USS SIGSBEE DD-502
"ONE MAN'S VIEW"
A TRIBUTE TO LT. THOMAS R. WESCHLER, USS SIGSBEE DD-502
GUNNERY OFFICER FROM AUGUST 15, 1943 TO MARCH 9, 1945
Lt. Weschler and his able assistant gunnery officers; Russell Dorn, George Hart, James McKinnie, Gordon Barrett, Ransom Slack and Richard Mechem inspired the gun crews of every battery on the ship to operate their guns effectively. During Lt. Weshler's service on the SIGSBEE we took part in the Pacific raids at Marcus / Wake Islands, "Battle actions" at Gilbert and Marshall Islands, Hollandia, Marianas Islands, Moritai Landings, Leyte Landings and Iwo Jima operation. The frequent drills and target practice at towed sleeves and towed surface targets, all prepared our gun crews for SIGSBEE'S last battle at Okinawa. On March 9, 1945, Lt. Weschler was detached from SIGSBEE to USS YOUNG DD-580 as XO.
During air attacks off Okinawa, April 14, 1945 USS SIGSBEE DD-502 assisted in shooting down several enemy planes before being hit by a kamikaze plane that crashed aft of Gun #5, at deck level, causing considerable damage and casualties, (23 killed in action and 74 +/- injured). Recalling my experience as pointer on 40 MM Gun #43, that day, looking through the gun sight and firing (in local control) at the ZEKE fighter plane headed directly for my gun mount……. I ask myself today, why I'm still here and my 23 young shipmates KIA? I feel that Gunnery Officer Lt. Weschler’s leadership, training and our ongoing battle operations, influenced the outcome that gave our gun crews the skill to hit, damage and deflect that plane to the fantail.
Between August 22, 1943 and April 14, 1945 USS SIGSBEE earned; Asiatic Pacific 10 stars, and Philippine Liberation 1 star, (according to my US Navy Discharge dated July 25, 1946).
By: Billy Roberts, GM3c
USS SIGSBEE DD-502 (January 23, 1943 to August 5, 1945)
Reviewed and edited by: John Mastin
Lt. Thomas R. Weschler on deck DD-502
somewhere in the Pacific
(Photo by R. L. Meek, GM1c)