Sailors of the USS Indiana

Four sailors who served on the battleship USS Indiana during the Second World War share their experiences during the war.

by Seth Marshall

                During my capstone project, the creation of an exhibit about the battleship USS Indiana, I decided that the project could use the addition of the voices of veterans. My project supervisor at Indiana University, Kirk White, was able to put me in touch with four sailors who had served on the Indiana and who had attended the unveiling of the prow of the battleship at the University’s football stadium. Samuel Armao, Ozen Carrier, Paul Manegold, and Chalres Morgan served on the Indiana while it was commissioned in the US Navy. 

                Ozen Carrier was born in Wilmington, North Carolina on January 25, 1924. He joined the Navy on February 7, 1942, two months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Carrier was sent to an accelerated training program at Norfolk Naval Training Station, completing the course after sixty days. The day that he completed training, he was taken across the river to Newport News Shipyards, where work was being finished on the Indiana.  As he walked up the gangplank to the warship, he was met by an officer handing out crew assignments. Carrier was assigned to the FM Division, responsible for fire control of the main battery. Carrier would function as a rangefinder operator. The afternoon that Carrier arrived on the battleship, she was commissioned into the US Navy.

                                                                               Ozen Carrier

                                                                               Ozen Carrier

                On his arrival on the Indiana, Carrier was assigned to the FM Division (Fire Control, Main Battery) first as crewmen serving in the No. 3 turret, and later as a gun director for the 16 inch guns- his post placed him at the highest manned position on the ship, providing him with a tremendous vantage point. His job was to gather information necessary for aiming the guns, passing it along to the plotting room, who would in turn send the information to the gun crews in the ship’s turrets. After the warship’s commissioning, Carrier and the rest of the crew spent the next six months undergoing crew training and sea trials. In November 1942, the Indiana was ordered to the Pacific. She passed through the Panama Canal on November 9th, rendezvoused with a small battle group, then sailed for first for Tongatabu, then New Caledonia. At New Caledonia, Paul Manegold joined the crew.

                Paul Manegold was born in Hillside, New Jersey on May 15, 1925. At the time of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Manegold was working for Mrs. Wagner Pies. After hearing about the attack, he promptly went to the recruiter’s office in an attempt to join the Navy. “I went down to join and they chase me away because I was only 16. I tried to use my brother’s driver’s license, but he’s got brown eyes and I’ve got blue. The guy says “You ain’t got brown eyes, get out of here!”” After this initial refusal, Manegold was called into the service on September 7, 1942. Manegold chose the Navy because many of his friends had joined the Navy. He hoped to become a baker, an occupation with which he had experience prior to the war, however he became a Chaplain’s Assistant instead. After joining, Manegold was sent to Great Lakes Naval Station, near Chicago, Illinois for boot camp. Following training, he went to Goat Island in San Francisco to await assignment. In the winter of 1942, Manegold shipped out on the USS Mount Vernon for New Caledonia, where he would board the Indiana.

                                                                          Paul Manegold

                                                                          Paul Manegold

                As the Chaplain’s Assistant, it was Manegold’s duty to help the Chaplain set up prayer groups and services for crewmen of other religions- Christians, Jews, and others. He would also write letters to the families of crewmen who were killed- fortunately, for the Indiana, this only occurred when the Indiana collided with the battleship Washington and when a scout plane was shot down. As Chaplain’s Assistant, Manegold was also a ship’s counselor of sorts. He would comfort men who had received “Dear John” letters from their wives or girlfriends, and would talk to men about improving their language. “I used to say, you know, “One of these days you’re going to be sitting at your dining room table with your family and out comes these words. You better bite your tongue now.”” He would also barter for soda, beer, doughnuts, and cigarettes, bringing them to sailors on the Indiana.

                While Manegold helped crewmembers with supplies and counseling, Carrier continued to serve as a gun director for the main battery. The Indiana began participating in shore bombardments, providing preparatory fire prior to the landing of Marine and Army troops. On January 31, 1944, the Indiana participated in one such bombardment in support of the invasion of Kwajalein, an atoll in the Marshall chain, shelling Japanese shore positions and ships. The morning after the bombardment, the Indiana was maneuvering to refuel some escorting destroyers when her captain ordered a turn to starboard without reporting the move to nearby ships. A few minutes later, the Indiana collided with the battleship Washington, which had been unable to steer around the Indiana. Manegold was on deck at the time of the collision. “I just got off watch, and I went to the deck, and I seen the hoses down, so I went on up to the signal deck with my blanket, and I was standing at the railing, and here comes this ship out of the fog. And I grabbed a hold of the railing and said “Oh my God!” It moved about ten, twenty feet, then it hit the ship.”[1] At the time of the collision, Carrier was asleep. “Well, I was sleeping on watch, and at that time our watch was in Turret No. 3… and it was a jarring experience. And of course, I was inside the turret, and I didn’t know what was happening. My first thought was that we had been torpedoed, but that turned out not to be the case.”[2] The Indiana suffered a dished-in size and had several anti-aircraft gun mounts and a scout plane catapult torn away, while the Washington had a collapsed bow. Both warships had to leave active duty and return to port for extensive repairs. During her repairs at Pearl Harbor, the next sailor I interviewed joined the crew.

Charles Morgan was born in Wellsville, Ohio in 1924. At the age of six, he moved with his family from Ohio to Montreal, Canada. He moved back to the US in 1940. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, Morgan was prevented from joining the military by his mother, whose oldest son was already serving in the Royal Canadian Navy. Despite this, Morgan was drafted in February 1943 into the US Navy. He went to boot camp at Naval Air Station Shelton, Washington, where he trained for nine months. After training, he attempted three times to be transferred to sea duty, succeeding on the third try. He arrived in Pearl Harbor in February 1944, when the Indiana was in port undergoing repairs for her collision with the battleship Washington.

                                                                       Charles Morgan

                                                                       Charles Morgan

Just days after shipping out with the Indiana, Morgan went through a Navy tradition known as the line-crossing ceremony. This tradition, which has taken place in several navies for centuries, involves new sailors, referred to as “pollywogs”, being initiated by veteran sailors, known as “shellbacks”, in honor of their first crossing of the equator. Morgan remembers his time as a “pollywog” initiate. “One day I was down there [the enlisted men’s mess] on bean day, and I had my beans and coffee, and my sweet roll and my bread, and I’m sitting down there about ready to eat, and this guy comes along- “You a Pollywog? You better not lie.” And I said, “Yeah.” He says, “Oh, I’m glad to meet you. How about you take your tray and you lay on the deck, and you put that tray in front of you, and don’t you ever use that knife, fork, and spoon. I want you to eat those beans after I pour some coffee on them.” And he poured coffee all over the beans, and I had to use my hands, my fingers to eat.” Morgan was also subjected periodically to beatings by what was referred to as a she-lay-lay- a piece of sailcloth soaked in water, twisted into knots, and laid out to dry for days. The ceremony could be even worse than that: “Then they had one of them wind socks where they’re a pretty good size- they’re six foot long, eight foot long, something like that, and they had a bunch of these together, and they saved up all the beans and stuff, and they put it in the sun and made it rotten, and they put this in there, and they made you crawl through there on your hands and knees… They used the she-lay-lays on your ass when you were going through the windsock! Aw man, it was really something.”[3] As Morgan explained though, it could be worse. “This one guy from our division, I’ll never forget, he was from Murpheesboro, Tennessee, and they didn’t care for him because he was a kind of half a hillbilly, you know, and they just beat the hell out of him. They put him in sick bay. They beat him. The initiation takes all about six days anyhow- then they had one of them wind socks where they’re a pretty good size- they’re- what are they… six foot long, eight foot long, something like that, and they had a bunch of these together, and they saved up all the beans and stuff, and they put it in the sun and made it rotten, and they put this in there, and they made you crawl through there on your hands and knees, because that’s all you could do, and if you’re ass was sticking up, wham, wham, wham, wham!! They used the shi-le-les onyour ass when you’re going through that windsock! Aw man, it was really something. And then they dumped you- they had these life rafts and they had- I don’t know where the devil they got it, but they put this liner in there and filled it with water, and they made you jump in there and King Neptune had a cattleprod- you know what I mean…”[4]

After the end of an equator-crossing ceremony, life aboard the Indiana would settle back down to somewhat of a routine. With over 2400 men on board at any time, the Indiana was practically a small city. It was equipped with barber shops, huge mess halls, and even an ice cream parlor. However, life was not always comfortable. Most of the enlisted men slept in large berthing areas with bunks stacked three or four high. One exception to this was Paul Manegold, who as a Chaplain’s Assistant was given his own personal quarters. However, most slept in the large holds ,and as it was un-air conditioned below decks, conditions could become very hot and humid in crew quarters. It could become so miserable that every two weeks crew members would bring their mattresses on deck and suspend them over the side of the ship to air out. Many crew members also chose to sleep on deck rather down in the holds, where there was always a cool sea breeze. Sleeping on deck also meant that sailors could quickly man the anti-aircraft guns in the event of air raids, which became more frequent the closer Indiana moved to Japan.

While each crew member whom I interviewed had different responsibilities, three of them had battle stations in anti-aircraft positions. Manegold was a fuse-pot loader in one of the five-inch gun turrets, Morgan was a loader for one of the dual-40mm mounts, and Samuel Armao (who I will introduce later), was an ammunition passer for a dual-40mm mount. It is not surprising that three of these sailors were involved in anti-aircraft defense- as the war raged on and the Japanese began using large numbers of kamikazes in the hopes of sinking American warships, the American solution was to pile as many anti-aircraft guns onto ships as possible. As a result, when the Indiana came under aerial attack, many sailors would rush to their guns and would have stay at their posts for hours on end- sometimes longer. While the Indiana was supporting operations off Okinawa in the spring of 1945, many anti-aircraft gunners were at their posts for days on end. Both Manegold and Morgan had the experience of spending days at their posts- occasionally they would be able to catch naps, eat sandwiches and drink coffee brought to them by other sailors during lulls in the action. Once Japanese planes were overhead, however, the crews quickly began putting up anti-aircraft fire. Morgan described the process for firing at enemy planes: “I was a loader on a 40mm anti-aircraft gun… I’m the guy who came up and shoved them in the barrel. That was what they called a first loader… Each 40mm has a clip, and there’s four shells in this clip, and when you shove it down, it just goes off, your clip goes one way, and then your empty cartridges go down another slide in front of the gun mount… And there was what they called a gun director and spotter and each director operator is on a thing that is automatic- he’s strapped in, and the spotter tells him… it’s a bogey, and he’s out so many degrees 30 miles away, so they’ll be all ready for that. And whoever it was up in the tower, he said “Number 4, Number 7, Number 8, whatever it is, fire.” And then we’d start banging away.”[5] Manegold had a similar job as a fuse pot loader- he would take shells that had been lifted up to the fuse room and add a timed fuse to them. These fuses were set to explode at ranges depending on the distance of the target. Despite the impressive array of firepower, enemy planes would still get through at times. During the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot (Battle of the Philippine Sea) on June 19, 1944, one Japanese torpedo bomber managed to penetrate the Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and intense barrage of flak to make a run at the Indiana. “… we had one come down real low on the water, and how the devil got through all that anti-aircraft fire, I don’t know, because there was 5 inch, 40mms and 20mms going off, you know, and a lot of them had to hit him, because he just barely hit the water and hit the side of the ship… And nobody got hurt, but there was a couple of them [sailors] that turned around and wanted souveniers, and they grabbed some pieces of the plane, and they burned the hell out of them…”[6] Manegold was one of the sailors who grabbed a piece of the plane, “Yeah, it hit the ship- the shell didn’t go off… it just kind of splattered over the ship, it was coming down so fast. And when it hit the ship the torpedo that they had went into the water. But the plane was all beat up- that flew into the water, and pieces of it were all over the ship. I had pieces of it, but I never knew what happened to them.”[7]

Morgan recalls this incident as well. “We got three in one day- we had one come down real low on the water, and how the devil they got through all that anti-aircraft fire, I don’t know, because there was 5 inch, and 40mms and 20mms going off, you know, and a lot of them had to hit him, because he just barely hit the water and hit the side of the ship, right at the same time. And nobody got hurt, but there was a couple of them that turned around and wanted souveneirs, and they grabbed some pieces of that plane, and they burned the hell out of them, because their hands were all burnt… But that one that I’m talking about, that we were looking at, after we got into port, and everything was secure, we had some what they called side-cleaning where they guys over there clean up, painted, whatever had to be scrubbed and painted, you know, and we seen little dots right there. And we asked the gunner’s mate, “What the devil is that?” And he says, “You don’t know what that is?” “No.” And he says, “That’s where the bullets from the Japanese aircraft hit.” And it was about- I’d say about three feet below us, you know. And if he’d been three feet higher, neither anybody on the gun crew would have been there.”[8]

Aircraft were not the only threat to the Indiana. On another occasion, Morgan recalls a close encounter with a submarine that had snuck in amongst the task force, while off the coast of Saipan. “But then they had a great big carrier, one of the carriers out there, and they had a band on there- I don’t know whose band it was, but at that time period, they had a Irish tenor called Dennis Day. Dennis Day was his name. And I imagine their people would remember him, because he was singing Irish songs, and other songs, and he had the big band, one of the big bands in that time period, they were playing there, and how they got that band on there, I don’t know, but that was that band was there for a while, and we listened to that. It was what you’d call a “touch of home”, you know, because Dennis Day was a good singer. When I was a kid, I always listened to him, you know. And we were there, like I say, near the island watching Saipan, and all at once there was a destroyer making all kinds of noise, and he’s coming toward us, and he’s going like the devil. And we were saying, “What the devil is this shit, why’s he coming so close to us?” And he started dropping depth charges, and he got a submarine real close to us- I guess maybe hundred feet, hundred and fifty feet away from us. We seen a oil slick come up, and a bunch of stuff, you know, clothing and looked like wooden crates, cardboard, and all this crap come up, so he- he was no more.”[9] Initially, for many new sailors, just as with their brethren soldiers, marines, and airmen, combat was a shock that produced moments of horror coupled with absolute terror. However, the constant combat led to many gradually numbing to the realities of war. I asked Morgan if he was ever afraid of being in combat. He replied, “No, for the simple reason that you’re scared. When you’re scared, you don’t get to… it’s a feeling you’ll never forget. You’re just doing the job, and you’re scared. Yeah, you’re scared. But then after a while, it kind of wears off, you know, and you just say, “Well hell, that’s just my job.” Just slam them 40mms in there, and that’s it, because it’s your job, and you know it’s your job. But you just figure if you don’t get that guy, then he’s going to get you, you know. Simple. But being afraid, oh yeah, you’re afraid. You can see them in the air, you can see them dogfighting up in the air, you know, and you’re thinking, “My time?” That’s about that.”[10]

Fortunately for the crew, US Navy personnel were afforded the occasional luxury of shore leave. Manegold recalls that, “…you’d have big parties, stuff like that. We had a recreation center, on the beach, we had one called “Shangri-La” in the Philippines. And I used to go over there with the beer and give them the beer and stuff like that. One place of recreation over there, the Red Cross had a cabin or shack or something, and they were selling doughnuts and soda. They were selling it, right? I says, “Anybody goes up there, no more beer for them- I’ll remember that you don’t get no beer. Go ahead, go to the Red Cross. Get your soda for a nickel or dime. We had stacks of soda on these islands that were higher than some of these buildings we’ve got over here in New York. That’s how much soda was sent to the islands. We had Pepsi-Cola, Coca-Cola, Fiesta, all different kinds of soda, and they stacked it and stacked it and stacked it- it kept going up until it was as high as a four-story building.”[11] For Manegold, his position as a Chaplain’s Assistant also allowed him the rare opportunity to go to another ship, the carrier USS Wasp, to visit a friend. “So the “Wasp” was in there, and one of my friends that joined the Navy with me, he was on the “Wasp.” So I put on my good whites, and neckerchief and everything, and showed my card, showed to the truant officer of the deck, and then they called the captain’s skiff around, and I went over to visit my friend in the “Wasp.” The officers- nobody was allowed to leave the ship, but my pass says “Permission to Retain”, and then I threw my Liberty card in the box. So I could go off the ship any time I felt like. That was my privilege of being a Chaplain’s Assistant.”[12]

Through 1945, the crew of the Indiana continued the routine of bombarding islands and attempting to shoot-down kamikazes. In early June 1945, the Indiana encountered a severe typhoon that caused serious damage to several ships. The Indiana herself lost control of her steering for forty-five minutes. Carrier remembers the typhoon well- “It was, um, It was not a good experience. We would go underwater- the bow would go underwater- it looked like it would stay down- it washed a few 20mm gun boxes off the deck- and nobody could go on the main deck during that time, and it would roll- so many degrees that I didn’t know it would roll back.”[13] By the next day, the typhoon had abated, and the Indiana continued on its mission. The Indiana would spend the last few months of the war bombarding Japan. Following the end of the war, the battleship went to Japan and picked up a large number of POWs, many of whom were Canadians captured years earlier in the war. “Well, we were getting ready to go into Tokyo Bay and, this was at nighttime, we were cruising along, not very fast, real slow. Then we seen a big giant light on the shore, you know, real close to the shore, huge light. And it scared half the guys on there, you know. We’ve never seen anything like that, everything’s black at nighttime, and we hear over the loudspeakers that we’re taking on passengers. So we did- we had 110 Canadian grenadiers, soldiers, you know. They were Winnipeg Grenadiers- that was the outfit they were in, and they were captured in Singapore in 1939, and you can imagine what they looked like… Bones, that’s all they were, just a bunch of bones, you know. So we fed ‘em real good, and they said, “Do you guys always eat like this?” “Heck, yeah!” And we got rid of them and we took on some more, see they had to empty the prison camp- they’d just taken them out of the prison camp… So we took them, and the day after, two days after, we took a bunch more- I think we took about 90, but some of them were personnel that were working at the navy yard and around the port and all that stuff, you know, they had to have a bunch of them around the port for this and that and everything else. Most of them were all civilians, and there was a few navy personnel there... That was hell. And one guy fell down- he fell down the ladder, well steps, you know- and he broke a leg, and they wanted to take his buddy away, you know, transfer him, and he said, “No, I’m staying with him until he’s ready to go together- we’ve all had from ’39 until now together, and I’m going with him and you’re not going to stop me. I’m going with him!” So we kept him there, you know, about four days until he was ready to stand on that leg or whatever it was. But we had him for I think three or four days.”[14] After picking up the POWs, the Indiana transferred them to other ships, then sailed for home in mid-September with a full load of American servicemen on board. It was after she arrived home in the States that the last veteran I interviewed joined the crew.

 Samuel Armao was born in Reading, Pennsylvania on November 12, 1925. When Pearl Harbor was attacked, he was at a friend’s house listening to a football game on the radio. He realized that he would soon be old enough to be eligible for military service, and felt that joining up was his duty. He enlisted in the Navy just days after graduation from high school. “I always wanted to be a sailor, even when I was a youngster. When I got older, I didn’t feel too much inclined to be living in the mud, which would happen if I was drafted into the Army.”[15] After joining the Navy, Armao was sent to boot camp in Samson, New York, where he learned basic seamanship. Following boot camp, Armao remained at Samson for six months, training as a store keeper. Initially, he had hoped to become a Gunner’s Mate, but he was designated as a store keeper because he had had a semester’s worth of typing experience in high school. However, like many other sailors, his battle station would be at an anti-aircraft gun. Following his training, Armao was sent to Schumaker, California, to await assignment. After two weeks, he was sent to the USS Radford (DD-446), a destroyer preparing to leave for the South Pacific. He spent over a year on board the Radford and was involved in numerous actions, such as shore bombardments and convoy escort. During his time on the destroyer, Armao didn’t feel some of the stress of combat that others felt: “You just get involved in it, you don’t think too much- you’ve been trained to do a job, and you do your job, and when you’re 17, 18 years old, you’re big, dumb and happy and you’re invincible. You know people are getting killed, but you never think it’s going to happen to you. Most of us don’t. And that’s why a lot of times in the Navy we didn’t generally have post-traumatic stress. And it’s more common in the Army because you’re on land and there are guys coming at you with a gun or hand grenade- you’re shooting at him, he’s shooting at you- you see him face to face. But in the Navy, a lot of times the guy’s in an airplane, or he’s in another ship, or he’s on the land- you don’t see him up close- it doesn’t become that personal to you. And I think that’s what bothers people that are in the Army- it’s more of a personal conflict- right in your face.”[16]  Armao also had the misfortune of experiencing Typhoon Cobra in December 1944, a storm that has been estimated to have been a Category 4 typhoon which was responsible for sinking three US Navy ships and resulting in the deaths of nearly 800 US sailors.

                                                                       Samuel Amao

                                                                       Samuel Amao

In mid-February 1945, of the coast of Corregidor, Radford was attempting to come to the aid of another destroyer, the USS La Vallette, when she herself struck a mine. “…we heard the explosion, and the ship started to settle in the water, and of course, you don’t know how far down its going to go or if it’s going to sink. Fortunately, it stopped short of where it would sink us. But an interesting thing, we had the ship’s doctor, he was looking over the side of our ship, watching what was happening with the destroyer in front of us that ran into a mine, we ran into a mine and it blew him overboard. And about a week later they had a presentation where they give him a cardboard set of wings because he flew. He wasn’t hurt.”[17] When the Radford eventually returned to the States for repairs in May, Armao stayed with the destroyer until September. The ship was still being repaired, and Armao had just been promoted, so he was moved to the Indiana in October. Armao was immediately impressed with the huge difference in size between the relatively small Radford and the enormous battleship. “We had things you don’t have on a destroyer. We had a barber shop- you sit on a three-legged stool and a guy cuts your hair while the ship’s underway. And aboard the battleship, we had at least four barbers, regular barber chairs and all, and we had what the Navy called [unintelligible] stands, basically a soda fountain, and we could get ice cream, and sundaes, and milkshakes, Coca-Cola, stuff like that. It’s heaven compared to living in a destroyer.”[18] On the Indiana, Armao continued his previous role as store keeper, with his battle station being in damage control. However, since it was now peace time, conditions aboard were substantially relaxed. Armao noticed that while the war had been on, all of the guns were always manned, no matter the time of day. During peace time, however, few of the guns were manned during night watches. Even the meals changed during the peace. “Well, they had special meals, like Thanksgiving turkey and stuff like that. You’d have a better meal, and ice cream and things like that, which you normally wouldn’t have during the regular week. So we’d have every Thanksgiving like you were in port. Celebrate Christmas and Easter, things like that.”[19] Armao left the Indiana in May 1946 when he was discharged from the Navy.

                Ozen Carrier left the Indiana in March 1945. At the time of the surrender of Japan, Carrier was in a Navy school. He was discharged that December. After the war, he drove a bus for Trailways for eight years. Following this, he went to work as a civilian at a nearby Army facility. Eventually, he worked as a longshoreman, a job in which he continued to work until his retirement in 1986. He lives in his hometown of Wilmington, North Carolina. 

                Paul Manegold left the Navy in 1946. After his service, he worked in a number of restaurants, bakeries, and bus companies until he found work with an aerospace company. He is now retired and lives in his home state of New Jersey.

                Charles Morgan returned to the pottery job at which he had been working prior to the war following his discharge in February 1946. In 1948, he went to work at a steel mill which had opened not far from his home. He worked there for 32 years until the mill’s closure in 1980. He currently resides in Ohio.

                After his discharge from the Navy in May 1946, Armao worked as an assistant manager in several offices.  When the Korean War broke out in 1950, he was attending the University of Pennsylvania for a degree in finance. Believing that he would be called up, he volunteered for another four years in the Navy. He served first for two years with a shore command at Annapolis, then for another two years aboard the destroyer USS Charles R. Ware. After his second stint in the Navy, Armao went to work for a construction company and stayed with them for 31 years, retiring in 1985. He currently lives in North Ridgeville, Ohio.

[1] Paul Manegold, 12/19/13

[2] Ozen Carrier, 11/16/13

[3] Charles Morgan, 12/18/13

[4] Charles Morgan, 12/18/13

[5] Charles Morgan, 12/18/13

[6] Charles Morgan, 12/18/13

[7] Paul Manegold, 12/19/13

[8] Charles Morgan, 12/18/13

[9] Charles Morgan, 12/18/13

[10] Charles Morgan, 12/18/13

[11] Paul Manegold, 12/19/13

[12] Paul Manegold, 12/19/13

[13] Ozen Carrier, 11/16/13

[14] Charles Morgan, 12/18/13

[15] Samuel Armao, 11/17/13

[16] Samuel Armao, 11/17/13

[17] Samuel Armao, 11/17/13

[18] Samuel Armao, 11/17/13

[19] Samuel Armao, 11/17/13