Dive Bombers and Other Birds

Tudor Richards, USNR

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Of course saratoga (cv-3)
air show for
we had to get in our carrier landings off Hawaii too, and here the Saratoga was put at our disposal. First, off Oahu, we put on an air show in the form of an attack on a sled towed by the ship, which was for the benefit of a group from our wonderful Congress, and then, after another similar “attack” for our own benefit, we went to work off our own island to more carrier landings accumulate a total of 20 saltwater landings each before going further west.

Guam was our next destination (via the Nassau), though we didn’t get there till after Christmas and so had Christmas at sea. We had passed the International Date Line on Dec. 21. On Christmas morning I got up early to see southern
the Southern Cross, and, though it was low on the horizon, it was still impressive if not spectacular.

Guam 12/28/44
was only less interesting than Hawaii. We had more time for leisure, the few available planes being mostly in pretty poor shape, but we didn’t need the flying except to keep our hand in. We all did, however, get a chance to check out in a F6F Hellcat*, hellcat flight which was very exciting. To fly it seemed almost like an SNJ compared with an SB2C, though with its tremendous power and greater sturdiness, far superior.

* fighter

For recreation we mostly went swimming, or, in the case of Ward Mathews and myself, went to look for birds or shells. Transportation was the only difficulty, and we had to depend almost entirely on hitch-hiking until we finally got assigned some trucks and jeeps. These were also indispensable for the movies, which we had a wide choice of every night in any number of open air theatres. The island was a mess of construction, which seemed only a third to a half finished, and the town of Aganya and other scenes of the all too recent fighting were a mess of rubble, though still inhabited.

The interior of the island looked quite interesting, with its hills and dense forests, but at that time they were thick with Japs, so we stayed clear. There were various birds birds in evidence, but only one or two of the hitherto unfamiliar families—the very common Cardinal Honey-eater, resembling the ʻApapane almost undoubtedly the Micronesian Megapode, one of that unusual group of birds that lays its eggs in sand or leaves or litter of some kind, leaving them to incubate and hatch by themselves. The Chinese Least Bittern was seen almost everywhere and also seen were an orange and greenish-blue kingfisher (the female also having some white underneath), two doves, a kind of flycatcher called the Fantail, one of the few song birds besides the honey-eater, a black starling, a rather ordinary-looking crow, an “edible nest” (soup) swiftlet, and the often white Reef Heron.

Sure enough, we had to have two more carrier landings (this time on our old friend the Nassau) just before we left Guam. Another CVE (our fourth), the U.S.S. [blank] which had been in on the invasion of southern France, took us southwest ulithi to Ulithi, in the Carolines, which had succeeded Majuro, in the Marshalls, as the Fleet Anchorage. There, on Feb. 1, 1945, we finally boarded our own ship, the hornet U.S.S. Hornet, CV no. 12, which had already had two air groups before us and so was already a veteran, not, in fact, having even returned to Pearl Harbor in her year or so of combat.