Nov 8, 2016
At 17 years of age, I knew that I wanted to join the Navy, but when I was drafted into the Army I had only one choice. Because I was under age at 17 I had to have my parents sign for me to join the Navy, they did and so my Naval career began.
After being sent to Detroit and then on to the Great Lakes for training, I was assigned to the USS Barton DD722, a brand new twenty two hundred ton Sumner Class Destroyer. I was trained as a fire control man and was responsible for repair, maintenance, operation and employment of the weapons system aboard the ship.
The Barton left the east coast on June 3rd for the UK and saw her first action on D-Day-June 6th. During operation Overlord, or Neptune which was the Navy’s segment, the Barton screened for the invasion fleet and supported Army troops ashore at Omaha and Utah beachheads. The fighting was intense, and I remember the constant shelling of German gun emplacements. On one occasion in an engagement with German Shore batteries the ship was hit by a 240mm shell from a German Howitzer. The shell penetrated the Diesel room but did not explode. Similar shells hit other ships in the fleet, but they too did not explode. It was discovered later that Czech patriots working in munitions factories were sabotaging ammunitions used by the Germans. I reflect on how many ships and more importantly, how many lives the Czech patriots saved.
After 3 weeks of supporting the landings in Norway, the ship was sent to Cherbourg France to assist Army soldiers in establishing a beachhead, this mission was time critical as the army had to meet up with thousands of allied paratroopers who had landed behind enemy lines. The Barton continued operations and assisted in destroying German counterattacks, tanks , pillbox and hedgerows. My crew also rescued 31 American soldiers from a sinking LCT, a landing craft for tanks.
In July 1944, the USS Barton returned to the Boston Naval Yard for repairs. After just 3 months I and the crew of the Barton we redeployed and on our way to the Pacific Theatre to join up with the Navy’s Seventh fleet. I did not know it at the time but I was about to be involved in the largest combined and most difficult operation of the Pacific War, the invasion of Okinawa. The Bartons task force began pre invasion bombardment five days before the scheduled landing on April 1, 1944. I remember firing day and night for the next 3 months. They fired so many rounds that they set a Navy record for firing a record 26,789 rounds of 5 inch ammunition. As a result the ship is credited with knocking out 150 gun emplacements, hitting a 35 supply dumps, dispersing 23 troop concentrations, and downing 7 enemy planes.
I remember that this was the first time they had heard of Japanese Kamikaze pilots, suicide bombers that would try to fly their planes into ships to inflict the greatest damage. My crew shot down 2 kamikaze planes but a 3rd evaded their fire and crashed into the deck, causing minimal damage.
After the invasion of Okinawa, and having to have our guns replaced mid pacific, the Barton went on to support the ground forces on Iwo Jima. One other historic mission was in my future when on September 2nd 1945, the USS Barton was tied up alongside the Battleship Missouri for the official signing of the Japan's surrender.
I found out my later that the reason they had been chosen to tether to the Missouri was that they had been transporting the New Zealand Delegate for the signing of the surrender document. Through the entire duration of WW2 and all these epic battles, the thing that sticks out to me was the amazing fact that not one man was lost or injured in combat aboard the ship.
After the was, I was on shore leave in Tokyo when out of the blue I thought of Wilma, my high school acquaintance. I sent her a card from Japan and when my service was up I returned to Toledo and looked her up. We began dating shortly thereafter and 8 months later, we were married. At this time I signed up in the reserves and when the Korean war broke out I was sent to San Diego for orders. I was assigned shore duty and spent the rest of my service repairing ships in San Diego.
After being discharged in 1952, Wilma and I returned to Toledo and started a family. During this time I was hired at the security company ADT, installing alarm systems for large corporations. I retired from ADT in 1988 after 40 years of service. Wilma and I moved to Bend, Or to be near our 3 sons and 2 grandchildren. I lost Wilma nearly 4 years ago after 61 years of marriage.
I now spend my time with my sons, I volunteer at St. Charles hospital, and am part of a special group of veterans called the Bend Band of Brothers. But what gives me the most joy is dancing. I have always loved to dance, being an accomplished Ballroom and tap dancer and now at the young age of or 87, I am still dancing up a storm with my dance partner Carol. Edward is proud of his military service and echoes the sentiment of that era…”I wanted to serve our country””Just like everyone else”
I am petty officer second class Edward Rose.