Jan 24

The Life and Death of the USS YMS-365

Thursday, January 24, 2019 12:01 AM

By

YMS-365 taken by LTJG Bigelow from ship’s wherry. Date and location unknown. (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

YMS-365 taken by LTJG Bigelow from ship’s wherry. Date and location unknown.
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

On 26 June 1945, USS YMS-365 struck a mine and sank while conducting minesweeping operations off the Japanese-held oil producing city of Balikpapan, Borneo in the Dutch East Indies. Many of the officers and enlisted men on board were injured. Fortunately, no one was killed and all the officers and men and the ship’s mascot “Doc” the dog were safely transferred to another YMS and eventually to the cruiser USS Columbia (CL-56). The ship was listing badly and another YMS poured gunfire into it to sink it.

This is the story of how the YMS came to life, was commissioned, and participated in operations in the Western Pacific and ultimately how it sank through photos.

Ship’s bell, YMS-365. (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Ship’s bell, YMS-365.
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

LTJG Fred Huff with latest in USN washing machines, Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, November 1944. (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

LTJG Fred Huff with latest in USN washing machines,
Majuro Atoll, Marshall Islands, November 1944.
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

LTJG Bigelow in the wardroom. (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

LTJG Bigelow in the wardroom.
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

(Credit CDR Rick Bigelow, USNR(ret))

(Credit CDR Rick Bigelow, USNR (Ret.)

 

April 1945: Crewmen from USS YMS-365 seen on Leyte Island, Philippines Top row left to right: BM2c Jessie M. Kelly, SoM3c LaVerne D. Harwig, CY Edmond O. Pelino, GM3c James J. Wells, PhM1c Charles H. Morgan. Bottom row left to right: S1c William W. Jones, EM2c George J. Powell, S2c Ruben D. Pasamonte, S2c Jacob G. Weber and S1c Benjamin T. Nordyke, Jr. (Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

(Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

April 1945: Crewmen from USS YMS-365 seen on Leyte Island, Philippines
Top row left to right: BM2c Jessie M. Kelly, SoM3c LaVerne D. Harwig, CY Edmond O. Pelino, GM3c James J. Wells, PhM1c Charles H. Morgan.
Bottom row left to right: S1c William W. Jones, EM2c George J. Powell, S2c Ruben D. Pasamonte, S2c Jacob G. Weber and S1c Benjamin T. Nordyke, Jr.

 

Little Doc and Big Doc (Doc and Chief Pharmacists Mate First Class Charles Morgan catch up on some sleep) (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Little Doc and Big Doc
Doc and Chief Pharmacists Mate First Class Charles Morgan catch up on some sleep
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

April 1945: Unidentified crewmen from USS YMS-365 seen on Leyte Island, Philippines. (Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

April 1945: Unidentified crewmen from USS YMS-365 seen on Leyte Island, Philippines.
(Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

 

GM2c John W. Woodward, S1c William C. Bones and GM3c Russell D. Richardson seen on USS YMS-365. (Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

GM2c John W. Woodward, S1c William C. Bones and
GM3c Russell D. Richardson seen on USS YMS-365.
(Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

 

Ashtray made from shell of 3”/50 round from YMS-365 (Credit CDR Rick Bigelow, USNR(ret))

Ashtray made from shell of 3”/50 round from YMS-365 (Credit CDR Rick Bigelow, USNR (Ret.)

 

Bottom view of shell is on the right. (Credit CDR Rick Bigelow, USNR(ret))

Bottom view of shell is on the right. (Credit CDR Rick Bigelow, USNR (Ret.)

 

Zamboanga, Mindinao, Philippine Islands (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Zamboanga, Mindinao, Philippine Islands
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

(Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

(Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

Crewmen of USS YMS-365.
Top row left to right: BM1c Donald J. Treshman, PhM2c Walter J. Wolak, S2c James D. Robertson, S2c Edward Kologinski, SoM3c Joseph F. Pomager.

Middle row left to right: MoMM2c Edwin Mordenski, MoMM2c George E. Brown, CMoMM Edwin A. Johnson, MoMM2c George E. Todd, Cox Henry J. Scarino, SC2c William R. Quirk, MoMM2c James E. Szukics and StM2c Joshua C. Wiley.

Bottom row left to right: MoMM2c Alfred F. Martorano, S2c Dale E. Spitler, EM2c George J. Powell, QM1c Charles B. “Chick” Silcox, GM2c John W. Woodward, S1c William C. Bones, GM2c Russell D. Richardson, MoMM2c James I. Mitchell.

YMS-365 minesweeping operations. Location unknown. (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

YMS-365 minesweeping operations. Location unknown.
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

Filipino bumboat alongside YMS-365 in Zamboanga, Philippine Islands. (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Filipino bumboat alongside YMS-365 in Zamboanga, Philippine Islands.
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

Japanese currency used during occupation of the Philippines. (Credit CDR Rick Bigelow, USNR(ret))

Japanese currency used during occupation of the Philippines.
(Credit CDR Rick Bigelow, USNR)

 

LTJG Cushman and CMoMM Johnson examine Japanese canoe off Zamboanga, April 29, 1945. (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

LTJG Cushman and CMoMM Johnson examine Japanese canoe off Zamboanga, April 29, 1945.
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

“Doc” standing a bridge watch on YMS-365. (Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

“Doc” standing a bridge watch on YMS-365.
(Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

 

Moro islanders at Tawi Tawi, Philippine Islands (1945) (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Moro islanders at Tawi Tawi, Philippine Islands (1945)
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

Fred Fischer and Fred Huff (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Fred Fischer and Fred Huff
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

Ship’s mascot Doc (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Ship’s mascot Doc
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

Doc and friend. (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Doc and friend.
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

 

Chief Johnson on board the YMS-365 somewhere in the South Pacific. (Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

Chief Johnson on board the YMS-365 somewhere in the South Pacific.
(Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

 

QM1c Charles B. "Chick" Silcox on USS YMS-365. (Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

QM1c Charles B. “Chick” Silcox on USS YMS-365.
(Credit CMoMM Ed Johnson, USNR)

 

Flying Fish – somewhere in the Pacific (Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

Flying Fish – somewhere in the Pacific
(Credit LTJG Dick Bigelow, USNR)

YMS-365 was awarded a Presidential Unit Citation for operations associated with the invasion at Balikpapan, Borneo, Dutch East Indies. The ship also earned the Pacific Theater Ribbon, the American Theater Ribbon, and the Philippine Liberation Ribbon with one star.

The crew held at least two reunions in the 1980’s.

LTJG Fred Huff (New Orleans, LA) returned to New Orleans, graduated from Tulane and Loyola Universities, and became an accountant. He eventually relocated to Pensacola, FL where he passed away in 2005 at the age of 89.

LTJG Richard Bigelow (Hazleton, PA) became an instructor at the NROTC Unit at Northwestern University in Evanston, IL after he was relieved as CO of YMS-365. After the war, he graduated from Dickinson (PA) Law School and became a lawyer in Hazleton, PA and then a county judge. He was recalled to active duty during the Korean War. He had two children and two grandchildren. He died in 1988 at the age of 72.

ENS Kendall D. Niesess (Fullerton, CA) returned to Southern California and became an educator and school principal in Orange County, CA.

ENS Harry G. Goelitz (Oak Park, IL) returned to Oak Park and ran his family’s construction company. He passed away at age 30 in 1952.

LTJG Donald C. Cushman (Wilmette, IL) returned to Wilmette. He was one of four Cushman brothers who served as officers in the Navy during WWII. (He married Marilyn and moved to Green Bay Wisconsin after the war before eventually settling in Sturgeon Bay, WI. He was VP of Sales for Fort Howard Paper Company.

Chief Motor Machinst’s Mate Edwin Johnson. Chief Johnson returned to the U.S. and left the Navy saying he had enough of war. He married Margaret Jennings and they settled in Chicago where he operated a locksmith and lawn mower repair business. The family eventually moved to a new house in Addison, Illinois. They had four children. Chief Johnson passed away at age 68.  

 Seaman First Class William H. Shannon earned a bachelors degree from William and Mary, a MA and PhD from the University of Maryland and was a teacher and administrator in Maryland for thirty-one years. He had four children and eight grandchildren. He died in 2004 at the age of 85.

Chief Yeoman Edmond O. Pelino left the Navy in 1946 and returned home to Bridgeville, PA where he owned and operated a furniture and appliance store. He had four children and eight grandchildren. He passed away in 1989 at the age of 68.

Electricians Mate Second Class George Jerry Powell (Philadelphia, PA) returned to Philadelphia. He was an electrician for the Delaware River Port Authority and Fox Chase Cancer Center. He had four children and seven grandchildren. He passed away in 1995 at the age of 73.  

LTJG Fred B. Fischer (Lexington, KY) left the ship on 27 April 1945 and returned to Kentucky. He became Chairman of the Board of the Henry Bickel Construction Company. He had a son and four grandchildren. He passed away in 1989 at the age of 73.