Photo Album

From Destroyers to Subs

Officers and the Fifth Patrol

Loss of the USS Tang (SS-306) and Being Captured

Shipped to Japan

Taken to Ofuna

Experiences in Ofuna

Omori and the End of the War

Home and Hospitals

Why Did They Survive

The Survivors After the War

Escaping the USS Tang (SS-306)

Fate of the USS Tang (SS-306)

More Details about the Last Patrol

Reflections

Phone Calls and POW Medals

Surviving a Storm

Attack on 23 October 1944

Being Captured

Red Cross Packages for Christmas

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[Annotator's Note: The video begins with William Leibold taking the interviewers through a book of photographs. The photo album is off screen.] William Leibold describes going to Japan in order to speak at the trials for the officers of the Ofuna POW [Annotator's Note: prisoner of war] camp. Leibold remembers the tribunal dragging their heels on the trials and how he called his old commanding officer, Richard O' Kane, to get his help with speeding up the trials. Leibold served aboard the submarine USS Tang (SS-306) but never actually commanded a submarine. He commanded submarine rescue ships. Leibold studied diving and sub rescue.He describes some of his service at Pearl Harbor including how the was once visited by movie star Mitzi Gaynor. After the war, Leibold had command of his own ship and when the Japanese were building their first submarine after the war, a Lieutenant Commander Fuji was assigned to the project and Leibold's ship was assigned to work with him. For six months, Fuji rode aboard Leibold's ship and eventually became commander of the Japanese submarine group. Once, Senator Claiborne Pell came to Leibold's diving school looking to do a dive in an open tank. Leibold later discusses several reunions he went to over the years and the people that he met there, including Motley Crue. He gives no details on how he bumped into them.

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Richard O'Kane gave William Leibold a nice 35mm camera. O’Kane snuck it in the trunk of Leibold's car one day during a visit. Leibold eventually gave it to one of O'Kane's grandchildren. Leibold's son joined the Navy in fear of being drafted into Vietnam. After spending much of his life in Hawaii, the younger Leibold was sent to boot camp at Great Lakes. He served aboard the USS Haddock (SSN-621). After the younger Leibold served his time in the military and Leibold retired, the two of them opened a service station in Del Mar, California. The son quickly realized that the business was doomed so he got into diving instead. He went to school in Long Beach and then moved to Louisiana for work. The son travelled all over the world. He started his own business and then started consulting. He got out of diving and has been a consultant ever since. Leibold was nearing his last year of high school and did not have any sense of accomplishment about it. His mother thought he might enjoy a military academy. Leibold was not particularly interested in that idea but he was fascinated by submarines. He went to the recruiting station in Los Angeles, got some information and filled out some papers. As he was not yet 18 he needed parent's authorization. His mother would not let him but his father would, although he advised against it. Leibold skipped the twelfth grade. He got prepped for the Navy at the end of 1940. Leibold took his boot training in San Diego. He requested assignment to sub duty but received orders to report to Commander Minecraft Battle Force, headquartered in Pearl Harbor. He was assigned to an old four pipe destroyer DD-347. [Annotator's Note: USS Pruitt]. The Pruitt was then converted into a mine laying ship with the classification DM-22. Leibold immediately put in a request for submarine school but was told he needed to be seaman first class and have a year at sea. He made 36 dollars a month. He spent eight dollars and 50 cents on a book on modern seamanship while in Honolulu. Leibold went to work passing examinations for advancement. He continued putting in requests for sub school until the executive officer told him to stop. The Pruitt was assigned to an operation near Kiska Island in the Aleutians. They hit bad weather and the ship started to break up. Leibold went up the mast and he could hear the wooden mast creaking. He caught the lines thrown to him by another crewman named Triplett and managed to secure them in place. The ship was saved. Leibold and Triplett were summoned to the bridge. They both figured that they were about to get chewed out. Instead, the captain told them that they might have saved the ship. The captain immediately promoted Leibold to Boatswain’s Mate 1st Class and Triplett to Chief Gunner's Mate. The captain winked at Leibold and offered him his choice of duty thus opening the way for Leibold to work on submarines. The ship returned to San Francisco and Leibold was told to pack his bags the first night for sub duty. He then shipped out to Mare Island [Annotator's Note: near Vallejo, California]. Later, Leibold was on a guard mail trip to San Francisco. There, the captain of the USS Grayback (SS-208), Captain Moore [Annotator's Note: John Anderson Moore], was joking with Leibold then offered him a place on the Grayback. Leibold refused because he had a place on a new submarine that was being built at Mare Island. A young lieutenant overheard this comment and asked Leibold which submarine he was going to serve on. Leibold replied that it was the USS Tang (SS-306) and the lieutenant revealed that he was the executive officer of the Tang. After this exchange, Leibold feared that he had ruined his chance of serving aboard the Tang. Ten days later he was ordered to report to the Tang's fitting out office. He arrived and was greeted by both the executive officer and the commanding officer, Captain Richard O'Kane. They looked at his record and discussed it with Leibold for a bit before O'Kane told him he would serve aboard the Tang.

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William Leibold found O'Kane [Annotator's Note: Richard O’Kane, captain of the USS Tang (SS306)] to be very sure of himself and was impressed by O'Kane and Frazee [Annotator's Note: Lieutenant Commander Murray B. Frazee was one of the original members of the USS Tang’s crew and served aboard as the executive officer for the Tang’s first four patrols]. Working in the yard, Leibold learned a lot from the people who built it. There were many experienced vets on the Tang and Leibold learned a lot from them. Boatswain’s mates were somewhat rare on subs but Leibold was committed to learn his job. One man who was new to the Navy, Clayton Decker, was not the most energetic and hated Leibold for riding him so hard. Decker had never been in such a position. Decker was a torpedo striker but transferred to the engine room. Decker later survived the sinking. Leibold and Decker eventually became good friends. After serving aboard the Pruitt [Annotator's Note: USS Pruitt (DM-22)], Leibold was impressed by the Tang. The Tang had refrigeration, the Pruitt just had blocks of ice. O'Kane approved the menu and the men on the Tang ate well. Leibold was not familiar with O'Kane's reputation before actually meeting him. O'Kane ran a tight ship and made sure everything was in order. O'Kane frequently conducted inspections. He wanted people to earn their pay. O'Kane believed that if the Tang's men did their job, they could end the war faster. O'Kane cut an oval out of the periscope shears to allow a man to be a high lookout. This made it difficult to get the man back down but it massively improved line of sight. There were four lookouts standard plus the high lookout. The Tang spent a lot of time on the surface because of the better visibility. Everyone got used to being on the surface and many people would volunteer to stand a look out in order to get some fresh air. The Tang was a popular boat once it started doing patrols. There were always people waiting to transfer aboard. On the fifth patrol, the Tang was leaving Pearl Harbor for the Formosa Straits. The straits were a busy area and the ships there were heavily escorted. Still, the men of the Tang were looking forward to getting there. The invasion of the Philippines had just begun so there was more traffic than usual. On 25 October [Annotator's Note: 25 October 1944], the Tang got into some action in the straits. Before they arrived, they ran into a typhoon. The Tang was stuck on the surface the entire time. It was a rough ride and they were blown far off course by the end of it. Eventually, they arrived in the Formosa Straits. It took some time before the found a target. The Tang patrolled and ran across a cruiser and two destroyers that were taking evasive maneuvers. The Tang got behind the ships but was unable to fire. The Tang took several chances trying to line up a shot but failed each time. The cruiser then detected Tang and shined a light on it. The ship never fired on the Tang, it just kept going and allowed the Tang to dive. On 23 October, O'Kane led the Tang into the middle of a convoy of three tankers. The Tang fired its forward torpedoes and had hit two of them. A freighter came in and started firing on the Tang. Leibold spotted a ship coming to ram them and grabbed O'Kane so hard he nearly dislocated his shoulder. The Tang swung around and the ramming ship rammed into the freighter. One of the Tang's torpedoes also struck a Japanese destroyer. The ships were right on top of the Tang. Leibold thinks that the first action was even scarier than the action on 25 October.

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[Annotator's Note: This segment begins mid sentence. Leibold is apparently recommending places to eat in Escondido, California.] Escondido is a Mexican town. A lot of the Mexican restaurants in William Leibold's town have folded. One place that was founded by a couple has expanded considerably under the sons who have taken over the restaurants. Leibold cannot remember the name of the place. He always called it Chiquita Banana. After the attack on the convoy, the rest of the crew was fully aware of just how hairy the situation had been. It was impossible to hide that fact. The ships were too close for the USS Tang (SS-306) to dive so they fought the entire battle on the surface. On 25 October [Annotator's Note: 25 October 1944] the Tang sank some ships and then hauled off to reload. There were two ships left, one of them crippled. The first torpedo went straight on. The second torpedo started splashing and Leibold watched it go and called out that it was running erratically. When the torpedo struck the Tang, a plume of water came up. The Tang did not sink instantly. The stern started going down and water started rising up the deck. The captain was on the bridge asking for information. Caverly [Annotator's Note: Radio Technician 1st Class Floyd Caverly] went to the conning tower. The XO [Annotator's Note: executive officer], Frank Springer, sent Caverly to the bridge to give a report to the captain. The people on the bridge essentially got washed away. Leibold remembers feeling an explosion through his feet and began swimming towards the surface. Two of his boat mates called back and forth to each other in the water. The bow of the boat was sticking out of the water and visible. Leibold found Caverly who said he did not know how to swim. Leibold told Caverly to get on his back and taught him how to breathe without getting water in his lungs. Leibold spotted the sunken Japanese destroyer and tried to get to it. Another Japanese ship came in the area and put a boat in the water. Leibold did not want to get picked up but Caverly did. They intended to split up but the Japanese got both of them anyway. At first, the Japanese thought that they were German. Caverly tried selling it by shouting Heil Hitler but it did not do anything. A little later, the boat spotted another person in the water clinging to a piece of wood. It was O'Kane [Annotator's Note: Richard O'Kane]. The boat pulled alongside O'Kane and Leibold asked him if he wanted a ride. The coxswain caught the word captain and brought O'Kane to the back of the boat. After getting back on the ship, Leibold and Caverly were tied up on the port side of the deck. There were a lot of injured onboard the ship that were survivors of the ships that the sunk. Leibold and Caverly suffered a lot of abuse on the ship from the Japanese survivors. Later, the Japanese ship pulled another crewman, Larry Savadkin [Annotator's Note: Savadkin was one of the officers aboard the Tang ] out of the water. Trukke [Annotator's Note: Torpedoman's Mate 2nd Class Hayes Trukke] rounded up a bunch of heaving lines. He tied the lines to a souvenir ring life buoy he had from a Japanese ship. This buoy saved the five men from the forward torpedo room. The coxswain cut the line and took the life ring. The nine men aboard the ship were generally harassed. Eventually, O’Kane told them to give them the name of their ship. That night, the Japanese put the survivors in a hot bath that was too small for the men to sit in. Whenever they asked the Japanese guard for water he would thrust a bayonet at them through a slot in the door. The next day they went back to the deck. Leibold remembers sailing around the Pescadores Islands but does not recall how long they were aboard the P-34 [Annotator's Note: the Japanese patrol vessel P-34]. The ship eventually went into port on Formosa.

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Black hoods were placed on the heads of William Leibold and the others [Annotator's Note: the survivors of the sinking of the USS Tang (SS-306)] and they were sent on trucks to a warehouse. Their hoods were removed and their hands were tied up above their heads. The Japanese then started taking people one at a time. Three Japanese officers were sitting around a table in the room Leibold was taken to. A glass of water was sitting on the table. Leibold was told to be truthful in order to live. He was not impressed with the interrogation skills of the Japanese officers. The next day they were all taken outside and were beaten for a while. After that, the prisoners were marched through a town. The townspeople greeted them by jabbing poles into them and punching them. The Japanese told them that they were going to get their heads cut off. The prisoners were put on a train and taken to Keelung. They got off the train and were put in a prison. The bars in the prison cells were made of wood. The prisoners were put in their cells and then fed. This was the first time they had been fed since the Tang had sunk. A guard came in with popsicles. He gave them to Savadkin [Annotator's Note: US Navy Lieutenant Larry Savadkin] and said that he was a Christian. The prisoners spent several days there before being put on a bus. On the bus, every prisoner was accompanied by an armed guard. The bus ran off of charcoal and at one point the bus died. The guards got out and pushed the bus. When they did they left their rifles on the bus next to the prisoners. The guards had to run behind the bus trying to catch up. The enlisted men were put on a cruiser in a hold on top of some burlap sacks. The officers were each put on a destroyer. O'Kane [Annotator's Note: Richard O'Kane] was treated well on the destroyer. The Japanese captain fed O'Kane and gave him some clothes and discussed Gone with the Wind with him. Crew members of the cruisers would come down to steal the sugar from the sacks. They went ashore at Kobe where they were marched down a walkway through groups of trainees doing bayonet training. An inspection party came by led by a rear admiral. Leibold was shivering from the cold. The admiral asked if he was frightened and Leibold responded that he was cold. The admiral made a wise crack and walked away. The prisoners were then loaded into a steam launch and later ended up on a train to Ofuna.

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[Annotator's Note: William Leibold served in the Navy as a Chief Boatswain's Mate and made all five war patrols aboard the USS Tang (SS-306). He survived the sinking of the Tang on 24 October 1944, was picked up by a Japanese ship and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war in Japan.] The prisoners were marched to the camp through the mud. The first thing they did was take a bath. Then the guards took them to cell block Iku. One guard took Leibold and Caverly to the galley around nine that night and had them stand there. A prisoner dropped off some rice and some bowls. They loaded up food for each of the men and went back to their cells. Leibold discovered later that the man he saw was famous Flying Tiger ace Pappy Boyington [Annotator's Note: USMC Colonel Gregory Boyington. At the time of his captivity, Boyington was a major]. Leibold had never met Boyington before but during the patrol he had seen a magazine with Boyington on the cover. Leibold and the others were frequently interrogated. They would be taken down the hall individually. The interrogators wanted to know how the electric torpedo worked. Leibold claimed that they were steam powered. The Japanese did not buy it as they had recovered a torpedo man's workbook from the USS Grampus (SS-207) that ran aground at Bombay Shoal. The prisoners got a system of communication going to work out which answers they would give their interrogators. The interrogators were frequently officers who had been educated in the United States. They were not mistreated during interrogations but the guards would come in at night and smack them around. They would force the prisoners to squat with their arms out until they fell down. They also forced the prisoners to swab the floors with a length of rope. Around Christmas time, the prisoners were given a Red Cross care package but they were told not to open them. Then they were sent to the other side of the compound in order to celebrate Christmas. Leibold met Boyington there. The crew of the USS Grenadier (SS-210) was also sent to Ofuna the year before the Tang sank. The men of the Grenadier were beaten badly by the Japanese, none worse than their captain, John A. Fitzgerald. Leibold and the others were forced to watch them get beaten as a lesson in Japanese. When they returned to the cells their care packages were either gone or stripped bare. They were each given two sweet potatoes instead. That was the last they would see of any Red Cross packages.

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[Annotator's Note: William Leibold served in the Navy as a Chief Boatswain's Mate and made all five war patrols aboard the USS Tang (SS-306). He survived the sinking of the on 24 October 1944, was picked up by a Japanese ship and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war in Japan.] The prisoners were moved out of the cell block when a large number of B-29 [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber] crewmen came into the camp. There was one man named Hunt who had been badly burned and injured. Hunt was put into the cell next to Leibold. O'Kane [Annotator's Note: US Navy Commander, later Rear Admiral, Richard O'Kane was the captain of the USS Tang (SS-306)] asked the interrogators to allow Leibold to look after him. Leibold was tasked with scrubbing the bandages but it was impossible. Hunt eventually died and he could have been saved but the camp doctor refused to lift a finger to help him. The pilots had been captured by the navy. A civilian prisoner named Frank O'Gara was a journalist from the Philadelphia Inquirer. He was on leave and working with the War Shipping Administration on a ship that was sunk by a Japanese submarine. The submarine submerged and let the people who were clinging to the side of the boat drown. O'Gara managed to get captured and sent to Ofuna. O'Gara spent the rest of the war in solitary confinement. The prisoners spent much of their early time in Ofuna in solitary. After a while they were sent outside and then they could talk to one another. Two of the men were smokers and the Japanese let them smoke. Eventually everyone started smoking. They were able to speak to some of the fliers before Leibold and the others were moved to the other side of the compound. Caverly [Annotator's Note: Radio Technician 1st Class Floyd Caverly] began working for the camp surgeon. In Ofuna, Leibold saw carrier planes flying overhead attacking Japan. There was a storeroom in the third building, Sanku, loaded with Red Cross packages that the guards would frequently loot. Someone threw a bar of soap over the fence into some guy's garden. The guards then spent an entire day trying to get someone to admit to stealing from the Red Cross packages. A guard got Caverly and Leibold and told them that they could use the hot bath after the guards were done with it. Boyington walked in and Caverly and Leibold listened to Boyington tell his stories. The next day they moved 21 men, including all of the enlisted men, from the Tang to the neighboring camp of Omori. The prisoners were forced to strip down and the guards took their clothes and left. The army then brought new clothes and locked up the 21 prisoners together. The rest of the prisoners were fliers. Boyington was also among the group. The Japanese told them that they were not prisoners of war. They were captured enemies and as such had no rights.

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[Annotator's Note: William Leibold served in the Navy as a Chief Boatswain's Mate and made all five war patrols aboard the USS Tang (SS306). He survived the sinking of the Tang on 24 October 1944, was picked up by a Japanese ship and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war in Japan.] Ogura was the top sergeant at Omori. He was a pretty straight shooter and no one complained about him. Ogura told the prisoners that they were going to take them out of the hole they were in and send them on work details. Ogura told them that if they worked hard they would get two thirds of the ration of the prisoners. They had been getting one half. While out working they heard the loudspeakers go off and saw the guards crying. Leibold had a problem with his foot. The guards told the prisoners to gather the lights and the tools as they were not going to work there anymore. The interpreter asked Leibold about his foot. The interpreter said that he was going to go to the hospital and get it taken care of. This struck Leibold as odd because it was the Japanese who did it to him and had done nothing to fix it. A guard that Leibold called Horse Face and Shit Bird started stomping Leibold's foot with a hob-nailed boot. On the way back to Omori the prisoners passed a truck carrying prisoners who shouted that the war was over but Leibold was not sure he heard them correctly. They arrived back at Omori and the regular guards were nowhere to be found. Other prisoners came and told them to stay inside and that the war was over. The prisoners were going to be on watch and knock the fence down. Leibold saw Ogura cut a man who attacked him in half. There were 640 prisoners there and O'Kane was the senior officer. There were 104 American prisoners in Leibold's building. O'Kane [Annotator's Note: US Navy Rear Admiral Richard O'Kane had been the commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306)] and Boyington [Annotator's Note: USMC Major Greg Boyington] essentially took charge of the camp. B-29s [Annotator's Note: Boeing B-29 Superfortress very heavy bomber] and Navy planes were dumping boxes of food and the B-29s were dropping 55 gallon drums with all sorts of supplies in them. Leibold still had the clothes dropped on Omori when he returned to the United States. Commander Stassen [Annotator's Note: Commander Howard Stassen] and his group came in around the end of August [Annotator's Note: August 1945] and said he was going to set up a program to evacuate everyone from Japan. About 45 minutes later he called everyone back together and told them to pack their gear as they were leaving. Leibold had lost about 70 pounds during his time in captivity and still had a damaged foot. He was sent aboard the USS Benevolence (AH-13). The first thing the Army wanted to do was take their clothes. They refused and the hospital ship crew decided to just sterilize them instead. Doctors went to work on Leibold's leg and he was forced to use a wheelchair for some time. Leibold went down to the mess deck and marveled at the amount of food onboard the ship. A corpsman loaded up Leibold's plate but he could not eat it. He found out O'Kane was onboard in an isolation room. Leibold moved in with O'Kane. O'Kane was in bad shape and Leibold doubts he would have survived another month in the camp. Leibold looked after O'Kane on the ship. He believed that O'Kane was more than a captain, he was a friend. Leibold received orders to return home. He got on a plane and island hopped his way back across the Pacific Ocean. Leibold was onboard the plane with guys from all over. Eventually they made their way back to Pearl Harbor where a guy from the submarine force was waiting for them. The guy took Leibold and the others to see Admiral Lockwood [Annotator's Note: US Navy Vice Admiral Charles A. Lockwood] at SubPac [Annotator's Note: Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet] Headquarters. The admiral gave everyone a combat pin and pinned a purple heart on Leibold. The admiral offered them all a stay at the Royal Hawaiian hotel. Everyone refused the offer because they were anxious to return home. When O'Kane arrived back in Hawaii he accepted the offer because he did not want his family to see him until he was back to normal. When Leibold and the others got to Oak Knoll, California a guy from the submarine force was waiting to take them to St. Francis but a nurse with an ambulance took them to the hospital instead. The submarine force came and brought Leibold to San Francisco to get a uniform. After that he went to Mare Island and got another outfit. Then everyone went to the hospital nearest to their home. Leibold ended up at the naval hospital in Long Beach, California. Trukke [Annotator's Note: Torpedoman's Mate 2nd Class Hayes Trukke] and DaSilva [Annotator's Note: Motor Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Jesse DaSilva] from the Tang and some men from the Grenadier [Annotator's Note: USS Grenadier (SS-210)] were in the same hospital. The naval board tried to discharge Leibold but he contested it. A captain put Leibold on limited duty as an ROTC [Annotator's Note: Reserve Officer Training Corps] instructor at UCLA.

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William Leibold spoke to his wife Grace for the first time in years while he was in Oakland. She wanted to visit but he talked her out of it. He did not want her to see him in his current condition. He told her that he would be heading down soon and let her know when he was heading for Long Beach. His flight there was on a Sunday and landed at Roosevelt field. There were two POWs [Annotator's Note: prisoner of war] and an individual came on the plane and said that an ambulance was waiting to take them to the hospital. Leibold wanted to go to Los Angeles and the other former prisoner wanted to go Pasadena. The ambulance driver said he had to take them to the hospital. Leibold responded that he was just going to take the ambulance. The driver decided to drop them off where they wanted to go. When he arrived he could not find anyone at his parent's place. He saw his wife and his parents pulling up. They had been going back and forth between the hospital and the airfield. Leibold went to the hospital that Tuesday and suffered through various tests. A lot of the guys had worms and had to take massive pills. The doctors had to take stool samples from the patients to the lab by seven in the morning. Patients who got in late would often just borrow samples from other patients. Leibold spent several months in the hospital and got out in March 1946.

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[Annotator's Note: William Leibold served in the Navy as a Chief Boatswain's Mate and made all five war patrols aboard the USS Tang (SS-306). He survived the sinking of the on 24 October 1944, was picked up by a Japanese ship and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war in Japan.] Seven out of the nine guys on the Tang that survived were married. The average age of the men on the boat was around 21. Leibold does not believe that having families made those that survived fight any harder to live. He does not recall any distinct motivating factor pushing him on. He thinks everyone was being driven by the urge to survive. Leibold was not particularly surprised that the Tang's quartermaster, Sidney Jones, did not make it. After the war, Leibold had a conversation with Jones' brother in law who stated that Jones would not have taken a chance on being captured. Leibold doubts that he would still be alive if the atomic bombs had not been dropped. Leibold discovered at the POW [Annotator's Note: prisoner of war] trials that the reason he and the other men of the Tang had been kept segregated was that there was a trial against them. Leibold assumes that the Japanese were going to execute them sooner or later if the war had not ended. When Leibold and Grace had their first child, John Fitzgerald came to California to pay his respects. Leibold and O'Kane [Annotator's Note: US Navy Rear Admiral Richard O'Kane had been the commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306)] did not have a formal pact but each was willing to take care of the other's family if one should perish.

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[Annotator's Note: William Leibold served in the Navy as a Chief Boatswain's Mate and made all five war patrols aboard the USS Tang (SS-306). He survived the sinking of the on 24 October 1944, was picked up by a Japanese ship and spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war in Japan.] Hank Flanagan [Annotator's Note: Lieutenant (jg) Henry J. Flanagan] did not survive long after the war. Trukke [Annotator's Note: Torpedoman's Mate 2nd Class Hayes Trukke] was the next to pass away. Trukke was assigned to Naval Air Station Coronado. A plane came in and crashed and the civilian fire crew was not doing a good enough job for Trukke. They got into an argument and Trukke knocked out the fire chief and then saved the pilot. Trukke got demoted and commended simultaneously. Trukke got out of the Navy and joined the LAPD. Trukke got married and had a son but the son died and Trukke was hit hard by it. Leibold later heard that Trukke had drowned and there were rumors that it was a suicide. Clay Decker [Annotator's Note: Motor Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Clayton O. Decker] came back and started his own business, Decker Disposal, and got custody of his son from his first wife. Decker married a woman named Ann and lived happily in Denver with his wife Ann until dying of lung cancer. Jesse DaSilva also died of cancer. After the war, the survivors of the Tang had frequent reunions at either O'Kane's [Annotator's Note: US Navy Rear Admiral Richard O'Kane had been the commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306)], Caverly's [Annotator's Note: Radio Technician 1st Class Floyd M. Caverly], Decker's or Leibold's home. In 1988 all of the surviving members met up at Leibold's house. Caverly stayed in contact with Leibold as did Savadkin [Annotator's Note: Lieutenant Lawrence Savadkin]. Leibold's wife found a nice house in an over 55 community in Murrieta, California. Leibold put a deposit down on it and was told that if he was unable to sell his house on the mountain within 60 days they would refund his deposit in full. Leibold told Savadkin about it. Savadkin bought the house right next door. Leibold decided to take back the deposit after this but still kept in touch with Savadkin. When Grace Leibold's health went bad the Savadkin's often came to visit. Later on, Leibold got a call from Savadkin saying that his wife, Kris, was in the hospital. Savadkin did not even know which hospital his wife was in. Leibold called a nurse at the VA [Annotator's Note: Veterans Administration] and asked her to chase down where Kris was. The nurse found Kris at an assisted care facility just down the road from Leibold's home. Kris was suffering from dementia which was also plaguing Savadkin. Savadkin was caught driving up I15 in excess of 120 mph. He later missed a court date and had his license was revoked. Someone reported that he was tearing up the freeway and this time the cops confiscated his car. His neighbors got the car out of the impound lot then Savadkin tried to drive it again. Leibold found Savadkin's sister who was living in Victoria, British Columbia and she agreed to come down and help take care of her brother.

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When on the P-34 ship that pulled them out of the ocean, William Leibold and the other survivors of the Tang [Annotator's Note: USS Tang (SS-306)] discussed how they had escaped while in the hot bath. This is when Trukke [Annotator's Note: Torpedoman's Mate 2nd Class Hayes O. Trukke] told Leibold how Rubin Raiford [Annotator's Note: Cook 2nd Class Rubin Raiford was the cook aboard the Tang] was assisting him in the forward room. When a submarine is going down it is a bad time. For a lot of men, their home is going down and the air quickly turns bad. The Tang was not depth charged, even though Savadkin [Annotator's Note: Lieutenant Lawrence Savadkin] felt explosions. Leibold credits Trukke [Annotator's Note: Torpedoman's Mate 2nd Class Hayes O. Trukke] and Pete Narowanski [Annotator's Note: Torpedoman's Mate 3rd Class Pete Narowanski] with keeping their wits about them. Leibold has heard that Ballinger [Annotator's Note: Chief Torpedoman William Ballinger] had held classes on how to use the Momsen lung. Leibold believes that at least several of the men on the submarine, like Doc Larson [Annotator's Note: Chief Pharmacist's Mate Paul Larson], embolized. Hank Flanagan [Annotator's Note: Lieutenant (jg) Henry J. Flanagan] made two attempts to ascend and succeeded the second time. As far as Leibold is aware, the Tang remains the only submerged submarine to have part of its crew survive without help. Leibold is not stunned that anyone made it out alive. He is bothered that more did not make it out. He chocks up most of the dead that made it out of the submarine alive but died before being picked up as a sign that embolisms struck them. Leibold describes how the air in the lungs expands as a person gets closer to the surface. It often leads to punctured lungs and death. Leibold breaks down the escape to surface plan. First they were to get into the escape trunk then charge the Momsen lung. Then flood the trunk to equalize the pressure and take the ascending line slowly to the surface. Leibold believes that some of the men lost the line or they froze up. He believes that panic played a role in the deaths of many of the Tang's crewmen. Leibold is still surprised that Ballinger, who was so good at practicing with the Momsen lung, died on the Tang. He also believed that some people chose not to make an attempt to escape. Leibold acknowledges that, while he was not there, he still does not understand why someone would not make an attempt. Leibold also heard from Clay Decker [Annotator's Note: Motor Machinist's Mate3rd Class Clayton O. Decker] that one man, George Zofcin [Annotator's Note: Motor Machinist's Mate 1st Class George Zofcin] refused to leave the submarine because he could not swim, even though the Momsen lung would keep him afloat. Some people just crawled into their bunks and stayed there and died.

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William Leibold wonders if the Tang [Annotator's Note: USS Tang (SS-306)] is still a tomb. The Tang was apparently depth charged into oblivion by the destroyer USS Higbee (DD-806) in 1950. Some officers from the CNO Office [Annotator's Note: Chief of Naval Operations] used hydraulic oil samples to theorize that it was the Tang but it has not been confirmed. Searchers go around the world searching for lost ships. The USS Wahoo (SS-238) was recently found by the Russians. Leibold believes that the Tang should be left alone. In his mind, they are tombs. This group that searches for sunken ships has no desire to enter the Tang but wants to get pictures of it for a documentary. An organization called NavSource, on its piece about the Tang, got the patch wrong by taking the patch from the second Tang, the SS-563, and writing SS-306 on it instead. They also have photographs that they claim are of the Tang that are not. Leibold had also noticed inaccuracies on the Tang's Wikipedia page. These inaccuracies annoy Leibold as he feels it detracts from understanding about the boat.

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William Leibold was topside with O'Kane [Annotator's Note: US Navy Rear Admiral Richard O'Kane had been the commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306)] when he spotted the convoy. O'Kane first spotted it in the early evening. There were 14 ships in the convoy guarded by 13 escort ships. The report that Leibold has does not mention the range but he assumes it was either far away or through cloudy weather. The enemy flagship started to signal because it spotted the Tang. The light illuminated several of the ships in the column but no one knows why they turned the searchlight on. The light helped Leibold and O'Kane to identify the different types of vessels present. When the Japanese started firing, on 23 October [Annotator's Note: 23 October 1944], O'Kane took the lookouts off the bridge. Leibold and the other lookouts refused and Leibold believes that the lookouts' stubborn refusal to leave the bridge saved the ship because he doubts O'Kane would have seen the freighter attempting to ram the Tang if he had been alone. Leibold recognized what was happening when the torpedo began circling the next night. Things were happening too quickly to get a strong opinion about anything. There was hope on board that O'Kane's evasive maneuvers had a chance to save the Tang. It is impossible to say exactly where the torpedo struck. Leibold is curious if the stern broke off when it hit the bottom. Leibold was a good swimmer. He realized quickly that there was no point in swimming. He just tried to stay afloat. After the war, Caverly [Annotator's Note: Radio Technician 1st Class Floyd M. Caverly] was on duty in San Francisco and contacted Leibold to tell him he had recommended him for a medal after telling his commanding officer about how Leibold had saved his life. Leibold is recommended for a Silver Life Saving Medal but the Navy does not issue that award, the Treasury Department does. Instead, he was recommended for a Navy and Marine Corps Medal. They screwed up the citation because it says Leibold escaped from 180 feet and stayed with another sailor. Leibold questions whether he saved Caverly or Caverly saved him.

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William Leibold never stopped believing that he would make it home to his wife. The reunion with his wife on his parent’s lawn was a surprise. He was stunned that they had all gone down to meet the plane. After missing him at the airport they all went down to the hospital and kept going back and forth until eventually going home and finding him there. Leibold and his wife were married for 62 years. Leibold still finds the attack on the twenty third [Annotator's Note: 23 October 1944] to be the more interesting one because of how many ships there were. Leibold would be hard pressed to name the Tang [Annotator's Note: USS Tang (SS-306)] the greatest submarine of World War 2. He knew other submarines that might not have sunk as many ships but their captains may not have been as much of a risk taker as O'Kane [Annotator's Note: Richard O’Kane, commanding officer of the USS Tang (SS-306)]. In Leibold's view, submariners were more dedicated than the average sailor as each learned to master his craft. Leibold did not go to sub school. He trained at Mare Island. After being taken through the submarine several times by junior officers, a trainee has to go through with the captain showcasing a full knowledge of the workings of the submarine. Then they have to go on to a different submarine and take it out and fire exercise torpedoes at a target. If you make the grade you get champagne with gold dolphins in it. On a submarine, everybody knows everybody and getting along is essential. The Tang's patrols were usually relatively short. O'Kane's aggressiveness helped keep the patrols short. At Midway and at Pearl Harbor their furloughs were usually short. Close living conditions fostered trust. Submariners are all volunteers and anyone who was on it had chosen to be there. Whether they were on the surface or submerged, things were usually quiet. They could always hear when there was a hit. Leibold takes a certain satisfaction from working in a place where everyone was committed to their job.

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William Leibold has been contacted numerous times by groups attempting to research various things. Leibold noted how Decker [Annotator's Note: Motor Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Clayton Decker] and DaSilva [Annotator's Note: Motor Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Jesse DaSilva] spent much of their lives going around with various groups keeping it alive. In the 1980s, the VA [Annotator's Note: Veterans Administration] sent a letter to Leibold about receiving a POW Medal. Several years ago, the POW group sent a form to Leibold. He filled it out but never heard back. A box of about 20 POW Medals arrived three years after he sent in the form.

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