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The ship below is the Ship I served on during my tour of duty in the Korean War. I was assigned to the ship and went aboard at the, Alameda Naval Base, Alameda, California, the second day after being recalled to duty. I was still on the ship the day I was released from duty at San Diego, California 16 months later. The name of the ship was the, USS Pine Island, AE-17.

I was very surprised to be released as soon as I was. I thought that the Chinese would enter the war and it would last 10 or more years. As you know the Chinese did not officially enter the war which is the reason the war ended when it did. I had gotten married in April and received my notice to report for duty the end of July of that year. My son Mike was born while I was in the North China Sea between China and Korea aboard the ship. Except for a short stay at the port of Iuacunni, Japan, the ship did not ever enter a harbor or tie up to a pier from the time we left San Francisco until our return to San Diego. We received supplies while either anchored or underway at sea.

The Pine Island was a seaplane tender which means it was a floating service station and maintenance support facility as well as a command center for surveillance flights over Korea and the Chinese mainland by our fleet of planes. There were about 25 four engine PBM seaplanes attached to the ship. During the time we were in the North China Sea we lost more than half of the planes, some of the losses were over enemy territory, some weather related, some mechanical failures and others human failures. Just landing and taking the planes off from the water was difficult.

Generally speaking taking off and landing was done in the lee of an Island or open sea which made it more difficult. To aid in the take-off the navy used a device called Jato thrusters. Actually these were disposable rocket canisters that were attached to the side of the fuselage of the flying boat and as the plane was proceeding over the water in its take-off run the Jato rockets were ignited and it was like a rocket assist that propelled the plane into the air. These devices made the take-off run much shorter thereby safer.

The ship had a crew of around 3,000 people which is a lot for the size of the ship. The reason for the number was that we had the flight crews for the aircraft, airplane maintenance crews, then the ships personnel, as well as an administrative crew. This ship was what is known as a Flag Ship which means there was an admiral aboard that supervised the ships and planes involved in our surveillance activities.

Because the ship was a support vessel for the air operation it had many conveniences not found on other ships of comparable size. We had a full sized hospital including dentists, 3 navy chaplains that held religious services for the various faiths, barber shop, cleaners and laundry. Movies were shown in the hangar deck each night, the problem with the movies was that there were only a few that were shown over and over. I was an infrequent movie goe'r. There was a ships service much like an army PX, where we could purchase imitation ice-cream which was a delight.

So, life was better than on a smaller ship, or rather a ship with a smaller crew compliment. Depending on where the ship is with regard to the enemy boredom and a general feeling of dread and uncertainty are the biggest concerns faced in a situation like we had during the Korean war. The fact that I had just gotten married and had a son born while I was away plus the thought I would be gone for years without seeing my family were more of a worry than any fear of the enemy.

The two large cranes located on the ship could pick a plane up out of the water and set it on the deck for maintenance, repair and servicing. If you notice there are a large number of small boats loaded on the decks of the ship. These boats were used to shuttle crews and supplies between the ship and the planes which were in the water.

If you will notice in the photograph of the ship it has a large enclosed area with doors that are open in the picture. the planes were moved from the open deck into the enclosed area some how or other. It appears the doors are not wide enough for the wings of the plane to enter fore and aft but I just can not remember how that was done. I do know they were brought inside for major repair and servicing.

The ship had about the same armament as a destroyer. I have been ask if we fired the guns, the answer is yes we did but we were not ever in any great danger. Weather was actually more of a hazard to the ship than the enemy. It was during my time on the Pine Island that the ship was caught in a hurricane. During the time of the hurricane we were under weigh at sea and passed through the eye of the hurricane.

My most vivid memory of the hurricane was how quiet it was in the eye. The eye was probably about 10 to 20 miles in diameter with not a breath of air moving. Outside the eye the winds were blowing in excess of 125 miles per hour. We tried to avoid the storm by going around the north end of the island of Formosa but the storm changed its course and we were trapped in the heart of it.

That was not the most memorable events but one of the things I remember very well during my time at sea which lasted about 5 1/2 years counting the time I was in the Navy and the year I was in the civilian Merchant Marine service.

My life in the navy during World war-II is something I might try to relate, I need to think about it. I spent just about 3 1/2 years at sea during that time. The trip I made around the world leaving San Francisco and returning to New York in the merchant marines between my tours in the navy was also eventful, that trip lasted almost a year. I will try to write a few pages on it one of these days.

The photograph below was probably taken in Hawaii when I was about 18 years old.

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The photo below was taken aboard the Pine Island in our gunnery office. the triangular shaped rack on the wall is a loading rack for loading ammunition into a 20MM magazine for an anti aircraft gun.

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This is a photograph taken on the Pine Island that is me in the background, I look younger than 25 years old. The man setting on the stool was named Billy Smith and is a first class Gunners Mate which is the rank I held. The person with the horn rimed glasses is named Dave Exley and is the greatest hero I ever served with. He may not look like a hero but he was awarded the Silver Star with an oak leaf cluster for gallantry in action. For those that do not know what it is, a Silver Star is the second highest award a military man can receive just under the Congressional Medal of Honor. Dave was also one of the finest persons I have known and a true friend.

Dave was a person that loved to do things that others would not think of doing. Like the idea he presented to the ships captain where he and I would use scuba diving gear to attempt to salvage one of the seaplanes that had sank just off the stern of our ship. The captain vetoed the idea because he did not think the ship had the necessary equipment to successfully accomplish the project. Actually another reasons for the veto was that we left the area before we had a chance to attempt the salvage operation.

This photo was taken in the north China Sea between China and Korea during the winter of 1950, as you can see it was quite cold.

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That is a snow ball I am holding but the other white round images in the picture are holes in the photo. At some time one of Mary Ellen's pet birds ate holes in it.

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The photos below were taken some time during World War II .

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The above photo was taken aboard the LCIR 1070. This was a landing craft that had been converted to a rocket ship. This vessel could fire more 5" rockets than other ships much larger. The ship was used to shell a sector or area rather than a particular target.

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This was taken in Tokyo, Japan just after the end of World War II. The two of us have been given shore patrol duty, something you do not ask for.

The photo below is taken in Tokyo in front of the Imperial Palace Grounds where the emperor lived. This was also taken shortly after the end of W.W.II. I am on the right.

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I have one more photo also taken in Japan just after the end of World War II. This was on a skiing trip to northern Japan. This was shortly after we toured Hiroshima when it was probably red hot with radioactive contamination. If this photograph had been taken at night we would most likely have been glowing. I am the one on the right.

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This was a ski lodge in the mountains in northern Honshu. Not in any way like a modern ski resort in the United States. At that time it was quite primitive, it was before Japan had rebuilt their city's and industries.

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George Myers

Born 08/13/1925
Died 08/18/2014

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