Saturday, December 29, 2007

The U.S.S. New York

I looked up some facts about the U.S.S. New York. It served during WWI AND WWII and was considered "The Old Lady of the Fleet" during WWII.

"From America's entry into World War II, New York guarded Atlantic convoys to Iceland and Scotland when the U-boat menace was gravest. Submarine contacts were numerous, but the convoys were brought to harbor intact.
New York brought her big guns to the invasion of North Africa, providing crucial gunfire support at Safi 8 November 1942. She then stood by at Casablanca and Fedhala before returning home for convoy duty escorting critically needed men and supplies to North Africa. New York was diverted to Eniwetok to survey screw damage. Nevertheless, despite impaired speed, she joined the Iwo Jima assault force in rehearsals at Saipan. She sailed well ahead of the main body to join in pre-invasion bombardment at Iwo Jima 16 February. During the next three days, she fired more rounds than any other ship present; and, as if to show what an old-timer could do, made a spectacular direct 14"-hit on an enemy ammunition dump. Leaving Iwo Jima, New York at last repaired her propellers at Manus, and had speed restored for the assault on Okinawa, which she reached 27 March 1945 to begin 76 consecutive days of action. She fired pre-invasion and diversionary bombardments, covered landings, and gave days and nights of close support to troops advancing ashore.

She did not go unscathed; a kamikaze grazed her 14 April, demolishing her spotting plane on its catapult. She left Okinawa 11 June to regun at Pearl Harbor."
This picture shows the place Joe was standing on 14 April during the kamikaze. Click on it for full size. Needless to say, you wouldn't want to be standing underneath that gun when it went off. Now that I recall, I remember him explaining to my father on the U.S.S. Misourri in that same location on the ship what had happened. He was frantically trying to turn a wench for some reason amidst the chaos.


upinVermont said...

"He was frantically trying to turn a wench for some reason amidst the chaos."

For some reason? The guy was more of a hero than I thought. Any man who has the presence of mind to "turn a wench" in the midst of *that* choas... well... damn.

I salute you, Joe.

upinVermont said...

If this doesn't prove God's existence (or your grandfather's sense of humor from the far beyond)... Shortly after my tasteless jab at your grandfather's expense, the following article shows up on Yahoo.

(It's coincidences like this, by the way, that convince people that our departed have a sense of humor and aren't so "departed". I read a story about Dick Van Dyke, who is an admirer of, and was a friend of, Laurel form "Laurel and Hardy). He was out in his yard giving an interview and began discussing his comedic admiration of Laurel. At that very instant, the automatic sprinkler, embedded in the grass right between Van Dyke's legs, malfunctioned and thoroughly doused Van Dyke. So, if nothing else, take this as a message from Joe to lighten up.)


Every language has its pitfalls, but often it seems that English has more than its share. So many of our words sound alike! So many opportunities arise for phonic error! Let us turn to the homophone file, and together let us weep.

Thus we roll back the clock to Super Bowl XXXII and a sportswriter's interview with a guard for the Denver Broncos. The lineman, Brian Habib, was talking about a colleague: "He's a mountain man. He lives up there in the hills. He's one of those guys who's got to be pulling stumps out of his yard with a pickup truck and a wench."

Surely there is much to be said for the companionship of a lusty woman, especially when one is pulling stumps, but the wanted word was "winch." It dates from the 12th century and has been embarrassing copy editors ever since.

Homophones are so infernally sly. Close your eyes, even for an instant, and they creep into one's copy. Take the innocent noun, "yolk," as in egg. Thus we find that insufferable cat of the comic strips declaring that the time has come "to throw off the yolk of depression." In a pulp novel, "Stevie continues to suffer under the yolk of evening clothes." An upscale fashion magazine promotes a gently tailored yellow silk suit with "yolk detail and faux pockets."

Yoke! That's a yoke, son! This noun also has 800 years of pedigree. As for that yellow silk suit, note that it has only faux pockets instead of two or six. The ad appeared in Atlanta.

Our next exhibit comes from a feature story seven years ago in Panama City, Fla. Major hurricanes were on the way. The area's lovely beaches were threatened. A meteorologist explained: "Huge quantities of sand will be carried onshore, and the sand will settle into nearby lakes and marshes and form a layer of sentiment."

That feature writer unintentionally provided a thought for the day, that true and lasting love builds gently, year by year. What a splendid sediment!

A familiar homophone turned up in the Salem Monthly. There a shop owner promoted the town's "best stationary store." Whether this was the town of Salem in Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Ohio, Oregon or Virginia, I cannot say, but writers everywhere should remember that letterheads are stationERY and fixed objects are stationARY. Will helpful readers supply a mnemonic device for remembering which is which?

Another sound-alike tricker turned up in a headline over an Associated Press story about genetic research: "Study indicates that the male, probably in Africa, left his Y chromosome for prosperity." If so, his estate must have made a bundle in royalties. There's a lot of posterity out there.

Most homophones are merely doubles, such as site/sight or pale/pail, but our wonderfully wacko language has a host of triples. Perhaps the most familiar is pour/pore/poor. It turned up in the memoir of a newlywed in the Midwest: "I stayed up half the night pouring over cookbooks." Then she dried the books and went back to bed.

A less excusable mix-up appeared in the magazine NEA Today three years ago. A contributing teacher provided a touching feature story about a rehab hospital in California. The lives of its patients "have been changed permanently by spinal chord injury." The author, who then taught a third-grade class in Downey, Calif., explained that "most spinal chord injuries once were the result of birth defects." Chord? Children! When in doubt, look it up! And stay in doubt.

Let me conclude with the lament of a garden columnist in Champaign, Ill. She had promised herself to get rid of every weed. "Alas! Somehow all my best intentions go a rye in August!" And if you can't resort to rye, there's bourbon, gin or Tennessee.

(Readers are invited to send dated citations of usage to Mr. Kilpatrick in care of this newspaper. His e-mail address is

Aaron said...

My favorite misuse of language is when people say "I could care less" when they mean "I couldn't care less". Almost everyone does this. Even when I point it out they look at me as if I'm crazy to question. Am I missing something about this phrase? Am I the only one who is bothered by it? Is the dropping of the contraction because the phrase is so old that it still adpots the same poetic sort of dropping of a syllable in order to fit the tempo?