Davis Gordon Mayes was born in February 1919 in Pontotoc, Texas. During his service in World War 2, he served on the USS Solace (AH-5) and USS Enoree (AO-69). Mayes' father was a stockman that worked on ranches in various states. When Mayes's father met his mother, he worked on her family's ranch. Mayes helped his father on the ranch. During the Great Depression, his family did not have any money. He graduated from high school in 1937 and began working for a Gulf filling station and he did a lot of car maintenance work. He decided to go to San Antonio [Annotator's Note: San Antonio, Texas] and applied for enlistment into the Navy, but they did not accept him because he had a missing tooth and poor veins. The Army accepted him, but there was an error on his recruiting reports. The recruiter put down he was a typist, so when Mayes was asked to take a typing test, he failed. After three months, he got the hang of typing and was running an office. In 1941, after three years in the Army, he applied for the Navy and was accepted by the recruiting office in Dallas [Annotator's Note: Dallas, Texas]. He was sent to San Diego [Annotator's Note: San Diego, California] for basic training. He was sent to Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii] and assigned as a radioman on the USS Solace (AH-5), a non-combatant ship. On 7 December 1941, Mayes was on standby for radio watch. He noticed low flying aircraft dropping bombs and witnessed various ships blowing up in the harbor. Shrapnel was falling everywhere. Apparently, a small Japanese submarine got under the Solace and everyone on the ship was afraid the Japanese would blow it up. Mayes recalled they had no inkling that this attack from the Japanese was going happen.
Davis Gordon Mayes witnessed sailors being blown off their ships and falling into the water [Annotator's Note: during the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii]. He saw many of them being brought onto the Solace for treatment. He recalled many of them lying there wounded, and some of them dead. Mayes and many other sailors were bitter and wanted revenge for the attack. The damage was enormous, and many people lost friends. They salvaged everything they could, except the USS Arizona (BB-39). Mayes left with the USS Solace to head for Tutuila, American Samoa, and then stopped at Tonga Vava’u. He witnessed reconnaissance aircraft taking off to spot the enemy. During the Battle of Guadalcanal [Annotator's Note: Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands], the USS Solace (AH-5) took the seriously wounded. Nurses and pharmacist's mates were on board to supervise and care for the wounded. Any of the men that died were buried on the island. Mayes recalled that there was complete radio silence so the Japanese could not locate them. He was able to go ashore on Tonga Vava’u. He rented a horse and bought some bananas that he shared with everyone. Mayes received orders to return to the United States and he was reassigned to a newly commissioned ship, the USS Enoree (AO-69).
When Davis Gordon Mayes returned to San Francisco [Annotator's Note: San Francisco, California] his records were lost and he did not get paid for months. He had to take a job as a stevedore loading and unloading pounds of sugar and flour from ships on the wharf so he could get some money. The Navy was finally able to locate his records and he was able to board the USS Enoree (AO-69) two months later than scheduled. He had joined the ship soon after the Japanese had surrendered. The mission of the ship was to fuel other ships and blow up mines as they saw them floating in the water. At one time, his ship had accidently anchored in a minefield. Mayes recalled that the USS Enoree would "christen" ships with black oil. Mayes also recalled that the last battle he participated in was Okinawa [Annotator's Note: Okinawa, Japan]. He witnessed many ships sinking and lots of resistance from the enemy. Mayes believes that the crew on the USS Enoree were great and well trained. His main duty was to copy messages and repair any radar problems.
Davis Gordon Mayes heard about the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan through the radio receivers while he was serving on a Navy ship. He believes that it is important for children to learn about World War 2 and its important that kids consider joining the Reserves. Mayes believes that it's up to the parents to raise their children properly, and to have an education or skill.
All oral histories featured on this site are available to license. The videos will be delivered via mail as Hi Definition video on DVD/DVDs or via file transfer. You may receive the oral history in its entirety but will be free to use only the specific clips that you requested. Please contact the Museum at email@example.com if you are interested in licensing this content. Please allow up to four weeks for file delivery or delivery of the DVD to your postal address.
Your browser is out of date!
To get the best possible experience using our website, we recommend that you upgrade or download an alternative web browser. Downloading a new browser will make internet browsing safer as well as more enjoyable.