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December 17, 2004
Oroville Mercury May 15, 1945

One Ship Sunk, Another Hit But Sailor Escapes
Survivor of the West Virginia sunk by the Japanese in the Pearl Harbor attack, Stanley Way, Boilermaker 1/c of the U. S. Navy , went back into battle aboard the Minneapolis only to have that ship nearly torpedoed from under him. Way, with 15 other men, was on the third deck of the West Virginia when a Japanese bomb and six torpedoes struck, all on the port side of the ship. The lights went out in the boiler room, and almost before they could realize the general quarters order was anything but a drill. Way and his companions found themselves swimming desperately, trying to keep their heads above the fast rising water and oil. The hatch had been closed, as it always is immediately GQ is sounded, and the men were trapped. The water had risen until it was only three feet from the overhead before the hatch was “undogged,” and the men rescued 15 minutes before the ship sank. Way said he hadn’t had time to think about anything except keeping his head above water.

Ship Loses Bow
Taken off the West Virginia, the men still had no time to worry about what they had been through for they left the sinking ship by means of ropes stretched to the Tennessee, which had been set ablaze in the attack. Once on board the Tennessee they fought fire for hours. Later, when they were resting at a naval air base, the reaction set in, Way said. The main reaction was utter exhaustion. Assigned to the Minneapolis, Way went through the Coral Sea and Midway battles and seven smaller engagements. Then the Minneapolis became the flagship of a cruiser task force sent to stop the Japanese in their final attempt to reinforce Guadalcanal. That was the famous Fourth Salvo Battle. In it the Minneapolis was hit by a torpedo that sliced off the ship’s bow. Way had left the boiler room just five minutes before a second torpedo hit amid ship blowing up six boilers. All of the men below were killed. Way was the only one of a group of eight men standing on the second deck, who was uninjured when the boilers blew up.

She Limps Home
Blazing away at the Japanese ahead of her, the Minneapolis had been attacked from behind by about 12 Japanese ships, Way said. He added that none of the Japanese ships got away. With only two boilers left, and no bow, the Minneapolis limped into Tulage Harbor where the men repaired the boilers and fashioned a makeshift bow out of coconut palms. It took the ship three months to the states. Its first start home had ended two days later when the engines failed and a tug had to be sent out from Tulage to bring the Minneapolis back. After nearly a month of further repairs, it made the successful trip home. After reaching the states, Way was given a 30-day leave before he was assigned to the George F. Elliott, a troop transport that took men to south Sea Islands. Later Way was stationed in New Caledonia, where he spent 19 months before returning home this month. Way wears the Silver Star for five major battles, three bronze stars and the Pre-Pearl Harbor star. His campaign ribbons are for the American, South Pacific-Asiatic and Pre-Pearl Harbor theatres. He also wears a bar signifying four years good conduct. He has a brother in the service, Seaman 1/c George E. Way Jr. aboard the USS Iowa, one of the Navy’s new battlewagons. Petty Officer Way and his bride the former Miss Eileen Hinshaw of Oroville, left for Plummer, Ida. on their honeymoon following their marriage here Friday.

Stu’s notes:
Oroville Veterans Memorial Committee member Phil Laws told me this about Dec.7, 1941 “ We were on the Air Craft Carriers USS Ranger on December 7th, we had just passed a Japanese Merchant ship off the Coast of Florida, it was loaded with antennas. Less than 1 hour later we got the word about Pearl Harbor, we immediately turned around and sent up our planes. We soon found an oil slick, lots of debris and empty life vests, but no ship. Did it go down with all hands, scuttled by the crew? Later we heard the Japanese were ordered to do this if detected.” A Mystery of War; Phil served through out the war. Ending upon the USS Wasp, an Essex type carrier off the coast of Japan, 1945. By now he was a crewman on a TBM Avenger Bomber. His duty was Radioman, rear gunner and other duties. One day nine Kamikazes attacked his ship, all was shot down but one bomber did sneak in and a bomb hit his ship killing 89 men and wounding 190. Asked about the Atomic Bomb, he said it saved many lives.
Does anyone know about Eileen or Stanley Way?