Sal Difatta Collection

Sal at Grosse Ile from 1945 to the end of 1955. Enlisted April 12, 1944. Great Lakes for boot camp. AMM school in Norman Oklahoma until December 1945. Then attached to a Marine night squadron at Vero Beach, Florida after which time I was reassigned to CASU-29 at Grosse Ile. I did not know where Grosse Ile was located until I looked at a map after I was home (Chicago) on leave. I reported to duty at Grosse Ile January or February of 1945. When I first arrived at Grosse Ile. I was assigned night check at Hanger #1, night crew. Stayed around until 1955 when I went Regular Navy aboard seagoing tugs. Reported to the USS Anikara, ATF-98. While attached to the ship we attended Operation Hardtack which was the last nuclear bomb test the US ever held. We saw 32 nuclear explosions on the water surface and above surface, these were conducted in Bikini atoll. When we left there we towed a section of a floating dryadic from Bikini to just outside Panama, the longest tow in Navy history, 33 days, went like hell at 3 knots per hour. Also spent some time in the far East, rode out 3 typhoons, 2 in Taiwan and 1 in Formosa straits. Our ship was bombed by the USS Kearsarge CV-33, mistaking us for the tow-target because he couldn't see the wake of the tow-target, so we got two 500-pounders. Had a 3 month tour of duty on that ship to Alaska and was used as a decoy to make contact with a Russian sub in the Bering sea, when we made contact with a Russian sub in the Bering sea, when we made contact the air force told us to "leave the area, we are on our own". Then I was transferred to the USS Cree, ATF-84, in San Diego where we towed ships from the mothball fleet in S.D. to Astoria. During one tow we were hit by a Japanese freighter going into San Francisco harbor and were held in S.F. for 7 weeks until an investigation was made, you might have seen this write-up in the newspaper. After my last tour on ATF's I was assigned to Instructor School as an NBC Warfare instructor at NTC, San Diego after which I retired after two-and-a-half years. During that time Eckelberry showed up as student as did St. John, Hack Wilson was the administrative assistant to the captain on the base. The 8 years aboard those ships were some of the best times in my Navy career. Saw some of the best sunrises and sunsets in the world.

 Sal an wife  Dottie reside in Woodhaven, Michigan.


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Revised: June 30, 2010