Monday, April 7, 2008

You're in the Army...Wait!...the Navy Now!

In 1942 my father, Elmo Bregoli, was 3 months away from graduating from Boston College when an invitation came in the mail. It was from the US Army stating that his presence was urgently needed in Europe, and to see his local recruiter for further instructions.

My dad dutifully went to the US Army recruiting office and spoke with a representative of the organization explaining his desire for a 3-month deferment until after his graduation. The recruiter was angrily steadfast in Uncle Sam’s immediate need for his service and no deferment would be granted or tolerated. He had one week to turn in his papers and become a member of the US Army. The recruiter had put my dad in his place.

My dad was eager to do his part in the war, but wanted to finish a hard fought battle for higher education before fighting a foreign enemy over seas. He would not be graduating this year, he would be serving his country, and the army representative was an ass; those were the facts.

He put his intellect and one-week to good use and came up with a plan to put the Army recruiter in his place and serve his country, both honorably.

The week was up and not hearing from my dad, the Army recruiter called him on the phone and proceeded to lay into him; my father listened and waited. After the threats of arrest and punishment, my dad explained his situation…

He was sorry, but would be unable to join the US Army because he had enlisted with the US Navy…silence on the other end of the phone…and then a long, loud tirade on how much extra work and hardship he had just created for the Army recruiter.

My dad said, "Now you know how I feel." and hung up the phone. Thus began my dad’s sojourn with the US Navy during WWII.

I think, quite possibly, this was THE move that got my dad through the war safely.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the War....

One of the stories my dad told of the Sarita was the "testing" of the radar system on the shake-down cruise.

He was stationed in the radio room and could hear the communications from the radar operator to the bridge.

A contact had been acquired and the distance and bearing were being called out. "Contact 4000 yards, dead-ahead"
The ship made no deviation from course.

A little while later: "Contact 2000 yards, dead-ahead"
The ship made no deviation from course.

Then: "Contact 1000 yards, dead-ahead"
The ship made no deviation from course.

"Contact 500 yards, dead-ahead"
The ship made no deviation from course.
At this point the radio room crew started to discuss the situation and wonder if the target was real or why the ship was not turning.

When the call of "Contact 250 yards, dead-ahead" was heard the radio room guys got tense and started to secure themselves in case anything were really in their path.

A short while later the ship started to turn but it was too late. A jolt was felt and a grinding noise was heard throughout the ship.

The contact was indeed real and was dead-ahead and now had been struck. The Sarita had struck a marker buoy and had torn a hole in the port side of the ship, high up on her bow.

My dad speculated that the bridge didn't believe the target to be real so took no evasive action. Radar technology, at the time, was new and untrusted.

The ship was repaired, but was left with a large steel plate patch on her port side for the rest of the war. A prominent battle scar on the visage of the fair Sarita.

I have one photo showing the repair (see above) but, the quality is not good enough to see the patch clearly.

If anyone can substantiate this story, I would love to share your evidence.

Monday, March 24, 2008

The Radio Room

My dad was a USN Radioman Second Class and this was his "cubicle" while on-board the Sarita.