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WW II sailor says ground soldiers were the real heroes

Bob Lorenzo of Bellingham posed for this photograph in New Guinea while serving as a U.S. Coast Guard bosun's mate second class during World War II. He served from June 1941 to June 1946, with time aboard the USS Pol, a Norwegian whaler converted into a West Coast submarine chaser; aboard the USS Rockford, a patrol frigate; and aboard LST 18, a landing ship, tank, an amphibious vessel that carried vehicles, cargo and troops to shore. Some people said the initials referred to "large, slow target."
Bob Lorenzo of Bellingham posed for this photograph in New Guinea while serving as a U.S. Coast Guard bosun's mate second class during World War II. He served from June 1941 to June 1946, with time aboard the USS Pol, a Norwegian whaler converted into a West Coast submarine chaser; aboard the USS Rockford, a patrol frigate; and aboard LST 18, a landing ship, tank, an amphibious vessel that carried vehicles, cargo and troops to shore. Some people said the initials referred to "large, slow target." COURTESY PHOTO

You asked about the most memorable events I remember. There are so many that it is hard to choose, but one is the morning in October 1944 when we made up with the convoy out of New Guinea to depart for the D-Day landing at Leyte, Philippine Islands, when we took Mac (General Douglas MacArthur) back to the Philippines.

We had loaded part of the 1st Cavalry the day before aboard our flotilla of LSTs and retracted from the beach and anchored for the night ready to join the convoy in the morning. We got underway at dawn and, in two hours, the sea was covered by ships of all kind as far as the eye could see.

The weather was good and we had air cover from the ground-based and carrier-based aircraft, so any enemy aircraft was splashed long before they could get to the fleet.

We had all guns manned at dawn and dusk, as was our practice, but no one got to us, although we heard gunfire on the outer edges of the massive convoy.

The other memorable occasion was when we made the landing in Lingayen Gulf on Luzon, and were stuck on the beach all night unloading under fire from Japanese guns located in caves in the surrounding hills that our aircraft could not get to. We were under fire all night and working to get unloaded and get off that hell beach so we didn't have to spend another night there.

My ship did not have any direct hits, as we were at the extreme range of the Japanese guns, but we had a lot of shrapnel on the deck from rounds that exploded short.

I have a piece of that shrapnel that hit my helmet in my "shadow box" with my medals. It did no damage, but let me know I had been hit.

I have lots of stars in my bars, but the one I am really proud of is the Presidential Unit Citation our flotilla received for a series of landings we made in the Philippines.

We were not heroes, we were just doing our job and most of us were too young and dumb to realize we could be killed at any time.

The real heroes were the guys that had to fight and die on the ground. We sailors had a clean bed to get into every night and three meals a day, even if we could be sunk at any time in the shark-infested waters where we operated.



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