As US Army and Marine forces reduced the island of Okinawa in the spring of 1945, the Japanese unleashed a desperate storm of suicide attacks, the infamous kamikaze, on the massed armada of supporting allied warships offshore. It did not take the Japanese long to understand the significance of the line of destroyers that ringed the island, their air search radars detecting and warning of the approach of Japanese aircraft from Formosa, Kyushu, and other locations to attack the US 5th (later 3rd) Fleet.
Soon, duty on the Radar Pickets became among the most deadly and dangerous of the entire war. “Roger Peter” stations were subject to withering attacks, as the Japanese sought to blind the Americans and strike the carriers and transports that supported operations ashore. A grimly high number of US ships were sunk, with heavy loss of life, in order to maintain the ring of warning radars that shielded the invasion fleet. Drexler, Bush, Emmons, Little, Morrison, Luce, Pringle, all were sacrificed to alert the fleet of the impending kamikaze strikes. And Mannert L. Abele, smashed by two massive precision-guided missiles that portended a coming age. Many other ships were savagely mauled, Aaron Ward, Hazelwood, the famous Laffey, Cassin Young. Damaged so severely that their survival astonished those who witnessed their suffering.
HT/ Bring the heat
Sg and I walked across the scorching hot ramp in Boa Vista, did I mention it’s HOT along the equator? and found the small shack where we could begin the process of clearing the airport by paying the landing fees. The man inside didn’t speak any English or Spanish but seeing that this was our sixth stop in Brazil I was familiar with the form and began filling in the appropriate boxes, even the aircrafts max gross weight in kilograms, stupid metric system. While I was filling out the form the phone rang and after answering it the chubby little Brazilian behind the desk handed me the receiver. Now I don’t get many phone calls in Brazil, especially in the Boa Vista landing fee office, so I knew right away it wasn’t going to be good. The heavily accented voice confirmed my fears by informing me that seeing that it was Christmas day the hard working men and women of the customs office wouldn’t be able to clear us out of Brazil that afternoon because they were currently enjoying day 5 of their holiday break and weren’t even answering the phone. Not to worry though they would be back at work tomorrow sometime after 8:00 am or later, maybe. SG was watching me listening to this news and could tell by my expression that she was going to miss her Christmas in the Caribbean. I did a little half hearted pleading into the receiver but I knew it was a lost cause so we went back to the plane, grabbed our overnight gear and slumped into the airport terminal to try and find a hotel and salvage what we could of Christmas. But our battle with Brazilian bureaucracy was, not, yet, over.
Seeing that this was our last stop in Brazil we had to clear immigration outbound so SG and I were escorted upstairs by a policeman to a small office inhabited by
an evil troll the grumpiest immigration officer I’ve ever met. Without even the hint of a smile he demanded our passports and the little slip of paper we filled out upon entering Brazil four days prior. SG promptly handed her’s over because she’d lost the one she filled out on the airline coming into Uruguay and had been on the receiving end of a dad lecture about how important those slips of paper were. I on the other hand couldn’t find mine and was sent back down to the plane to search for it. After tearing the plane apart I finally admitted defeat and slunk back up to the immigration office, resigned to my fate. I figured even captain grumpy pants would cut me a little slack seeing it was Christmas and all. WRONG! he spent the next half an hour printing out forms detailing my grave offense and then proceeded to read the charges I was guilty of. Afterwords he stamped my passport with a warning that if I ever dared to set foot in the beautiful sovereign of Brazil I would be subjected to an $85.00 fine and given a really dirty look. So I’ve got that going for me. Which is nice.
At least SG got to enjoy a cool drink by the pool for Christmas.