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Recollections

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Charles Robert Auchmutey, Jr.
Veterans History Project Interview
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Charles Auchmutey served as Elmore's gunnery officer from Kwajalein Atoll to Okinawa.

Lt. Charles Robert Auchmutey, Jr. came aboard USS Elmore on 7 September 1943, a few weeks after the ship had been commissioned. He served as Boat Gunnery Officer on a a 23-month tour of duty leading amphibious landing assaults and taking part in eight major battles from Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands to Okinawa. He departed Elmore on 8 June 1945, having serving for 640 days onboard the ship.

Charles Auchmutey was a native of Georgia. After the war, Charles married and settled in Atlanta, where he and his wife Janey raised four children. He worked for 36 years as an auditor at the General Motors plant in Lakewood. Charles died Tuesday, May 8, 2007 of complications from emphysema. He was 86 years old.

Mr. Auchmutey sat for a video interview at the Atlanta History Center as part of the Veterans History Project on 10 June 2004. A transcript of the interview was completed on 25 August 2004. Ironically, this was the 61st anniversary of the Elmore's commissioning in 1943.

While there are a few comments made that are not historically accurate, it is only due to the inevitable decline of memory over the decades. For instance, he states that "And then finally, we left San Diego and were gone for 23 months." Actually, it was about 16 months when the ship returned to the States – Bremerton, WA – for a refit before the scheduled invasion of the Japanese home islands. Everyone on the crew received two weeks of leave.

Other than that, Mr. Auchmutey's recollection is a fascinating treasure for understanding what life on Elmore was like by someone who was actually there. We are indebted to the Veteran's History Project.

You can choose to watch either the video interview or read the transcript of that interview by clicking on the appropriate button below.

Mike O’Connor
Interview and Newspaper Article
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Mike O’Connor piloted a Higgins boat throughout the Pacific in World War II.

Sometimes Mike O’Connor, 86, has a “smell memory” that takes him back decades.

“Every once in a while, I smell those blowers blowing” fumes from the engines of a landing craft, the Lakeland resident said.

O’Connor piloted a specialized type of landing craft, known as a Higgins boat, throughout the Pacific in World War II under heavy fire while delivering Marines and soldiers to occupied beach heads.

The boats carried 36 troops and a crew of four and the ramp opened in the front, giving the enemy a clear shot at what was inside.

“They were plywood boats and it was easy, in those waters, to knock holes in them,” he said. “And then you’d have to haul them out, haul them up and repair them on ship. They gave me a jeep (to land) in Guam. I couldn’t get the boat up to the shore, so we opened the front and the water came in and swamped it.

“We hid under a drag line on shore until the shooting from the Japanese died down,” O’Connor recalled, “then pumped the water out and got a tow by the ship.”

O’Connor joined the Navy on Dec. 8, 1942, and was sent to boot camp in Bainbridge, Md., where he saw his first snow. It was a shock to a kid who had known only tropical and subtropical climates.

O’Connor and his three sisters were born in Honduras. Their father, Michael Ronald O’Connor, had gone there from the States to be a train engineer for United Fruit Company. He met and married their mother, Petrona, who traced her ancestry back to the Mayan Indians.

The elder O’Connor died when Mike was 13. The children had been in American schools and had lived in an American complex. Their mother moved them to Tampa after their father’s death so they could continue to be schooled in English and could live under better conditions.

Young O’Connor’s American roots ran deep, however.

Albert G. Salter, Jr.
Friends of the WWII Memorial Interview
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Albert Salter served as a radar operator on USS Elmore from Kwajalein Atoll to Okinawa.

Radarman 1st Class Albert Gregory Salter Jr. came aboard USS Elmore on 12 November 1943 in San Diego, a few months after the ship had been commissioned. Mr. Salter served as a radar operator until the day of Elmore' decommissioning, departing the ship on 13 March 1946, having serving onboard for 852 days.

Albert Salter was born in Upland, California, on February 15, 1926, the oldest of the six children of Albert G. Salter, Sr., a school principal, and Geraldine Callahan, a homemaker.

Salter enlisted in the U.S. Navy at the age of seventeen. He served in World War II as a radar specialist on USS Elmore, participating in invasions in the Marshall Islands, Guam, Peleliu, the Philippines, and Okinawa. He drew the short straw and was assigned as a radio operator on an LCVP that went in on the 13th wave in the battle of Okinawa, the largest battle of the Pacific theater during WWII.

Onboard, he and two friends published a newspaper called The Amfibber that was not all news: in it they invented a fictional stowaway, Ellie, to keep them company. Late in life, Salter still remembered vividly the first time he saw a Japanese plane shot down; the arrival of wounded soldiers when the Elmore served as a makeshift hospital; and the kamikaze attack intended for the Elmore but which struck another ship (USS DuPage APA-41) nearby.

Moving to Lansing, Michigan after the war, Salter married a local artist and student, Lormina Paradise. In 1950 he was graduated with a B.A. in English from Michigan State University, where he wrote short stories and acted in plays. He also did graduate study in English at the University of California at Berkeley.

His distinguished advertising career, first as a copy writer, later as an executive, began in Grand Rapids, Michigan and led to his long-time employment at W.B. Doner and Company in Detroit in 1962, and then in Baltimore from 1963 to 1983.

In 1983, with his second wife, artist Janet Siegmann Salter, he left Baltimore for Houston, where they founded their own agency, Salter and Associates. He retired at the age of 63 to devote himself to consulting and writing, as well as collecting and selling political memorabilia in conventions around the country. With his wife he ran a small business, J&A Political Collectibles.

Salter and his wife moved in 1989 to Berkeley Springs, WV, where he was chair of the city’s Senior Life Services board. He wrote a column, “The Country Side,” for the county newspaper, The Morgan Messenger, where he opined both on country life and on current events. He received the “Best Column in a Weekly” award from the West Virginia Press Association three times. He also devoted time to writing fiction and poetry. Moving to Hagerstown, MD in 2001, he was an occasional guest lecturer on American history in the town’s public schools. Salter and his wife also traveled to far-flung places — among them Egypt, South Africa, Japan, and Guam.

Mr. Salter sat for a video interview at the Friends of the National WWII Memorial during a group visit of veterans to the National WWII Memorial on April 6, 2012.



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