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USS NORTH CAROLINA Hit by Friendly Fire
6 April 1945

"On the 6th of April 1945, we were operating off Okinawa in company with a number of aircraft carriers who were launching strikes against the island. At 1225 we commenced firing at a ‘Judy’ which was shot down 2,000 yards off our port bow and forward of the carrier CABOT. At 1320 we commenced firing at a ‘Zeke’ which was shot down 3,000 yards off our starboard quarters. At 1304 we commenced firing at another ‘Zeke’ which went down 2,000 yards dead ahead of the NORTH CAROLINA and close aboard the CABOT.

The action was hot and heavy and enemy planes were flying all around and through the task force.

In recent years a lot has been said about ‘friendly fire.’ At 1305 we took a 5-inch antiaircraft projectile from one of our own ships in the base of Sky 2, about two feet below the director.

At this time my battle station was in Batt Two, which is high up the foremast or the main tower. This is a secondary steering position in the event the bridge gets knocked out during action. It was manned by several officers plus six or eight enlisted men. I was manning a radio position there and was on the circuit that provided voice communications between the ships of the task force.

We had been firing for the last several minutes when all of a sudden I heard this loud bang and a large black cloud of smoke enveloped the tower. Instantly I heard what sounded like someone throwing a hand full of marbles against the tower. I was sitting inside, but I saw one guy fall over. I looked out on the platform outside and everybody was looking down. I ran out to see, thinking we had been hit by a bomb. Down on deck men were lying everywhere, on the signal bridge, around the 40mm gun mount and director and in several other locations. Blood was running across the deck. I then saw the hole in the director base and it was obvious we had been hit by a five-inch from one of our own ships.

I went back inside and found that our wounded man was our pharmacist’s mate. He had been struck in the shoulder by flying shell fragments, the marbles I heard, and was not seriously wounded. I looked around on deck and noticed dozens of small pieces of steel with jagged edges. I reached down to pick one up and found it to be too hot to handle. It was a miracle that more were not wounded in those close quarters where we were packed almost shoulder to shoulder.

The net result was three men killed and 44 wounded. Three radiomen and eight signalmen were wounded. These signal and radio people were all men I knew because they were in the communications gang."

-Charles M. Paty, Jr. 


1999 The Battleship USS North Carolina Commission
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