Yosemite Ship Saga – Blog Article by Dick Wibom, MM2/c

This article originally appeared on our previous USS Yosemite Association website. It’s now republished for your reading pleasure on our new website.

We left our hero at Christmas aboard the Yosemite. A time when any of us spend the Holiday on board, it meant thoughts of home and our loved ones. It has not changed, but we still had duties to perform . . . . . . ! ! ! !

CO2 Cylinder on the Loose
One time, as in normal ship maintenance, we had to replace the CO2 cylinder in the “GeeDunk” stand. This is a large gray cylinder shackled to the screen behind the soda fountain. I had a “striker” with me, and after we had removed the spent cylinder, I asked him to attach the leads from the cylinder to the fountain. Either by ignorance or distraction, he put his wrench on the safety valve, and the hissing told us to head for whatever cover we could find. I believe we had 80# per square inch and it was a matter of 30 seconds when she blew. The tank lifted off the deck, but luckily the only strap held. The CO cleaned out everything in the area, and the Barber Shop and GeeDunk stand were super clean. Dust and debris were everywhere. We had to write up a report, and we cited a faulty cylinder. Luckily it didn’t get loose and really cause damage.

Homeward Bound Soon
Word got around that in a short time, the Yosemite would be leaving for the States. For each plankowner, a one-foot section of the red and white banner was being prepared in the sail shop. I don’t know how long it ever became, but it really stretched out from bow to stern. Getting ahead of myself, I still remember being on top of the big crane taking pictures, and our pennant was fluttering in the breeze overhead. Before we left the Yosemite, each plankowner was given a portion to take home. I turned my piece into the reunion committee for the mementos of the “Y”. Some of the forward portion of the banner were supposed to have stars, but I never got a piece with blue stars on it as it was a small section.

Leaving Sasebo – on to Nagasaki – –
We finally got orders to go out into the open sea and steam around the tip of Kyushu onto Nagasaki. When we arrived dockside, there was no evidence of the A-bomb blast a few months ago. Rickshaws were going up the streets, bicycles were everywhere, and trolleys were going up the tracks taking people to work. Half the town was still “normal”, but going across town, there was endless damage. A big hill separated Nagasaki into two parts. We noticed that even scrub pines miles away had burns on them. I stood at the edge of the crater, which looked five miles across, and took some pictures. They said some sailors went down to the center of the blast and scooped up earth that looked like fudge in jars to take home. We never heard of radioactivity. It was an awesome sight to behold.

Leaving Nagasaki – on to Yokosuka – –
We didn’t stay long at Nagasaki, our orders were to steam up the coast past Yokohama to Tokyo Bay and the Japanese Naval Base of Yokosuka. It was almost just a sightseeing trip for us. Most of the time we could see the mountains and the sea was calm. When the ship arrived at Tokyo Bay, where the surrender had taken place, we noticed a number of ships were at anchor there. We passed alongside a Japanese battleship which was later destroyed at the A-bomb blast in Bikini Atoll. We learned the ship would be taking on some passengers for our forth coming trip to Pearl Harbor. We were excited about liberty tomorrow when we could go to Tokyo and see what it looked like there.

We’ll leave our hero with anticipation of Tokyo and Home. The must have been some grand feeling . . .

Note: This Christmas season, marking the 61st-anniversary fo the Yosemite’s tour of duty in WWII should give those of you that are plankowners and also those of you who came home with her in ’46. The thrill of seeing the Statue of Liberty in New York harbor must have made you feel really good. I can only imagine!

As you read this and you get that feeling of the past 60 years, think of the crew that has passed on and say a prayer for them and yourself. You made home to build your lives and futures. God bless you!

To read the next episode, click on Yosemite Ship Saga – Part 13