(Last modified, 11/07/2013)
Short Stories and Remembrances of the LSM 287

(22 MAY 1945) I remember the night we left Norfolk for Panama.  Mess that night was spaghetti.  Later we ran into a pretty big storm off of Cape Hatteras.  There must have been a lot of seasickness, because as I was going up for the 0 to 4 watch, there was a lot of spaghetti on the ladders and in the passageways.  I found out that spaghetti is really slippery, and you have to watch your footing and hang on, especially when the ship is being bounced around in a storm.
(Harold Westhoff, 9/7/2002)

Some things I remember... 
I was an Electricians Mate 3rd Class, and we had a really good crew. I was one of the preferred helmsman along with Charles Mitchell from Georgia.  I also was the barber aboard ship.  Bill Joswick, Fred Mancini, Harold Westhoff and I went on liberty a few times and had a good time especially in China.  Being in China was an experience... to see the country and to see real poverty first hand. 

One of the most memorable times was watching the B29 bombers coming back from bombing Japan.  We
were in Saipan and the big bombers landed on Tinian, the next island. They started coming back around 4PM and we watched until 2AM before we hit the sack. The next day we got news of the surrender and Capt. DeMarco broke out the whiskey and beer and we had a good party.  We had to celebrate twice to make sure the Japanese surrendered for good.  We were at anchor at Saipan at the time, along with many, many other ships that had been gathered for the invasion of Japan.  Every other ship in the anchorage was also celebrating and firing anti-aircraft guns with tracer shells and it was quite a sight.  It's lucky nobody got killed, as it was pretty wild.

I never had the "stats" on the big typhoon in Okinawa, the wind velocity, and height of the swells and how long the storm lasted.  Mitchell and I spent most of the night in the pilot house.  I'm sure if we rolled another 5 degrees the ship would have rolled over.  We were lucky to come back to the USA.  When we got back to the States in San Diego, I had enough points to get my discharge. 

Hibbs, Mario Fragassi, and Fred Mancini have visited me but I haven't kept in touch with the others, except when I got a call from Harold Westhoff, and I've talked to him a couple of times.  It was a great crew and I think about those days a lot.
(Joe Keck, 1/9/2003)

While anchored one time, I was airing my bedding and my pillow fell overboard!  I jumped in to retreive it and when I looked back at the ship, it look pretty far away.  It was some doing getting back on board.  All for the love of a pillow!

While on liberty in China I missed the boat that was taking the men back to the ship.  I had to hire a local boat to get back to the ship.  There had been rumors of boats coming close to anchored ships and firing on American sailors, so when I got close, I saw that Fred Mancini was on duty and started hollering out "Mancini, it's Coffaro, don't shoot!"

In Okinawa I was sightseeing with some buddies and saw this beautiful vase.  I thought it would make a nice gift for my Mother, so I picked it up and started walking.  Soon a crowd of locals were following me, chanting.  My friends said "Put the vase down!"  I put it down and the locals stopped following and chanting.  It may have been a vase that held some Ancestors ashes.
(Vince (Jim) Coffaro, 2/27/06)

We were anchored at Saipan with hundreds of other ships, when we got word that Japan had surrendered, I think it was August 12th where we were. Every ship in the area started shooting their guns and blowing horns and whistles, rockets, tracers, Very pistols, anything to make noise or color. It was a dangerous place to be and there were some accidents. The sky was red and the noise was horrific. It lasted most of the night.

Every ship had beer which was used for liberty on the islands, whiskey and other bottled goods (for medicinal purposes), and I think all ships dispensed most of it that night. I know we did. We had quite a party, this was a warm climate and the next morning there were guys laying all over the cargo and any place topside. A lot of headaches and sick men.

We found out later that the reason for all the ships in the anchorage was starting preparation for the Japanese invasion which was scheduled for around the end of the month. They had anticipated a loss of a million men when they invaded.
(Harold Westhoff, 11/7/2013)