During late November 1943 "Operation Galvanic" the invasion
of Tarawa, USS Plunger SS-179 performed lifeguard duties off Mili Atoll and rescued one aviator, downed near Knox Island, near Mili. Plunger raced to the spot at four-engine speed. The aviator
was clinging to a yellow rubber lifeboat. As the submarine drew near,
an enemy Zero dived out of the clouds and skimmed the conning tower
with guns blazing. The rescue party was not yet on deck, but there
were about a dozen men on the bridge, including the skipper, the exec,
the gunnery officer, the quartermaster, an electrician and four lookouts.
Six were wounded when a 20mm shell hit the superstructure and exploded,
spraying the bridge with shrapnel. The wounded were rushed below, the
bridge was cleared, and Captain Bass ordered a quick dive,
then planed up to periscope depth. The Zero had disappeared; the American
aviator was 50 yards away. Sighting the periscope, he waved cheerfully
and dug in with the oars, rowing toward the submarine and rescued Lt(jg) F. G. Schwartz.
Afterwards, Plunger departed for Makin, where the wounded were transferred
to the transport USS Leonard Wood and all the aviators recovered.
During World War II, USS Plunger received 14 battle stars.
On July 6, 1956 sold to Bethlehem Steel Co., Bethlehem, PA for scrap metal. On April 22, 1957 broken up for scrap.
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February 4, 2018