74 Years Ago Today

 
LST-460 at Guadalcanal.

My father lost two first cousins in the Second World War. One was lost in the sinking of the USS Indianapolis in July 1945. The other was killed in a Kamikaze attack on his ship, LST-460, 74 years ago today.

His name was Gordon Spredeman. He received a posthumous Silver Star for his actions in the sinking of the ship. Unfortunately, I don’t even have a picture of him. But his Silver Star citation reads as follows:

Ship’s Cook First Class Gordon Spredeman (NSN: 3061034), United States Navy, was awarded the Silver Star (Posthumously) for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action as a crewman aboard the U.S.S. LST 460, when his ship was hit by a Kamikaze on 21 December 1944. Ship’s Cook First Class Spredeman aided in combating fire on the blazing ship, then gave his life preserver to a wounded man. His gallant actions and dedicated devotion to duty, without regard for his own life, were in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.

Here is an account of the sinking of the ship.

When he came back, he said they’d found room, and would I go on LST 460. My crew was spread around, too. Needless to say, I would have been better off staying than having to go through what I did, but there were ships in other convoys that were sunk, too.

On the day after the first night at 4:50 p.m., we were having supper when the ship’s loudspeaker announced there were 40 kamikaze planes coming in at us with our air force on their tails. As they approached our planes veered off, as every gun on every ship was blazing away at the Japs. I had just finished eating supper and washed my mess kit and was going to where I slept under a gun tub on a stretcher, I got off a Jeep loaded with medical supplies. I stopped part way under the gun tub and was watching these planes come at us. One LST got hit on the front of the ship with just the wing. I saw where they shoved the wing overboard, so they were okay. Another one missed and fell in the water.

And then we got hit. I didn’t see this plane coming, as the gun tub and the ship’s bridge was between me and the plane, but the next second I was surrounded in flames. I was under the tub enough so that the blast of fire and shrapnel from the explosion of plane and bomb went over and around me. Here I was, standing in the middle of the fire and sort of dazed and my mess kit still in my hands, when I said to myself, “I got to get the hell outa here!” I figured I would burst through the flames and jump overboard. I guessed if I caught on fire the water would put it out. When I burst through the flames, I found no fire next to the railing, only a line of mess kits going from the front of the ship to the cans we washed the kits in. I gently placed mine in line, I looked over the railing, and the water was full of men that jumped overboard when the plane hit us.

The back of the ship wasn’t burning so I walked to an area where there was a life raft on a skid. Another man came from somewhere, and we decided to wait for ‘abandon ship.’ Seems like the ship’s crew had a time finding an official. The plane had hit the bridge and gone down through the mess hall and quarters, all the officers were having supper and were killed or wounded. Our Lt.. Temple was down there and got killed. Finally, an ensign gave the order to abandon ship, so this other guy and I chopped the rope that held the life raft in place, and it slid down. I watched until it floated away from the ship, because if you jump too quickly you might hit the raft and get killed that way. I grabbed my life preserver at the neck and jumped feet first overboard. The life preserver can break your neck when you hit the water, especially at 40 feet, if you don’t hold it tight. I don’t know how far down I went, but I started paddling my arms, and I popped up, to my amazement.

The raft was moving away at a good clip, and I started swimming toward it, but couldn’t catch up. I stopped and took off my shoes, and then I caught it. When I got there, it was loaded down with men that jumped over when the plane hit. They had loaded the raft with so many men that it was a couple feet under the water. I couldn’t see anyone there with a rating higher than mine, so I ordered them to get off and hang on the outside like I was doing. They obeyed real well, as they were afraid of sharks, so we got the raft above water. We had two wounded on board, blood was spurting out of one man’s arm. I had a guy take off his belt, and they put a tourniquet on his arm and stopped the flow of blood. The other guy wasn’t bleeding.

While in the water, planes were still dive-bombing us, and they had a two-motored fighter escort them to their target. It had its bombs left, and it made a pass at a liberty ship. It dropped two bombs, and we all cheered as it missed. One liberty ship got hit, but the plane landed in one hold, and it was loaded with timber and lumber, and it didn’t go through the bottom. We watched from in the water as the crew put the fire out. The Jap plane that dropped the two bombs was flying low, and for a minute I thought it was going to get away. One of our Destroyer escorts finally hit it, and it hit the ocean and sank. I can still see it doing cartwheels in the water. We cheered then also.

We were in the water until 7:00 o’clock when an LSM small boat came over and started to pick us up. The seas were rough, and we jumped two by two when the raft and boat met. We finally got everybody picked up out of that area in two hours. It was just getting dark. I could see LST 460 burning fiercely as I was picked up. They took us to another LST, and after climbing up a rope ladder, I was given a bunk and shot of some kind and something for my burns. Head gunfire later, and they said they had to sink it so it wouldn’t be a beacon for more attacks. Right after that we started out again for Mindoro. I heard there were over 100 men killed on LST 460. Battery B lost five men.

There are 8 comments.

  1. 9thDistrictNeighbor Member

    I’m sorry you don’t have a picture of him. Sometimes family members will have an enlistment photo. The other thought I had is if you know where he went to high school there might be a yearbook photo.

    The account of the attack on the ship is astounding, as are the other stories at that link.

    • #1
    • December 21, 2018, at 12:22 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  2. Gary McVey Contributor

    What a story. Great post. 

    • #2
    • December 21, 2018, at 12:40 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  3. Hank Rhody, on the blockchain Contributor

    Miffed White Male: Ship’s Cook First Class Gordon Spredeman (NSN: 3061034), United States Navy, was awarded the Silver Star (Posthumously) for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action

    These things always get me. Where do we find these men of iron?

    • #3
    • December 21, 2018, at 12:47 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  4. Gary McVey Contributor

    If it’s any consolation to anyone–like me–who wonders if we could ever find men like this again, think of people in 1938 reading about Valley Forge and saying to themselves, “God only knows if we could muster that strength today”. 

    • #4
    • December 21, 2018, at 1:12 PM PDT
    • 13 likes
  5. OldDanRhody Member

    In my mother’s church was a picture of one of her cousins – a smiling GI with a carbine walking down a street somewhere in Europe. He’s one who didn’t come home.

    • #5
    • December 21, 2018, at 4:54 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  6. Jack Dunphy Contributor

    A powerful story. I fear we’re losing touch with stories like this as those who served in WW II exit this life. My father served in the Navy in the war, and my wife’s in the Army. Growing up, all of our friends’ parents served in some capacity, either in the military or the war effort at home. The war was deeply imbued in all of us. Today, WW II is as remote to most people as the Civil War, and even as our troops fight in Afghanistan, most Americans couldn’t find it on a map.

    Thank you for sharing Gordon’s story. May he rest in peace.

    • #6
    • December 21, 2018, at 7:40 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  7. Henry Castaigne Member

    Hank Rhody, Red Hunter (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male: Ship’s Cook First Class Gordon Spredeman (NSN: 3061034), United States Navy, was awarded the Silver Star (Posthumously) for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action

    These things always get me. Where do we find these men of iron?

    In a regular part of the country that no one notices.

    America has always been gifted with men of iron. I wish I could have done the same in such horror.

    • #7
    • December 22, 2018, at 1:30 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  8. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male Post author

    The funny thing is, the timing came up purely by coincidence. One of my brothers sent me a video about a naval airman killed in the battle of Manila bay in November 44. I searched for the silver star citation because I knew Gordon was killed in late 44, but couldn’t remember exactly when, and I was curious if it was the same battle. It wasnt, but it just happened to be the anniversary. 

     

    • #8
    • December 22, 2018, at 4:50 AM PDT
    • 2 likes