WWII (1943-46)

“Kamikaze Warfare” — A Personal Diary

Memory from: Seaman 2nd class Peter C. Koski

Setting the Scene

On April 11, 1945, the KIDD was struck by a kamikaze while on radar picket duty off the eastern coast of Okinawa. Without a doubt, this is the most memorable event in the ship's history for members of her World War II crew. The entries below, from the diary of Seaman 2nd class Peter C. Koski, give a firsthand look at the horror of kamikaze warfare.

The Recollection

April 11, 1945 GQ at 0530; secured 0715. GQ again. It is 0930. Now secured at 1200. GQ 1400. They are really after us this time. They are coming in from both sides. I can hear port 40mm firing. We have been hit by a suicide plane. He came in from our starboard side and was headed straight for our bridge, but turned and hit us in the forward fireroom. He went through the side and one boiler. His bomb went through the port shell and exploded. I was knocked out and blown about ten feet from my gun. How long I was out I do not know; but when I came to, I was standing, looking down at a boy who had his head blown off. All of the guys on the gun next to ours were blown to pieces. Three men on our gun were hurt pretty bad. The ship is really a mess. Bodies are everywhere. I do not know how many are dead yet, but there are plenty. Wounded men are dying. Nothing can be done for them, and nobody knows how! Our doctor is hit and is very bad. Boy, I am really worried: four more planes just came in at us. We all thought that it was the end for the rest of us. Our guns were in local. But we got two of them, and the BLACK got another. One plane dropped a bomb off our starboard bow about twenty feet. We just took on a doctor from the HALE. He is doing a fine job. If only our Doc had not gotten it, he could have saved a lot of boys. We are taking on a lot of water and may have to go over the side. Yet it is beginning to get dark. Japs are all around us dropping flares. Our group is under a very heavy air attack.

The HALE is escorting us! It is 2100 now. The Japs have given up trying to get us. We can make 27 knots now if necessary. Three Jap planes were shot down by our group today, but we lost one can [destroyer] and sustained damage to seven others! I have prayed really hard today, and I thank “God” with all my heart for my life! April 12, 1945 No GQ this morning! Thirty-eight good men were killed yesterday, and fifty-six wounded. There are still five men down in the fireroom that we cannot get out because the fireroom is flooded with oil and water. Editor’s Note: This was Peter’s last entry. His diary was made available to the museum by his wife, Mrs. Roberta Koski, in 1995. Mrs. Koski recalls: “After the ship was hit, Kenny took command [Lt. Richard “Dick” Kenny]. He had to get the crew back to their guns. Pete was stunned, but he remembered Kenny’s kindness to the sailors and how he got the crew together to defend the ship again. He talked often of the bag detail, and the shock of it all. He slept in a hammock on deck while the ship limped into port. When the ship was coming in, they had no radio and did not know that FDR [President Franklin D. Roosevelt] had died. When they saw the flags at half mast, he thought it was for the KIDD and could not understand why at first.”

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