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80' x 20' 8" x 3' 6"
2 x Twin .50 cal MG
1 x 20mm
1 x 37mm bow
1 x 40mm stern
4 x Mark 37 torpedoes
4 x depth charges
Robert Williams c1944
Justin Taylan 2000
Dan Williams 2005
|Captain Lt(jg) Robert J. Williams, USNR (WIA , survived) Keyport, NJ
Second Officer Lt(jg) Eugene G. Clayton, USNR (survived)
Third Officer Ensign Franklin L. Couch, Jr., USNR (survived)
Crew GM2C Henry Paul O’Connell, USNR (WIA, survived) North Dighton, MA
Crew CM2C Forrest May, USNR (WIA, survived)
Crew S1C Raymond Theodore Juneau, USNR 6429223 (KIA, BR) NH
Coxwain Coxwain John Harry Dunner, USNR 6519413 (MIA / KIA, drowned) PA
Crew Q3C James D. Sizemore, USNR (survived)
Crew R2C Dean K. Whitmore, USNR (survived)
Torpedoman Robert Carpenter, USNR (survived)
Crew MMM3C Joseph A. Cubera, USNR (survived)
Crew S1C Bernard J. McGee, USNR (survived)
Torpedo TM2C Raymond A. Sequin, USNR (survived)
Crew S2C Robert J. Valentine, USNR (survived)
Gunner MMM3C William B. Larson, USNR (survived)
Sunk April 29, 1944 by friendly fire
Built by Electric Boat Co. (Elco) in Bayonne, NJ. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as PT-347. Assigned to Squadron 25 (MTB-25). Assigned to captain Lt(jg) Robert J. Williams. Nicknamed "Zombie".
On April 29, 1944 at 7:05am two F4U Corsairs from VMF-215 led by Major James K. Dill
spotted the boats in enemy territory, behind the demarcation line. Both climbed to 6000' and dived towards the boats. Major Dill in command later stated: "there was no recognition signals of any kind." From two miles away, both started strafing and then circled once. The two boats tried unsuccessfully to contact the unidentified planes using daytime frequency. PT-347 blinked "S" and "V" with searchlight during the whole attack. Both had a US Star painted on roof and were flying the American flag. Crews waved their arms frantically. When the strafing started, Captain Williams ordered his boat to return fire and PT-347's gunners shot down F4U Corsair 13307 piloted by 1st Lt. Edward B. Cochran (MIA). No one aboard PT-347 was hurt during the initial attack, but PT-350 suffered three dead and three wounded and departed the area. The other aircraft, F4U piloted by Dill returned to Green Island Airfield and reported the vessels as two enemy gunboats and ordered another attack against them.
At 2:00pm, PT-347 sighted planes northeast at about ten miles, and notified PT-346's captain Lt. Thompson who replied "Those must be our air cover, so lets resume efforts to get the boat off the reef." PT-346 made several unsuccessful attempts to communicate with the planes. Two planes coming in on an apparent run, General Quarters was called. The planes began firing at the beginning of the run. Then, PT-347 fired several rounds at the attacking planes, trying to radio them. Captain Williams recalled: "Lt. Thompson and I unraveled a ten foot American flag that was held up on the day room, but they made their runs and fired just the same." The PT Boats returned fire, shooting down F6F Hellcat 09012 piloted by Knight.
Wilbur Larson still firing his 20mm was the last off the PT-Boat, and noticed Forrest May standing on the reef shouting at Wilbur that he couldn't swim, and that he had been shot in the hand. After going over the side, Seaman Larson then took off his web belt and wrapped it around Forrest's wrist and hand to hold on his severed thumb. Holding onto him and swimming during the whole attack, and pulling Forrest under water with him during the strafing. Williams recommend that Larson be decorated for his actions. Later, he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his bravery.
The ship was bombed for 3 minutes and a direct hit on PT-347 that blew her apart. PT-346 was also burning furiously. Then, the Corsairs began strafing the men in the water for approximately 45 minutes, causing many of the casualties. From the water, they could see the pilot's faces as they flew low. The attack ended at about 3:30pm. Two were KIA, three WIA aboard PT-347.
Afterwards, Captain Dill retired as a Colonel. About a year after the incident, Captain Lt(jg) Williams was retired from the Navy at the age of 26, about a for being 50% mentally disabled by post traumatic syndrome. Gunner Wilbur B. Larson Navy and Marine Corps Medal Citation for heroic conduct on April 29, 1944
Nathan Couch, Jr. (nephew of Ensign Franklin L. Couch)
Herb O'Connell (brother of Henry Paul O'Connell)
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