Welcome to the official USS Gambier Bay (CVE 73) & Composite Squadron VC10 web site.

Return to Survivors Index Page


The personal experience and account of
Floyd W. Green

(Electrical Dept)

( Picture above: Commodore RW Cary, Commanding Officer, Treasure Island Naval Training Center and Dist. Center, pins Purple Heart on Floyd Green for wounds suffered while serving aboard the Gambier Bay. Capt. Hertz, Executive Officer assists in ceremony. Taken 03/14/1945. )


My version really begins in December of the previous year, when we went up to Vancouver, WN to bring the ship down to Astoria, OR for commissioning. I was to be in charge of the I.C. room on the trip down to Astoria.

I took one look at that room with thousands of dollars worth of equipment, of a brand that I had never even heard of, packed into a room with only one outlet door. Two months earlier I had graduated from the Naval I.C. School in Anacastia, MD near Washington D.C, as an Em 1/c.

By “jerry-rigging” things, my helper and I managed to keep everything going until we got to Astoria. I notified the Captain of the situation, and asked if someone who had installed the equipment in Vancouver could be brought down to help us get acquainted with the system when we got to Astoria. He told me he could take care of it and he did. >

There were two other electricians aboard that had graduated from I.C School at the same time that I did. Em 1/c Moran and Ensign Messinger. Neither of them knew anything about that brand of equipment either. All of us working with the installer from Vancouver were able to get most everything working for the commissioning. There were still lots of problems.

After our first round trip to the war zone, the Captain sent me up to Oakland, CA where the system was made. For a week I learned the system and how to repair it.

October 25, 1944

General Quarters alarm was sounded early in the morning, and it was announced there were enemy ships on the horizon.

I wasn't worried at first, because the evening before, there was one first-line Carrier and a battleship along the side of us. My battle station was the P.A. system in the I.C. room. The next morning, I didn’t know that the battleship and carrier were no longer along side, as I hadn’t been topside that day.

We were the lead ship of our formation. When the enemy started to fire, we were straddled by enemy shellfire. I got a call from an electrician named Pittman, that the gyro was going crazy and what should he do. I gave him several suggestions, and then I heard him say, "Oh my God!" We had just taken a direct hit in the engine room where he was stationed. It knocked out one engine and cut our speed in half. This dropped us to the rear of the formation.

Then the 16" shells from enemy ships began pounding us.The Captain kept saying, "Green keep the lines open."At the end it became, "Green stay with me."I wasn't going anyplace.The electrical power was gone but the P.A. system automatically switched to battery power. Things were pretty hectic then and one side of our room was nothing but mangled steel and lines. This was the side that the only original door was in and it was crushed and melted.

When the whole electrical crew was in the I.C. room at the commissioning in Astoria, our wives were also there, I made the statement, "I'm cutting me another door in this room." By scrounging I found a door and we put it in on our first trip. Mr. Messinger Okayed it, but told us that he didn’t want to know where we got the other door.

When the Captain gave the orders to "Abandon Ship," I left the P.A. system on in case it had to be used again. Optimistic wasn't I? Since the passageway was blocked outside the I.C. room's original door, Kuster and I went through the battery room, which was along side the I.C. room using the door that we had cut between these two rooms earlier.

Kuster couldn't swim so I told him to go ahead but to wait for me at our "abandon ship" position. There was so much smoke in the air that I couldn't see very well. I helped lower the first life raft I found down into the water. By the time it hit the water it was filled with sailors. Then an enemy small shell hit the boat, the guys and the raft were scattered in all directions. There were bodies flying in the air all around.

The ship was listing badly on the port side and the flight deck was on fire, so I thought I had better get out of there. By then the hanger deck was almost touching the water. I literally walked off the ship with the monkey line in hand. The next time I saw Kuster was in Hollandia, New Guinea. When I asked what happened he said, "I went back after my wallet."

I could see blood running off of the deck into the water. The hanger deck was where the most men were killed. The enemy shells were hitting the deck and going through the ship, exploding when they hit the water on the other side of the ship. I believe that is the reason we didn't lose more men. The Lord looked out for us that day!

The other raft I had helped lower had drifted several yards from the ship. I started swimming toward the stern of the ship to another vacant raft. After I got aboard the life raft I could see a big hole where the forward engine room was. Men were swimming out through the hole. The hole was big enough to drive a jeep through it.

Later I talked to some of the men and they said Pittman "didn't make it." I guess the words I heard him say were probably the last words he ever said. Such a good guy, so young and so bright!

The ship turned bottom side up and put the fire on the flight deck out.The ship had twin screws and one of them had been shot off. We only had one 5" gun on the fantail. Our other guns were 20 and 40 mm anti-aircraft guns. The escort carriers weren't made for fighting, they were made for escort duty only. I guess we gave a pretty good account for ourselves.

When the battle was over, one of the Japanese first-line battlewagon was dead in the water ahead of us. It seemed like our raft was drifting toward it all day. The next morning it was gone. We found out later that the Japanese had scuttled it during the night.

I saw my friend Birger Dalhstrom dive off of the ship, as soon as he hit the water, he started swimming as fast as he could away from the ship. I knew him well enough to call him by his first name. He and his first wife, Brita, a good friend of my wife's, had run around with us every time we made port.

Since we were near him, the guys in our raft started yelling, "Swede. Swede. But he paid no attention to them. Then I stood up and yelled, "Birger. Birger," as loud as I could. He stopped swimming and turned his head toward our raft. At nearly every reunion he would tell us that I saved his life. He always said there were lots of Swedes aboard, but only one Birger and when I yelled Birger he recognized me. Otherwise he would have kept swimming as fast as he could. He was afraid the suction of the ship going under would pull him under too.

The waves were about six feet high and, when we were in the trough, we couldn't see anything. Unless we were on the crest of the waves, we couldn't see other swimmers. All that day we kept adding stragglers until the raft was full and guys were just holding on. Some of them were badly wounded and since I had only scattered shrapnel wounds and a cut wrist, I gave my seat to a guy badly wounded. Other guys did the same and we ended up with quite a crew. If we could have been rescued that first day, a lot more men would have been saved.

Thirst was our main problem. The stoppers of the old-type water bottles had been blown out by the percussion of the shells during the battle, so there was nothing to drink.

That first night we lost quite a few, some from their wounds, some just got so tired hanging on to the raft, they just wandered away. Then the sharks came, but that’s what I try never to remember. Only nightmares bring that back.

Even in trying times there was often something humorous said to keep our spirits up. On the second day there was one burley sailor who kept saying, "I'll dive down to Davy Jones' locker and bring us back some beer, there is a lot down there. I only want to go down to scrape the ice off of the bottles. I don't drink." I think he kept saying this ecause he was so thirsty. We had to restrain him to keep him from going down.

The second day was especially tormenting as most of the rain clouds had drifted away and the sun shining on the water was hot. Guys started to drift away, so we tied everyone still outside of the raft onto the raft. Even so, we lost a lot that night. The next morning we could see a lot of planes flying over, but they paid no attention to us, guess they were on a mission. I was especially miserable, in addition to the thirst and heat, I had an abscessed tooth that was giving me fits.

Finally we began to see some ships on the horizon, and eventually one saw us. It started toward us. Never in our lives were we so glad to see anyone. Sailors were diving overboard to help our wounded aboard their ship. Matter of fact most of us had to be helped aboard as that long time in the water saps all of your strength. Hurrah for our rescuers!

Floyd W. Green
Em 1/c





USS Gambier Bay CVE 73 - VC10.com