following was published in the Caddott (WI) Sentinel/Cornell Courier
on May 21/22, 2004. Permission was granted to reprint
Adds to Presidential Unit Citation;
Purple Heart awarded
Crosby 60 years later
Note: Some readers may find offensive some of the graphic nature of
this World War II account.)
date is May 11, 1945.
ocean is remarkably silent and tranquil. But no one aboard the USS
Robley D. Evans is relaxed knowing the kamikazes
pilot to sink this destroyer and others like her despite
committing suicide in the process.
were smaller than battleships although the smaller
ships like the Evans were often targets for the kamikazes.
the Japanese pilots were young and inexperienced not to be able to
recognize a battleship from a destroyer.
system of the radar equipped ships meant the destroyers
were worthy of attack. Perhaps desperation was involved more than anything.
was, after all, the final days of World War II when Japan would sacrifice
the lives of thousands of pilots and others
and would die for
than a month earlier – April 12,
1945 – President
Roosevelt had died with Truman becoming president.
Prize winning correspondent Ernie Pyle
had been killed by a Japanese machine-gun bullet
on the island of Ie Shima April 18,
few days earlier of this day – April
30, 1945 – Adolph
Hitler had committed suicide.
May 7 had been the unconditional surrender of all German
forces to the Allies.
the first atomic bomb would not be dropped on Hiroshima, Japan,
until August 6, 1945. And the second atomic
bomb would not be dropped on Nagasaki, Japan, until August 9, 1945,
the surrender of Japan August
14, 1945, with papers signed Sept. 2,
what would later be called one of the "most furious air-sea
battles of the war" by James Forrestal, secretary
of the Navy in making the Presidential
Unit Citation, Roy E. Crosby, from Cornell,
just one of a crew of about 200 who would
engage the enemy that day. A few moments
later some 100 Japanese planes would plunge
at the Evans
Quarters had been sounded at 0151 aboard the Evans with enemy aircraft
dropping metallic foil in the area
to confuse the radar.
0751 a float plane had been sighted. It was part of the Sakigake
Unit or the
crew members had watched it pass over the ship from port fantail
runs that day trying
to crash into the Evans.
Crosby, a first class machinist aboard the USS Evans DD552, would
that day unlike 32
of his fellow shipmates. Crosby was at his combat
station when a final, five plane
suicide attack bombed the ship as the crew desperately tried to keep
the Evans from sinking.
in one of the most longest delayed awards in U.S. military history
by a living veteran, Roy E. Crosby
was awarded, March 30, 2004, the Purple Heart medal with certificate
for the action and injury Crosby
that fateful May 11 day.
Purple Heart has come to mean an award of extreme honor
soldiers pray they
won't receive. The award
is presented to members of
the U.S. military who have sustained
injuries or have been killed
with an armed enemy.
Purple Heart award certificate reads:
United States of America, to all who shall see these,
is to certify
of the United
States of America has
awarded the Purple
Heart established by Gen. George Washington at
August 7, 1782, to
first class, Roy Edward
Crosby, United States Navy, for wounds
received in action
the 11th of May, 1945.
my hand in
of Navy Personnel
Rear Admiral, U.S. Navy
not the only citation that Crosby has earned.
and the crew
have a distinguished
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Rib¬bon with five stars
• Okinawa: Escorted Third Fleet carrier forces and performed radar picket
• Presidential Unit Citation
• Philippine Defense Medal
• Philippine Liberation Medal
• Philippine Presidential Unit Citation
• Destroyed 26 enemy planes
• Rescued six downed American aviators
Presidential Unit Citation awarded to each member of the crew of
the Evans is the highest
award that can be presented to the crew of a ship in the United States
Forrestal, secretary of the Navy, made the following citation at
the end of World
extraordinary heroism in the action
as Support Destroyer
No. 15 during
an attack by
100 enemy Japanese
the USS Evans
sent up relentless
one of the
of the war.
finding her targets,
to a coordinated
and, by their
ship to be towed
"At Iwo Jima," Crosby said, "we fired over 1,900 rounds of
5-inch shells a few yards in front of the 4th Marine Division. We moved out
another tin can moved in and they kept this up.
Saipan, the Philippines and Palau we rendered logistic support for
strike forces including the 3rd Fleet Fast Carrier Task Force."
missions included supporting slow
moving fuel tankers.
May 11, the mission was
being one of 15 "Picket Stations" around
Okinawa that would detect enemy planes coming
were on Station 15, just north of Japan," Crosby said talking
about what happened May 11. "The
only other station worse was No. 1.
of the 26 planes, we got 23 planes that day. We got shot by 23 and
got hit by four suicide planes and three, 500 pound bombs. All
spaces were flooded completely.
One bomb moved 15 feet from me."
was in the aft engine
first plane hit on the bow," Crosby said, "and it didn't
do that much damage when it skipped on the water."
shipmates were killed May 11.
were 18 bunks, three high. A guy in the corner and me – we
became the only ones left alive. They were all killed. The other
is dead now, too.'
bunk was on the top of the starboard side," Crosby said remembering
his missing shipmates and how lucky he was. "There were 18
bunks, three high. A guy in the corner and me – we
became the only ones left alive.
were all killed. The other man is dead now, too. I packed all the
gear to send home to their folks."
was inside the engine room.
was stationed above the big condenser," Crosby said. "So,
when we were hit, a lot of the concussion
went around me."
must have been on my toes, or something," Crosby said, "because
I got mine in my neck. It (metal fragment) broke the vertebrae in
my neck. But I didn't
know that at
the time because there was no blood. That's why
I was later told that it was hard to get the Purple Heart without
this day, I don't remember how I got out of the engine room. . .
. When I came too, I was right
beside the torpedo,
which was solid steel. When I looked over, there was a guy looking
at me and I must have been a
hell of a sight. He was whiter than a ghost.
name was Pat Macciocca. He said, 'Who are you?' and I told him and
he told me who he was. I said, 'We're going to have to get out of
here, because that warhead's
going to blow.' "
with 600 pounds
been knocked from
one of the forward
gone through the
deck into the spud
below. To make matters
worse, the locker
was full of gasoline
from the crashing
of Japanese planes
with flames now
had written that he, with his left leg off, and an army officer,
with his right leg off, could tie themselves together and outrun
anyone. That's the kind of guy he was.
That's the way it was.'
didn't know if it would blow or not but with a fire burning underneath
there is this torpedo, stuck right there," Crosby said. "So
we went over to the starboard side, and
the first guy I met was a second class
had his life jacket in his hand and was in a world of his own just
walking. He just went over the side to swim toward another ship....
got just about up to the bridge . . . our executive officer, the
finest guy I ever met in the Navy – he
had just checked the aft engineering
spaces where I was. He (Gilpin) hollered
at me: 'The good lord sure looked
after you.' But, I could hear this
suicide plane coming.
I ran against the bulkhead and the suicide plane hit and dropped
the bomb and blew Gilpin over the side and blew his leg off, but
I didn't seem
him go, but Macciocca
did. He saw him, so they went over
and got him out of the water. Later,
we got a telegram from him while we
had written that he, with his left leg off, and an army officer,
with his right leg off,
could tie themselves together and outrun anyone. That's the kind
of guy he was. That's the way it was."
went up on the bow and that's when I met that chief who was right
beside me in the engine
room. . . . and the concussion blew up the four plates and rolled
them up and tore them all to hell. Bones were sticking out
of legs. . . .
was in the repair party. . . . I helped get out the chief engineer
and three guys (dead) from the engine
room. . . . Everyone in the forward fireroom
including the chief were killed. We only
got out four guys from
the forward engine room. The rest were
Jonikas, John Meyer, Donald Evwin, Edward
Amernt, Herbert Doyle and William Shepherd.
only got three out of the forward engine room," Crosby said. "The
rest were killed. In the engine room where I was, we all got out,
but three got killed
had polished boots and the best of clothes. This suicide pilot
had a wooden block on his neck where they had his funeral before
the body of a suicide pilot was also found.
had a ripcord and a parachute," Crosby said. "He had
and the best of clothes. This suicide pilot
had a wooden block on his neck where
they had his funeral before he left."
correspondent Ernie Pyle had been killed only a couple
of weeks earlier. The Evans was reinforced and made it to Pearl
Harbor and then San Francisco
where it was scraped because of its poor
condition from the battle and the end
of the war.
But why did it take some 60 years to
be recognized for the medal?
helped to "forward the cause." First called
the Badge of Military Merit in 1782, Washington allowed
the award to be presented to any soldier – including
enlisted men – whose wartime conduct
design for the award, specifying that
it should be in the shape of a heart, and colored
purple. But only three soldiers were ever awarded
the Badge of Military Merit at its first presentation
may have felt uncomfortable presenting an
that was so linked to the legacy of
one of America's forefathers.
re-introduce the Badge of Military
Merit. MacArthur made the award retroactive
to World War I and, having himself been
injured in battle, received the
first "new" Purple