The USS Hoel

At 8:40 a.m., Commander Toshio Nakagawa wrote in his ship’s log, “Cruiser blows up and sinks.” This was in all probability the USS Hoel.

Six Japanese ships had cornered the Hoel and submitted her to barrage after barrage. “Boxed in by the enemy on three sides, the Hoel had no propulsive power to escape through the box’s open bottom.”

Chapter Thirty-Three is what happened to the men who were still alive on the Hoel when the ship sank.

At 8:35 a.m., Captain Kintberger ordered his men to abandon ship. The PA system was dead, so the order was given by word of mouth. Gunner’s mate first class Willard Henn passed gunnery officer Lt. Bill Sanders tangled up in some rigging. Both his legs had been blown off at the knees but he was still alive. Henn made to help him but Sanders said no, the order was to abandon ship.

Eighteen-year-old Paul Miranda jumped into the water and belatedly realized that he didn’t know how to swim. Everett Lindorff was “working the plotting table when the abandon ship order came,” and was the last man to get out of the Hoel‘s CIC. Bob Wilson, machinist, had been wounded by shrapnel and could no longer walk. He crawled over the ship’s side.

Lt. Jack Creamer, assistant gunnery officer, walked down the starboard side, helping survivors into life jackets. “All around the ship clusters of heads bobbed, survivors riding the slow, rolling swells. Creamer watched numbly as a Japanese salvo struck the sea a few hundred yards to starboard, right in the middle of a big gathering of wounded survivors.”

Several of the men reported their last sight of Captain Kintberger standing on the bridge, watching as his men hit the water.

This chapter is very, very hard to read. But Hornfischer is relentless. This is only a little past the halfway point of The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.

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