- Category: USS Arizona Survivor Stories
- Last Updated: Saturday, 21 November 2015 21:56
- Published: Sunday, 21 April 2002 00:00
Herbert Vincent Buehl
Fireman Third Class on 7 December 1941
Submitted by Herbert V. Buehl
U.S.S. Arizona Tour of Duty Remembrances
7 December 1940 to 7 December 1941
I was assigned to the USS Arizona out of Great Lakes Naval Center outside of Chicago, Illinois. Our training had been cut short because of the Navy's need to bring all ships up to full complement. We had 120 men in the 91st Recruit Company at Great Lakes and, out of that number, most of us were assigned to the Arizona. Only the men who were going to schools for special training, or who were sick at the time of shipping out, didn't go with us.
It took us three days by a special troop train to get to Seattle, Washington. We arrived early (5:00 AM) on the fourth day and were taken from the train station to the ferry landing. We still looked like raw recruits, all lined up, waiting for the ferry to come. We took quite a ribbing from the "old salts" who were waiting with their girlfriends, and maybe some wives, to catch the ferry for Bremerton Shipyard.
After arriving aboard ship, they had us muster on the foss'cle (Forecastle deck) to be assigned to our divisions. I was originally assigned to the "A" Division which was the motor mechanics, but I went to the engineering office and asked if I could be an electrician striker. They could see no problem with that, so I was then assigned to the "E" Division.
The "E" Division was made up of four sections: POWER, which was the maintenance of all electric motors; LIGHTING, which was the maintenance of all lighting circuits; IC or INTERCOMMUNICATIONS, the maintenance of all telephone circuits; and POWER DISTRIBUTION, the maintenance of the four generators, the two switchboards and the testing of all electrical circuits. I was assigned to the power distribution gang and worked in that area until about September of 1941.
I requested a change of duty to the lighting gang so I could broaden my knowledge of electrical work, never realizing at the time that this change would make me a survivor instead of a name listed in the shrine room at the USS Arizona Memorial. My battle station was also changed from the forward power distribution room, which was located near the center of the ship five decks down, to the aft repair party, which was located outside the radio shack three decks down, next to the doorway leading down to the passageway between the #3 and #4 gun turrets.
The USS Arizona was in the shipyard at Bremerton, Washington being overhauled and generally cleaned up, repainted, etc. Since most shipboard routines stop during that period of time, I was assigned to a Navy yard welder. Whenever he had to weld on the bulkhead, deck, etc., it was my job to stand fire watch with a CO2 extinguisher and put out any fires that might be caused by his welding. At the time I didn't care much for the job, thinking this wasn't going to make a sailor out of me. I found out later, when we had to chip paint, fire watching was a "racket".
We did a lot of chipping and painting on the Arizona, but I found out that that's what made our ship one of the best in the Navy. It was hard for me to believe that, had it not been for the threat of war, the Arizona at 25 years old would have been decommissioned.
- Next >>