USS West Virginia
My father (Edward Gibson) served on the West Virginia from 1942 until 1946. He had joined the Navy in February 1941 at the age of Fourteen with the help of a fake birth certificate. He was stationed aboard the Oklahoma during the attack on Pearl Harbor (he was fifteen at that time) and was later transferred to the West Virginia, where he served for the duration of the war. My father only attended three ship reunions, the last one was in Salt Lake City, in 1999. He was in poor health and was depressed because there was no one there he knew. He attended the reunion with my brother, and passed away shortly after in October, 1999.
Hi Mike, my father was a Seaman First Class. He never really talked much about the war, but he did tell a few stories. By the way, I was wrong about his service on the USS West Virginia. He was not stationed on the ship until 1944, after it's refit, not 1942 as I first stated. He did tell about Pearl Harbor. In 1995 my wife and I took my parents to Pearl Harbor for their Christmas present. While we were there, we went to Pearl, and because my father was a survivor we were allowed to go to Ford Island. Dad showed us where he swam ashore, and where he stayed after the attack. He said he was not supposed to be on the ship, but he had run out of money and had to go back to the ship to sleep. He was unable to sleep in his own bunk, so he fell asleep on the mess deck. He awoke to the sound of an explosion. Thinking the boilers had exploded, he ran top side and watched the Japanese planes attacking. When the Oklahoma began to capsize he jumped into the water. He said the oil was so thick, he was half swimming and half crawling in the water. When he got to shore, I believe he said he came ashore at Hospital Point, he was taken to the gym and given a blanket and a bowl of soup. He was shivering violently and they thought he was cold; however, he was shivering because he was scared and in shock. He also told of watching the flag being raised on Iwo Jima. He said he could see it from the deck of the West Virginia. He had a friend on the West Virginia, but I can't remember his name. I do know that dad went to one of the reunions in California and spent some time with him. He lived at China Lake. Maybe if he reads this he can get in contact. Thanks for answering, Darrell.
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