Threat Was Kamikaze Planes,"
Reminiscence of Serving More than Thirty Years in the Navy
November 16, 1994
Interviewer: Rheba Massey
Ross Bradley was born in Oak Creek, Colorado, in 1916
and was just 17 when he enlisted in the Navy in 1933.
While serving on the USS Astoria, he saw Hawaii, most of
the Pacific Islands, and Sydney, Australia. On the
Vincennes, he toured Finland, Sweden, France and England.
He re-enlisted on board the USS New Orleans in 1939, and
the ship was assigned to Pearl Harbor. He was aboard ship
on the morning of December 7, 1941. "The Japanese
appeared with red balls under their wings and we had no
inkling that anything like that was in the air."
Fortunately many of the carriers were at sea at the time.
a Chief Boatswains Mate, was at his battle station in
"sky forward" during the attack. After the
bombing and torpedoing, the crew worked until sunset on
rescuing men in the water and then went out to sea. They
engaged the Japanese at the Battle of the Coral Sea where
they rescued about 500 men from the USS Lexington, a
large carrier damaged beyond repair.
Then, Bradley recalls in a matter-of-fact tone,
"we went to the Battle of Midway and engaged the
Japanese. That was victorious for us. At one time we were
underway 120 days without stopping the screws on the
ship." Other ships provided groceries, fuel and
Maintaining a constant routine and frequent training
aboard ship ensured that in case of attack, men would
respond automatically without panic. During an attack,
the only men on topside were in turrets firing from their
anti-air craft gun mounts. Most of the personnel were
protected below decks.
Their greatest threat was the kamikaze planes they
encountered at the Battle of the Leyte Gulf and in
Okinawa. "It is very difficult to dodge someone who
is determined he is going to crash into your ship with
bombs hanging underneath his plane." Bradley was a
Lieutenant in command of a Landing Ship Medium in the
initial invasion of Leyte, when 11 kamikazes attacked the
destroyers and landing ships which had just off-loaded
troops and materials. Bradley's ship was sunk; six of his
men were lost, and two destroyers were damaged.
He was also on a cruiser torpedoed during the battle
of Tasaferonga, losing about a third of the ship and 178
men. The commander managed to get the ship to a port at
Savo Island. Repairs were made to the bow so that the
ship could cruise to Sydney, Australia. Here further
repairs were made enabling the ship to make it to
Bremerton, Washington, where a newly manufactured bow was
attached. The ship was back with the Pacific Fleet in
about eight months. Most repairs could be completed in
three months. Ships which could not be repaired were sold
for scrap. Gillette bought many to make razor blades!
Infrequent leaves and difficulty in communicating
regularly made marriages difficult for Navy wives. His
own marriage was a casualty of the war years. He was at
sea or in training from 1939-1945. During these five
years, he was able to see his wife and three daughters
for only two ten-day leaves.
After the Japanese surrendered, Bradley stayed in the
Pacific and traveled. He later commanded a Navy freight
ship, hauling cargo to and from Guam. He also commanded a
ship in China and participated in the initial U.S.
invasion of Korea. His first shore duty was as a
recruiting officer in Montana; then he served in
Washington, D. C. He was engaged in salvage work on the
USS Escape out of San Juan, Puerto Rico, recovering the
nose cones that were used in biological experiments
before man was put into space. He was commanding officer
of a Naval Reserve Training Center in Colorado Springs,
and finished his 30 year career with NORAD in that city.
He had a happy second marriage and enjoyed retirement
in Fort Collins. "The Navy was very good for
me," he concluded. "I hope I was good for the