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COLT: LEGEND & LEGACY

LEFT TO DIE

THE MARK OF UNCAS

SCHEMITZUN!

USS NAUTILUS

CONNECTICUT

AS WE TELL OUR STORIES

BETWEEN BOSTON & NY

CONNECTICUT  & THE SEA

CRUSADERS & CRIMINALS

EAST OF THE RIVER

FROM HERE TO THERE

THE GREEN

THE NEW PEQUOT

SUBURBIA

NARRATOR: Gill returned to base and reported that the Juneau survivors were in the water.

DAN KURZMANN (Author, Left to Die): And the intelligence officer to whom he reported didn't seem to care much.  and he didn't, he just didn't really give a damn and he put it in his routine report that there were some men in the water, gave the general location and it was just a routine report and it was reported as I think number 3 or 4 in the daily bulletin about, you know, what the pilots had sighted during that day, and nobody acted on it. And this happened day after dayi.  As a matter of fact, on the third day after the sinking, the same pilot went off on another mission.

ENTRIKIN: And we find these guys again and there's a few of them left in the water.  And a few more days And we're down to maybe 30/40 guys by now.  And through all of this Gil never followed up to go see "what the heck happened to my report - you got so many men, you don't want to pick 'em up, or you know, what the heck are you tryin' to do?"

NARRATOR: For the badly wounded men in the water, the hot days and cold nights brought more horror, agony, despair and death.

ZOOK: We finally ended up with about three rafts and life nets. You had to lay prone on the life nets, but in the life rafts you could either sit on the gunnel or you could stand up in the life raft.

FRANK HOLMGREN (USS Juneau Crew): The next thing you know the guys were startin' to goin' out of their heads a little bit.  Thought they could jump off the raft and go dowin and get some food off the Juneau and I think, I think that was about the third day.

KURZMANN: The situation was just horrible. They didn't have anything to eat.  Nothing to drink except salt water and a lot of them drank salt water and went mad.

LESTER ZOOK (USS Juneau Crew): Now the people on the nets were the injured people.  They couldn't stand up, they couldn't support themselves or whatever - they were - mangled legs or arms or skulls.  And so they were put on the nets.  And then so each morning - this may ghouly, but each morning we would roll the dead people off the nets and the same sharks stayed with us all the time.  And they were- they were - satisfied to get their feeding each morning.

KURZMANN: Soon the place was just full of sharks and men were being eaten alive left and right.

HOLMGREN: They just went out of their heads one time and sharks took 'em.  They would have all been alive today if we were picked up right away.

NARRATOR: Gunner’s mate Wyatt Butterfield had always dreamt of being a hero and rushed to enlist when the war broke out.

WYATT BUTTERFIELD (USS Juneau Crew): Well I think of those guys.  It didn't bother me when they were- when I saw it happen.  I got used to seeing 'em getting eaten up and torn apart.  As I got older -- it hit me.

As I say, as I got older I realized what they- how much they really suffered.  When I was young, like I say, I got used to watching it for 7 days and it was like an everyday occurrence.  When it did happen, I - I knew it was going to happen anyway, so- no big deal.  We saw it yesterday.  We saw it again today.

NARRATOR: The only officer among the 10 men who ultimately survived was Lieutenant Charles Wang, He had been the first officer to be assigned to the ship prior to its launch.

ZOOK: Wang had a broken leg so he couldn’t maneuver at all. Then a plane come over and dropped a package. In this package was a rubber boat and certain survival gear. And we thought we could see land. Well it was obvious that Wang was no good to us there -- if he got to land he could do something from his stature of the Lieutenant JG and he took two people with him. 

KURZMANN: They started moving toward an island which is about fifty miles away and they really went through hell for several days - storms and sharks and just about everything was threatening them. They finally managed to get to a beach of the island and they were fearful though when they got on this beach that there could be cannibals- they heard stories of cannibals on these islands.

The enlisted men went off to look for food and water, Lieutenant Wang was left there, you know in the sand with his bleeding leg, and he was sleeping and when he awoke he looked into the faces of these natives and he thought "my God here I go to the cooking pot." 

It turned out of course that they were friendly and he was saved together with the two other men.  They were very very lucky indeed.  They were three of the ten men who managed to survive.

NARRATOR: Finally, after two days, Capt. Hoover returned to base and reported to Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, the Commander of the South Pacific fleet. It was incredibly the first time Halsey had heard of the Juneau incident. He was furious.

ROBERT SWENSEN (Son of Lyman Swensen): Halsey wrote Hoover a letter which pointed out that radio silence should have been broken because the force that Hoover had had been already recognized by the enemy, ... 2.12.17  And that was what resulted in relieving Capt. Hoover.

NARRATOR: Halsey ordered an air and sea search for the survivors. But, t wasn’t until November 19th that a PBY search plane found the remaining Juneau crew.

FRANK HOLMGREN (USS Juneau Crew): We had Zook up there, we were holding him, he's givin' all that flag stuff there and the darn plane looked like- it was!  Takin' goin' off.  "Christ" we was saying "he's gotta see us."  And all of a sudden it turned back again.

 


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