MIGHTY NINETY

Chapter 15: Mog Mog
Recreation, Inspection and Awards at Ulithi



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USS ASTORIA sailors load aboard LCI (G)-463 for a brief liberty at Mog Mog fleet recreation center in Ulithi Atoll on 28 January 1945.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper



26 January 1945
USS ASTORIA and the Fast Carrier Task Force entered Ulithi Anchorage in the afternoon. Good news was waiting for them. LT Charles Tanner had turned up on Luzon. After two days at sea in which he was separated from the USS PASADENA pilots, Tanner took off and headed south to the Philippines. He bailed out over Luzon and made contact with the Filipino resistance.

No time was lost in distributing overdue mail which the men eagerly hauled aboard.  Movies were shown that evening.  "The first female on the screen raises hell with the boys," wrote Jim Thomson.

Beginning the next morning, groups of sailors were granted brief one-day liberty.  They packed aboard transports and headed across the anchorage for the Fleet Recreation Area at Mog Mog, an island on the northernmost end of the atoll.




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LCI (G)-463 loaded with a recreation party of ASTORIA sailors headed for Mog Mog fleet recreation center on 28 January 1945. 

-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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Sailors arrive at the Mog Mog landing. Note the island map ahead of them.
-Charles Jacobs photo in NARA record group 80-G-408187




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The map of Mog Mog posted near the landing area.  It shows the west side of the island limited to a Seabees camp and restricted officers' area, while the east side provided a variety of activities for enlisted men.  Areas designated as ball fields, sandy beach, swimming area, and shady grove sounded perhaps more glamorous than their rugged reality.
-manipulated from U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408162




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A refreshment stand on Mog Mog waiting to dispense beer and soft drinks. Note the cigars for sale.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408137


Sailors on liberty at Mog Mog were only ashore for four hours. They were given ration chits redeemable for just two bottles or cans of warm beer (three by some accounts). A complex barter system developed, with men trading cash, smokes, and future liberty for others' ration chits. Inevitably some men found ways to get drunk as a result.



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Above and below: Sailors enjoy beer and smokes in the relative shade of the beer gardens.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408184



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-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408188




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The swimming area on the easternmost shore of Mog Mog
.  Sailors swam in varied states of undress and shoes provided protection against ever-present sharp coral.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408140




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Sailors play pickup games of baseball in the ball field area of Mog Mog.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408207



The enlisted men's areas were always crowded--15,000 men at a time crowded into the larger half of an island that was only 60 acres.  By comparison, Officers' Country provided a degree of luxury.  Officers drank at thatched-roof clubs where they purchased as much beer as they desired, and even sipped shots of hard liquor in relative comfort.



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A sign announcing "Crowley's Tavern" hangs behind the bar at the junior officers' club on Mog Mog.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408126





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Officers enjoy drinks at benches outside Crowley's Tavern. The seaplane landing area stretches into the fleet anchorage behind them.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408192





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Fresh off several hours recreation, men line up at the intersection of "Hollywood and Vine," the main intersection near the landing area at Mog Mog. Note the web of overhead phone and electric cables.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408141





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Following their recreation period, men pack into transports and head back to their ships.
-Charles Jacobs photo in NARA record group 80-G-408180



ASTORIA F Division Shipmate Jim Thomson wrote of his Mog Mog liberty experience:
Drank my ration of beer.  Went swimming for the first time.  Not bad but no females...  It never fails.  Two guys are "over the hill" and finally get back at nine that night.
 



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Preparing the Captain's gig on 1 February 1945.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





LCDR Kenneth Meneke is promoted to full Commander on 1 February 1945. With this promotion Meneke became the Gunnery Officer, or "Gun Boss," aboard ASTORIA CL-90.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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ASTORIA officers pose around Commander Meneke during his promotion celebration on the night of 1 February 1945 in Ulithi anchorage.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper



While the crew rotated through recreational liberty, the ship was a hive of activity.  Stores were taken aboard and preparations made for a Captain's Inspection scheduled to take place on 3 February.

F Division shipmate J. Fred Lind wrote in his diary:
We painted, scrubbed, and cleaned all our stations. The ship looks trim again. Big things are in the making. The base is loaded with over 300 ships. A lot of new ships arrived, and we received mail and took on fuel.



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An aerial view of cruiser berths in Ulithi north anchorage taken by a USS YORKTOWN plane in February 1945. At center is WILKES-BARRE CL-103. The berth of USS ASTORIA is out of view to the right.
-U.S. Navy photo in NARA record group 80-G-408197





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A panorama of Ulithi north anchorage created from overlapping images taken aboard USS ASTORIA
on 2 February 1945.
-panorama created from photos taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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A closeup of one of the images forming the above panorama from USS ASTORIA. This image shows Cramp-built twin sister MIAMI CL-89 with other cruisers in the background.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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A closeup of the second image shows oilers of the Logistic Support Group berthed at Ulithi north anchorage on 2 February 1945.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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The view from the opposite side of ASTORIA shows aircraft carriers of the Fast Carrier Task Force
on 2 February 1945. The fleet carriers shown are LEXINGTON CV-16 (left) and HORNET CV-12.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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A view forward of ASTORIA in her berth at Ulithi on 2 February 1945.  Auxiliary ships and tenders lie alongside cruisers while an LCVP crosses the bow of ASTORIA.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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Captain's Inspection aboard USS ASTORIA, 3 February 1945.  Executive Officer Armentrout performs a crew inspection on the ship's starboard aft main deck.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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Captain Dyer conducts an inspection of S Division shipmates on the fantail, 3 February 1945
. Although the U.S. Navy was segregated during WWII, a unit of African-American steward's mates served aboard ship in the officers' mess and as ammunition carriers. Note that the men toward the back of the photo appear taller because they are standing on the ship's aviation gasoline reservoir over the hangar.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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Marine Captain Gerard Armitage leads the ship's USMC detachment in preparation for the presentation of awards following inspection, 3 February 1945.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper





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Above and below: Captain Dyer presents awards to individual sailors on the ship's fantail before addressing the crew about their upcoming operations, 3 February 1945. Note the Submarine Warfare "dolphins" pin worn by Dyer, as he spent most of his first twenty years in the Navy aboard submarines.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




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-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




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The ASTORIA heads of departments following ceremonies on 3 February 1945. Officers wipe their brows from the Ulithi heat.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper



Jim Thomson wrote in his diary:
The Old Man gives us the once-over.  Feels good to get into whites again.  We are given the word that we are going right into Tojo's backyard next trip.  Draws a cheer from the mob.



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Impromptu photo of N Division sailors taken following inspection, 3 February 1945.  Note that ship's photographer Schnipper defaced the negative so the ships at anchorage could not be made out in detail when the photo was sent stateside.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper






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Lookouts from L Division in decidedly more relaxed dress following inspection, 3 February 1945.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper



4 February 1945
Jim Thomson wrote in his diary:
We [F Division] have the best inspection mark on the ship.  Working parties and more working parties.  Discover the sights on the 40mm are not according to Hoyle.  Spend three rugged days getting them in shape.

The work on the 40mm sights paid off.  Fred Lind wrote:
We are in and out of port on firing-practice runs. The ASTORIA continues to knock down more sleeves than any other ship. On a speed run we hit 32 knots. We had battle problems and fired the main battery.




An operation of a different kind is attended to while at anchorage in Ulithi. An ASTORIA sailor has a double hernia removed aboard ship on 4 February 1945.
-photo taken by and courtesy of Herman Schnipper




                                                 CHAPTER 16: OPERATION JAMBOREE

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Sources:

Jones, Brent.  Private photo and document collection.

Lind, J. Fred.  Sea Attitudes: A Collection of WWII Memories. Privately published.

MIGHTY NINETY: USS ASTORIA CL-90 cruise book.  1946.

Morison, Samuel Eliot.  History of United States Naval Operations in WWII Vol. XIV: Victory in the Pacific.  Boston: Little, Brown and Company Inc., 1960.

Peddie, Jim.  Private document collection.

Schnipper, Herman.  Private photo and document collection.

Thomson, James.  Diary kept aboard USS ASTORIA CL-90, 1944-45.

Wheeler, Keith.  The Road to Tokyo.  Chicago, IL: Time-Life Books, 1979.

www.archives.gov National Archives and Records Administration WWII photo archive.
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