Interview with a WWII Marine Veteran

We wanted to highlight another one of the many interviews with World War II veterans that have been uploaded to YouTube. Here, WTNH News8 interviewed Anthony Pegnataro, who fought at Okinawa.

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Riding out the Storm

While World War II had officially ended in August 1945, men were still stationed in the Pacific in October as groups went through the demobilization process. On October 7th, men from the 22nd Bomb Group were going about their business when a weather announcement interrupted the radio broadcast. A typhoon that had previously been on a northwesterly course that would take it 150 miles west of Okinawa had suddenly veered off that path, headed north towards Okinawa, where it was predicted to make landfall the next day. October 8th started out calm and sunny, but the men kept an ear out for any new information and an eye on the sky. That afternoon, the weather changed drastically as Typhoon Louise began her march across Okinawa.

The camp was pelted by heavy rain and high winds that night, with the weather deteriorating even further the following day. When the men woke up on the 9th, the wind was gusting up to 70mph (112.7km/h). Pilots and crew chiefs kept the noses of their B-24s pointed into the winds to minimize damage to the planes. Out in Bruckner Bay, the Navy recorded a barometric pressure of 989 millibars and falling at 1000 hours. Later that morning, the wind and rain lessened, then stopped as the eye of the storm passed over the camp. For a few hours, the sun was out and it was ominously calm and very muggy. The men knew the storm wasn’t over and braced themselves for round two.

Typhoon Louise Oct 1945

Typhoon Louise is represented by the mass of lines that are very close together. Source: NOAA weather map

The rain and wind began again around 1500 with a ferocity greater than the Group had already experienced. They hurried to secure tents and buildings as the typhoon’s powerful winds increased. Back in the bay, the pressure had dropped to 968.5 millibars, its lowest recording, by 1600. Three hours later at camp, a group of men were huddling in a four-foot square insulated food locker to avoid getting hit by flying debris as tents and buildings were ripped apart by the howling winds. The storm continued to intensify, only to finally start letting up around the early morning hours of the 10th and completely moved out by the 11th. The men inspected the damage and began the arduous tasks of cleaning up and rebuilding. The Group’s anemometer blew away after recording 132mph (212.4 km/h), though it was estimated that Louise’s peak windspeed at the camp was at least 150mph (241.4 km/h).

22nd Bomb Group Area After Typhoon

The aftermath of Typhoon Louise

Thankfully, none of the 22nd men were killed by what would go down as the strongest storm to hit Okinawa at that time. The Navy was not so lucky. Because of Louise’s quick change, hundreds of Navy vessels had to ride out the storm in Bruckner Bay instead of out at sea. Ships that had laid anchor were dragged back and forth across the harbor or onto dry land, scraping against other ships along the way. The storm killed 36 men, injured 100 and 47 more were missing. Twelve vessels were sunk, with 222 grounded and 32 damaged. Over 60 planes were also damaged.

Bent Flagpole

Taken in front of Group headquarters shortly after the October typhoon, the tremendous power of the storm is evident. The steel flagpole was bent parallel to the ground by the ferocious winds.