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April 12, 2011     The Ortonville Independent
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April 12, 2011

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, • . ........... , ............ . .....  .... William West Every story, and every book, must have a beginning. The U.S.S. Enterprise left Pearl Har- bor, Hawaii, on Nov. 28, 1941, headed for Wake Island. The mission was to deliver 12 Grumman Wildcat fighters to the air base there as a detachment of Marine Fighting Squadron 211 (VMF- 211). Vince Stegner would join this group in 1943. That same day, Vice Admiral William Halsey issued Battle Order #1 to the ship, which was read to the crew. The order began by these simple, straightforward words, "Enterprise is now operating under war conditions." Although a state of war did not exist, negotiations with Japan were leading nowhere. Halsey, a cautious man, was not about to have his fleet caught off guard. The eight parts of the order di- rected the crew's attention to matters of duty, diligence, and the reliance of the entire ship on each man's perform- ance. The last item of Battle Order #1 is directed to all the men in uniform, simply saying, "Steady nerves and pabilities had been submitted by Harry Gunderson, pharmacist and owner of the local Rexall drug store; Dr. D.M. O'Donnell, the family doctor; and Lem Kaercher, owner and publisher of the Ortonville Independent. The board that interviewed West, and approved his application for flight training, wrote, "Fine Military background", "Likeable, easy to meet" and "Fine ap- pearing, enthusiastic" in the comment section of his approval form. West graduated first in his class at flight school in Pensacola, FL, on Nov. 27, 1940, and was assigned to the En- terprise that same day. Now, a year later, he was flying a routine scouting mission. His tour with the carrier had already put him in the water once, when, on June 30, a malfunction of the catapult caused his Douglas Dauntless to crash in the ocean during takeoff. The aircraft sunk, but West survived. Bill scrambled out of the cockpit as his plane sank beneath the waves. In short time, he was picked up and re- turned to the ship. He had incurred bumps and bruises and was hospital- ized for one week. He returned to duty after being certified fit and able by the flight surgeon. He submitted a claim for personal items lost in the accident. The record shows his claim for one pair of shoes, a wallet, and a wristwatch. A formal letter informed him that he would be awarded reimbursement for shoes ($10, prorated at three month's use to $7.50), his wallet ($4, prorated at one year's use to $3). It appears that the government was a bit more frugal in its' spending those days. The letter went on to say that, "... in this connection the bureau is not of the opinion that every aircraft crash results in a total loss of a watch. In every case repairs will be made if pos- sible, and the claimant will be reim- Douglas Dauntless SBD scout/bomber stout hearts are needed now." On Dec. 4, the Marine fighters were launched when the Enterprise was 75 miles north of Wake. The ship then turned east to make its way back to Pearl. The 'Big E' was supposed to be back at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 6, but due to a tropical storm, Halsey ordered reduced speed. The Enterprise would not reach Hawaii until Dec. 7. At 6:15 a.m. on Dec. 7, the Enter- prise, now some 150 miles west of Pearl Harbor, launched the 18 Douglas Dauntless SBD scout/bombers of Scouting Squadron 6 to perform a rou- tine sweep of the area surrounding the carrier out to a distance of 150 miles. The planes launched, one after another, hurled forward by the carrier's cata- pult, which left a trail of dissipating vapor behind the aircraft. It was an ex- hilarating experience for the pilots and radiomen as the planes were sling- shotted forward, the Dauntless' en- gines roaring at full power. At the controls of plane number 6-S-8 was Ensign Bill West. West pulled back on the stick as his plane cleared the edge of the deck, and began the slow climb to altitude where he would wait to be joined by Lt. W. E. Gallaher, pilot of 6-S-10, who would be launched two positions be- hind. West was a graduate of the Univer- sity of Minnesota, earning a degree in business administration in 1938. At the University, he won the all-school handball competition and was also boxing champion at 155 pounds. He was a member of Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity. His father was a retired Army colonel. Bill had attended Emery Military Prep School before college. After his graduation from high school in 1931, he worked for his uncle, Herb McDowell, who owned the Ford garage in Ortonville. On Dec. 7, 1939, Bill West enlisted in the U.S. Navy. Hying this mission, he had been in the Navy exactly two years, to the day. West was first enlisted as a seaman in the Navy reserve. From there, he would have to be admitted to flight elimination school. Letters of recom- mendation as to his character and ca- bursed for the amount of the repairs. Voucher for repairs will accompany the claim, and, where the watch is be- yond repair a statement from a reliable source will likewise accompany the claim." It was signed by Chester Nimitz, the man who would be ap- pointed Supreme Commander of the Pacific Theater 10 days after Pearl Harbor was attacked. Bill had the watch examined and the jeweler declared it irreparable. The government reimbursed him $37.50 for a $50 Wittnauer watch. The watch was a year old, so, of course, it too was prorated. In Bill's shirt pocket was a 15-day pass, which was issued to begin on Dec. 6, the day Enterprise was origi- nally scheduled to arrive back at Pearl Harbor. This would have to be changed before he left on leave. Bill and Nancy Wallace were married just two months before. They would spend time together in Honolulu where Nancy was stationed at Ft. Shafter as a civilian employee of the Women's Air Raid Defense. Bill would turn 28 on Dec. 8, and, most certainly, he and his new wife planned to celebrate his birthday together. West reached altitude and was soon joined by Gallaher. Together, they pro- ceeded on their mission, which took them over the island of Kauai. At the same time, the 18 aircraft of Scouting Squadron 6 were being launched from the Enterprise, another, much larger force of 183 aircraft, was being launched from six Japanese carriers positioned less than 200 miles north of Pearl Harbor. These aircraft would be the first of three waves to strike the Army and Naval forces of the United States in Hawaii. West and Gallaher's scouting mission took them over and east of Kauai before they turned back. Had their orders taken them another 50 miles or so, their flight path would likely have intersected with the Japan- ese formation. West's after-action report tells the story: After completing scouting mis- sion which took Lieutenant W. E. Gal- laher (in 6-S-10) and myself over Kauai, we approached Oahu in the vicinity of the Navy transmitter on the west side of the Island. Just before we reached the island approximately 10 r "In Tribute the articles.) low wing monoplanes, wheels ex- tended type, passed from 1000 to 1500 feet overhead. The cowls were marked in bright colors; and I took them for Army observation planes, of which there were several on Oahu. (Writer's note: These were most likely Aichi D3A dive-bombers, codenamed "Val" by American flyers.) The smoke, which was blowing to sea over Barbers Point, was taken to be smoke from burning cane fields and it wasn't until I had seen from a dis- tance the Ewa and Ford Island areas that I was aware that it was aircraft and buildings on fire. By this time sev- eral reports of enemy aircraft and bombing had been sent on the air, but I received none of these because my radio battery and generator were out. The heavy smoke kept aircraft fro view. We proceeded to Ford Island over Ewa and turned back when the AA (anti-aircraft) batteries set up heavy fire over Pearl Harbor. I believe the last attack was in progress at this time. A large ship five to eight miles south of the channel entrance was fir- ing. A destroyer was close by this larger ship. After turning back from an attempt to go into Ford Island we pro- ceeded to circle out to sea from Bar- bers Point. About five more SBDs (scoutbombers) joined up. At three or four thousand feet and in the vicinity of Barbers Point approximately 30 [Japanese] airplanes were joining up. I saw both in-line and radial engine planes in this group. After the AA fire had subsided the seven planes (in our group) made an approach to Ewa and most of them (only three of the seven) landed. The ground crew motioned for us to take off(immediately). Lieutenant Gallaher. Ensign Dobson. and myself were the first to land and we took off together. We were in right echelon, climbed to about 400feet and headed for Ford Island. Ship and shore bat- teries sent up a barrage mistaking us for enemy aircraft. We continued in and landed at Ford Island. Damage to my plane was slight, two or three holes in the left wing. Only the skin of the wing was torn. It became readily apparent to West, and all other aircraft of Scouting Squadron 6, that no matter which di- rection they flew, they were being fired upon by their own ground and ship anti-aircraft batteries. The rest of what happened to Scout- ing Squadron 6 can be pieced together from reports filed by other pilots. Gal- laher's radio was in working order, but as he and West were approaching Oahu, he was taking a bearing on Hon-i olulu's KGU radio station. The Japan- ese attacking force had used the same radio station to confirm their naviga- tion by using KGU's music broadcast as a guiding beam. Gallaher, too, ob- served aircraft above and assumed they were U.S. Army Air Corps planes. He looked at his watch. It was 8:35. West was wrong about which attack they had flown in on that morning. The second wave did not reach Pearl Harbor until 8:54. It appears that West, Gallaher, and the rest of Scout- ing Squadron 6 got a little of both the first and second Japanese attack for- mations. Gallaher shifted back to voice radio and heard that Pearl Harbor was under attack. This was followed by a call from Ens. Manuel Gonzales in S- B-3, "Don't shoot. I'm a friendly Navy plane!" Moments later, Gonza- les was heard ordering his radioman, Leonard Kozelek, to bail out. Neither man was heard from again. Gallaher, Dobson, and West, now flying with four others in their squadron, landed at Ewa Field. On their approach, they came under anti- aircraft fire. Four turned out from the landing pattern. The pilots were im- mediately advised to leave. The air- field had been heavily strafed. All but two of the grounded fighters there had been destroyed where they sat. The fliers took off and instantly came under anti-aircraft fire from shore batteries. West's plane was hit but was able to continue. After landing at Ewa, Gallaher, West, and Dobson headed for Ford Island, but were un- able to land there due to the heavy anti-aircraft fire from shore batteries and ship's guns. They pulled out and circled out to sea at an altitude of 400 feet. Enemy fighters were above them, but they did not attack the American's fleeing from friendly gunfire. They saw bomb explosions, some of them in the water. They were running low on fuel and needed to land. Ens. Deacon in S-B-14 reported contact with 30 fighters at an altitude of 100 feet. Deacon thought them to be P-40s but could not distinguish any markings on the wings although they passed within about 400 yards. He also heard the, "Don't shoot - Navy Plane". He and his wingman charged their guns and climbed to 1000 feet and headed for Luke Field. Upon passing to All Area Veterans!" Northside Medical Center, PLC 465 Eastvold Ave. Ortonville, MN 56278 320-839-6157 Clinton Clinic 324 Main Street Clinton, MN 56225 320-325-5217 Ewa, he noticed some 20 fighters (P- 40 type) overhead at about 2000 feet accompanied by about 25 dive- bombers heading directly for them. He dove for the ground and headed toward Hickam Field passing over Fort Weaver at about 200 feet altitude. The ground crews opened up with .50 cal. and 20 mm machine guns hitting both planes, causing Deacon's to sputter and lose power. Deacon describes the event: "A number of shots came into both cockpits, one striking my radio man in the right wrist and another hit- ting him in the right side of the neck. The shots in the front cockpit nlcked my left leg in the thigh and cut the para- chute straps at the cushion." His engine stopped. Deacon made a full-stalled landing in about two feet of water just short of Hickam Field. His wing plane, although hit, continued into Hickam Field for a landing. After crash landing, Deacon was under rifle fire and machine-gun fire from the beach some 200 yards away. Lt. C.E. Dickenson in 6-S-4 ob- served smoke covering Ewa as he ap- proached. The smoke was rising from what turned out to be the USS Arizona. He and his wingman in 6-S-9 pulled up and leveled off at 4000 feet near Bar- bers Point. They had seen no other planes at this point, but were very shortly attacked by two Japanese fight- ers, who concentrated their fire on 6- S-9. These were joined by four more enemy fighters. 6-S-9 caught on fire by the engine and right wing tank. The plane lost speed and dropped back, slowly circling while it lost altitude. He kept fighting as his plane went down. Dickenson saw a parachute open at 200 feet as the plane crashed into the ground. "I estimate my time of landing to have been about 0835." Inspection of the plane revealed Dickenson's rear gunner had been hit twice, but man- aged to shoot down one of the attack- ers. At this time, Dickenson was able to get in two short bursts from his fixed guns as one enemy aircraft pulled ahead. His plane on fire, Dickenson gave orders to his rear gunner to bail out. He made the jump himself and landed near Ewa Field. His rear gunner, RMlc William Miller, was not able to make the jump and died in the crash. Lt. Cdr. Howard 'Bringham' Young, commander of the air forces on the En- terprise, reported similar experiences. He landed at Ford Island under heavy anti-aircraft fire "... in spite of making recognition maneuvers and the fact that my wheels and flaps were down for landing." He reported to Com- mander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet, Admi- ral Kimmel's office for orders. The orders were simple: "Go to Ford Island. Find the Enterprise's air- craft there! Send them out to destroy whatever ships or sampans they can find." By now, there were 13 Douglas Dauntless' on Ford Island that were being refueled and armed with 500- pound bombs. Bill West was among the pilots waiting for orders. When Young arrived, the order was given and the men of Scouting Squadron 6 left to search out to a distance of 175 miles north and east of Oahu. Despite mes- sages that had been sent out to ships and shore batteries, they were, once again, fired upon by friendly forces who either did not receive the message or were shooting at anything and everything in the air, no matter what. Young then stationed himself in the Ford Island Field Control Tower in order to be in direct communication with the planes and the Enterprise. However, due to the low power of the transmitter in the tower, he was unable to communicate with either. Young ob- served in his report, "The lack of proper communication facilities, tele- phone and radio, were a contributory cause to the loss of four airplanes of VF-6, which were shot down by our own AA fre. I attempted to transmit landing instructions to them via the tower, but they were unable to hear. It was necessary for them to land due to lack of fuel. Two of the six landed safely. I then attempted to communi- cate with the Enterprise via the tower voice set in order to recommend that no more planes be sent in to Ford Is- land, without success" One particularly chilling passage in his report shows the state of panic in soldiers manning anti-aircraft batteries. "Lack of information that hostilities had started with Japan, proper com- munications, the inability of our ground and ship board forces to recog- nize friendly planes, or know the proper recognition signals were the contributory causes for the loss of per- sonnel and airplanes of the Enterprise Air Group." "The suddenness and magnitude of the enemy attack caused such a stun- ning effect upon ground and ship per- sonnel that all aircraft were fired upon regardless of their being friendly. I was under fire until my wheels touched the ground on Ford Island - some of the guns being not more than 50 yards dis- tant from me. The importance of some means of p_QM.ti. identification of our own airplanes, other than visual sig- nals cannot be over emphasized. The loss of the four fighters of VF-6 is a good example of what happens unless proper communications and means of controlling and identifying aircraft in the air are available. I then received orders to rejoin the Enterprise at sun- rise the next morning with our remain- ing planes. Just prior to the time of our scheduled take-off, a utility plane (JRS) took off, and was immediately fired on by ships and other shore batteries. I had previously arranged that every means available be taken to notify all hands of our scheduled departure and route to be taken to the Enterprise. It was necessary to delay take-off for nearly one hour because of continuous AA fire. West and Gallaher left on their search mission at 12:10. They traveled out to a distance of 200 miles, found nothing, and returned to Ford Island, landing at 3:45, once again being fired upon by friendly ground and ship crews. The Pacific Fleet had been dealt a crippling blow. Pearl Harbor was not destroyed, but it would take months to recover and begin the assault that would carry our forces to the Japanese homeland. Bill would not spend his birthday with his new wife. He would be on the Enterprise awaiting his next orders. Big Stone County lost its first sol- dier on this day. Pfc. Leo Mack was killed during the Japanese air attack on Iba Airfield, Zambales Province, Luzon Island, Philippine Islands. Mack was a member of the 3rd Pursuit Squadron. It was noon when the attack came. The men were having lunch when the bombs fell. One-hundred- four Japanese aircraft attacked the in- stallation with such fury that the 3rd Pursuit Squadron was obliterated. Sur- vivors fought as infantry in the Bataan peninsula. The squadron was not re- formed until April of 1946. Those who have read the stories and seen the movies about the day Pearl Harbor was attacked are familiar with Capt. Truman Landon's 12 B-17s that flew into war at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. The story of the two Army fighter pilots, George Welsh and Ken- neth Taylor who took off from an aux- iliary field at Haleiwa to engage Japanese attackers is also well known and documented in books and film. Six, of the 18 Douglass Dauntless in Scouting Squadron 6, had been shot down during the attack on Pearl Har- bor, two by Japanese fighters, and four by friendly fire. The story of Scouting Squadron 6 did not gain the same no- toriety given to the above - it remains buried in documents long forgotten. Scouting Squadron 6 would be me- morialized in other books and another movie about another great sea battle - Midway. Lt. Wade McClusky, com- mander of Scouting Squadron 6, on a hunch, found the Japanese Battle Heet and directed the first attack that re- suited in the sinking of carriers Kaga and Akagi. Lt. Wilmer Gallaher, the pilot who flew with Lt. Bill West on Dec. 7, dropped a 1000-pound bomb that hit the Akagi squarely in the aft flight deck, rupturing the hull and crip- pling it severely. The Akagi, under fur- ther attack from Scouting Squadron 6, was sunk five minutes later along with the Kaga which followed soon after. It was sweet revenge on two carriers that had participated in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. To be continued. Family Living Focus Answers to Depression Ques- tions Depression is a serious medical ill- ness. It's not the feeling of being "down" or "low" which we experience occasionally at all ages. Feeling de- pressed, sad and irritable for short pe- riods of time are normal responses to the stresses of life. Regardless of our age, the loss of a loved one or troubles at home are examples of situations that often are painful and stressful. How- ever when feelings of sadness, hope- lessness and despair increase in intensity or last for an extended period of time and interfere with daily func- tioning, clinical depression may have set in. Depression is clearly not a personal weakness. It's a common, diagnos- able, and treatable medical illness that should not be ignored. Its symptoms can range from mild to severe. Mental-health professionals typi- cally diagnose depression in later life when the following first two symptoms are present, along with four or more other symptoms, for at least two weeks and generally daily: • Feeling sad or irritable throughout the day • Loss of interest or pleasure in ac- tivities once enjoyed • Changes in weight or appetite • Changes in normal sleep patterns (such as difficulty falling asleep, early morning awakening or increase in sleep) • Fatigue or loss of energy • Feeling worthless, hopeless or un- reasonably guilty • Inability to concentrate, remember things or make decisions • Restlessness or decreased activity • Complaints of physical aches and pains for which no medical causes can be attributed • Recurrent thoughts of suicide or death (not just a fear of dying) Men and women do not experience depression at the same rate. Twice as many women as men experience the illness. So, it appears females are much more vulnerable to depression than males. Studies have shown that men are more likely than women to ignore their symptoms of depression, and try to cope with emotional pain by turning to alcohol or drugs. Depression is not a normal result of growing older. It is not normal to be depressed in later life, than it is normal to experience heart disease or cancer. Life for older adults should continue to be fulfilling. This does not mean older adults don't get depressed. They do. It means that depression should not be accepted as a normal part of the aging process. And, suffering in quiet des- peration is not wise or necessary. Multiple factors may contribute to depression or a single factor may trig- ger onset of the illness. People can even become depressed for no appar- ent reason. Regardless, depression is an illness that, once properly diag- nosed, is extremely treatable. Depres- sion is often related to the following factors: • An imbalance of brain chemicals called neurotransmitters • Negative thinking patterns oA family history of clinical depres- sion • Difficult life events • Certain medications • Frequent and excessive alcohol consumption • Certain illnesses or diseases The loss of a long-term partner or a friend is a frequent occurrence in later- life and it's normal to grieve after such a loss. But it may be depression rather than bereavement if the normal period of grief leads to a prolonged, intense grief and loss of interest or pleasure in activities previously enjoyed. Normal grief usually resolves in about one year. Those grieving often find it helpful to join a mutual support group, such as a widowed persons group, to talk with others who share similar experiences. If prolonged grief is accompanied by any of the following symptoms the in- dividual should seek medical attention: • Guilt unconnected with the loved one's death • Inability or refusal to acknowledge the reality of the death • Intense emotion at the mention of the deceased, years after the death • Inability to function at one's usual level • Recurrent thoughts of one's own death (not just a fear of dying) • Persistent feelings of worthless- ness • Difficulty sleeping • Weight loss Some older people believe they're "too old" to get help for depression, or are reluctant to talk about their feel- ings. Others believe depression will go away on its own and that they should just "tough it out." Or, some think de- pression is a sign of weakness or asso- ciate it with being "crazy." Such views are simply wrong. Depression is no different than any other medical illness and requires the proper professional treatment. It's true that talking with friends, family and clergy can often give people the support needed to make it through life's difficult times. However, for those with depression, such support is no substitute for a health professional. Depression left untreated can: • Lead to disability • Lead to premature death • Worsen symptoms of other ill- nesses • Result in suicide Remember, depression is a serious medical illness that is best treated by a doctor and/or a qualified mental-health professional. Personal psychology, that very in- dividual thing we call our personalities, also appears to play a role in depres- sion. People with low self-esteem, pessimism or those easily over- whelmed by stress are more vulnerable to depression. Environmental factors in our soci- ety appear to play a role, as you might expect. Changes in an older adult's en- vironmental can often contribute to the development of depression. Such changes often include moving from the family home, neighborhood changes or being admitted to a nursing home fa- cility. More than 80 percent of people who seek treatment for depression recover to live fuller, more productive lives. Depression is unlikely to go away if you just give it enough time or try to ignore it. The first step to treatment is recog- nizing that something is not right, and talking with your doctor or a mental- health professional about the symp- toms you've been experiencing. If depression is diagnosed, it's important that all treatment options be discussed. Your physician and other health re- sources can make referrals, as needed, to a mental-health specialist who has experience working with older adults. Suicide is more common in older adults than any other age group. Fif- teen percent of all severely depressed individuals end up committing suicide. And, the population over age 65 ac- counts for about 20 percent of our na- tion's suicides, with older white males especially at risk. Attempts or thoughts of suicide by older adults must always be taken very seriously. If you would like more information on "Answers to Depression Questions" feel free to contact Gail Gilman-Wald- ner, Program Development and Coor- dination - Minnesota River Area Agency on Aging®, Inc. and Professor Emeritus - University of Minnesota at 507-389-8869 or e-mail Gail at gg- Additional re- sources are available by contacting the Senior LinkAge Line$ at 1-800-333- 2433 or visiting the MinnesotaHelp.Info® website at www.MinnesotaHelp.Info®. Page 8 00INDEPENDENT Tuesday, April 12, 2011 I 1