Kamikaze Attack at Okinawa
By A. J. "Sonny" Ravagni

A bright and clear day started like most at Battle Stations. As you have seen in movies and news reels the flack was so thick it blocked out sky in area. I was a loader on a 20 millimeter in the stern gun tub on the port side as I indicated lots of flack from the ships that were to sea and from us as we were close to shore as they unloaded into all types of landing craft.

One ball of flack from the shore side got bigger, then he strafed us. Our number 4 hatch was open as that was the area they were unloading the plane was trying to crash into it but he was a little high and hit the king post about half way down. Strafing was more a pest as it did nothing but scare you as bullets ricochet all over in the tubs,  lots of slippery walking as we saw it unfold. We were then moved closer and repairs started on the post.

We had to watch the water at night as the Japanese swam out to try and attach mines on the hull. All in all we were very lucky, we had 5 badly wounded seamen and a lot of us got some shrapnel as well. We said nothing
because they were taking the wounded ashore and that's one ship I didn't want to watch leave without me, and at 16 I sure didn't know anything. But its all good, we were unloaded and back to San Pedro for repairs I signed off and went home and next ship was the Drew Victory.

A funny thing took place, after the plane hit we noticed a LCV and the man in charge wanted to know if the pilot (Kamikaze) was dead, we found out later when the plane was en route he was firing his .45 at it yelling loud enough to be heard on the boat deck!

We really had a great crew never a problem or spat. On my first ship they fought all the time but I could hide it, was a good growing up exuberance like on the Henry L. Abbott. We were at Saipan and they had harassment air raids a lot, I was lying on the hatch watching the fireworks and the Ensign from the gun crew wanted to know where me helmet was, "right here by me" He barked "PUT IT ON", then explained why we had them. Anything falling from the sky is traveling at 130 mph and your heads not that hard, I had never been told that before.

- A. J. "Sonny" Ravagni
Gresham, Oregon

Page published July 2, 2008