Don Vieweg’s U.S.S Collett Journal –
1944 (Part 1)
As transcribed by Don’s son Don Jr.
My father was present as part of the crew at the
commissioning of the Collett at the Boston Navy Yard on May 16th,
1944. He was a Radioman
3rd Class. The
commissioning event is not covered in this journal.
This journal picks up starting December 9, 1944,
while the ship was in the Pacific.
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Dec 9, 1944
In Port Ulithi, in the Caroline Islands.
We received 27 bags of mail.
Received letters from Dottie (at that time his girlfriend,
then his wife of 63 years) and family members.
Received a box consisting of a jar of jam, a
checkers game, a package of dehydrated chicken soup and an
attractive card. Must
thank them. Had no
Dec 10, 1944
In Luzon area,
put out to sea early.
Assigned to new and largest task force, TF 382.
The water was rough and we were pounded with occasional
squalls. We are going
to bomb Luzon in the Philippine
Islands. I had morning
watch. Not much Morse code
business due to radio interference.
Wrote to Dottie and mom.
I believe we are to be out for some weeks.
Dec 11, 1944
Had little sleep.
Read book, “Stories of Sake” and magazines.
Choppy waves. GQ
at 1000 for strafing runs and another at 1300 for aircraft target
practice. Had late
Dec 12, 1944
Out for two days already.
Ship started a library in sick bay.
Weather calm except for rain occasionally.
I hope mom or Dottie sends me some good books.
Reading material is very scarce here.
Had usual morning GQ at 0520 and morning watch.
Not much Morse code business.
Did twelve chin-ups for a bet.
Won a dollar.
Also won $5.00 from Garrison for a call bet.
Dec 13, 1944
Refueled at sea from BB Wisconsin at 0800.
Received movie also.
Saw “The Thief of Bagdad” movie in mess hall at 1430 and
enjoyed it very much.
Dec 14, 1944
Morning GQ at 0530.
Had early watch.
Weather fair with intermittent squalls.
Crapped out at 1100 and was aroused by PA system.
No survivors, 1400.
Plane and pilot lost.
We searched for half hour.
Evening GQ at 1800.
Planes are bombarding Guam?
and Tamara all day.
Expect action tonight and tomorrow.
Picket Duty Tonight.
Picket duty is a ship (usually a can) designated to go ahead
of a task force usually from five to twenty miles to keep alert for
any enemy patrols. We
sent out many planes from our carriers against Japanese occupied
Luzon. We expect action
soon unless the Japs are caught unawares.
Dec 15, 1944
Ship rolling due to low fuel.
Had early watch.
Crapped out at 0945 only to be aroused by “Plane Crash” over the
P.A. System. Later I
learned that two planes had crashed and we rescued three of our
boys. The planes were
returning from their raids on Luzon P.I.
More planes were sent out to bomb
1000 – Two more of our planes crashed near us.
Our boys were killed, all but one that we picked up.
His raft was afloat but he did not have the strength to climb
into it so he floated in the water.
The water around him was colored pea green from a chemical
designed to make him to be seen from the sky.
He was a young man, 24 or so, and his first words after being
rescued were “I had a hell of a place for a swim.”
I quite agree with him.
His head was damaged, required 8 stitches.
The aircraft carrier Hancock gave us a hearty
congratulations for picking up her lost birds.
She rewarded us with 40 gallons of ice cream for picking up
four men. Old Collett
is right on the ball.
Two Japanese Bettys and four rescued boys to her credit.
Dec 15, 1944
Morning watch – nothing much.
Still bombing Luzon.
Planes going and returning from their missions over Luzon.
Our newscasts reported that carrier-based aircraft had hit
and destroyed Japanese harbor installations, shipping and aircraft
on (Ciabo??) and Luzon.
The weather was fair with the ocean capped with ripples.
1930 – We learned that the Japanese island of
Mindanao had been invaded by American amphibian forces and terrific
aerial bombardments by our planes.
We received a B.B.S Congratulations from Admiral Halsey;
“Well done on your brilliant plans and your part of the present
Dec 17, 1944
Today is a day of terrible weather.
The sea is furious and the wind sharp.
It is a day of rolling, tossing, and sea sickness.
We refueled today from the Wisconsin.
Our men were drenched and one suffered a broken arm from the
wrenched his knee and many were bruised when the refueling line
broke from the tension put upon it.
We will have to refuel again as we did not complete fueling.
We received some movies but I doubt whether they will be
shown in the mess hall.
It’s too rough. Have
the late watch. I am
thinking of writing a guest editorial for the Cranston Herald.
Dec 18, 1944
Today is a day that shall live forever in some of
our minds. The storm
developed into a full hurricane and released her full fury all
morning and afternoon. We
were low on fuel but all the other ships in the task force were
lower. A U.S. ship is not
supposed to allow her fuel to go below 50%.
We were 65% full and we were the fullest.
Other fuel ratings are 10%, 6%, 15%, 30%, 20%.
The Collett with 65% is the best suited for towing in case of
The storm grew all day – rain, wind up to 65 and
70 miles per hour raging.
The Collett had her gun casing on the port side smashed in
from the weight of the swells.
Our deck split a gash of three feet starboard side by the
forward stack and port side by the aft stack.
It was a terrible day with trouble and seasickness.
Storm hit us at 1530.
TBS [Talk Between Ships] reports some of our
carriers are dead without fuel or power of locomotion.
Men and planes were lost from the
and the Houston. Many
things smashed. We roll
30 to 40 degrees list and all compartments drew water from the vent
fans. It’s still hot as
hell down here below decks.