Katara Simmons/News-Sun Marcella Wolf watches as her husband Ed Wolfe is introduced by Allie Ryan on Thursday afternoon during a reunion luncheon for survivors of the attack on USS Terror CM-5 at the Military Sea Services Museum in Sebring. Both Wolfe and Ryan survived the attack.
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published: Friday, September 27, 2013
Survivors of World War II ship hit by kamikaze hold reunion in Sebring
By CHRISTOPHER TUFFLEY
SEBRING -- Thursday morning a handful of World War II veterans, most over 90 years old, gathered at the Military Sea Services Museum for a reunion. The men were all survivors of a kamikaze attack on the USS Terror, a mine laying ship. The kamikaze hit the Terror at night on her port side when the ship was off the Kerama Retta Atoll, taking part in the assault on Okinawa.
The crew, most of whom were teenagers, had swept mines off Iwo Jima beaches just before the American attack on that island. It was sent to Okinawa for the same task. As it happened, mine sweeps were unnecessary as the Japanese had laid none.
Warned of possible attacks, however, the Terror remained and had laid a smoke screen.
Ed Wolfe, part of the third gun crew positioned back at the stern, said the crew had been summoned to general quarters early in the morning. By 4 a.m. the men had been at their stations for several hours without a hint of action.
In fact, Wolfe said, "it was dead quiet, all we were doing was waiting."
For unknown reasons, a gun crew fired their 40-mm tracers from which alerted the Japanese pilots of the ship's position.
"I looked up out of the side of eye and saw a plane coming on the port side," Wolfe said. "It sounded like this, 'vroom, vroom vroom,'" each vroom growing louder. "The engine was revving. It was quick. The explosion was big."
Bob Smick was part of a gun crew facing the kamikaze. "I was looking down the barrel as the plane came in, but I couldn't get the gun down low enough (to get a shot). It was a little frustrating."
"It was scary," said Bob Brewster, "but I wasn't scared." Brewster, just 18 at the time, was first powderman on the No. 2 gun forward crew. He was in the process of loading a powder keg up the scupper to the gun when the plane hit.
"It was interesting to say the least," he said. "It hit right amidships, between the stacks. The lights went out until we got the auxiliary lights working."
Forty-eight men lost their lives and 123 were wounded, but the crew managed to keep the ship afloat and make it back to safety.
In the 68 years since, the men got on with their lives, going their different directions. With the encouragement of Allie Ryan, who used to live locally, they hold regular reunions.
It was clear from the hugs and laughter the men were close. Listening to them reminisce and catch up, it also was clear their shared experience had a great deal with their bond.
Wolfe said it succinctly, "My best ship was the Terror."
(by: Blindman~ - 9/28/2013)
What an honor to have such a distinguished group of veterans reunite in our small town.
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