Skip to comments."The Cannons Have Fired"--Ham Radio Enables Coordinated Final Salute
Posted on 02/18/2006 4:11:49 PM PST by Denver Ditdat
When World War II veteran Rear Adm Barry K. Atkins was interred in Arlington National Cemetery January 30, Amateur Radio enabled coordinated rifle salutes at the cemetery and in Hartford, Connecticut. Atkins was a longtime resident of Connecticut, and Alex Parley of Windsor--a member of Atkins' US Navy crew during World War II--requested the special honor.
"Their destroyer, the USS Melvin, sank the Japanese battleship Fuso in the battle of Surigao Strait--the only destroyer known to have sunk a battleship," explains Mac Harper, W1FYM, of Glastonbury, Connecticut. Through a series of communications that began when Parley requested help from ARRL Headquarters, Harper volunteered to handle the Connecticut end of the ham-radio coordinated salute.
Marines and sailors from the Plainville, Connecticut, Reserve Center participated as an honor guard at Hartford, Connecticut's, Bushnell Park. The State Capitol is visible in the background.
Parley contacted ARRL Media and Public Relations Manager Allen Pitts, W1AGP, who, in turn got in touch with Connecticut Section Manager Betsey Doane, K1EIC. Doane passed the request along to Harper, and the Arlington Public Service Club responded to his request for volunteers at the Virginia military cemetery.
APSC member Art Feller, W4ART, proposed using VHF from Arlington and communicating via IRLP to Connecticut. Jack Reed, W4FXX, meanwhile, signed up club volunteers, while Adam Hahn, KG4VNC, agreed to be the operator at the Arlington ceremony.
On the Connecticut end, W1FYM set up an HF-VHF station in Hartford's Bushnell Park. W1AW Station Manager Joe Carcia, NJ1Q, volunteered to get on the air during his lunch hour to complete the HF link. On the appointed day and time, Harper, Carcia and Hahn established voice contact via IRLP using the W1HDA repeater in Vernon, Connecticut.
The Marine League renders the rifle salute in Hartford.
At 12:14 PM EST, KG4VNC passed the voice message, "The cannons have fired. The honor guard is beginning their salute." At that point, W1FYM informed members of the Marine Corps League and Navy Reserve units from Plainville, who rendered the honors in Hartford, to begin the simultaneous rifle salute.
After the bugler played "Taps," Carcia at W1AW transmitted on 40 meter CW the message, "The rifle salute for Rear Admiral Barry K. Atkins was fired at Arlington National Cemetery at 12:15 Local Time on Monday, January 30, 2006."
"The clarion tones of Morse Code were audible to all present, reminiscent of the Morse messages used during World War II," Harper observed. Master Chief Charley Williams of the State Department of Veterans Affairs, read a proclamation from Connecticut Gov Jodi Rell and eulogized Atkins, who received the Navy Cross for his actions in the Pacific. Lisa Perrona represented the office of US Rep John Larson.
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The first destroyer grouping to attack Nishimura was Destroyer Squadron 54 commanded by Captain Jesse Coward. Coward planned an "anvil" attack (an attack from both bows of the target - trapping the enemy as between hammer and anvil). The western group was to consist of destroyers McDermut and Monssen and the eastern group of Remey, McGowan and Melvin. Coward intended to attack using only his torpedoes, since if his destroyers used their guns this would only alert the Japanese and disclose the ships' positions, and their 5-inch guns in any case could not seriously harm the heavy ships.
At 0206 the five destroyers went to General Quarters, and at 0240 McGowan made the first radar contact on Nishimura's ships. By 0245 her radar showed that the enemy contact was a column of ships, distance 15 miles.
At 0245 Nishimura was completing his transition from approach-formation to battle-formation, placing all four of his destroyers in the lead with the larger ships still in column at one-kilometer intervals.
At 0256 Shigure (whose lookouts seem to have been particularly effective) sighted the three destroyers of Coward's eastern division 4.3 miles away. The flagship Yamashiro began probing ahead with her most powerful searchlight but the American ships were still too far distant to be picked up in the beam.
However, Coward's destroyers and Force C were closing each other at a combined speed of 45 knots. Desron 54's western section - McDermutand Monssen - under Commander Richard Phillips, made radar contact with the Japanese ships at 0254. Phillips was steaming close to the shoreline of Leyte in order to avoid radar detection, intending to turn at the right moment and attack on the enemy's port bow. Remey, McGowan and Melvin, however, were steaming in mid-strait and approaching Nishimura almost head-on, but at 0257 Coward ordered this division to turn south-east, placing it on Nishimura's starboard bow. At 0258 lookouts on Melvin sighted the Japanese, range 12,800 yards. Coward ordered his own divisionto start making smoke, carried out his turn as planned, ordered his ships "fire when ready" and started increasing speed to 30 knots.
A few seconds after 0300 Remey, McGowan and Melvin started launching torpedoes and within two minutes had launched 27 in all. Coward swung his ships hard aport and began retiring. As the turn was being made they came under fire from Yamashiro and the Japanese destroyers. By 0305 all three destroyers were being straddled by 5-inch shells but they quickly drew out of gunfire range without being hit.
At between 0308 and 0309 explosions in the direction of the enemy column were seen from Coward's destroyers. Shortly afterwards one of the battleships was seen to slow down and sheer out of formation. This was Fuso, hit by one of Melvin's torpedoes. Nishimura himself, however, remained unaware that Fuso had been crippled, and continued to issue orders to the damaged battleship as if she were still in column.
Fuso later exploded and sank as a result of the torpedo hit.
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"The clarion tones of Morse Code were audible to all present, reminiscent of the Morse messages used during World War II," Harper observed.
Neat is all I can think of saying.
73 de steamshovel