Anonymous Letter from U. S. S. Wichita, 1945.
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(NOT FOR PUBLICATION)
U.S.S WICHITA (CA45) % Fleet Post Office, San Francisco, Calif., [blank] 1945.
Enough water has passed under the WICHITA's bridge now so I can tell you about everything that has happened to us since we left God's country last February. If you remember, it was February 28th when they opened the gates of the dry dock and refloated us. The bow was pointed due West; we steamed out and started across the Pacific, casting one last longing glance at the receding shores of California and wondering how long it would be before we would see our native shores again. All of us felt that there was something important in the air as the news of the conquest of Iwo was hot at the time and we know that once we had the Jap on the ropes we would continue to sock him steadily until we could knock him out.
We steamed to Honolulu at 21 knots and all of us thought we would have at least a few days in the Pearl of the Pacific to adjust ourselves gradually to life at sea again but we no sooner arrived than orders were issued for us to go out for gunnery exercises and practice. It seemed so foolish because we had the same gun crews that we had used all last year and the boys were sharper than ever; we couldn't figure why we had to have practice after we had spent all of 1944 shooting Jap planes and after we had bombarded several islands and even sunk a few Jap ships. But the powers had ordered gunnery exercises so we had them and incidentally made a very high score.
After the exercises were over we dropped the hook in Pearl Harbor but it was only for a few hours; they were screaming for us away out in the Pacific so after fueling we headed due West again. Our next stop was Eniwetok where we fueled again and then continued on our course till we reached Ulithi atoll. There we fueled once more and joined up with the other ships in our task force and headed for - - you've guessed it, OKINAWA. Last year, you remember, when we were running with the big battle wagons and the carriers we had paid a visit of Okinawa; we didn't get very close but he carrier-based planes gave the place a good working over and scouted the island in preparation for the invasion that we were now to cover.
I remember that first morning we steamed into view of the island. It was six days before the actual landing and most of us had that sort of lonesome feeling, I think, because our ships had never been that close to Okinawa before; that is, since the war started. All the way across the Pacific at 21 knots the ship was buzzing with scuttlebutt about where we were going; we thought it would be Formosa or China or Okinawa. When we joined up with our sister ships in the task force it was easy to see we were going to get another chance to use our big guns and when we steamed in close to Okinawa we saw what a big job was ahead of us.