Like a Chinese fire drill

By Don “Waterslug“ Krautter, August 1945

About the first day of August, 1945, the USS Irex, the USS Seadragon, an unremembered new boat, and a fourstack tin can were to take gunnery practice at a “sleeve”. The old destroyer had just been donated to China and was underway with a crew of Chinamen.

Under a powder-blue sky, the four ships left Guantanamo Bay about mid-morning and were soon in position to receive our target. Gunners Mate Kiely had the forward 40MM. I was to point it and John Stafford was the trainer.

As chance would have it, the tin can was to be the first of us to “Commence Firing”; but, as things turned out, the three subs never got to burn a shell casing. The Chinese gun crews had just went through a week of gunnery practice on the base—pouring shells at drones—and mistook the tow plane as their target.

When a few dozen tracers passed by the pilot, he dropped his target, went into a sharp dive, and radioed the following message:

Will someone tell those Chinamen that I`m pulling the damned thing, not pushing it!

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