Monday, October 25, 2021

USS FRANKLIN Survival with Sam Rhodes

At the USS FRANKLIN reunion in June 2021, Sam Rhodes, who was a young sailor in the crew - related his experience after the bombing of the ship in April - off the coast of Japan. Over 800 sailors died. Sam was a "snipe" rating (the engine crew) He carried a rating of "Watertender" which was critical to running the oil fired boilers on most combatant ships of the day.  (PODCAST AT END)

 Sam's story (in the audio interview here) tells of the burning ship and the leadership of Chaplain Joseph O'Callahan to clear the decks and care for wounded. Much live ordnance from the ships' own planes and stocks to be loaded was rolling around the deck. Some was "cooking off" in the fires. The bombs HAD to be taken off by rolling over the side - through burning decks. 

Chaplain O'Callahan (A Lt. Commander) encouraged the young men to keep rolling the bombs - even though their hands were burning. After the last bomb as over the side, he left them for a few minutes and returned with whiskey from the Sick Bay. Only the Sick Bay on a US Navy ship has alcohol and it is for medicinal use. 

The boys were all encouraged by the chaplain to take some for their pain and exhaustion. It is for this reason - with respect for appropriate drinking - the shipmates of USS

O'CALLAHAN (DE/FF 1051) have modified our "IRISH BLESSING" to include (if appropriate) following the prayer for those in need (veterans, active or others who need a prayer) a shot of whiskey may be consumed. 

This, in the locality of an Irish Pub - and in honor of Fr. O'Callahan's Irish heritage - adds an extra dose of Irish Blessings to the person who says the prayer while their hand is placed on the seal of the ship. The seal includes the cross of the Chaplain's Christian faith. 

 It became a tradition among veteran shipmates of USS O'Callahan (in service from 1968-1998) to offer an Irish Blessing - sometimes with a Card showing the seal and the ship. More about the O'Callahan, the USS Gary and USS Franklin is found at their respective websites. Sam Rhodes (USS O'Callahan and USS Gary are the two honored with Medals of Honor for actions that day.) 

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