Posted by: SJS | April 25, 2012

Jungle fighting PTs

By the time Red Stahley and Tom Saffles were assigned to Squadron (Ron) 27 in the South Pacific, many of the PT missions included river patrols through dense jungles.  The year was 1945 and the tide had turned against Imperial Japan but there was still much hard fighting to be done.  For the PT crews, this often meant engaging the enemy in remote locations where the hunters could quickly become the hunted.

Nest of PT boats in New Guinea

PT boats nested on river in New Guinea

Navigation on these rivers was often extremely tricky and visibility was never good.  Frequently, the PTs were sent to take out an enemy communications station from which the Japanese were monitoring Allied movements in the area.   Rarely were the PTs more vulnerable than when they ventured up the narrow, winding rivers crowded with thick vegetation and unseen dangers on every side.

As a young child, I was enthralled by my father’s stories of his days on those river patrols in the last year of the war.  Hearing the same stories over and over and over was among my greatest delights.  Although I knew the outcome, the suspense and the drama of those stories never diminished.  I couldn’t hear them often enough.

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Responses

  1. I couldn’t get enough of those stories too. I remember him talking about inserting Marines at night sometimes and the Marines would come back with body parts for souvenirs.

    • Darren,

      Thanks for your comment. The PTs were very, very good at delivering the Marines and even commandoes to remote locations. They really knew how to get into and out of very tight spots. Hearing the stories was such a privilege. Please keep sharing your memories.
      Thanks again,

      Steve


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