Ewalt "Walt" Shatz was born in April 1923 in Visalia, California. During the Great Depression, his father worked for the Works Progress Administration and a chicken house. He grew up with two brothers and one sister. He attended school and dropped out to work for the Civilian Conservation Corporation. When he turned 17, his parents signed for him to join the Navy on 3 January 1941. He received his training in San Diego [Annotator's Note: San Diego, California] and was assigned to the destroyer USS Patterson (DD-392). He was assigned to the fire room and was responsible for cleaning the fire boxes aboard the ship. During general quarters he was the gunner for one of the ships forward .50 caliber machine guns [Annotator's Note: Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun].
Ewalt "Walt" Shatz was assigned to the USS Patterson (DD-392) docked in Pearl Harbor [Annotator's Note: Pearl Harbor, Hawaii] on the morning of 7 December 1941. Shatz was aboard ship and on his way to the mess hall for breakfast when he saw a building explode; he thought to himself "practicing on Sundays" but he then saw a Japanese plane come out of a dive and heard the general alarm sound. Most of the sailors aboard initially ignored the general alarm believing it was a joke; however, that changed fast. He ran to his battle station and immediately began firing his .50 caliber machine gun [Annotator's Note: Browning M2 .50 caliber machine gun]. He can remember it being chaotic and was so close to other ship's guns. At times, the Japanese were so close he could see the pilots in their planes. The executive officer of the ship finally moved the ship out of the harbor because the captain was on shore at the time of the attack. To move, the Patterson had to get the boilers operating and get the ship going in a very short time, which they successfully did.
Ewalt "Walt" Shatz fired the machine guns [Annotator's Note: aboard the USS Patterson (DD-392)] for the first time during the attack [Annotator's Note: the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on 7 December 1941]. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Patterson helped guard attack transports as they landed Marines for the invasion of Guadalcanal [Annotator's Note: Guadalcanal, Solomon Island].
Ewalt "Walt" Shatz was in New Caledonia when he received transfer orders from USS Patterson (DD-392) to an oil burning school in Philadelphia [Annotator's Note: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania]. Upon completion, he was then sent to Algiers in North Africa to be assigned to a communications ship [Annotator's Note: the USS Catoctin (AGC-5)]. The Catoctin was in the Black Sea when the Yalta Conference took place and President Roosevelt [Annotator's Note: Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States] slept aboard her during the conference. He recalled the ship had to be re-outfitted to accommodate the President so he could move around the ship in his wheelchair. The King of England [Annotator's Note: Albert Frederick Arthur George; George VI; King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth] and other dignitaries came aboard the ship as well. While the Catoctin was stationed in Naples, Italy, Shatz's enlistment expired. He reenlisted for two more years near the war's end. He was discharged in 1946.
Ewalt "Walt" Shatz was serving stateside near the war's end. He was assigned to shore patrol in Hollywood [Annotator's Note: Hollywood, California]. He recalled an incident when he was in Naples, Italy when a biplane flew over their ship and an anti-personnel bomb was dropped. Right after the war ended, he was assigned to USS Yellowstone (AD-27). In 1946, he was discharged in Boston [Annotator's Note: Boston, Massachusetts]. He visited his aunt in Pennsylvania before driving home to California, taking his aunt's friend's family with him.
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