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Destroyer Division 38

US Navy World War II Destroyer Divsion
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70th Anniversary of VJ Da

The Night Before Christmas – WWII Navy Style
 By Gary Edmisten
(With special thanks and a tip of the old Dixie Cup hat to DD-609’s Bruce Foxworthy
and DD-610’s Don Rabine for their assistance and advice with this.)
 ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through the ship,
The whole crew was stirring, was it time to fight Nips? 
The klaxon had sounded, General Quarters – All Hands! 
That was the order, all stations be manned.
The crew was all hustling on every deck, 
Get quick to that gun mount for a fast weapons check! 
Medics to the Ward Room, radiomen in their shack, 
The radar sees something, CIC plotting its track. 
The Skipper on the bridge, the XO on watch, 
Oh, what he’d give now for a good slug of Scotch. 
All guns were now turning, as Fire Control aimed, 
The way things were going this didn’t look tame. 
The crew was thinking on this ship of gray, 
Would they be soon in the thick of a fray? 
And on this the most special of nights, 
Douse the smoking lamp, black out all lights! 
When up in the air arose such a clatter, 
The crew looked up to see what was the matter. 
IFF showed it friendly, the call was “Stand By,” 
The tense moment broken, in relief they did sigh. 
Away from the distance they flew like a flash, 
At this time of night that was certainly brash. 
Above were seen planes of discernable sorts, 
A black PBY and eight fighter escorts. 
Moonbeams reflecting from over the sea, 
Set the stage now for what next they would see. 
 More rapid than eagles his escorts they flew, 
They dipped their wings once and then flew out of view. 
The PBY landed alongside the ship, 
The pilot acknowledged a hell of a trip. 
Through poor weather and Zeros just to get here, 
His plane was full loaded, his mission was clear. 
The excitement still lingered, but what could it mean? 
They watched quite intently, their interest was keen. 
A jumpsuited pilot and his wings of gold, 
It must be St. Nick the crew was all told! 
“Secure General Quarters” everyone heard, 
And reference to Christmas then was proffered. 
So far from home, and their loved ones apart, 
What next would ensue was straight from the heart.
The Captain’s launch lowered, the Coxswain did steer, 
To fetch this brave pilot and all of his gear. 
Cotton rolls from sick bay were used for his beard, 
His cape, a red signal flag, surely endeared. 
A bundle of mail he had flung on his back, 
Too long in its coming, and that was a fact. 
He wasn’t really Santa, but tonight he would do, 
To hand out some goodies to all of the crew.  
Just look at the presents he pulled from his sacks, 
Inside was there anything that he did not lack? 
As he emptied his sacks, he called for some more, 
These items must last them till next they make shore. 
New blades for their razors, oh now what a treat! 
Come next inspection they all would look neat. 
“Here’s Aqua Velva,” he said with a wink, 
“But this is for lotion, and isn’t to drink.”  
“Cans of Quinsana, for embarrassing itch, 
For those who will need this, you know whom is which.” 
“And here’s pocket books racy, just what you need, 
To replace those old ‘worn-outs’ too ragged to read.” 
“And next time for Mog Mog, here’s baseballs and mitts, 
Just think of me kindly when catching fly hits.” 
“My visit’s now over, I’ve more ships to see, 
And I’ll visit them each, even if only briefly.” 
His escorts then came back to assure his safe flight, 
And away they all flew into darkness of night. 
But heard on the squawk box, as they flew out of sight, 
“Merry Christmas to all – and to all a safe fight!”

Recalled To Duty~The Eternal Voyage
(An Ode To Sailors)

Gary L. Edmisten, August 21, 2002
Bon Voyage to those who've set sail ~
We bid them farewell as we man the rail.
Let us be Joyous and let us not weep ~
For those who have now crossed over the deep.
When a Sailor’s last roll call is made ~
His final embarking shant be delayed.
So lower the Colors, let them be furled ~
Each time a Sailor disembarks this world.
The crew onboard in Heaven awaits ~
The Eternal reunion of their mates.
They’ll be welcomed home by those onboard ~
Moored in peaceful waters with the Lord.
As he approaches, he’ll call “Ahoy! The ship!” ~
Now in safe harbor, an Eternal trip.
Then he’ll hear “Sailor on deck! Hoist the flag!,” ~
“Help him get settled! Help stow his bag!”
Be it known that it’s a Divine remand ~
To ship in Heaven, ye Seafaring Man.
On permanent station forevermore ~
Peaceful duty for Veterans of war.
And when he’s weighed anchor for the last time ~
We’ll Honor his memory so sublime.
We’ll all reminisce and hoist a brew ~
In a Toast of Honor to the crew.


A Good Song Of The Sea
By Lt. Donald Abrams, USS Welles

Lt. Donald Abrams USNR
Enlisted February 3, 1942
Reported for duty to USS Welles August 6, 1943
Released to inactive duty November 30, 1945
Blow the man down, Bully, blow the man down,
To me, whey hey, blow the man down,
Oh blow the man down, Bully, blow the man down,
Give me some time to blow the man down.
I’ll sing you a song, a good song of the sea,
Whey hey, blow the man down,
I hope that you join in the chorus with me –
Give me some time to blow the man down.
I’m an old Navy sailor, and my voice is all wrong,
And you’ll suffer a lot while I sing you my song.
Oh, I give you fair warning before we belay:
Don’t ever take heed of what Destroyer men say.
I’ll lift up my glass and give you a toast
To DesDiv 38’s fine crews-who were heroes I boast.
Most came form the farms and were green as could be
Because very few had ever even seen a blue sea.
On one ship the Skipper went by the book and by Hoyle
And to that Navy Captain the crew was not very loyal.
Whenever they mustered, the Exec would stand with panache,
Until the Captain bellowed, then twisted his moustache.
I’ll tell you a story, and like gospel it’s true,
That Captain did order a check of the crew.
To find out what sox, black or white, they did wear,
The Exec then did order “Drop your pants,” I do swear.
DesDiv 38 was just four destroyers of 16 hundred bulk,
Oh Nine Gillespie, the One Oh Hobby, and 611 Kalk.
In 1942, after two years abuilding in San Francisco Bay.
Capt.s Singleton, Clement and Blake got their ships underway.
The Welles Six-Two-Eight was last to loin the division,
All were forty knots fast, and were built with precision;
Guns that they had were five inch thirty eight,
British Bofors and Swiss Oerlikons completed the slate.
Their crews came together from all over the land,
Clean ones went topside, others were engine room brigand.
The young oofciers were mostly men of good cheer,
The main thing they learned was – never volunteer.
Then out they did go into the San Diego Bay,
Tested their new guns and watched flying fishes play.
Through the Canal west to east, east to west,
So the crew could find out which crib was the best.
Later they did assemble in Boston’s back Bay
To meet there and escort the newest battleship Iowa.
As southward they sailed the New Jersey to meet,
Patrolling on station they were all quite neat.
That mighty armada with eight brave destroyers
Charged off toward war like bobbing cork warriors.
Through the Canal again they went west to Hawaii,
Undaunted and fearless, drilling, in these calm waters.
Further South they did travel ‘til they crossed the equator,
Where each crew turned pollywogs to shellback deflators.
Slowly and dully, ‘til the Southern Cross did arise,
Through calm tropic seas pinging for undersea prize.
This mixture of ships was like a salad tuttifruiti,
And it took 20 days to reach atoll Fanafutti.
At Moresby the land under foot was solid, not loose;
This first taste of combat was just Army jungle juice.
But up in the war where the real enemy waited,
At Buna Buna and Finschaven perpetual GQ was created.
It was at Manus Island in the far Admiralties
That DesDiv 38 showed that it had no frailties.
Then a dash to Rabaul and back to Hollandia
The ships of DesDiv 38 showed they were quite grandia.
They charged up to Biak, to Moemfor and Cape Sansapor,
The smallest line ships in the Seventh Fleet corps.
To Iron bottm Bay and Guadalcanal’s Midnight Alley,
A change of command for the Welles’ was the decree.
Jack Slaughter became Skipper, a good man we all knew,
He took ragged sailors and made them a crew.
DesDiv Three Eight was sent to Jima and Okinawee
Where they steamed hither thither to dodge Kamikazie.
These Destroyers covered Seals on the beach at Leyte gulf,
Then charged down to Suriago which was just quite enough
To cause Yamamoto’s ships to turn around with full fear,
When early that October morning DesDiv 38 did appear.
Then orders were issued to go home and regun,
We huffed and we puffed and for Seattle we did run.
We hollered and shouted and raised up a storm,
T’was thus that in ’45 a great typhoon was born.
We are on the dry land now, but we brace for a gale;
Our legs are unsteady and we grab for the rail.
Our eyes scan the horizon, but the view is unclear,
As we search for the ships that to us were so dear.
On the bridge that we stand, while the compass we view,
We strain to shout out, “Who has the conn, where is the crew?”
Oh, Captain, my Captain, I’m here to report
Our good sleek Destroyers have made it safely to port.
The watch crew is set, the OD is relieved,
Some of the men have gone on their last leave.
They have done their full duty by Country and God:
They served ever willingly with nary a prod.
Now more that sixty years after our wartime victory
We sail with our shipmates into our country’s history.
Land Ho!, dear shipmates, though my hand, it does twitch,
This was a great voyage – God grant us another such hitch.
But it’s a different Navy now, with “Full Speed Ahead,”
The hammocks are gone, and you sleep in a bed.
The old tools are gone, the altimeter and sextant;
It is not even so strange when the Skipper, she is pregnant.
It is a computerized Navy, and it is a great life,
When you go out to sea now, you go with your wife.
So blow the man down, Bully, blow the man down,
Give me some time to blow the man down.

“There Were No Words to Tell” ©

By Bruce V. McConnohie, February 23, 2016

On the anniversary of the passing of his father,

Vernon A. McConnohie,

Torpedoman, USS Hobby


My Daddy never spoke much

About the World War Two

When at the age of seventeen

He sailed the oceans, blue


His first ship was the Bainbridge

Sister to the Ruben James

The first ship that the Germans sent

To the bottom of the Main


Convoy after convoy

Without loss of a single man

His greyhound of the sea

Was just called an old Tin Can


From America to Africa

From Iceland to Tobruk

His squadron and her sisters

For U-Boats they did look


On rare times when they did sleep

In their hammocks down below

Listening for torpedoes

To awake them with a blow


From the frozen North Atlantic

To the shores at Guantanamo

The German threat was foremost

And was lurking down below


His next ship was the Hobby

Only one ship bore that name

Sailed on to the Pacific

Into Halsey’s Hurricane


One hundred forty feet

From bowline to the mast

When the big waves broke between them

Ships disappeared too fast


Plate steel made for bullets

Was folded in the wind

Hobby got the last call

From Monaghan and her men


Seven hundred ninety men did drown

From Task Force Thirty-Eight

Monaghan, the Hull, and Spence

Went down, the loss considered great


Teenagers became men too soon

On the waves out on the Sea

As Japanese planes rained down

From Pearl Harbor to Ulithi


Places none had heard of

Entered blood-soaked history

As the men from DesDiv38

Poured hell on them

From shoreline to the sea


Iwo Jima, Okinawa

And battles out at sea

Hobby and her sisters

Fought so valiantly


One day her sister Kalk was hit

As she ran along beside

If not for a small cloud

T’would have been the Hobby’s ride


The bomb hit Kalk amidship

Upon the torpedo shack

When Hobby came to help her

The bodies were burnt black


Some young men were never found

At the ending of that day

They were honored by the Sea they served

When the squadron sailed away


Torpedoman, torpedoman

Is what they called my Dad

Yet, with every fish he sent

A part of him grew sad


Though young, he was a man

As men are called to be

But sights witnessed upon the Kalk

Young men aren’t meant to see


There are things he did

Most men could never tell

Today he walks in Heaven

For he spent his time in Hell


His final ship, a brand new steed

Came late to the hour of our need

Built a little stronger

And with a bit more speed


The Brinkley Bass, they called her

As she slipped in from her berth

Now ships like her, and men like him

Bring peace upon the Earth