Segment 9


Ward has never seen any history on what happened to the USS Helena, the USS Portland, or the USS Salt Lake City. Ward’s ship had its own problems, its own things to worry about. Ward never saw any history or reports from other vessels. The USS San Francisco was hit very hard. Ward was spattered with shrapnel. He has pieces of shrapnel ranging in size from a quarter to a dime. Most of the shrapnel is in Wards legs. Six or seven years ago a little piece came out of his knee. It came out like a pimple. Ward has a piece near his shin that has been riding near his skin for awhile. A piece that hit his leg lay across a nerve; every time Ward brushes past a chair it hits the nerve and the whole leg can give way. They wanted Ward to leave the Navy on disability. Ward was also hit in the testicle. His testicle shrunk down to the size of a peanut. Ward was able to get a good look at it in a recent X-ray. The X-ray tech was surprised to see so much steel in his body. Ward reminded her that the Japanese could shoot straight. Ward wears his medals in his body. Ward went into the service force. Ward was stationed above a baby tanker. They carried aviation gas and fuel. They could carry a half million gallons of aviation fuel. Ward spent the summer of 1943 delivering aviation fuel to the Alaskan coast. There were airstrips somewhere out there. They would run back down to Seattle, Vancouver, or San Francisco, reload and go back out again. In August of 1943 Ward was sent to Pearl Harbor. They had to deliver fuel to Christmas Island, Midway, and a few other places. Ward spent Christmas of 1943 on Midway. A civilian ship was at Midway and they had whisky. They were selling the sailors quarts of cheap whisky for twenty five dollars. They were rotten thieves. Ward fell out of his bunk drunk on Christmas. Ward woke up at reveille and realized that he had lost some of the skin on the side of his face. Ward recalls mixing 180 proof alcohol with grapefruit and orange juice. The senior cook and Ward went down to the storeroom and swiped some mixers. Ward was so damn drunk that he fell out of his bunk. They partied. The old man knew they were partying but he did not interfere. Ward stayed at Midway for another four or five days, perhaps after New Years. They headed back to Pearl Harbor, got more fuel and headed to Palmyra.


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