was the skipper of PT 109 and Bryant Larsen was at the wheel.
Was he the XO? Then the caption of his picture said he was the CO of PT 109. I thought Westholm was the CO. Please advise what was Larsen's rank during the rescue.
Victor

Victor K Chun

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  Jerry Gilmartin

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of Jerry Gilmartin   Send Email To Jerry Gilmartin Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 - 12:27pm
Hi Victor,
I got most of this info from Gene Kirkland's "PT King" website, below the section labeled "The unknown history of PT109" and also from reading the personal memiors of Bryant Larsen. So in 1942 Larsen was an Ensign and was assigned as the XO of the PT109 from the time of delivery in New York to the Navy in mid 1942. I think he got promoted to LTjg before he left the boat in April 1943. When the PT109 was in Panama, awaiting further shipment to Noumea, New Caledonia, the original CO of the boat was transferred back to Melville, leaving Larsen as the new CO. When the PT109 arrived in Tulagi, Larsen was still an Ensign and had a practically new 80 foot Elco PT Boat under his command. As a result, the Squadron Commander LT Rollin Westholm would often come aboard and "Take Charge" of the boat for the mission. This was not unusual for the Squadron Commander to pick his best and newest boat in order to ride on when he desired to go out on a mission. The Squadron Commander had too much to worry about to be assigned as the CO of any particular boat. Other senior LT's also took turns as OTC riding the PT109 such as I think LT Jack Searles. But ENS Larsen was always the official CO of the boat. On the day the PT109 rescued the survivors of the USS Northampton, by then LCDR Westholm, the Squadron Commander was aboard the boat as OTC, but ENS Bryant Larsen was still technically the skipper and was actually driving the boat. I am sure they probably switched off as they wanted to every now and then. I heard that LCDR Westholm was a great guy to work for too.
I hope this answers your question. Try reading Gene Kirkland's "PT King" website also. I think personally asking Gene Kirkland may also be able to help answer your questions. I hope this is helpful. Jerry PS Here are some pictures of Westholm from the National Archives



Caption of photo



Jerry Gilmartin

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victorkchun

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jun 21, 2011 - 11:00pm
Hi Jerry,
Thanks for the information concerning the rescue operation of PT 109. It clarified
everything for me. One question: What's OTC stands for.
Although I already sent in my manuscript, I like to include the picture of Larsen in my
book. Can you email me his picture as shown in the message board in high quality image.
My email: victorkchun@aol.com
Victor

Victor K Chun

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TED WALTHER

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of TED WALTHER   Send Email To TED WALTHER Posted on: Jun 22, 2011 - 11:07am
Victor;
OTC -Officer in Tactical Command. Rollin Westholm was never assigned a boat while as Squadron CO, Because he was a sort of defacto traveling Commanding Officer.
In fact I have "lost" him for awhile, from pre war RON 1, so I guess he was a skipper in early RON 2 the promoted to squadron CO
CO RON 7 Lt. ROLLIN E. WESTHOLM -- September 1942
CO RON 4 Lt. ROLLIN E. WESTHOLM -- January 13-February 2, 1942
CO RON 2 Lt. ROLLIN E. WESTHOLM -- September-December 1942.

Then he was made a staff member COMMTBFLOT ONE under CDR Calvert.
Then "Westy" transferred back to states, then became CO of a destoyer, USS BUSH (DD 529). He was Commanding Officer May 30, 1944 through April 6, 1945, when the ship was sunk by Kamakaze's while in Radar Pickett Station #1about 30 mi (48 km) north of Okinawa. Ironically, one of my fathers best friends was a Sonarman 1/C aboard the Bush's replacement in Radar Pickett Station #1....The USS LAFFEY(DD724), which was later attacked on 16 April 1945, by 22 seperate Kamakaze's(50 were actually in the attack group!)....but survived! Despite being badly damaged by four bombs, six kamikaze crashes, and strafing fire that killed 32 and wounded 71.
Take care,
TED


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victorkchun

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message   Posted on: Jun 22, 2011 - 5:51pm
Hi Ted,
Wow! what great information you logged on the message board. Thanks!
Victor

Victor K Chun

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TheBridge

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Post a Reply To This Topic    Reply With Quotes     Edit Message     View Profile of TheBridge  Posted on: Jun 23, 2011 - 3:37pm
This is a great a story and post!

- Bridge


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