WWII (1943-46)

“Kamikaze Warfare” – A Sailor’s Remembrance

Memory from: Seaman 1st class Joseph E. Mahoney

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 remembered event in the ship's history for members of her World War II crew. As you read this account of what kamikaze attacks were like for Seaman 1st class Joseph E. Mahoney, we think you will understand why.

The Recollection

It is probably the most eerie and unnerving form of warfare mankind has ever inflicted on itself. First, the shattering alarm and the command to “General Quarters.” Next, the few battle preparations adjustmentsóhelmet, life jacket, ammunition, arm the gunóusually done only in semi-haste, for you know you have time, or you usually do. Quickly, you hear droning from the loudspeaker, “Air attack is imminent” and then “Bogies sighted thirty-five miles north and closing.” Next the waiting and the thinkingó”Thirty-five miles is a long way off. Don’t kid yourself; it’s only minutes awayóperhaps, the last minutes of your life. I’m not ready; too much I haven’t done yet. Forget it; it’s inconceivable to think that it could happen to me! I’m an observer participating only on the fringes. The real part is played out by othersóthings happen to them, not me.” Periodically the headset crackles in matter-of-fact tones: “Bogies at fifteen miles and closing” “C.A.P. [Combat Air Patrol] engaging bogies; splash three; rest still coming” “Second flight bogies appear on radar, approaching from northwest” “Bogies being tracked; range 5000 yards and closing” “4000 yards and closing” “3000, 2000” “Target sighted, position four o’clock low on water” “Prepare to fire” “Mark!” Then explosions! Fire! Deafening noise! Acrid odors! Commands screamed! How long can this go on? I can’t breathe! Teeth hurt from grinding; fingers ache from gripping! And then it is overófor this time. Ah, I am alive; I am untouched. This is not me; I am not here. This is not happening to me!

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