LAYING-TO

The Devastator had been sweeping and patrolling the East Side of Korea from the 38 parallel to 15 miles west of Manchuria for sometime when the scuttlebutt came around that we were going to Hong Kong. Needless to say we were all jubilant for most of us had not been to Hong Kong and this is why I joined the Navy "to see the world." No more had the scuttlebutt made it rounds when we picked up a Mayday call from a fighter that had been hit and was going down. The call was incomplete and only a little information was copied. An object was seen going down in Hungnam's Tongjoson Bay. The bay was heavily armed and we needed to get in make the pickup and get out. As we got farther in whatever the object was had disappeared. The ship was at full throttle at 18 knots and getting dangerously close to land when one of the Main Propulsion generator blew-up and we came to a dead stop and we were laying-to like a "setting duck."

I was assigned the repair. Being five foot four I often received jobs that were in tight areas. I was constantly being reminded that we needed to get out of there. I made the repairs and we sailed out of the bay with out incident. At our Thanksgiving meal our Captain LCDR John E. Murphy and officers joined us for mess. Setting at the same table with Captain Murphy the Hungnam's Tongjoson Bay event came up and I asked "...why they didn't fire on us (a US destroyer had been fired on a few days before our trip into the bay). Murphy paused for a moment, "The only thing I can think of is maybe we were still to far out and they didn't want to waste there artillery on us or though we were a decoy to draw fire." We had been used as a decoy before to reveal gun placement on some North Korean Islands. But that another story.

As it turned out we would have never been able to rescue the downed pilot for the incomplete radioed Mayday was on the other side of Korea.

I always had the greatest respect for Captain Murphy for I knew that he did not have a death wish but at the same time not would avoid our obligation to the Korean conflict.