KAMIKAZE

A place for Sladists to share their thoughts on Michael Slade and his work...

Postby TBLightning492 » Fri Jun 02, 2006 4:43 am

Slade wrote:TB,

If your granddad doesn't talk of the war, just ask him where he landed, and once you have the islands, you'll find more than enough information to inform you what he went through.


My grandfather's health hasn't been the greatest of late. When I saw him at my little sister's wedding in March, he was beginning to show signs of slowing down - though he could still tell an off-color joke like he were still a younger man.

A reunion for his ship and its crew had been scheduled for late April of this year, but as it was down in Nashville, he couldn't make the trip from Ohio to Tennessee.

I'm hoping to see him sometime in the next few weeks, and you can bet that if he's feeling well, I'm going to enjoy sitting with him and listening to his stories of the war and the antics of a newly enlisted young kid from Altoona, Pennsylvania, who couldn't swim when he enlisted and came home after the war to find that his family had moved and thrown out all of his baseball cards and comic books.

Over the last few hours I've been doing a bit of cyber-research, and I managed to find this information on his ship, a Sumner class destroyer known as the USS Ault:

"When Ault reached the forward area Leyte was in American hands; but the Philippines were still the focus of the carrier's operations, and they were directed to strike targets on Luzon and Formosa early in January 1945. Ault sortied on 30 December 1944 with TG 38.2 screening that task group. After the strike on Formosa on 9 January, the destroyer in company with Waldron (DD-699), Charles S. Sperry (DD-697), and John W. Weeks (DD-701), swept Bashi Channel ahead of Task Force (TF) 38, while proceeding into the South China Sea. Heavy weather as well as the proximity of the enemy created a tense atmosphere in which the carriers continued to mount strikes against the Camranh Bay area, Hong Kong, Hainan, Swatow, and the Formosa Strait. Returning to the Pacific through the Balintang Channel on the night of 20 January, the task force launched final strikes against Formosa and Okinawa before returning to Ulithi on 25 January.

Shortly before the assault on Iwo Jima, TF 38 was reorganized as TF 58 under Vice Admiral Mitscher. Ault was assigned to Rear Admiral Sherman's Essex (CV-9) TG 58.3, which launched diversionary strikes against Formosa, Luzon, and the Japanese mainland on 16 and 17 February. The carriers provided air cover for the operations on Iwo Jima on 19 February and raided the Tokyo area on the 25th and Okinawa on 1 March before retiring to Ulithi on 4 March.

The destroyer returned to the action with TG 58.3 on 14 March for operations to neutralize Japanese air power during the forth. coming Okinawa campaign. In response to strikes against Kyushu and Honshu., the Japanese retaliated with air strikes against the task group; and, on 20 March, Ault splashed her first two enemy planes. On 23 and 24 March, the task group launched preinvasion strikes against Okinawa; and, on 27 March, Ault assisted the ships of DesRon 62 and four cruisers in shore bombardment of Minami Daito Shima. The warship's next two months were enlivened by days and nights of continuous general quarters. Kamikaze attacks on 6 and 7 April damaged Haynsworth (DD-700) and Hancock (CV-19). On 11 April, a suicide plane that missed Essex came perilously close to Ault; but her gunners splashed the plane close aboard her starboard quarter. Kidd (DD-661) was badly hit that day. Ault again participated in the bombardment of Minami Daito Shima on 10 May, then rejoined the task force to assist in repelling heavy enemy air attack. While screening Bunker Hill (CV-17) on the morning of the 11th, Ault splashed one kamikaze, but two others hit the carrier. After rescuing 29 men from the stricken ship, the destroyer escorted her to the replenishment group and rejoined the action on the 13th. During attacks on 13 and 14- May, she succeeded in splashing three more planes. On 1 June, Ault put into San Pedro Bay, Leyte, after 80 days at sea.

Task Force 58 was redesignated TF 38; and, on 1 July Ault sortied for strikes against the Japanese home islands. On 18 and 19 July, the ship joined with Cruiser-Division 18 and other destroyers in an anti shipping sweep of Sagami Wan and a bombardment of Nojima Saki. The following day, she rejoined the task group and continued to support the carriers until Japan capitulated on 15 August.

Ault operated off the coast of Honshu on patrol until 2 September when she entered Tokyo Bay and anchored near Missouri (BB-63) during the formal surrender ceremony on board that battleship. The destroyer soon resumed patrol with the task group out of Tokyo and continued that duty until 30 October, when she steamed for Sasebo, Japan, to perform more carrier and escort duties. On 31 December 1945, the destroyer departed Japan, bound for the United States, and arrived at San Francisco on 20 January 1946. After a short respite, she was underway again and headed via the Panama Canal for Boston. Following brief stops along the east coast, the vessel entered the shipyard in Boston on 26 April 1946 for a well-deserved overhaul."


After reading that, my mind flashed back to when I was around the age of seven or eight, and my grandfather was telling me about all the times working the railroad in Altoona when he had come dangerously close to losing his life. He managed to slip in a comment about a Japanese Kamikaze assault on his ship, and how he very nearly didn't return home from his tour of duty.

History becomes so much more real when someone you know was involved in it. Though it pales in comparison, I imagine some of what I was feeling while reading that is what you felt while connecting the dots of your father's experiences during WWII.

Proud to be the grandson of a crewmember of the USS Ault, and more importantly, the grandson of a good man.
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Postby Slade » Fri Jun 02, 2006 6:17 am

TB,

Whoa, there, Pilgrim. Don't be so quick on the draw. While screening Bunker Hill (CV-17) on the morning of the 11th, Ault splashed one kamikaze, but two others hit the carrier. After rescuing 29 men from the stricken ship, the destroyer escorted her to the replenishment group and rejoined the action on the 13th. During attacks on 13 and 14- May, she succeeded in splashing three more planes. "Though it pales in comparison, I imagine some of what I was feeling while reading that is what you felt while connecting the dots of your father's experiences during WWII."

Bunker Hill is big, big stuff:

http://www.odyssey.dircon.co.uk/BunkerHill-1.htm

http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/17.htm

http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-u ... b/cv17.htm

http://www.microworks.net/pacific/picto ... amaged.htm

And this:

http://www.geocities.jp/kamikazes_site_e/ogawa_syoi.htm

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Postby MarylandManson » Fri Jun 02, 2006 11:01 am

Slade and TB,

Aircraft carriers were the juicy targets, but by the numbers, destroyers and destroyer escorts received far more kamikaze hits than other vessel types, owing to their roles as "radar picket" ships. In other words, they were the first targets of opportunity as the kamikazes approached. Also, in the heat of battle, smaller ships were often mistakenly identified by pilots on both sides of the war as bigger ships. Finally, there were just so dadblamed many of these ships swarming around. Here's a comparative tally, from U.S. Navy records, of U.S. carriers and destroyers/escorts sunk or put out of service by kamikazes:

Fleet carrier: 1 severely damaged (Bunker Hill)
Escort carriers: 3 sunk (St. Lo, Ommaney Bay, Bismarck Sea), 1 severely damaged (Sangamon)
Destroyers/escorts: 20 sunk, 28 severely damaged or beyond repair

So, TB, your grandfather really was in the hot seat on a tin can. Although anyone in the kamikaze "radius" really was in the hot seat with him. Note that the above numbers paint the overall strategic picture. However, hundreds of ships were hit and thousands of men died or were wounded, even if the ships themselves more often remained in action. Tough duty any way you slice it.

MM
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Postby TBLightning492 » Fri Jun 02, 2006 2:50 pm

Slade,

I worded that poorly. When I said that it "pales in comparison", I was referring to the fact that you were discovering the life of a man you didn't get to know all that well before he died - I am very lucky in that my grandfather is still alive, and I grew up knowing him quite well (though apparently not as well as I would have liked). I was going by the description of Dane Winter's discovery of the past...something which you've said was pretty much an accurate account of what you experienced. My shock at the events of the Pacific, and knowing my grandfather was in the middle of that, wasn't quite as shocking (the man has more lives than a cat, if my grandmother is to be believed). Still, I never knew that the battle was quite like that.

On Memorial Day I thought about giving him a call, just to see how he was doing and to thank him for his service (Memorial Day is just as good a time as Veteran's Day, n'est pas?). I ended up getting busy with work and forgot to pick up the phone. After seeing those photographs of the Bunker Hill, I really wish I would have. I understand now why he was always reluctant to discuss the details of his tour of duty.

Thank you, Slade and MM, for filling in some of the blanks of my grandfather's life.
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Postby Slade » Fri Jun 02, 2006 5:11 pm

TB,

The point I was making - by playing off "pales in comparison" - was that your granddad was in one hell of a battle:

25Mar45-21Jun45. Off Okinawa -- Ten "Kikusui", swarms of Kamikaze, up to 350 attackers at a time, 1,900 in total, damaged 250 ships with 34 destroyers and smaller ships sunk. Several ships were damaged so badly they were not repaired. One in seven of all naval casualities occurred off Okinawa.

The Bunker Hill attack was Kikusui Number 6. As you'll see from this article:

http://www.wtj.com/articles/kamikaze/

The climax occurred with Operation Kikusui Number Six, when on May 11 the large carrier flagship USS Bunker Hill was struck by a Thunder God from the Kemmu Squadron.

And you'll find this of interest:

http://www.ascfusa.org/index.php?option ... &Itemid=73

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Postby Slade » Sat Jun 03, 2006 4:12 pm

"What fresh hell is this?"

TORONTO, Ontario (CNN) -- Canadian police on Saturday said they have prevented a major al Qaeda-inspired terror plot to attack targets in southern Ontario.

Twelve adults and five young people were arrested, authorities said.

"This group took steps to acquire three tons of ammonium nitrate and other components necessary to create explosive devices," said Royal Canadian Mounted Police Assistant Commissioner Mike McDonell.

"To put this in context, the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City that killed 168 people took one ton of ammonium nitrate."
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Postby MarylandManson » Sat Jun 03, 2006 11:08 pm

Slade wrote:"Tsk. Tsk. The poor sod never saw BOTRK."


Slade,

Scratch that epitaph--KWAI is an excellent film, worth the long wait. I heartily recommend Henri-Georges Clouzot's THE WAGES OF FEAR from a few years before KWAI. Both films are based on French novels, and in both films men confront the jungle, literally as well as figuratively when they confront their own tangled darknesses:

http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/thr/re ... 1001477225

As for KWAI, it was good to hear a quote from General Yamashita, The Tiger of Malaya. There's plenty of "armchair general" fodder re: General Percival and the British surrender at Singapore:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Ernest_Percival

Perhaps Saito made an excellent point to Nicholson about his superiors betraying the British troops? Very debatable. Also, the jungle trek scenes with the Siamese women recalled photos of Vinegar Joe Stilwell's march out of Burma. Finally, it will be interesting to see if elements of KAMIKAZE echo the final sandbar scene in KWAI: a Briton, a Japanese, an American, and a Canadian, all converging in a fatal finale.

And on the "fresh hell" in Ontario, the key phrase seems to be "al Qaeda-inspired." Scary.

MM
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Postby Slade » Sun Jun 04, 2006 8:41 pm

MM,

Now it's time you got into CRACKER. You should watch the ten episodes in order, if possible. "The Mad Woman in the Attic" first. If they're at your local library, what are you waiting for? "Here lies MM..."

http://www.crackertv.co.uk/crackerfaq.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cracker_(B ... television)

http://epguides.com/Cracker_UK/guide.shtml

http://www.tv.com/cracker/show/9851/epi ... l?season=1

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Postby Cawdorgraves » Mon Jun 05, 2006 5:10 am

CRACKER RULES!!!! I finally bought all the DVDs. do hope that they start this show again cause that would rule.

CG
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Postby Slade » Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:44 am

CG,

It's coming this fall! Get a look.

http://www.crackertv.co.uk/thereturnofcracker.htm

And for those of you who haven't seen the show, it's arguably the best crime series that has EVER been on TV. I have yet to recommend it to someone who didn't think it was great.

So do yourself a favor...

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Postby Cawdorgraves » Tue Jun 06, 2006 9:29 pm

is this a once off special or are they going to pick up the series again? 1x108 min so apparently they are airing it all at once but will show it again in Sept/Oct. At least this gives me something to look forward to. Sort of disappointing they couldn't have brought back some more of the original UK cast. His wife and children are different actors to be noted. Ugh. Oh well this is a great character and role by Robbie Coltrane.

Go Fitz!

CG
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Postby Slade » Tue Aug 08, 2006 4:29 am

Sladists,

KAMIKAZE will be published in Canada on September 12, 2006. As soon as it arrives, Slade will be signing (and dedicating, if desired) copies at Dead Write Books in Vancouver. If you want a signed copy of the 1st edition, 1st printing, contact Walter at...

whitedwarf@deadwrite.com

Slade
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Postby raasnio » Tue Aug 08, 2006 5:08 pm

That is good news. I might need to see about ordering a hardcover...
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Postby Slade » Wed Aug 09, 2006 4:30 pm

For the past two years, this has been shown on the CBC on the date of the Hiroshima blast. Read the review:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000F4 ... ance&n=130
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Postby Slade » Tue Nov 07, 2006 6:06 pm

Sladists,

Today is both Election Day and the publication day of KAMIKAZE in the United States. If you like the book, please spread the word. Post on Amazon and other sites. In these times of a fragmented marketplace, all writers must rely on their readers to promote them...or their books get lost in the landslide of publications.

If you do post, please consider posting a copy here. That will give us an ongoing input from which to discuss the novel, how it fits into the series, and where Slade is going next.

Added to that will be development of the HEADHUNTER movie (Wil's script is almost finished), and what that means for the future.

Interesting times!

Slade
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