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June 2002

One of the hardest parts of keeping the communication going is generating articles and information for the newsletters. From time to time shipmates have offered up short bios and such but in general this has been a one man show. That one man is running out of things to say, though I am sure that will be a surprise to his wife!  

You can help!!! Write about yourself, our ship or the Navy. Send it to dennis@obriens.net (plain text and MS Word).  So long as it is a positive, proper addition to the site and the USS England effort, it will appear here. Many of you have a lot to say so here is your chance to contribute. Opinion pieces, biographies, sea stories, ideas and more are wanted. Please assist, your shipmates would like to hear from you.

For the past half-year or so the USS England has had to take a back seat to work and other priority items. I apologize for the lapse and I want you to know that we’re now going to get caught up!
There is a huge backlog of items to put on the site. These are stored neatly in plastic bins and will start appearing on this web site.  It is asked that if you have items you’d like to photograph and place on the site, you wait until late summer to make arrangements to send them in.  By then the queue should be empty or at least caught up!

Recent additions include Terry Hazel's Operating Guide for Propulsion Machinery from 1963 and Precommissioning Crew Welcome Aboard Letter, Donald Russet's USS England Brass Plaque, a USS England Matchbook Cover, Early USS England Postcard, and a Brand New USS England Lighter. Look for the USS England Model Project to get going again as well as other additions shipmates have sent in.

A lot of shipmates have stopped in and entered their data as On Line Crew. We are nearly 1000 strong now!  Over the next several months you’ll see a ramping up of event planning and web site growth.


As you know as part of our 2001 reunion we voted on a location and time frame for our next reunion. Our second reunion will be held June 12-15, 2003 in San Diego.  We will be using Military Locator and Reunion Services again to book reservations and assist in planning the event.  It will be at the
The Handlery Hotel and Resort.

We also need your help. Think about what types of events would

The USS England Forum was retired on 02/03/07.

you be interested in and at the final banquet, what would you like to do? We’ll have a survey ready shortly for you to fill out and return so that we can ensure the reunion is what all of you want it to be! Feel free to discuss the topic in the On Line Forum!

We’ll again be calling on people to speak!  Please consider this to be an official call for speakers! Volunteer now!!! If you can help out, please let Dennis O’Brien (dennis@obriens.net) know so we can make this reunion the best!

There will be a business meeting at this reunion where we will decide the future of our efforts, just as we did in 2001. To be a part of that decision you must be present at that meeting. So, make plans to be with us in 2003 so we can plan our future! The 2003 Reunion Page will contain updates as the become available.

Sign up as On Line Crew to be kept up to date!

In 2001 Operation King was announced and since then hundreds of letters have flooded the Navy. The goal is to return the England name to the seas. As you know in 1944 Admiral Halsey himself expressed his desire that there always be an England when he sent a message in which he described the exploits of DE-635 as "a matter of great pride to the whole South Pacific Team." He continued to say, "May there all ways be an England. Well done and congratulations to all hands." Soon after the Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral E. J. King promised "There'll always be an ENGLAND in the United States Navy."

The attack on September 11, 2001 and all that has followed has left this a much lower priority for many of us and certainly for the Navy.  However, it is perhaps now that history and heroes are most important.  John Charles England died in the horror of another surprise attack that threw our great country into war and DE-635 USS England played a key role in ending that war. These are powerful symbols that would undoubtedly inspire a fine crew to carry out their duties as only American can. As we did on our beloved USS England DLG/CG-22.

Our dedication to our ship has enabled her history to continue. We must return the name England to the seas. Details of the steps you can take to help make this happen can be found on the Operation King Page. I know that the Secretary of the Navy has noticed the letters! Please send yours!!! Thank you to everyone who has written as part of Operation King and encouraged others to do so.


  • Jim Mathias sent in this URL http://www.subicbaypi.com/index.htm for old Subic Bay Naval Base.

    The USS England Forum was retired on 02/03/07.

    Please check out our On Line Forum! It is a great place to communicate plan for our future. It is a much better way to find shipmates and “talk” than the Deck Log since it offers search capabilities and threaded discussion. If you have not joined the forums and posted yet, please do so now.

From http://www.ghostsquadron-ggw.org/
Dwight DeHaven
A Sailor's Experience Aboard The USS Yorktown and USS England
"Yorktown's Sinking Put Him Aboard Navy's Top Sub-Killer"

Victory in World War Two came through the combined skills and efforts of countless men and women. Though rarely receiving public recognition for their critical performance - - those who maintained, fueled and armed aircraft, who kept carrier catapults running smoothly, who toiled in the fumes of the power plants of great ships will never be forgotten by the fellow crewmen, pilots and commanders who depended on them. Dwight DeHaven, guest speaker at the the Golden Gate Wing's February meeting is one of those unsung heroes.

DeHaven was already aboard the Yorktown when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He'd joined the Navy out of high school, his father telling him when he'd cut enough fence posts from the cedar trees on the farm, he could go ahead and sign up.

Young Dwight quickly learned the responsibilities of the Yorktown 's nine boilers and all the pipes which made up the power plant of the aircraft carrier. Dwight had aimed to be a tail gunner until he witnessed two TBD torpedo planes collide in midair during landing practice, killing all six crewmen. Setting aside his dream of flight operations, Dwight said, "I'll be a good white hat sailor and stay down below."

USS Yorktown CV-5

It was actually his second change of heart about a Navy career. Dwight had requested submarine school until he watched a sub scrape off its conning tower as it passed under another ship's keel.

April of 1941 found DeHaven and the Yorktown cruising the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, on the lookout for German raiders which had been attacking British cargo ships. In five 40-day cruises, the Yorktown 's crew traveled 25,000 miles between North and South America and the coast of Africa.

DeHaven says he really enjoyed the times he had smoke watch, in the crow's nest over the Yorktown 's stack. He was able to watch flight operations from that perch, and that was something he could have done all day long. He remembers well the day he was up there while on a training run and one of the biplanes overshot the arresting gear. The pilot had jammed the throttle forward, hanging the plane on its prop as it rose up past the carrier's island. DeHaven says the wingtip of the biplane passed so close he could have reached out and touched it.

Recalling convoy work the Yorktown performed, DeHaven said they had a "mid-ocean" rendezvous with British troop ships. "We were in sight of Bishop Rock, forty miles west of Land's End when the two convoys of ships threaded through each other." Before the convoys had lost sight of each other over the horizon, DeHaven witnessed the blast and smoke of British ammo ship that blew up.

By November of 1941, the Yorktown was overdue for an overhaul, with the brickwork falling out of its boilers. While the aircraft carrier was dry docked in Norfolk, Virginia, Dwight and his fellow crew members went into Washington, D.C. It was December 7th, 1941, and as traffic snarled in the city, DeHaven was stuck in the car in front of the Japanese Embassy. There on the Embassy front steps, he and his buddies watched for thirty minutes as the Japanese staff hauled papers out of the building and burned them on the steps.

Yorktown sailed for the West coast, then convoyed Marines to Samoa before coming into Pearl Harbor in February, 1942. DeHaven says as Yorktown passed through the channel toward Ford Island, "We couldn't believe the devastation. There were battleships on the bottom, the Oklahoma was upside down. We were in our dress whites, lining the flight deck. There wasn't a word spoken on the ship."

At the Battle of the Coral Sea, May 6th-8th, the Yorktown was blooded in combat, her planes sending the light Japanese carrier Shoho to the bottom. As the Yorktown 's planes were recovered, DeHaven says three Zeros got into the landing pattern. When spotted and fired on, two of them flew off. "The third one crossed the carrier's bow. Then a kid on the fantail with a 20mm gun shot him down. Another kid in a Wildcat had flown through the flak after the Zero...and then flew past the carrier, shaking his fist at the gunner" for taking away his sure victory.

The Yorktown did take hit - - a Japanese bomb hit her and plunged the engine room into darkness. DeHaven remembers, ..."it was darker than the inside of a black cat." Dwight had been up on a catwalk resetting the governors on the boilers when the lights went out and the lantern was knocked from his hand. "I jumped out into the middle of the room where I knew I wouldn't hit anything."

DeHaven knew other bombs had exploded near the Yorktown , and when the ship returned to Pearl Harbor, he watched as the ship was dry-docked. "As the water was pumped out, I could see cat's-whiskers of oil springing out of the hull where shrapnel from the bombs had pierced holes." DeHaven was one of the engineers who performed around the clock to make Yorktown seaworthy again. He stood watch on the boiler of a pineapple train providing power to the ship while she was patched up. In less than 48 hours, repairs that normally would have taken months were made, and Yorktown was back in the water, steaming to join the Enterprise and Hornet off Midway Island.

USS Yorktown getting repairs at Pear Harbor after the Battle of Coral Sea.

USS Yorktown CV5  listing heavily prior to sinking on June 7, 1942 during the Battle of Midway.

Yorktown took three bombs in the Battle of Midway, the most damaging one penetrating the flight, hangar and second decks and exploding in the funnel uptakes, leaving Yorktown dead in the water. She had gotten under speed when four torpedoes were launched by planes from the Japanese carrier Hiryu - - two missed but two hit. Soon, the carrier was listing 20 degrees and the captain ordered the ship abandoned.

DeHaven went over the side on a rope, lowering himself into the water. He was just about to be picked up by a destroyer when Japanese planes returned and the destroyer steamed away to make itself less vulnerable. An hour later the destroyer Benham plucked DeHaven from the oily water and he got a saltwater shower.

DeHaven was among the engineers who returned to Yorktown to see if she could be saved. Dwight had thought the ship could be counter-flooded and towed stern first, beached in the lagoon at Midway and repaired. The decision was made to scuttle her, and destroyers fired more shells into the hull, but Yorktown only went down when a Japanese sub hit her with two more torpedoes.

From December 1942 to May of '43, DeHaven served on the England , a destroyer which sunk six Japanese subs in a twelve day period, mostly by catching them at night while they were surfaced, recharging batteries. England was awarded a Presidential Citation for these actions. Today, the Navy still recognizes excellence in anti-submarine warfare with its "England Award."

In the Philippines, England sneaked "Carlson's Raiders" onto the island, and DeHaven witnessed his first kamikaze attack when a Japanese plane hit a transport ship. He also saw Dick Bong shoot down another enemy plane, turning it into a fireball that Bong's P-38 flew through. DeHaven says a great cheer went up among the sailors on ships in the bay when Bong concluded his display with a vertical victory roll.

USS England DE635

Next was Iwo Jima, and then the England rode out a typhoon on its way to Okinawa, where DeHaven says "that's where the war really got personal." As the Task Force approached the island, a battleship opened up with its 16-inch guns. "We could see the shells as they passed over us. They looked like VW bugs going through the air."

On picket duty only 300 miles from Kyushu, the England sweated out kamikaze attacks. For DeHaven that meant, "two to three days at a time in the engine room, getting out only to grab a sandwich from the galley. We'd turn the stern of the ship to planes that attacked us. We'd have a minute and a half to maneuver, and we'd make a sharp turn at the last minute (to avoid the kamikaze)." One plane that dived on England had its wing strike the aft deck before hitting the water. Its bomb blew after the destroyer had passed at 24-25 knots. Two others kamikazes dived and missed, before one struck the ship with full fury.

"It's wingtip hit a boat davit. The pilot may have already been dead, because a gunner saw the pilot slumped forward in the cockpit. The plane turned into superstructure and exploded, making it impossible for the captain to get off the flying bridge. He swung down off the barrel of one of the number-2 turret guns."

DeHaven and his mates got down on the engine room floor plates until the worst of the ship's shuddering was over. He checked out the damage topside, then began assessing the damage below, aided by flashlights he'd had taped pointing up and down each ladder. After his Yorktown experience, "Flashlight Dwight" didn't want to be caught in the dark.

For DeHaven and the England the war was over. He helped nurse the destroyer back through the Panama Canal, but had to pass through a hurricane on the way, making patches to the superstructure in heavy seas. England was therefore brought back to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned.