OTR Gang Class #25 (November 1940 – February 1941), RM1c Raymond Rundle served aboard USS Enterprise (CV 6), CTF 16.1 ISO USS Hornet Doolittle Raid April 18, 1942; USS Yorktown (CV 5) during the Battle of Midway, 4–7 June 1942; and supported the Aleutian Campaign, March – September, 1943. Featured image: Adak, Alaska, circa 1943.
RM1c Rundle was born on August 23, 1918 and died September 7, 1984
Oral history follows:
This is an interview with Raymond A. Rundle, conducted during the NCVA Reunion in San Diego on 22 September 1983. The interviewer is Lieutenant Commander Kent W. Wells, USN. The interview has begun on the tape mid-discussion and is of interest. Intro followed several minutes into the tape.
RR: but anyway, to my knowledge the first Task Force Unit did consist of this Paul Seaward and Bill Eaton and how this came about I wish I knew, but I wasn’t privy to that. At the time, we had an Operations man by the name of Lankford. He was the Chief Radioman in Charge of Heeia when I first went up there and then I think he was commissioned by the time we arrived at Wahiawa, which was after the attack, of course. I imagine somebody, I don’t know who, came up with the idea, well, why don’t we send a Unit out this time with the Carrier and we’ll put them on the Yorktown and see what happens. Well, what happened, I don’t know. I don’t know what the results were, but they made the trip. It – I can remember so clearly, they were complaining about the fact that they were out of sight of land for, I think, 102 days and the ship ran out of food. They were eating beans and rice. They were just getting kind of low on everything you know, but they did have this contact with the Japanese Carriers in the Coral Sea and they sink a light aircraft carrier. That’s probably in the book somewhere. And they damaged one of the heavy Carriers, Shokaku maybe.
KW: Shokaku was damaged.
RR: Shoho –
KW: Shoho was sunk.
RR: Right, they made some hits on some other things, I think.
KW: Right, there was quite a bit of that.
RR: As far as the battle went, as little as I know about it, I think it was about a draw, but in retrospect, I have read since mainly in the book “Midway” by Prang, that strategically speaking this battle had the effect of halting the Japanese advance on Australia, Port Moresby and in that area, because they never did carry it through after that. So that I believe was the first FRUPAC Detachment afloat, if you want to call it that. After that came – that would be the Doolittle Raid, had to be. April in ’42. They must have felt that that was a good operation to have because they sent more men next time.
KW: Why don’t you let me identify the tape here a little bit and then we can continue right on. This is Lieutenant Commander Kent Wells. I’m in San Diego at the ’83 NCVA Reunion and I’m interviewing Raymond A. Rundle, who at the time of the interviews was a Second and First Class Radioman Intercept Operator and he has provided us with three written descriptions of events that took place in which he was involved. First is the Doolittle Raid. He was on the USS ENTERPRISE, which was in April of ’42. The second is when he was on the USS YORKTOWN and the Battle of Midway of June ’42. The third is in the Alaskan Campaign, that is the retaking of Attu and Kiska that went from March to September of 1943 and he has also provided us with a short addendum of some of the more personal and individual sorts of recollections that he had mostly during the Alaskan Campaign. Just prior to this introduction Mr. Rundle was doing some reminiscing about his memories of the direct support effort and this time I would like to ask him kind of how he got into the Security Group business and ended up on the On-the-Roof Gang.
RR: I do not have knowledge of the selection system because that wasn’t revealed to me at the time, but I was a member of the Communications Division on the USS MILWUAKEE in 1939 and 1940 and we had a Communications Officer by the name of Card, Lieutenant Paul Card, and one day he called me aside and he said he wished to talk to me about a different type of duty and asked me if I’d be interested in a type of duty that was very interesting and very demanding and further more he couldn’t tell me what it was. Of course, this causes one to think a little bit as to what you might be getting into, but I thought about it and he said, I could think about it if I wished, and if I refused the duty, it would be all right and I probably thought about it for five minutes and then I realized I wasn’t going to find out what it involved so I finally said, I’ll volunteer. He said, all right. Now, he said, I want you to understand I will be receiving reports on you and he said, I want you to do a good job and don’t let me down. That was the last of the interview with LT Card and I stayed on the ship after that for several months. We went out to the Hawaiian Islands and the ship was part of what we called HADET, Hawaiian Detachment. We operated with the Fleet out there. We went into Dry Dock, major overhaul on the ship. Came out of Dry Dock and continued to operate in HADET and finally went back to San Diego and it was while I was in San Diego that I received orders to Washington, DC. This was about October or November of 1940. It told me to report to a certain office and a certain person at the Navy Department on Constitution Avenue. So upon arriving in Washington, I immediately went to the Constitution Avenue address and located the office and the first thing the man told me was get out of that uniform. We don’t wear our uniforms around here. Of course, no one had told me that to begin with. Then I met Captain Safford. He wasn’t a Captain then but it was Commander Safford, I believe. Then I was told to go find a place to live and report back on a certain date at 6pm. On reporting back on that date at 6pm I found out that a class was starting – Class 25 was starting that night and our classroom hours would be 6pm to midnight. This was after the building was closed, you see. Of course, we had to have identification to get through the Security Guards because we had to walk past the main door guard and down hallways and by Marine Guards and so forth, then back to our wing and then up on the roof and that’s where we had our class. Tony Novak was our instructor, Anton Novak, and we commenced our training that very night.
KW: I have a question. Was there another class maybe going on during the day?
RR: Not to my knowledge. I think I asked about that but they said, well, that space is used for something else during the day. At least that’s what they told me. The only time available is this six to midnight.
KW: Do you remember the date roughly that you arrived in Washington?
RR: Oh, it had to be probably mid-November.
KW: Of 1940?
RR: 1940, yeah. As I said, we started almost immediately and went to school throughout the week six to midnight and I don’t remember, I guess we might have got holidays off, national holidays. I’m not sure, but I remember I didn’t mind these hours, in fact I kind of liked them. I was used to standing watches anyhow. I came off a ship where the standard was the three section watch and I didn’t realize that there wasn’t anything but a three section watch until I commenced standing watches with FRUPAC in Heeia. They had four section watches in Heeia. I thought I’d died and went to heaven, you know. But I enjoyed it as I said. I made good progress. I was satisfied with myself. I guess the instructor was and I thought we were doing just great.
KW: That was Tony Novak?
RR: Tony Novak and I don’t remember – I wish I did – I don’t remember how long we were supposed to be there. All I know is that we were cut short and just how short we were cut, I don’t know.
KW: I have a question here. This is kind of a comparison to other descriptions. One of the things I’m interested in is the blockhouse or penthouse on the roof. How do you remember that configured on the inside? Do you remember at all?
RR: Yeah, I remember it was sort of a penthouse because I remember that we had to come up to a stairway to get up into it. Not a large stairway, but there was a stairway there and then once you entered the room, it wasn’t very big. We had 12 people in our class and it just about took up the space. It had the tables, the instructor’s table and desk and as I recall there weren’t any partitions or other rooms. It was just this space.
KW: The one description we got of some time earlier was that apparently by the time that you had got there – I’m getting the impression that this is an internal stairway.
RR: It is.
KW: We have a description earlier that they walked across a catwalk between two of the wings and then went up a metal ladder. It implies to me that it was on the outside.
RR: On the outside?
KW: And then walked across and the description that we have is that they walked in and there was a table with like four positions on each side and –
RR: Um, hmm, sounds like it.
KW: – there was one position in the back of the room that at that time was being used – said there was a First Class sitting there doing what we now call COMSEC.
RR: I see.
KW: I was just kind of curious if by the time you got there if that same procedure was still being used.
RR: There was one corner of the room there that for some reason we didn’t occupy. There was no partition as I recall, but our tables were arranged in a way that we didn’t use one corner of the room, so that’s possible. Although we never saw anybody else in there. Just us.
KW: Of course, at the night –
RR: Night, right.
KW: – could have been completely different. Excuse me for interrupting. I just wanted to kind of throw that in at that time.
RR: So, when we heard that we’d be leaving there sooner than expected, I guess they told us we were going to Heeia. Yeah, I’m sure they did.
KW: Now when was this? Do you remember?
RR: Well, this was in March of ’41. And we were aware through contact with Tony Novak by then that it was customary when you went out to the Pacific that you would spend quite some time out there that is, you wouldn’t spend a tour of duty at a certain place and then return to the United States necessarily. In other words, you might spend some time at Heeia, some time at Guam, some time at Shanghai, and some time in the Philippines and then come home. We knew one man, K. E. Carmichael, who had spent time on tours like that in the Pacific and I first met him at Heeia when I went out there. By the time he arrived back in the United States from the time he first went out it was seven years. During the time that he had been gone they had built the Golden Gate Bridge and he’d never seen it. Things like that. But, that of course, all cancelled out because of the war, that is when the started in December naturally conditions changed and Guam was captured, Shanghai was out of the question, Philippines was captured, so naturally we weren’t going to follow the old operations way. Then with the war came the Task Forces. It took a while for the Fleet to reorganize so to speak to get some direction to what they were going to do.
KW: Can I back up here a second? You roughly arrived in Hawaii in March. You kind of described what went on then between March and –
RR: I can back up a little further than that and I can tell you that we traveled across country by train from Washington, DC to Seattle. I think it took five or six days. Then our orders told us to report to Bremerton Naval Shipyard and we were to catch transportation. We would be passengers on a ship and the ship was the USS NITRO. The USS NITRO was an old ammunition ship.
KW: With a name like that it could be nothing else.
RR: Yes. It was in the yard or in that area and she was to load ammunition. So, we went aboard and the night of the day we went aboard, night had fallen and we suddenly got all hands call to muster and we got up there and we were told that the ammunition lighter along the ship was sinking. Taking on water and they needed everybody to help unload this ammunition. So we got in on that and I remember so clearly at the time that in a section of the ship where I was working I saw ammunition for the – 8” ammunition for the USS HOUSTON. I know that that ammunition was delivered a few weeks after that and it must have been on the HOUSTON when she fought with the Japanese around Java and got sunk in the Malaka Straits or somewhere down there. Anyway, we got this ammunition all loaded and everything and the ship took off. It was slow. A very slow ship. In fact, going out the straits there, the Straits of Juan de Fuca, the tide was incoming and the tide comes in there very fast and there were times when I think we were making zero knots going out of the straits. We finally got out into the open sea and this ship rolled like a cork. I mean, it was rough and the ship reacted very badly. We were put on security watches. We had some kind of gear they shipped going out to Heeia, or going out to the FRUPAC Headquarters and they had that locked in the vault down there and we were elected to stand the security watches on this. We made regular security checks in other parts of the ship and then we’d report to the Officer of the Deck on the Bridge. One night I heard a tremendous rumbling and crashing sound down below decks, which I couldn’t get to but I heard it and I reported it to the Officer of the Deck and he says, very well, carry on. So when I was relieved, I told the man who relieved me about this and I said, there’s something down there that’s loose and it’s rolling around and if I were you, I’d report it to the OOD because I did. So he continued to do it and the man after him continued to do it and apparently they didn’t pay too much attention to it at first. Then apparently one of the crew of the ship must have heard it and he looked into it and they had a working party down there in very short order. There was a mine loose down there and it was rolling back and forth from side to side every time the ship would roll. That was just a little side incident. We arrived at Pearl and off loaded down there. Went over to the Receiving Ship and I don’t recall who it was, probably a driver, met us at the Aeia Receiving Ship there and took us over the Pali to Heeia. Chief Radioman by the name of Vanderberg was in charge then and he met us and welcomed us aboard and he had the watch list all made out. Four section watches. We were all split up on the watches. We were assigned to experienced supervisors. My supervisor’s name was Benjamin and –
KW: Would it be the same Benjamin that’s here?
RR: I don’t think this Benjamin is here.
KW: I just happened to have caught that name.
RR: I forget his first name but his sign was double Z and we called him “Izzy Benjamin”, the rug peddler. There really our education began because we were assigned there to point to point circuits and when I say point to point, I mean places like Truk, Saipan, Takao, Stations in the Far East that moved a lot of traffic manually.
KW: Did you work both ends of those with two receivers?
RR: Yes, you would. You’d work both ends. These were very good operators. I mean, well actually most of them were good operators. I heard a few bad ones, but these were very good and we were told at the time, I don’t know who told us, but somebody told us they had commissioned radio operators. I still don’t know if that’s true. But be that as it may, they were very good and talk about move traffic. They’d call each other up and establish contact and they had a signal – we had our Q signals – they had their own. Yufu ten meant I got ten for you. The other guy might say, well, I got yufu twenty. They’d go on and on like that. Finally, they’d get it all sorted out and they’d decide who was going to go first. He’d take off and I mean there was no break. It just went. If he had ten he went through ten. He expected the other man to receipt for all of them when he finished, too. He didn’t want to make any repeats because they got kind of upset when a man would ask for repeats. So, most of us were pretty good operators. We’d copied Press in the 35 word range. Practiced on that and we were pretty fast on that, but of course, we were new to the Kata Kana and it took us a while to get used to handling that. The new typewriter. The hand made message blanks with carbons in them. You had to be able to change this blank in your typewriter without missing code groups.
KW: When you talk about message blanks, this is kind of a new phrase to me. What I assumed happened was that you had a certain sort of blank that you used that was essentially each of their messages would go on one of these sets. However, they were done.
RR: Yeah, we’d copy in blocks. We referred to them as blocks.
KW: What you’re calling message blanks, which of course nowadays it’s on a never ending roll.
RR: Yeah, continuous.
KW: Continuous rolls and you’d finish with the message and you’d space it a little bit and then wait to catch the next one as it comes along.
RR: That’s right. No, these message blanks were made manually by us. We had working parties. We’d have to go in to make message blanks and it was essentially like a 8 ½ by 11 piece of paper folded in half with carbon and flimsies interleaved inside. Whoever got all these copies, we don’t know. It was down in the FRUPAC Headquarters in Pearl Harbor.
KW: That’s rather a minor detail about those message blanks, but I did find it interesting.
RR: I think it’s probably an interesting historical note because this was a tremendous job. You can imagine, especially after the war started and we had the big building up at Wahiawa. There might have been 50 or more operators in there on watch and they were busy. I mean, there was a lot of traffic and each one of these message blanks that they used had to be hand made. By then we had traffic sorters, we had traffic picker uppers and one of their jobs also in between was to make message blanks. So this went on and on. We had three section watches there –
(End Side 1, Tape 1)
KW: All right, we’re back on the line now.
RR: Okay. Wahiawa was, during the war time, different from anything you’d seen before because you would have three section watches with a working party in between, plus the afternoon of the day before your evening watch you reported down to the compound for close order drill with rifles and sometimes you’d go down to the rifle range and do a little shooting on the range. So it was – your time was pretty well taken up. Then you’d go on watch starting with the evening watch and then of course the day watch followed by the mid watch. At Wahiawa I was a Search Operators. Search Operators – I liked that because we had a little more freedom to search different parts of the spectrum to see what we could find as opposed to sitting on say the Tokyo Broadcast. That was very boring. Certain point to point circuits were very boring, too. We didn’t like that. So we liked to search. I expect this is why most of us who were Search Operators seemed to wind up on the Task Forces because we were used to that and we had a little more experience. We were a little older than some of the operators who were by then copying the Tokyo Broadcast and other broadcasts. So, this routine at Wahiawa got very oppressive after a while and these opportunities would come up for Task Force duty and they always seemed to request volunteers. I don’t know why. I guess it was easier for them as long as they got somebody to volunteer who wanted to go. So every time I volunteered on each of the three Task Forces that I participated in, I was always allowed to go, so I liked that. And it wasn’t boring, believe me. This was a work house. More often than not, you were on watch period. Our watches, of course, were – we had a watch list like anybody like that would have, but when things came up and help was needed, then you went on watch and that’s where you were period. Of course, when things settled down and you weren’t needed, you would slip back into your three section watch routine or whatever you had. That Midway Task Force that action went by in a blur. After we got out there and things started, it never stopped until it was all over. We were on watch all the time. We were always in the Radio Room. In fact, I think I mentioned in my written statement that we didn’t even sleep down below. Because of the damage to the ship we didn’t like the looks of it. So we never went down there. We stayed topside all the time. Of course, that really wasn’t so smart either because the ship got hit. One of the places it got hit was right underneath us where one bomb penetrated the flight deck and went down below and through the stacks under the tunnel. Ruptured the stacks, blew out the fire rooms down there and that’s where all that black, greasy film came from that I mentioned in my written.
KW: Was there a lot of smoke coming in?
RR: Well, it wasn’t like wood smoke. It was more insidious. There was an odor to it. Stack gas. You know how stack gas smells. You got a little whiff of that and then there was these little globules or molecules of soot and oil that seemingly came right through bulkheads. I don’t know how this happened but it got into the space where we were and it covered us and it covered the interior of that space before we even realized what was going on. And, remember, I said previously we didn’t even realize we’d been hit in that Radio Room because of the noise. The noise was just tremendous. We heard all kinds of explosions. Guns and firing and things like that but we never – for myself, I cannot remember when the bombs hit. I just couldn’t pick it out from the other sounds, you see. Of course, when the ship stopped, the vibrations ceased and you knew the ship was without power, but we still stayed there because we still had power. Our receivers were on and we had traffic. So we stayed there even though Lieutenant Commander Fullenwider hadn’t been around to see us for a long time. We didn’t know what happened out there and we hoped nothing had happened to him, but we stayed there anyway because we just felt that was what we were supposed to do. Then LCDR Fullenwider showed up and he thought we had evacuated the island because everybody else had. We were the only ones on the island and looking back on it it was kind of funny, but it wasn’t funny at the time. Our immediate thought, of course, was especially the RIP-5s and the traffic. What are we going to do with all of this stuff. We didn’t know what was going to happen to the ship. At that time, nobody else did either. The Captain, Captain Buckmaster, was making an inspection of the ship to determine what had happened in the way of damage and Admiral Fletcher was trying to decide whether the ship was going to be patched up enough to go again and whether he should stay or whether he should go. All these decisions had to be made. Finally, I guess Admiral Fletcher decided that he’d better move his Flag because it didn’t look like the YORKTOWN was going to be up to speed after that even if they got it patched up, so that’s when we – we didn’t know if we’d have to go over the side and swim for it or what. So, at that time we weren’t just sure what to do but we asked the Language Officer, maybe we’d better get rid of one RIP-5 because we can’t swim with those things and so he gave us permission to do that and we dropped one over the side and kept one back in case we got a ride. It turned out that the ASTORIA sent a Whale Boat over there to pick up the Admiral and his Staff, so the last trip that boat made we got on the boat with the one RIP-5. Meanwhile (someone) ran back to the Radio room and he picked up all the traffic and material we had up there so we didn’t leave one thing aboard. Nothing.
KW: That was one thing you had in your written thing. You said he’d gone back.
RR: He’d gone back. You see it was kind of dangerous and he volunteered to do it. That stack had been on fire and they gotten the fire out, the external fire, but the stacks were still ruptured, so it wasn’t too safe to go up there, but he made it up and back okay. Later on – as I said, we removed everything out of there and took it to the ASTORIA – later on and reading the book MIDWAY by Prang, I noted in there that when the Salvage Party went back aboard the YORKTOWN thinking they could save it, a couple days later, they found a whole sackful of the codebooks and code equipment that somebody had bagged and left behind in a hurry. Now that came out of the Main Radio, I guess. It wasn’t ours. I wanted to make that clear.
KW: One of the things I was leading up to is that upi were obviously in Hawaii on the 7th of December.
RR: Oh, yes, right.
KW: Can you remember –
RR: I can recall that very well. I didn’t happen to have the watch that day. I had a cousin over in the Islands and he was stationed at Kaneohe Naval Air Base and I’d called him and I’d said, now I’m not on watch and you’re not working on weekends, so why don’t you come over Saturday night to Heeia and stay here and we’ll get up early Sunday morning and we’ll go over to Honolulu and go over to Waikiki Beach and he said, fine. That sounded good to him. So, he was there and we got up early and we left the Station and walked down to the little village of Kaneohe. I believe that’s where we could have caught a bus, if things had gone right. While we were down in the little village of Kaneohe, we heard aircraft and I stepped inside of a business there and they had a radio going and I could hear the volume was turned up quite loud and I wanted to hear what they were saying and they were saying in effect that the island was under attack and that all military personnel were to return to their Base right away. So, I took my cousin over to the Police Station in Kaneohe and I said, you stand here because this is the main highway and I’m sure there will be personnel coming down the road on the way to Kaneohe. You flag one down and get back that way. He said okay. I started back the other way to Heeia and the Radio Station on the run and they said on the radio also that military personnel should commandeer vehicles if you need to to get back. Well, there wasn’t any vehicles going my way. They were all going the other way. So I got up to within a half mile of the Station and I begin seeing these aircraft circling and about that time one of them, very low, circled over the road I was on as if he was going to circle and make a run on Kaneohe Naval Air Base. In doing that, I got a very good look at him. He was that low. I could see his face and he was looking right at me and I was wondering at the time if he was thinking of making a side run because I was a little bit worried. I wasn’t in uniform. I think if I’d been in uniform, he might have taken a shot at me, I don’t know. Actually his target I know was the Naval Air Base Kaneohe. I got back to the Station and we had a compound there surrounded by a 6’ wire fence with barbed wire on the top and it was just full of civilians. In my absence some of the crew had been sent out to pick up civilians surrounding the Station and bring them inside this compound. I don’t know what they thought they were going to do with them, but that’s what they did. But they took all kinds of interesting things away from them like pitchforks, old, old firearms like shotguns and pistols that probably wouldn’t fire and things like that. They were frightened people. They knew what was going on and many of them were Japanese and they didn’t know what was going to happen to them because here they were inside a fence already. So, then these aircraft seemed to use our Station as a point of reference. There was a flagpole and flag flying and they seemed to turn right over our Station as they made a circle around to make another run on Kaneohe Naval Air and the Marines wanted to fire on these aircraft. I mean they were very low and we had a man out there by the name of Sloaner. You’ve probably run into his name. He was an Ensign then and he’d been out there for several nights and we’d furnish him a position and he’d listen for certain things. I don’t know what his objective was but he was there. We didn’t bother him and he didn’t bother us. He was the only officer onboard that Station the morning of December 7th and these Marines were out there preparing to fire at these planes and he went out there and said, do not under any circumstances fire on these aircraft. If you do, they’re going to come back and level this place in about five minutes. So there wasn’t any shots fired from Heeia. I think it was a smart move. I went in the Shack and they had the local NPM broadcaster tuned in very loud and it had a – somebody had cut a tape apparently and it transmitted continuously “air attack, this is no drill” over and over and over again and as I recall, normal watchkeeping operation wasn’t going on at that time. They were too busy trying to handle these people out there, so I stayed in the Shack and answered the phone and kind of generally watched over things in there. Intercept at that time had temporarily been suspended, I guess you might say, while we handled this other matter, too. We also had a fire going out there and they were burning certain IBM cards, punched cards, and other things like that because they didn’t know at this time whether they’d be a landing or not and we didn’t want to get caught with a lot of paper that couldn’t be destroyed. It’s a good thing there wasn’t a landing because these IBM cards took a long time to burn. It took constant tending to do this. While we were doing that, you could stand outside the Radio Stack and look over toward Kaneohe Bay and the Naval Air Station there. You could see the PBYs burning there on the lagoon. You could see these Japanese Aircraft make their low level attack. They didn’t bomb like our dive bombers. Our dive bombers were almost vertical when they came down. These were in a low level, low angle type glide bombing, I guess you’d call it, but they were dropping tremendous ordnance over there because the explosions, the concussion was so great that we could feel it across the lagoon where we were. We could see parts of building flying up in the air and induced explosions from I guess ordnance they had stored over there. Ammunition. Tracers were all over the place. You could see it, you know. Then we’d try to watch. There was a lot of smoke over the Station and we’d watch these planes go in and we’d always look to see if they came out hoping they wouldn’t make it and a couple of them didn’t. They went in and didn’t come out. I don’t think they shot down too many. I don’t really know.
KW: In that time before in your normal Kana thing, you’d gotten no feel or indication of any sort of – where were the carriers?
RR: No question came up. One of our supervisors – you see the supervisors in those days also did some traffic analysis. Not the operators, but the supervisors. They were the more experienced and they run the watch and they would report to the Chief in the morning. They were looking for the carriers and I remember the supervisor by the name of Okins who mentioned that he could not locate the carriers and I think he wrote something to that effect to the front office. We knew something was up because we had received instructions directing our attention to operations in the Far East. We were watching the circuitry in that area very carefully, but I can recall being on watch before the attack and this was just a few days before the attack and we had a Search Operator there by the name of Sutherland. He was an ex-Marine and had been in the outfit for sometime. An experienced operator. I noticed that he had some numerous, very loud signals over there where he was and I went over there to talk to him during the break and asked him what he had and he says, well, information I have available to me tells me these are submarines. I said, you mean Japanese Submarines? And he says, yes. I said, well how come there are so many of them and why are they so loud. I was a fairly new operator then and maybe that was a dumb question. He says, well, as a matter of fact, they are loud. Louder than I’ve ever heard them and he says, there are a lot of them. Then I went back on watch and I didn’t think about that again until after the attack and I believed then that he actually had been intercepting submarines that were in our area. They had to be because they were dumping off midget submarines there. You probably heard about that. They didn’t go any good, but they were there and there had to be quite a bit of activity out there and I think he heard it. I’m sure he made a report to the supervisor and the supervisor no doubt made a report to the front office and what they did with it I have no idea.
KW: Was there any DF associated with that work?
RR: Yes, yes. We had a DF Unit there. We had a – I think it was called a DY. Yeah, we had DF watches around the clock there.
KW: Do you know if any of those signals were sent in?
RR: Yeah, we could call out there. They were right outside the compound fence there. Yeah, we could call out there and we could ask them to take a cut on such and such a unit on such and such frequency and they’d give us the bearing on it. But we weren’t Netted then. That’s the trouble. You’d get a bearing and say, sure, it’s 270 or whatever, but where? Where on that line? You’d get a line bearing, that’s all. That was our trouble in the Aleutian Islands. We needed DF backup there desperately, but it just wasn’t available. Of course, there was some Netting by then but we weren’t hooked up to it. We didn’t have DF. The Army wasn’t available, so we couldn’t use that. If we had had better communication, DF backup, coordination with the Army, we could have done so much more, I’m sure.
KW: Right now I was just looking at the time and it’s quarter after five – This is Lieutenant Commander Wells again and it’s the 23rd of September and we are continuing the interview with Mr. Rundle. One of the questions that I had in kind of reviewing the tape was the Strike Force against Pearl had to go back and I was wondering whether you were aware as an operator or had you received any direction to try to identify, find, get bearings on these Pearl Harbor Strike Force on their way back?
RR: Yes, as I recall. The day of the attack, of course, December 7th, disrupted intercept activities for some time due to the fact that we were at first advised to begin a partial destruction whereby we did commence destruction of punched IBM cards and some other paper documents like that. We didn’t go into a wholesale destruction. Then that order was rescinded and the watch was resumed. The people were removed out of the compound and the Station was organized into an intercept station again with the addition of armed guards around it. The armed guards were the operators themselves who were off watch standing more or less double duty. We did go back to intercept activities. At that time we realized this Force was probably still in fairly near vicinity of the islands and we did commence intercept on the lower frequencies where we expected to hear them and to my knowledge, it seems to me that we did obtain some intercept and I’m sure we asked for bearings and obtained line bearings on these. Understand of course that we were still very much in the dark as to what the future plans were that the Japanese had for the islands. We were not yet certain that we would not be invaded. So we had that worry also, but yet we didn’t want to disrupt our activities and perhaps lose valuable information. So watches did resume. They continued on. We went into a state of Marshall Law. The island was blacked out. All the islands were blacked out and conditions were such that you couldn’t move around there, around the roads and highways because the Army had completely blanketed the island and the information was passed via AM radio throughout the islands to enforce strictly the blackout. It advised that the military patrols and the Honolulu Police were authorized to shoot lights out if they found any showing. That gives you an idea of the state of alert there at that time. I think all liberty ceased. It was strictly round the clock watches and guard duty and that continued on for a time. I don’t recall just how long. I don’t know how this came about, but the decision was that we would evacuate Heeia and move to Wailupe which we did in a very short time. We dismantled all the equipment in the intercept room and loaded it on trucks along with other furnishings and equipment from the barracks and we did that about in one day and proceeded to Wailupe. At Wailupe we were in the old NPM Radio Shack and the reason that was available was because the General Service at NPM had moved from Wailupe to Wahiawa and taken over the underground operations room at Wahiawa.
(End Side 2, Tape 1)
RR: As I read, we moved in from Heeia to Wailupe. This was without ceasing intercept activities at all. It was the type of move where part of the equipment was moved and some of the crew went with that and established that and then the remaining equipment and remaining personnel followed. Eventually it was all moved in there and we were altogether at Wailupe. We stayed there not too long. I do not recall the exact amount of time, but eventually we also moved to Wahiawa and we were in the building – it wasn’t the underground facility, it was the building up on the hill there, which also contained the Administrative Offices. We used that as an intercept facility for several months and it was very crowded. We crammed as many positions in there as could possibly be squeezed in there. Remember it was blackout time and you couldn’t show a light and it was still Marshall Law. If you were on the street, you had to be off the streets by 6 o’clock and so forth. In effect, there was no liberty. These conditions prevailed for quite some time. The operating conditions in that building were terrible. The air became foul and it was unhealthful and I remember one night, and I wish I could recall this man’s name, an officer came in there maybe he was from the Headquarters in Pearl, but at any rate, he came out to Wahiawa to visit and stepped in between the blackout curtains into that big brightly lit room with a lot of smoke and foul air and he stood there and he surveyed that for a couple minutes and walked over to the supervisor and said, open up all the windows and the doors in this space and the supervisor says, but we have the requirement for blackout. He says, I will take that responsibility. Open the windows. So, the windows were opened. The air freshened up considerably. Conditions were a lot better and of course immediately we began getting calls from the Army and all over the place that you’re showing light, you’re showing light. This man answered all the calls. He took all the calls and he explained to them what was going on and he says, if you have any objections, you call my office and we’ll talk about it. So, that went on until some large louvers could be installed in the sides of the building which would allow fresh air to come in but at the same time it wouldn’t allow light to go out. It wasn’t something that stayed that way forever. Then eventually I went on the Task Force assignment in the Aleutians and while I was gone, they built a brand new intercept building at Wahiawa and when I came back to Wahiawa after the Task Force duty in the Aleutians, that was the first time I’d seen that. It was a very large facility and they’d apparently moved out of the other one, which they outgrew a long time ago. Back to the Marshall Law and the conditions there, that prevailed for an awfully long time. Apparently the fear of invasion prevailed for quite some time even after the Battle of Midway because I guess after the Battle of Midway it still wasn’t realized that probably this had pretty much ended the Japanese threat to land on the islands. What they did, they really missed their chance on December 7th. That’s when they should have done that.
KW: One question I had, when you talked about moving the intercept sites from Heeia down to Wailupe and then subsequently to Wahiawa, did the DF go right along with that?
RR: Oh yes, we cleaned the station out. It was empty. Wall to wall. The intercept building. The offices, the little offices there, the photographic dark room, the barracks. Everything was cleaned out. It was left completely empty and I never saw it again. I never got back there until maybe 1980 or so. I went over to Honolulu on a visit and I attempted to locate the Heeia Station. I couldn’t find it. It was gone. So, –
KW: Probably houses built over it.
RR: Yes, something replaced that. Then of course conditions became pretty bad all over the island because it was a major staging point for troops. Men and material were pouring into the island daily and actually it was hard to move if you ever did get into downtown Honolulu. There were people all over the place. So we tended to avoid that. We didn’t like to move around too much. There were troops all over the place and we actually enjoyed leaving there on the Task Forces to get a change of environment, I guess. I really didn’t count on the environment we were going to encounter in the Aleutians but it was different. I’m glad that we had the opportunity now in looking back on it. The conditions at Pearl were so bad. Then, too, we had all these restrictions under Marshall Law, but if you went toward the Navy Yard, long before you arrived there you could see the light from the Navy Yard reflecting off the clouds. The place was lit up day and night by Navy Yard activities, welding, and crews working on ships. Of course, they were down there trying to salvage the ships that had been torpedoed and blown up on December 7th and that took a long time to clear the harbor. So Pearl Harbor was a beacon at night. There was no way that they could black that out completely. Then also I forget what period of time this was but during this blackout time, the big volcano over on the Island of Hawaii erupted and it was sending a cloud of smoke and molten lava into the sky and you could see that for miles and it could easily have been used as a homing beacon on the island, so we really didn’t think that blackout was too effective, but nevertheless we had it, you see. We had strange things happen there while we were still at Heeia. One of our sentries reported a moving light in a field across from the Station toward the mountain range and those of us who were on the defense squad that night were sent out there to apprehend whatever this was and whatever it was, it just moved away from us so rapidly after we started after it, that we never did identify it. We never knew what it was, but it was definitely a light and probably one or more persons out there with the light. We had no idea what they were doing. As I recall, we were armed, of course, but as I recall on this particular night we were not ordered to fire on the light. Only to try to find out what it was. Most of the firing was by – when it was done – Army Military Police or Honolulu Police and they would. They would fire. It was a scary situation. Between our Barracks at Heeia and the Radio Shack itself, we had posted a guard and of course it was so black, dark there you couldn’t see your hand in front of your face and we’d leave the Barracks area to relieve the watch and we knew this sentry was down there and he knew, of course, that the watch was going to be relieved. Nevertheless, the situation was such that the sentries were very nervous and as we moved toward the Shack, we could hear – we’d watch for the sentry – we could hear the bolt action on the rifle before we could see the sentry, so we knew that he pumped the cartridge into the barrel before he even challenged us and he’d do that first and then he’d challenge us and we’d have to identify ourselves and we would pass on. It was very very ticklish and the Marines were just as uptight as the Sailors as sentries. We had Marines as sentries at Wailupe and then of course they had much more armament like machine guns and things like that and when they said “halt” you had better take one step and halt right there because if you went any further, the chances are they could fire. We’d hear firing outside the Shack all night long all around us. We don’t know who was firing or what they were firing at, but imagine it was nervous sentries. I know Marine at Wailupe was standing watch at the main gate had an experience one night. We were on the evening watch, I think it was, and we heard this machine gun right outside the building and the supervisor went out there to find out what was going on and the Marine said he’d seen something move over there away from the building a few yards. The movement seemed to be suspicious so he fired at it. The supervisor walked over there and it was a shrub of some kind waving in the wind and the sentry being at night, being nervous, simply read that as something threatening and he cut loose. Now if somebody’d been in that area, it would have been too bad. So I don’t know how much in total, I don’t know how much intercept we received on that Force as it turned back and went toward the homeland, but I do know that we concentrated on the intercept of these targets and I assume that we did receive some. Of course, we know we didn’t receive any when they were approaching because they maintained rather strict radio silence. Unlike the Battle of Midway, they did transmit a little bit before the Battle of Midway, but I believe that they did not transmit prior to the attack on Pearl. It was a very well executed attack.
KW: Any other general comments or anything that you’d like to make?
RR: Well, I think, yeah, there is one thing I’d like to comment about on these Task Force Units. As time went on and more and more of these Task Force Units went out with the Flags, the more the Tactical Commanders became aware of it and we found ourselves instead of being regarded with suspicion, we found ourselves being welcomed aboard ship. They didn’t know exactly what we did, but they called us the “Gum Shoes with the Black Boxes”. Whenever we’d come aboard, they’d say all right here we are, we know we’re going somewhere now. Here comes these Gum Shoes again. As time went on, just about every – and the Pacific Fleet grew and grew and grew into a huge armada and there were many Flags out there and it got so that every little Flag wanted it’s own Unit and there was one Admiral, I think his name was Clark, Jacko Clark, I believe, who said he wouldn’t move his ship until he got a Unit and he got one also. There was good reason for it because they operated further and further out toward the Pacific – South Pacific and the home islands. They were encountering more aircraft both afloat and land based and the Japanese had a habit of sending up patrol aircraft and they’d station them in the vicinity of a Task Force or a Fleet and he’d sit up there and keep his Commands advised of where they were. What their speed was and what their course was and just keep them advised so what would happen, the Task Force Units would search for these aircraft frequencies. Of course, we knew them in a lot of cases and as soon as we heard one of these aircraft why they would advise the Flag of course and the Flag would – or the Air Officer would vector a fighter out there or two and they’d shoot this plane down. Many times you could see it from the ship. See the smoke and the trail of smoke into the water. They’d send another one right out.
KW: Did you have any DF capability on the ship at all?
RR: We didn’t, no. That would have been wonderful, but I don’t know – well, if they had any – well I’m sure they had some but whatever they had we didn’t use. Maybe it was not suitable or not available or something like that. Do they now have anything?
KW: I can’t answer that. Anything else that you can think of in general?
RR: No except to say that I think our Task Force Units were extremely lucky. I do not believe that we had anyone we lost anyone except one man. We did lose a man on one Task Force due to enemy action, but I believe it was only the one. I don’t recall any of them being wounded, yet they certainly were eligible, as was everyone else on these ships. So, I think all in all, the way it developed throughout the war, it proved itself out as a worthwhile addition to the Fleet. Tactical support especially. I guess the proof of that was the way we were received by the Flags. They wanted us on the ships, so we thought that was probably proof enough.
KW: Well, thank you again for coming back and completing this tape for us.