Before we get started on this Sepia Saturday post, please know that I am holding a "Give-a-Way", so please make sure to click here and check it out when you get the chance!. This week, I also finished another Shankio post: Shaniko, Oregon Post #2: The Car Museum, Reed Mission or "The Barn"..
This week's Sepia Saturday theme has to do with ships. There are some little ships near a big ship. I strained my brain, wondering what I was going to do this time around. I had been wanting to get back to "The War Letters" and got thinking about my cousin Danny A. Hedrick, who died 13 years before I was born. Cousin Danny died on a ship during WWII. I just didn't realize all that I was going to find out, with photos to boot. I am very pleased about what unfolded for this post, and I think that you guys will enjoy it too though it is kind of sad. I did a similar post called Flora Fletcher Hedrick and The War Letters last year, but it was cool to find out the details of Danny's ship.
To refresh your memories, this side of my family is belongs to my Mom's mother, Grandma T. (Florence Hedrick Traylor). Grandma T.'s parents are Ben and Talitha Hedrick. Before Ben married Litha, he was married to Clara. Clara and Ben had a baby named Hobart; shortly thereafter, Clara died. When Hobart grew up, he married Flora Fletcher Hedrick, and they had two little boys, Dan and Lyle. During WWII, Dan, Lyle and my Uncle John (another boy of Ben and Litha's) served in the war.
The war wore on. During 1943, a series of smaller Navy ships were built. These smaller ships, Landing Craft Support, were also known as "Mighty Midgets" and they often accompanied the larger aircraft carriers. They were numbered rather than named. LCS (L) -121 is the ship in the picture below:
|Source: Navy Source.org|
Cousin Danny was serving on the ship that was made right after the one above, the LCS (L) -122.
One day, during the Battle of Okinawa, the USS William D. Porter, was sunk on June 10, 1945 by Japanese Kamikaze bombers. (The larger ship in front, below). The LCS (L)-122 followed closely, and along with other Mighty Midgets, rescued the crew members on the "Willie Dee". Nobody died that day.
|Source: Wikipedia Article on Richard Miles McCool|
The very next day, June 11, 1945, the LCS (L)-122 was also hit by a Japanese plane. It did not sink. Eleven men died on that Mighty Midget though, including my cousin Daniel Arthur Hedrick. In addition to the men who died, 29 people were injured in that attack, including Richard Miles McCool. McCool went on to serve in two more wars, and eventually became a Medal of Honor Recipient.
The photo below shows some of the damage of the LCS (L)-122:
"During the Battle of Okinawa, several LCS(L)(3)s rescued survivors after kamikaze attacks that sank or heavily damaged other ships. For example, on June 10, 1945, after the destroyer William D. Porter (DD 579) was hit by a kamikaze plane and started to sink, LCS(L)(3)s tried to tow the ship to port but failed. The destroyer, which sank about three hours after the kamikaze plane crash, lost no men due to the superb rescue work of the LCS(L)(3)s. The photo at the bottom of this page shows LCS(L)(3) 122 crowded at her bow with survivors from William D. Porter shortly before she sank. Even though William D. Porter lost no men, LCS(L)(3) 122 was hit the following day by a kamikaze plane and lost 11 men with the number of wounded totaling 29."
Source: W. Gordon's Website
On June 16, 1945 at 8:44 p.m., a Western Union telegram from Washington D.C. was sent to Danny's mother, Flora Elizabeth Fletcher Hedrick, who was living at 4211 S.W. Condor Ave. in Portland, Oregon. It read:
"I deeply regret to inform you that your son Dan Arthur Hedrick Radio Technician 3rd class U.S.N.R. has been killed in action in the service of his country. Sincerest sympathy is extended to you and your great loss. When further details as to whether body recovered or interred are received, you will be informed. To prevent possible aid to our enemies, please do not divulge the name of his ship or station unless the general circumstances are made public in news stories."
Vice Admiral Randall Jacobs
The Chief of Naval Personel
The next day, Flora sent a short Western Union Telegram to her other son, Cpl. Lyle P. Hedrick, 39344992 (the one who compiled The War Letters for our family).
"Received telegram Dan killed in action. Can you come. Will send money."
The story hit the media quickly. Mom, then 7, remembers Grandma T. listening to the radio in the kitchen when they heard the news. Grandma said, "That is Dan's ship!" and burst into tears.
Aunt Flora tried hard to learn of the details of her son's death. In October, she finally found out what had happened to her firstborn during his last minutes. Here is the letter that she received about the matter:
USS LCS (L) (3) 122
% Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, Calif.
1 October 1945
Dear Mrs. Hedrick:
I am writing this in answer to your letter addresssed to Mr. Felt, since he is no longer aboard and I do not know where he is. I replaced Mr. Felt as executive officer on this ship in San Diego last March and have been aboard from the time we left the states so I am taking the liberty of writing you about your son, Dan Hedrick.
Please accept my sincerest sympathy in your loss. I don't believe any words can be adequate at such a time, but I do want you to know how sorry we who remain feel.
It is only possible to tell you rather briefly exactly what happened at the time of Dan's death. Our ship was attacked by three Jap suicide planes off of Okinawa on June 11. One of the these succeeded in crashing into the ship in the vicinity of the radio room. Your son, Mr. Thomas, and the other men stationed there were killed instantly.
I wish there was more I could tell you. There isn't except to say that Dan lost his life bravely at his battle station carrying out his duties. He was buried on June 13th at the Iso Iseom Cemetery, Okinawa.
Your son's personal effects have ben sent to the Navy Personal Effects Distribution Center, Farragut, Idaho. I am sure they will be forward to you from there.
Again, on behalf of the crew and myself, may we send you our deepest sympathy.
RICHARD vK. BRUNS
Lt. (jg) USNR
January 16, 1946
Dear Mrs. Hedrick,
I received your letter of the 6th and I was glad you wrote. You see Mrs. Hedrick we've been with the L.C.S. 122 all the time since we left the U.S. but they went home today. I'm sorry I could get on it to see if any of the fellows knew your Son. On June 10 teh Porter got sunk and the 122 and other L.C.S.s picked up men. We were in the Harbor. On June 11, we were supposed to go out on the picket lines, but we had to get our engines repaired, so L.C.S. 122 went out in our place. So when the next day, when we saw her brought back, in bad condition we all felt very bad. We heard how it took a plane right through the radio room and how many were killed. All the men in the radio room were killed.
So you see, your Son's ship should been out there when it happened.
I am sure that some of the boys will stop off to see you from the 122. And I will stop off and see you for sure when I get back. I am very lucky, I know and I feel very sorry for you, but it was God, who wanted your Son and thats how life is.
I better say goodnight for now.
USS L.C.S. #91
F.P.O. San Fran.
Here is a sweet picture of Danny and Lyle in their more carefree days:
So, there you are, my friends. If you enjoyed this story, please visit my Sepia Saturday friends by "CLICKING HERE" to find other neat photos and stories. To read more about my family and other stories featuring old photos, memories and more, please look for this picture of me and my dad on the left-hand sidebar and read whatever else catches your fancy. Thanks so much for visiting!
|Oregon Gifts of Comfort and Joy ~ Kathy Matthews|
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