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DETAILS OF SEA RESCUE TOLD MAGAZINE CORRESPONDENT SAVED IN FAR EAST WATERS
|The story of how four enlisted men
of the submarine uss Volador dived into the choppy December seas of the Western Pacific to
rescue the woman passenger of a helicopter and its crew of two was told last Tuesday when
the submarine, completing a tour of duty with United Nations forces in the Far East,
stopped at Pearl Harbor enroute to its home port in San Diego, California.
The woman pulled to safety by the submariners was Miss Charlotte Knight, Far East correspondent for Collier's magazine. The men were LT Y. J. Dyson, pilot of the helicopter, and Dewey Burton Sanders, aviation machinist's mate first class, plane captain.
The near-tragedy occurred 3 December when Miss Knight was being transferred by helicopter from USS Badoeng Strait to the submarine to work on a story for her magazine. When the helicopter fouled its stern rotor against the top of the submarine's shears and plunged into the sea, Miss Knight t was in a "bosun chair" at the end of a cable dangling below the copter. In the crash, Miss Knight was knocked unconscious. As the helicopter sank, she was dragged beneath the surface. She is uncertain how she became freed from the bosun chair, but as the enlisted men swam toward the spot where the crash occurred (some 75 yards off the submarine's starboard quarter), Miss Knight, still unconscious, was brought to the surface by the buoyance of her life preservers.
The first three men over the side when the "man overboard" word was passed were EM2 Frank E. Slaton, SN Richard N. Norton and CS3 Ernest S. McMullen.
Seconds after these three men stripped to their shorts and dived into the water, ENC Melvin A.. Garner rushed to the deck of the a submarine in response to the alarm. He saw the three swimmers in the water. But, since none was taking a line with him, Chief Garner quickly tied the ends of heaving lines y together until he had two light life lines. He e then dived into the water, swimming slowly if to keep from fouling his lines.
When he reached Norton and McMullen, who were supporting the slightly injured correspondent, he passed one line to them, then swam to the assistance of Slaton, who had reached the two men of the helicopter crew. With the aid of the lines carried out by the e chief, the entire rescue was completed within seven minutes from the time the helicopter crashed. Miss Knight's injuries were superficial, and no one could say whether she had been stunned by the force with which she hit the 1 water, or if she had been struck by some portion of the helicopter.
At the time of the mishap to the helicopter, CDR Eugene P. Wilkinson, was skipper of the submarine. His official log carried the following:
"The helicopter (UP 31), sank almost immediately. Volador suffered only superficial damage consisting of a few slight nicks on the top of the shears. All personnel involved were uninjured."
Miss Knight, after spending a brief time aboard the submarine, returned to the aircraft carrier from which she had begun her trip to the submarine.
In a letter addressed to the submarine skipper, she wrote:
"Dear Commander Wilkinson,
"I've looked all through Emily Post for a i paragraph On the proper procedure for returning a submarine skipper's borrowed underwear. Unfortunately, the subject isn't covered. Someone suggested that I return it D through channels via COMNAVFE (Commander Naval Forces F a r East) via COMSUBPAC (Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet), but I'm inclined to think they'd be non-understanding about the whole thing and probably form a committee to investigate 'Wha t GOES ON down the Thirty Fathoms Under the Sea.' So, having to abandon that a suggestion, I'm afraid the only course left to o me is to return the underthings directly, with my thanks, and say that I hope-I-can-do-the- same-for-you-sometime.
"Seriously, in spite of the somewhat damp reception I got the other day as I boarded your submarine, 1 want you to know it was one of the most interesting days I've ever spent. And although I do think the Navy forces its guests to take rather drastic measures s to get even a small spot of brandy, the hospitality to me by yourself, your officers and men, more than made up for the dunking I took. My sincere thanks again to all of you. With very best wishes, Sincerely, Charlotte Knight.
Miss Knight's boss, Collier's editor Lewis Ruppel, added his thanks. His message to -the Volador said:
COLLIER'S MAGAZINE EXTREMELY GRATEFUL OFFICERS MEN USS VOLAD FOR RESCUING OUR FAREAST CORRESPONDENT CHARLOTTE KNIGHTAFTER RECENT ACCIDENT X REASSURING TO KNOW OUR SUBMARINES AS WILLING HELP LADY IN DISTRESS AS THEY ARE TO FIGHT HEROICALLY SIGNED LEWIS RUPPEL EDITOR.
Admiral Arthur W. Radford, Commander-in-Chief U .S .Pacific Fleet, sent the following to the Volador:
THE COMMANDER IN CHIEF U S PACIFIC FLEET CONGRATULA TES USS VOLADOR t ON YOUR SPLENDID PERFORMANCE OF DUTY IN THE FAR EAST X WHEN YOUR STORY CAN BE TOLD IT WILL BE ONE OF -WHICH YOU CAN WELL BE PROUD X WELL.DONE X ARTHUR W RADFORD
Shortly after the rescue of Miss Knight, CDR Wilkinson was assigned as Prospective Commanding Officer of the USS Wahoo, a new submarine now awaiting commissioning and fitting out at Portsmouth, N.H. Wahoo is one of the three new Tang class of submarines built since World War II for general offensive.warfare against enemy surface vessels.
Relieving CDR Wilkinson as skipper of the Volador was Eugene A. Hemley, who had been commanding officer of the submarine USS Bang, a unit of the Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
The new skipper, in command when the submarine reached Pearl Harbor, will take his boat to San Diego in the near future.
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