WWII (1943-46)

“Air Raid!!!” — Tarawa

Memory from: B.J. Fischione

Setting the Scene

B.J. Fischione, a crewman aboard one of the KIDD's sisterships and squadron mates, USS ERBEN (DD-631), relates the story of an attack on the KIDD just a few months after the rescue at Rabaul as viewed through the eyes of sailors in the ERBEN's crew.

The Recollection

I often think of the days when I sailed on the ERBEN and stood on deck and watched the other cans [destroyers] off in the distance. They were and still are the best looking cans ever to sail and fight in our Navy. I’ll tell you the story about the first action I saw and how the KIDD played such an important part in saving the lives of so many of us. It was November 1943, and we were screening the carriers off Tarawa. The Marines had landed that day. I had just come up from the mess hall. It was close to dusk and the planes were landing on the carrier flight deck. I always enjoyed watching the planes come back home. I looked up and saw our combat air patrol planes in a steep dive. At the same time, I saw a column of water fall back into the sea just behind the KIDD. The KIDD was off to our starboard checking out an underwater target, a Japanese sub. It seems that 15 Jap Bettys came in low on the water and the KIDD was in such a position to pick them up on her radar before the other ships could. Well, all hell broke loose at that time. The battle alarm went off and I ran to No. 3 five-inch gun, my battle station. I think we fired just five shells. I was scared stiff. The whole action lasted just a few minutes. Between the fighters in the air and the ships’ guns, all 15 Bettys were shot down. I think one carrier was hit by a torpedo. One of our ships was hit by one of the other ship’s fire. The KIDD was in the right place at the right time. God bless the KIDD.