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The personal experience and account of
Adam Kanaskie

(Electrical Dept)


A call to general quarters for a sailor is not an unusual occurrence for those of us on the Gambier Bay. The call this day however, would be the last to be made on our CVE-73.

My station was in the generator room in the forward part of the ship. As I remember it, General MacArthur had predicted that hundreds of sorties would fly over our ships during the first days of the Philippine invasion. Nothing of consequence occurred for the first several days; the early hours of October 25, 1944 would be different. The time escapes me but it wasn't too long until loud explosions were heard near and on the ship. In a short time I noticed the carrier taking on water in the deck below my station. Soon the water became uncontrollable in that area. At the same time shells were falling on other parts of the ship. Shipmates from the deck below began scurrying up the ladders. I quickly transferred power from my generator to the rear generator and followed the other men up to the hangar deck. The area seemed to be vacant and before long all hell broke loose. Not seeing anyone and not knowing what to do we laid down on the hangar deck near an exit door. A tremendous explosion went off near me. I quickly got to my feet and found myself alone. I presume the shipmates to my left were killed in the explosion. An abandon ship order was never heard in our section of the ship! As I looked out the exit door I noticed many men already in the water, most were on life rafts. The ship was listing badly, so I made a decision to jump into the pacific.


After jumping into the water I raised my left arm to wipe blood, which was flowing rapidly from a wound in my forehead above my left eye. It was then that I discovered that most of my left hand lad been blown off. My next move was to inflate the life jacket about my waist. The Preserver would not inflate and I then realized that shrapnel had pierced my back and consequently made the life jacket useless. The ship was listing badly and I knew that I had to get away quickly. After discarding the life jacket I observed several life rafts some distance away with men already aboard. I managed to swim to one of the rafts and was helped aboard by a shipmate. I took off my white shirt and with the knife issued to us, made a tourniquet to stop the rapid loss of blood. I remember sitting/standing in a corner of the raft watching colored shells explode around us. Planes were flying overhead going into steep dives as they attack the Japanese. The percussion from exploding shells could be felt in the water. In a short time we watched as our ship rolled over, exposed its screws, and sank into the Pacific.

As time went by sharks became a menace; some pushed their noses right against the raft. Some men tried to stab them with their knives. Sometime during the first day each of us had the opportunity to have a small drink of water from a container that was part of the raft. Some of the men drank the seawater and eventually experienced hallucinations. Some imagined sights that did not exist and eventually disappeared.

After the first day things are very sketchy for me. I kind of remember the deck of the raft stretching or falling so that we had to stand up and hold on to the flotation rim. Most of the second day is a blank to me. My last memory before pick up was seeing a bright light some distance away, which I thought was the moon. Apparently it was the searchlight from the landing craft that was about to rescue us. One of the men on the raft asked if I could swim to the ship; I said "yes" and after about two strokes from a delirious sailor, someone grabbed me until I could be helped aboard the rescue ship. I collapsed on the deck and in due time several men helped me down a ladder to a lower deck. I was given lots of water and that was my last memory for what must have been several days. I faintly remember having surgery on another ship. Some time later I was placed on another ship and was sent to Perth, Australia. From there I was transported to Treasure Island, California.

I have no idea of my shipmates on the raft. At least I did not recognize anyone who worked with me in the electrical division. My life is owed to many people, none of whom I knew or know now. I am most grateful for all the help given me. Needless to say, I believe in miracles, guardian angels and, of course, the Creator of us all. Thanks to all who helped me experience 57 more years of life.                         





USS Gambier Bay CVE 73 - VC10.com