Carl Sonson
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The first day’s action at Okinawa had passed without damage to the USS Stevenson in spite of attacks by 14 Japanese aircraft.

USS Stevenson, DD503

Captain: Commander Nathaniel E. Dwight (0)
Executive Officer: Lt. Commander Brant A. Johnson (0)
Engineering Officer: Lt. Commander Paul R. Marin (0) [Start in Fwd Engine Room]
Gunnery Officer: Lieutenant (SG) William A. Alexander (1)
Damage Control Officer: Lieutenant (SG) Parker J. Hyde (0)
Chief Petty Officer: Alan O. Hare (-1) [Start in Steering Room]
Repair Chief 1: PO Trevor T. Hudson (-2)
Repair Chief 2: PO Thomas A. Lafferty (-1)
Repair Chief 3: PO Brian N. Mansfield (0)

1945, March 25

Dawn of the second day found the destroyer still in position at Station 5. The fighter direction team remained operational and the crew was happy to see their supporting DD, that had helped so much yesterday, in the distance.

Morning dawned bright and clear. The FDT advised the captain that there were two carrier fighter units supporting during the morning. The enemy were not slow putting in an appearance.

At 0500 ship’s radar reported unidentified aircraft approaching their position. These soon revealed themselves as six Japanese in two waves of three. The first three were too far from our supporting destroyer and it did not hinder their approach; nor did an engaging carrier aircraft manage to do any damage. The Stevenson’s AA started to engage the aircraft; the #5 5” gun damaged a Jill coming in from astern and it crashed into the sea close to the fantail causing the destroyer’s first damage as some engine debris penetrated the thin hull plating. At the same time a Pete and a Lily were approaching at 225 bearing. The Pete at low altitude was turned into a fireball by the #4 5” and 40 (E) guns but it crashed well clear of Stevenson. The Lily at medium altitude fell to the converging fire or the (A) and (D) 20mm and it nosed into the sea also without damaging the ship. The captain once again had ordered emergency but reaction was slow; fuel was being chewed up for little effect.

Attention then turned to the second wave. This time the supports did wonders; a carrier fighter shot down a Babs well before she came under the Stevenson’s fire and our DD escort took down a Judy at 270 high. This left a Frank coming in to starboard at 45 medium; it was set ablaze by 5” fire from the forward #2 gun and it fell into the sea short of Stevenson’s bow. With that the crew set to cleaning up with things relaxed for most of the day.

Midday found the weather continuing fine and clear and two carrier units were in contact. However, although reports of action were received from other stations, no attacks developed on the USS Stevenson during the afternoon. The crew was able to have an uninterrupted meal and back to normal chores.

Night came clear and still and although two CAFS were assigned, once again the Japanese failed to put in an appearance. The guns were giving the damage control personnel an easy time, much to everyone’s relief. Commander Dwight congratulated Lt. Bill Alexander on the great training he had imparted to his crews.

End of Day assessment showed a large drop in fuel to 40%. Considering the number aircraft that attacked ammunition expenditure was very low – still at 90%. But morale had a boost back to average.

USS Stevenson, DD503, remained on station.

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1945, March 26

After yesterday’s afternoon and night's ease the crew were alert and ready for anything the Japanese would throw at them..

Morning showed clear still. The FDT advised the captain that there were two carrier fighter units available for support. The enemy didn’t put in an appearance till 1100 hours when radar reported six bogies on screen. Three came in directly against the bow. The supporting DD in the distance had no effect (it was under attack itself) and both carrier air support units were directed onto a Nate at medium altitude but failed to have any effect on their approach. The bow 5” guns hit the Val at high and it exploded; the Babs at low was also caught by the 40mm (B) guns and it crashed into the sea well ahead of the destroyer. The Nate that made it past the CAFS also bore a charmed life as it flew through the tracer from 40mm (A) Tub. Everyone held their breath as the apparently undamaged Nate flew into the sea nearby but caused no damage.

The second wave came in from the starboard bow and quarter. They were not near enough for the surface support to have an effect. But all three came under intense fire but none were shot completely destroyed before they attempted to crash into the Stevenson. Emergency manoeuvres this time were successful but in the event had no bearing on the outcome of the attacks. The Dave at 135 medium height became a blazing ball from #4 5” before near-missing the fantail causing superficial damage. A Tony at 45 high was also shot down by the forward 5” guns, still came on, but missed the ship. A Hamp was only damaged by fire from 40mm and 20mm guns and still missed completely.

So once again the USS Stevenson managed to come through without significant damage.

Midday saw a small attack developing on the dot of 1200 hours but nothing came of it as the aircraft veered off elsewhere without coming into sight.

Night remained clear and the carrier group provided two air units for fighter support. About 0300 hours radar reported four enemy aircraft approaching the Stevenson’s position. They came in from both beams.

The supporting DD failed to do any damage as the enemy appeared nearby, but the Stevenson accounted for them all. The first to go down was a Sonia bearing 45 high as the directed fire from the bow 5” guns tore its wing off at some distance. An Irving at 270 medium also went down to the #4 5” with parts scattered all over the ocean. The Pete at 135 low shrugged off fire from the #3 5” and several 20mm only to be flamed by the 20mm (C) with some excellent shooting. Only an Ida at 270 medium, burning from end to end, neared the ship. The captain was trying emergency manoeuvres again but they weren’t effective. The blazing aircraft appeared to be passing close overhead; but a sudden dip, before plunging into the sea on the starboard side, connected with the foremast and destroyed the SC and SG radars, the first serious damage suffered by the USS Stevenson.

Suddenly out of the darkness a Peggy appeared, an Okha under its fuselage. Flying by the supporting DD, lit up like a Christmas tree with shells and tracer racing towards the bomber, the aircraft faltered and dropped with its load into the water. Pursuing friendly aircraft, cheated of their prey, flew back to their carrier.

End of Day The day’s and night’s fighting lifted morale above average. Ammo expenditure was unbelievably low with 80% remaining. But fuel level was critical (0%) – only enough to get back to anchorage.

Because the mast and radars needed replacing the DD on reaching anchorage was scheduled for repairs. Incredibly the captain was informed this would take four weeks; more critically damaged naval units were getting precedence. Despite making impassioned arguments that the Stevenson’s damage was so light it could be back on station quickly, bureaucracy ruled and USS Stevenson, DD503, was out of action until April 24.
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Rick Hoffman
United States
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Good read . Hope the Stevenson remains lucky on her station .
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