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Photos of the USS Sicily CVE 118

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The photos above were taken at Roy (BT2) & Dot  Turner's place (Eufala, Al.)  in October, 2000.  Melvin (BT2)Perkins & Delores were there but had to leave early due to Mel being ill.  Present in the photos are Herb (BT3) & Evelyn Pierson and Maurie (BT3) Beavers

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Maurie Beavers, Willard Kidd & James Gurganus

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Orris (BT2) Potts relaxing in his kitchen, Indpls. 2002

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          Maurie Beavers                                 Arlie S. Beavers  WW II   

          BT2 -1953                                          USS New Mexico

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Me on the USS Wisconsin BB64  May 2001

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RL Murphy - Buss and Roy Turner -  Collage

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Sicily Shipmates 2003 Reunion at Roy Turner's


From the “Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships,” 
(1976) Vol. 6, pp.498-499.
Displacement:  10,900 t.
Length:  557’
Beam:  75’
Extreme Width:  104’
Draft:  31’
Speed:  19 k.
Complement:  1,170
Armament:  2 5”; 36 40mm; 18 20mm
Class:  COMMENCEMENT BAY                
	SICILY (CVE-118) was laid down on 23 October 1944 by 
Todd-Pacific Shipyards Inc., Tacoma, Wash., as SANDY BAY; 
launched on 14 April 1945; sponsored by Mrs. Julius 
Vanderwiele; renamed SICILY on 5 June 1944; and commissioned 
on 27 February 1946, Capt. B. W. Wright in command.                
	SICILY fitted out at Portland, Oreg., loaded supplies 
at Seattle, and then sailed for San Diego where she held 
shakedown training during April and May.  On 15 May, she was 
ordered to proceed to New York, via the Panama Canal, and 
Norfolk.  The carrier entered the Brooklyn Navy Yard on 6 
June and remained there until 30 September when she sailed 
to Argentia, Newfoundland, to conduct cold weather training.                
	During the remainder of 1946 and until 3 April 1950, 
SICILY operated with the Atlantic Fleet out of her home port 
of Norfolk.  At that time, she was reassigned to the Pacific 
Fleet with San Diego as her home port, arriving there on 28 
April.  The carrier was scheduled to conduct antisubmarine 
warfare exercises during the summer, but the invasion of 
South Korea by the North Koreans, on 25 June, caused a 
radical change in her operating plans.  SICILY was notified 
on 2 July that she was needed in the Far East; and she 
sailed, two days later, for the first of three deployments 
to Korean waters.                
	SICILY was designated flagship of Carrier Division 
(CarDiv) 15 and on 3 August launched aircraft of VMF-214 on 
their first air strike in support of Allied ground forces.  
During this tour, she supported ground operations at Pohang, 
the Inchon landing, the advance to Seoul, and the withdrawal 
of the marines from the Chosin Reservoir to Hungnam before 
returning to San Diego on 5 February 1951.  On her second 
tour with the 7th Fleet, from 13 May to 12 October 1951, 
SICILY operated on both the east and west coast of Korea.  
Her last tour during the Korean conflict was from 8 May to 4 
December 1952, and she served with the United Nations Escort 
and Blockading Force.  SICILY was deployed to the Far East 
again from 14 July 1953 to 25 February 1954.                
	Upon her return to the west coast, SICILY was placed in 
reserve, out of commission, with the Pacific Reserve Fleet.  
She was struck from the Navy list on 1 July 1960 and sold to 
Nicolai Joffe Corporation on 31 October for scrap.                
	SICILY received five battle stars for service in Korea.
The following article was published in the San Diego news paper:
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Transcribing the fine blurred print above:

"Navy fleet and air units stand more ready than ever to meet possible enemy submarine warfare in Korea, Rear Adm. C.A. Ekstrom, commander of Carrier Division 17 said on returning today aboard his flagship, the escort carrier Sicily.   < Anti-Submarine Squadron 931 flying off the Sicily, typified the excellent job of sharp vigilance being maintained against possible undersea attacks, Ekstrom said.   <As the "jeep" carrier was nudged broadside against the Naval Air Station Quay Wall at North Island her 1000-man crew was greeted by a tumultuous welcome of loved ones on the peir.  There were 2000 present for the homecoming.    <Among them were the "Queen Mother"  and "Queen Wife" chosen by the flattop's crew.  The mother, Mrs. Fremont Bowman, Corwell Heights, Pa., was chosen by the single men aboard.  She was greeted with a broad smile from her son, Seaman John S. Bowman.   <The "Queen Wife" is Mrs. Edwin S. Colby, 473 Garfield Ave., El Cajon, whose husband is a cheif boatswain aboard the carrier.   <All the expenses for Mrs. Bowman to fly here and for the Colbys to take a second honeymoon in Las Vegas are being paid from a fund raised by the Sicily's crew.  <To the Sicily also went the honor of having been the first carrier to complete three combat tours in Korean waters since the outbreak of hostilities 2 1/2 years ago.  Half of her crew made all three trips, according to her skipper, Capt. Almon E. Loomis."


I recall what was described as a submarine attack in July 1951.  The USS Sicily went to General Quarters and stayed there for about 12 hours.  We could hear and feel the depth charge explosions quite readily.  The sound of the explosions were a somewhat muffled but loud bang and a slight vibration of the ship was felt.   Of course we realized that we were prime targets of a torpedo attack since our planes were heaving a lot of devastation on North Korea.   The Sicily carried a large amount of fuel and the highly explosive napalm that was fitted on the planes.  It was quite obvious that a torpedo hit to the Sicily would most likely be fatal to us especially where I was near the ships bottom along with many others.   The prospect of that way of dying made us a little nervous to say the least.    The cooks went to work and fixed sandwiches  and delivered them to us since we could not leave our stations even for a minute.   While the episode had a happy ending for us, it still remains in my memory.  To read a detail description of the attack, you can click on the "Submarine Attack" blue button below.  


Saturday, 5 Aug. 1950 found Reusser leading a division of Corsairs from Lieutenant Colonel Walter E. Lischied's Marine Fighter Squadron (VMF) 214, the "Black Sheep," made famous by the legendary Gregory "Pappy" Boyington in WW II. Flying from the deck of USS Sicily (CVE-118), the division was seeking targets of opportunity in the vicinity of the South Korean port city of Inchon, now occupied by hostile forces. Despite intense and accurate antiaircraft fire, Reusser led his flight in a low-level strafing and rocket attack against a North Korean vehicle park and factory that resulted in a number of trucks destroyed and NKPA soldiers killed.

The ferocity with which the North Koreans defended the area aroused Reusser's suspicions. Ordering the rest of the division to orbit the target out of range, he set his Corsair snarling past the large factory building barely above the ground and close enough to actually look in the windows. What he saw explained the tenacity of the enemy defenses. The building was a tank maintenance facility, packed with Soviet-made T-34 tanks.

With both of the Corsair's wings damaged by heavy ground fire, Reusser flew to USS Sicily to rearm and refuel, then returned to the target, setting the factory ablaze with rockets and napalm, destroying every tank and truck in the area. Continuing on, Reusser led his division in a low-level attack against oil storage tanks in the Inchon harbor area, turning the tanks into fireballs.

With all of his rockets and napalm expended, Reusser then attacked a camouflaged oil tanker in the harbor, diving through murderous antiaircraft fire to mast height and raking the tanker with 20 mm gunfire. The tanker exploded, almost blowing Reusser's Corsair out of the air. For his daring attacks Maj Reusser received a second award of the Navy Cross, becoming the first Marine to be decorated for bravery in the Korean War.

The courage and flying skill exhibited by Kenneth Reusser would set the tone for Marine air operations during that desperate summer when 11 NKPA divisions sought to land the knockout blow on the American and allied forces clinging grimly to the perimeter ringing the vital port city of Pusan. For the first time, the invader's front-line troops would find out what it was like to be subjected to deadly accurate air attacks. From the moment Marine ground units went into action, the constantly swarming Corsairs were a fixture in the skies overhead. Combining with the Black Sheep, the "Death Rattlers" of Maj Arnold Lund's VMF-323, based aboard USS Badoeng Strait (CVE-116), flew in daily support of their fellow Marines on the ground.

That support was of the first-rate, professional variety. Fully three-fourths of the pilots of both squadrons were experienced combat veterans of the war against Japan, men with more than 1,000 hours in the cockpit. They knew their business, frontwards, backwards, inside out and upside down.

Utilizing the air-ground tactics pioneered by Marine aviators in Nicaragua a quarter-century earlier, and honed to perfection in the Pacific, the Black Sheep and the Death Rattlers quickly taught the North Koreans that there was a dimension to warfare they had not considered. That dimension was that of fully integrated air-ground combat conducted by a truly combined-arms force, the only such force in Korea—or in the world, for that matter.

Racing in from the sea, the Corsairs plastered North Korean targets in front of advancing Marine ground units as the Marine brigade drove into the Sachon corridor in the first United Nations offensive action of the Korean War. Vectored to targets by the tactical air control parties (TACPs) of the battalions on the ground, Marine aviators ripped in, skimming the treetops to devastate North Korean units with bombs, rockets, napalm and gunfire, often no more than a few hundred feet in front of friendly lines.

At Kosong, MAG-33 pilots broke the back of the enemy defenders with a punishing attack that sent North Korean soldiers fleeing in disarray from the key ridge below the town. The echoes of that encounter had hardly faded away when a division of Corsairs from VMF-323 caught a column of more than 100 North Korean vehicles on the road. What followed came to be known as the "Kosong Turkey Shoot," resulting in the complete destruction of the NKPA 83d Mechanized Regiment, leaving nothing but shattered, burning vehicles and blood-soaked corpses to mark the event.

That was also the day that First Lieutenant Doyle Cole met his brigade commander, Brigadier General Edward A. Craig. With his Corsair shaking and stuttering from multiple hits by ground fire, Cole was forced to ditch at sea just offshore at the very moment BGen Craig was making an inspection tour by helicopter. Pulled dripping wet from the ocean, Cole was dumbfounded to see BGen Craig operating the hoist.

The 1stProvMarBrig, with its integral aviation combat element, quickly became known as one of the most powerful, friendly combat formations in Korea, packing a punch far out of proportion to its relatively small size. The responsiveness, accuracy and ready availability of Marine aviation combat elements, coupled with their ability to spend much more time over the target than Japan-based U.S. Air Force planes, was the envy of Army commanders operating adjacent to the Marines.