Early Life and Enlistment

Sea Training and U-boat 505

Service in the Pacific

Atomic Bombs and Ships

Law, the Korean War and the McCarthy Era

Discharge and Reserve Service

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Donald A. Lindquist was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana on 28 September 1924 and lived there until Hurricane Katrina in August 2005. He has one half-brother in New Orleans. He loved growing up in Bayou St. John. He would canoe to the island in Bayou St. John as a child. When he was 4 or 5-years-old his family lost their home in Metarie, Louisiana during the Great Depression. Lindquist attended Holy Rosary School but wanted to go to Jesuit High School. Instead, he received a scholarship to Saint Aloysius High School. Lindquist recalls being in school when hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor from the student who sat behind him. He says he wishes he could have paid more attention to that student as he is now the owner of the New Orleans Saints football team. [Annotator’s Note: Lindquist laughs at this]. He immediately wanted to be a flyer. He was classified as 1A at age 18 [Annotator’s Note: Draft label 1A meant one had no reason to delay or avoid military service] and he applied to the US Army Air Corp and to the US Merchant Marine Academy to avoid being drafted. The Merchant Marine came to him first and he received a congressional appointment to attend. He received training at Pass Christian, Mississippi, and then spent seven months training at sea which he loved. He received a Bachelor of Science degree upon graduating. His instructors were all US Navy personnel. Lindquist was a Cadet Midshipman – a cadet for the Merchant Marine and a Midshipman for the Navy. Upon graduation, one could go into either branch. Basic training at Pass Christian included gunnery training. Since he was a Naval Midshipman assigned to the gunnery officer, Lindquist was placed on guns – the ship had one five-inch, 38-caliber gun, one three-inch, 50-caliber gun, and eight 20-millimeter guns. His first ship [Annotator’s Note: Lindquist picks up a model of a ship to demonstrate where the guns and aircraft pads were located on the ship]. He trained on the SS Sapa Creek (MC hull 544)–the size of a light cruiser with the same caliber guns. The ship had platforms to ferry aircraft such as North American P-51 Mustangs, Republic P-47 Thunderbolts and dive bombers. These as well as aviation gasoline, made them prime submarine targets. Lindquist said that subs that were operating in the Gulf of Mexico were rumored to be supplied with food and fuel by people in southwest Louisiana around Sabine Parish by minor oil people.

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Donald Lindquist of the US Merchant Marine was on the initial voyage of the SS Sapa Creek (MC hull 544) to Beaumont, Texas. When they were leaving the port, they came into contact with a German submarine. They were a 20-knot ship and submarines could only go 9-knots on the surface and they outran them. Their ship would pick up aviation gasoline at either Curacao or Aruba. German submarines would be waiting just off the coast between the Caribbean Islands. Despite their ship being able to outrun the submarines, any time they saw a periscope they would immediately start shooting at the vessel. After leaving Willemstad, Curacao they would then proceed to New York to pick up North American P-51. Lindquist was assigned to different officers to learn the different aspects of the ship’s operation. He only got five or six hours of sleep per night due to his studies and gunnery practice. They would encounter submarines off the coast of Miami, Florida and North Carolina during these trips. No merchant ships had radar at the time–only had a torpedo indicator. When they would cross the Atlantic Ocean, they would take the Great Circle Route. In 1943 and early 1944, when leaving the coast of Labrador, there was a section where there was no air cover and the German submarine wolf packs would be operating. Lindquist said they would lose 3 or 4 ships per convoy of 20 to 25 ships. [Annotator’s Note: Lindquist points out that he recently had surgery on his face for melanoma]. On one occasion the torpedo indicator went off and the ship was ordered to make a hard, left turn. The torpedo missed but hit the next ship over, which caught fire–the convoy kept moving. On another voyage, Lindquist says a ship in the middle of a 22- ship convoy was torpedoed. They could see the sub’s periscope come up and every ship started shooting at it. Lindquist says it is a wonder they didn’t shoot each other. In 1943, there was a hurricane and the ships were returning on ballast, which means they were empty and riding high. They lost 4 ships in that hurricane. Lindquist witnessed two ships collide and his ship lost their lifeboats. On his last voyage, his ship missed the convoy and they had to take a southern route by the Azores. They were alerted to the presence of submarines by the Navy. Lindquist says that earlier in that week, Captain Gallery [Annotator’s Note: Gallery, Daniel V.] on the mini-aircraft carrier the Guadalcanal [Annotator’s Note: USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60)], was assigned to help stop the loss of ships. They had two destroyer escorts and encountered the famous U-boat 505 [Annotator’s Note: German submarine U-505]. They hit the sub with depth charges. The sub surfaced but the German sailors were sinking it, but Gallery asked for volunteers to go on board and stop the sinking and get the code books. The submarine was then towed to Bermuda and sunk at night where it remained throughout the war. The captured German sailors were placed in a prison camp in Arizona. The German military command then had no idea the code books had been compromised, thinking the submarine had been successfully scuttled. He notes that the sub is on display at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois. [Annotator’s Note: Lindquist holds up a model of a German submarine and a book on the story].

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Donald Lindquist of the US Merchant Marine describes getting to Swansea, England aboard the SS Sapa Creek (MC hull 544) and not knowing when the invasion of Europe was going to happen. They pulled out just a few weeks before 6 June 1944, [Annotator’s Note: Invasion of Normandy, D-Day]. His sea training was up so he went back to New York to the US Naval Academy for nine to ten months. Germany had surrendered by the time he finished. He was assigned to the SS Marne (ID 3929), sister ship to his previous ship the SS Sapa Creek (MC hull 544). Lundquist’s ship was ordered to Panama on the Pacific side. They had no Navy gun crew. In Panama, Lundquist was made Navigation Officer due to an illness in the crew. Admiral Halsey [Annotator’s Note: Halsey, William F. (William Frederick), 1882-1959] and his Third Fleet [United States Third Fleet, US Navy] took command of the Marne and ordered them to Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and from there to Saipan. Once they arrived in Saipan, they were sent to Leyte in the Philippines. His crew learned later that about a week prior the heavy cruiser Indianapolis [Annotator’s Note: USS Indianapolis (CA-35)] had brought the atomic bomb to the Enola Gay [Boeing B-29 Superfortress] at Tinian Islandin the Northern Mariana Islands. Captain Charles B. McVay III, commander of the Indianapolis did not follow his orders to zig-zag to Leyte and the ship was sunk. The Marne had been ordered to zig-zag to Leyte as well. Lundquist attended a debate between the Japanese submarine commander [Annotator’s Note: Commander Mochitsura Hashimoto – Japanese submarine I-58] and the senior submarine officer for the Pacific [Annotator’s Note: Lundquist cannot recall the name of the US submarine officer] who put a torpedo into one of the super battleships in the Leyte Gulf. The senior commander claimed the Japanese had sunk the Indy with a Kaiten torpedo, which was the kamikaze of torpedoes, in that it was a Japanese seaman in a little bubble riding and steering the torpedo. This commander was calling it a criminal action, but the Japanese commander said they had used a regular torpedo. When the Marne got to Leyte it was then ordered to Lingayen Bay, Luzon, Philippines. They took a path north of Mindanao and Corregidor to the Port of San Fernando, La Union, Philippines. When they arrived, a Marine Colonel came over and asked if he could get some food for his soldiers from the ship. As the Colonel was leaving with the food he was given, Lundquist him if he wanted a bottle of Johnny Walker whiskey. The Colonel was so grateful that he left his jeep with the sailors. [Annotator’s Note: Lundquist laughs heartily]. The SS Marne stayed and operated as a gas station between Ulithi [Annotator’s Note: Ulithi Atoll, Federated States of Micronesia], the Philippines, and Saipan. While there the Japanese surrendered. [Annotator’s Note: Lundquist leans off camera while trying to remember the date of surrender].

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Donald Lindquist, of the US Merchant Marine, was likely in Ulithi or the Philippines, when the United States dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. He learned later that three of his friends were in the area on naval vessels then too. His current law partner's ship was hit by kamikazes while there. About a week after the bombs were dropped, a lieutenant commander came aboard the SS Sapa Creek (MC hull 544) and talked to him about signing a contract to become a senior lieutenant. Lundquist turned the offer down to go to law school. Despite having been in several convoys in both the Atlantic and Pacific, Lindquist was never involved in any hits on his vessels. There were a lot of attacks but all that resulted from them was a lot of shooting and missing on both sides. He saw an enemy observation plane near Scotland once with two British Spitfires [Annotator's Note: British Supermarine Spitfire fighter aircraft] were following behind it. He never saw what became of the observation plane. Lindquist says that many tankers were lost due to carrying aircraft which made them prime targets. He said that Henry Kaiser started turning Liberty ships [Annotator's Note: a class of cargo ship that were inexpensive and easy to manufacture] into tankers, which he did not think was a good idea because of their slow speed. Kaiser then camouflaged the tankers to look like cargo ships and that fooled enemy submarines. Lindquist describes having a number of engine breakdowns, the only times he would get nervous because they were alone then. He says that on the SS Sapa Creek, the crew size was 36 Naval personnel and one lieutenant. One of the lieutenants was the uncle of Virginia Mayo [Annotator's Note: an American actress] who would meet them in New York sometimes. The merchant crew numbered about 30 personnel. When the ship was taken over by the Navy and turned into an AO [Annotator's Note: Fleet Replenishment Oilers. T-AO-xxx), the crew would grow to 200.

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Donald Lindquist was an officer in the US Merchant Marine. After the war, he went to school for Business Administration and Law. He was recalled to active duty for the Korean War and made a CIC [Annotator’s Note: combat information center] officer. He was sent to his ship in Korea but was then transferred to the Mediterranean Sea. The Navy was starting to use computers and he was sent to Norfolk as Assistant Operations Officer to fill the lieutenant commander role. He was then loaned to the Fifth Naval District as an Admiralty Law Officer, handling collisions with Navy ships. [Annotator's Note: Lindquist tells the interviewer that he has gone off track and is encouraged to continue.] One of his first cases involved an executive officer of a diesel submarine that had been practicing runs while off-duty. The sub's periscope damaged a Greek merchant vessel during one run. After six months of that duty, he was assigned to schedule ship berths and anchorages. He thought he developed an ulcer due to the problems involved in the line of work. Officers, including the Admiral of the fleet, would give him gifts to get him to do his bidding. At one point, Lindquist told his captain that he would like to go to Naval Station Newport, Rhode Island for training in the new military codes. While there, Lindquist was able to meet many veteran World War 2 flyers. The flyers had to keep up their flight times on the weekends and they would take him with them. They would fly to baseball games, Bermuda, and more. While at Norfolk, he met a woman in the officer's mess. She was a naval cryptographer and she had naval intelligence check him out before she would date him. [Annotator's Note: Lindquist laughs.] They were later married. Joe McCarthy [Annotator's Note: Senator Joseph McCarthy], claimed that there were too many "mustang naval officer lawyers on the Eastern seaboard" who were Communists. Lindquist was elected to be the prosecutor on four cases of accused Naval officers, all were found guilty. Lindquist did not like McCarthy, was glad when it all ended, and feels the officers would not have been found guilty in current times.

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Donald Lindquist was an officer in the US Merchant Marine during World War 2 and returned to military service during the Korean War, working as an Admiralty Lawyer in San Francisco, California. An attorney from New Orleans, Louisiana asked him to leave the Navy early and join his firm there. That is when he decided to get married. He and his wife were married in Boston, Massachusetts six months later and settled in New Orleans. Lindquist then spent 16 years in the Naval Reserve, serving aboard aircraft carrier number 34 [Annotator's Note: the USS Oriskany (CV/CVA-34)]. The vessel was sunk off the coast of Florida to form an artificial reef on 17 May 2006. [Annotator's Note: The interviewer asks if young people today should be taught World War 2 history.] Lindquist feels that young people today are not interested in the story of World War 2 and have never heard of the Korean War. [Annotator's Note: Lindquist picks up a book and shows pages to the camera.] He shows some pages of a book titled "The US Merchant Marine at War." One picture shows how aircraft were carried on deck of the type of ship he had been on. Another photo of a convoy shows ships 800 yards apart and Lindquist has marked the spot where a submarine periscope is visible. He goes on to say that they wore no ear protection aboard ship, so he developed some slight hearing loss and went to the Veterans Administration for examination as he got older. The Navy discovered the VA had given him hearing aids and declared him 38 percent disabled as a result of combat with enemy forces. [Annotator's Note: Lindquist finds this funny because he was not on active duty during the war. He then thanks the interviewer.]

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