Donald Eugene Edwards
USS West Virginia
In January 1940 Donald Eugene Edwards joined the USNR and immediately requested 1 years active duty. While waiting for active duty he hitch hiked to Dallas Texas, Houston, Texas on to New Orleans and back home up the east of the Mississippi. The family had now grown and Don had 5 sisters, Vivian, Rita, Phyllis, June and Judy. Don again became restless waiting and took off again on his thumb and went to Modoc. Granddad put him to work in the gravel pit but it didn't last long as his Navy orders came. So it was back to MI. This was August 1940 and his brother James was born a few days before he had to report into the San Diego, CA training center.
After signal school he was assigned to the USS West Virginia BB48). The following year, 1941, his 1-year active duty was extended indefinitely when president Roosevelt declared a National Emergency. Don was still serving on the battleship West Virginia when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor December 7th 1941. He was reported killed but actually when the West Virginia sank he had swum out into the harbor and was picked up by a motor launch, which was on its way to the USS Detroit (DD). The USS Detroit got underway and stayed out 4 days looking for the Japanese task force. The USS West Virginia signal crew had thought he was killed. He now transferred to the USS New Orleans (CA32). Battles and campaigns were Coral Sea April 6, 7, 8, 9 & 10 ?1942, Midway May 4, 5 & 6 ?1942, Invasion of the Solomon's August 7,8, 9 & 10 ? 1942, Eastern Solomon's August 23, 24 & 25 ?1942, Defense and capture of Guadalcanal 1942, Night surface engagement, Battle of Tassafronga, November 30 December 1, 1942. In this battle the bow and forward 8 in. gun turret were blown off when a torpedo hit the ship and resulted in the explosion of 5000 gallons of aviation fuel and the #1 turret powder magazine. There was a loss of 230 men. After shoring up the bulkheads, with trees cut down on Tulagi, the ship proceeded slowly, 2 to 2 1/2 knots in reverse, to Sydney Australia where a temporary bow was installed so the ship could get to the U.S. He was then transferred to the YMS273, which after being commissioned in Port Townsend WA, went to Panama. Don served on The YMS273, a minesweeper, July 8, 1943 to February 5, 1944. He transferred to the USS Roe (DD418) at this time and left Panama for BoraBora (2nd time) and Brisbane Australia (also 2nd time).
More battles and campaigns, USS Roe DD418, Admiralties 1944, New Guinea (Invasion of Holandia and Wadke, Bombardments of Aitape, Biak and Noamfoor), Marshalls 1944, Bonnins December 8, 1944 to January 5 1945 (bombardments of HaHa Jima (1), Chichi Jima (1), Iwo Jima (4)). December 24, 1944 the USS Roe DD418 left the bombardment formation of Iwo Jima in pursuit of a Japanese coastal tanker and a destroyer, she sank both of them in a running surface engagement north of Iwo Jima. The USS Roe DD418 was then sent to the US where her 5-inch turrets were removed and rocket launchers were to replace them. The scuttlebutt was that we were to steam close inshore and support US troops in the coming invasion of Japan. If the ship was hit we were to ground her and continue launching the rockets. This never came as the Japanese surrendered after the atomic bombs were dropped. This was a terrible loss of life for the Japanese but nothing compared to the losses that would have taken place by US sailors, marines and soldiers as well as Japanese troops and civilians had they not been dropped and the US would have had to invade Japan.
Donald Eugene Edwards died on September 1, 2006 in Kalamazoo, Michigan with his family by his bedside.
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