following is by Frank Kuserk, who served aboard the USS
GATO during WWII.
April of 1945, our sub the USS
GATO, SS-212 was assigned to patrol off the southern
coast of Japan for the express purpose of picking up any
airman who were shot down during the raids on Japan. During
this period we had to remain on the surface so as to find
and rescue airman. Super Dumbos (B-29) who informed us
of airman who were in the water escorted us. They were
also there to protect us from attack by Japanese planes.
While searching for the downed airmen we frequently saw
Japanese planes in the distance but they seemed to ignore
us. I'm sure they realized that the war was over for them
so why tangle with a sub which had all its guns manned
and a Dumbo which also carried a lot of fire power.
someone in the water is not as easy as it sounds. When
the seas are rough with lots of swells they are not too
easy to spot. Also we had to send some of our people into
the water to assist the airman since some had been in
the water for as long as three days. During a two-week
period from the end of April into May we were able to
pick up 10 Airman. Since we had just arrived on station
at the end of April most of them spent a long time on
the boat before we got back to shore. During this period
a Japanese Zeke decided to be a hero, He came at us and
dropped two bombs. After that he turned and began to strafe
us. We of course were shooting back at him with everything
we had but fortunately he didn't do any damage except
scare the hell out of us and the airman on board. I'm
sure the pilot of the plane probably reported back that
he had spotted sub and sank it. I think that the Japs
had reported sinking three times as many subs as we had.
And I'm sure they reported shooting down more Dumbos than
we had. The last we saw of him before we dove was the
Dumbo chasing him back towards to mainland.
during this period we were fired at by probably a midget
sub. We picked up the sound of the torpedo and were able
to maneuver out of the way. We would also blow up floating
mines to insure that we did not run into them the next
time we passed by.
first airman we picked up was Sgt. Jack B. Cannon, 499
group, 877th Bomber Sqd. A dumbo had dropped him a raft
the day before. We were only about 12 miles from shore
when we spotted him. At first he thought we were Japanese
so he covered his raft with a blue blanket and lowered
his sail. When we closed however, he realized that we
were the "Good Guys" he told us that he was the last of
only six airmen who bailed out. He jumped from 500 feet
at an airspeed of 240 MPH. He indicated that his plane
had been hit while they were bombing Miyazaki.
next rescue was Cpl Cloice Gene Tarn, 37528988,
39th Bomb Group, 62nd Squadron. Shortly thereafter we
picked up Sgt David L Hirsch, 34887507. Our next
survivor was 2nd Lt Frank Lemont Johnson, 0-2068394
of the same unit. At this time we were about 20 miles
Southeast of Toi Misaki.
next rescue was Lt. E. B. Fisher and S/Sgt. N. H. Woodville.
They were in a single man life raft and were flashing
their mirror when they saw us. At the time we were about
15 miles from Kyushu. We then spotted another life raft
with T/Sgt. N. Lewis. Shortly thereafter we picked up
Sgt. T. J. Doherty and Sgt. Ferry. We also picked up Lt.
F. H ???tor. (I couldn't make out his last name from the
battle report that I have.)
ten airmen were quickly integrated into the crew. The
enlisted men stood watches with us lookouts, which reduced
our burden, and the officers were put to work in the decoding
room. Fortunately, we had enough food on board to accommodate
our guest but we did run out of ice cream mix before we
got back to port. I think we dropped our guests off in
Guam before we proceeded to Pearl harbor for repairs and
R & R.