Letters Home: August and November 1944 – TYPHOON!!

In my quest for another family line, I seem to have gotten off track with Kenny’s letters.  There are two that I will publish to get me past Thanksgiving this year. I hope this post finds you warm, full of turkey, content, and safe.

The U.S.S. Massachusetts had been at Puget sound from 19 May to 15 July for rest, relaxation, and maintenance/repairs.  She returned to the battle lines on 8 August 1944 when she dropped anchor at Eniwetok.  Airfields had been established to handle B-29 activity and the Navy tactics had succeeded in devastating the Japanese fleet.

A new strategy was communicated from Washington, D.C. that was to commence in September and wrap up by December.  The strategy called for an aggressive push to occupy all key Pacific staging points beginning with an occupation of Morotai, Peleliu, Yap, and Ulithi.  The fleet would move on to Saleboaboe Islands, and then into the Philippine island of Mindanao.  This push west would end with the occupation of Leyte as the primary target in the Philippine’s.  

The task force was so successful that at the recommendations of Admiral Halsey and General MacArthur, the U.S. Joint Chiefs, President Roosevelt, Prime Minister Churchill, and Premier MacKenzie King of Canada all agreed to speed up the timeline and cancel operations against Yap, Talauds, and Mindanao in lieu of a more direct attack against Leyte as the key staging area for the final invasion of Japan the following year.

Envelope postdated 13 August 1944, hand written on the envelope is “answered 8/31/44”
United States Navy stationary

Kenney Rhoades
U.S.S. Mass Div. M
c/o F.P.O. San Fran., Calif.

Mr. & Mrs. K.W. Rhoades
4011 North 30th St
Omaha, Nebraska

Sunday, August 13 [1944] 9AM
In Port

Dear Folks,

A few lines this morn to let you know everything is O.K. with me and to acknowledge the receipt of your letters, two from mom and one from Dad.  Thanks a great deal, Dad for Dicks picture, have shown it to all my buddies and they all say he sure don’t look like his brother.  I hope he is home by now, in fact, I expect to hear it in each letter I get.  

Well, I expect mom’s vacation is just about up by now and Helene is most likely up in the country.  Imagine things are mighty quiet around home.  I think tomorrow is Mrs. Whitlock’s birthday, please give her my best regards even though they are a bit late.  I wrote her a letter the other day.  

Glad to hear mom had her watch engraved. I hope you have done the same, Dad.  I can’t part with my watch not knowing how long I might be in one place.  And then, out here there is no place where it could be done.  It runs swell and I wear it continuously.  As yet, the slippers have not caught up to me.  That is what I meant when I said it is better not to try and send packages to us guys.  No doubt I will get them eventually, but things are always so indefinite with us. 

That was too bad about the rabbits, but I got a kick out of hearing that Helene thought Mrs. Rabbit should be fattened up and put in the pot. [Remember, the previous year about this time, Ken reported that they killed the last of the chickens for Mrs. Whitlock’s birthday feast, leaving only the one rabbit and the car in the garage.  It seems they got more rabbits in the past year, but ate them as well.]

Sure hope you got your new tires, Dad, also the parts for the transmission.  It may be an expense, but I’ll trade my interest in this 90 million dollar home of mine any time (haha).  

No, I was gone by the time Benny arrived out there and didn’t get to see him.  I talked to Harding on the phone and was up to his office one evening, but missed him as he was through work before I could get over at night.  I didn’t get out to his home.  I imagine he is quite displeased with me, as I know I really should have seen him.

Love, Kenney

So on 30 August, Kenney was participating in the attacks throughout the Philippine’s.  He and his buddies had resupplied in September at Saipon Harbor, then found themselves as part of a task group heading into the waters of Okinawa.

On October 12, the U.S.S. Massachusetts was fending off nighttime aerial attacks, and on the 13th her gunners shot down an enemy torpedo plane attempting to sink her.  By the 15th she was on her way to a refuel rendezvous point while keeping a sharp eye out for enemy targets.

Her task force spent much time racing back and forth in an attempt to render battle assistance when necessary, but she mostly stayed out of direct battles for the remainder of the winter operations.  The Pacific Fleet had accomplished its goals by November.

Envelope postdated 2 November 1944, hand written on envelope is “11/15/44 answered and again 12/18/44”
United States Navy stationary

Kenney Rhoades
U.S.S. Mass Div. M
c/o F.P.O. San Fran., Calif.

Mr. K.W. Rhoades
203 Patterson Bldg.
Omaha, Nebraska

November 1, 1944
10:30 A.M.

Dear Dad,

Well, Dad, this no doubt will be a surprise or perhaps even a shock, but a pleasant one, I hope.  This being your birthday, and I am unable to do much about it, figured that a letter from a son, who writes personal letters so very seldom, would bring his true wishes for happiness, joy, and contentedness closer to the one they are meant for.  And at the same time, show the respect and warm feeling due a father who has been as considerate and understanding toward his children as you have been.  Perhaps, Dad, on your next birthday we will be closer together and be able to celebrate in a more fitting manner.  I hope so any way. 

There isn’t an awful lot to write about. I knocked off a little early this morning so as to get this written and censored this afternoon, and perhaps on its way by this evening.

I was on recreation yesterday for the first time in quite a while.  I had a pretty fair time.  The beer allotment has been raised to four per man and one of my buddies gave me his, making a total of eight.  I managed to feel pretty fair on that. 

How would you like to do a little X-mas shopping for me?  When the time comes, please draw a hundred from my account and see that mom, Dick, Helene, Mae, and yourself are remembered.  You needn’t say anything to the rest, just get something they would enjoy and let them find it under the tree.

Well this letter was started with the purpose of wishing you a happy birthday.  You have my deepest respect, Dad, and am sure you now you are wished the best by me.  I am looking forward to the day we can again let our hair down as we did when I was home last.

Your loving son,

In December, the U.S.S. Massachusetts was among the fleet that attempted to refuel, but was abandoned due to the arrival of a typhoon.  Big Mamie sustained damage during this typhoon and was repaired at sea by her crew. UPDATE: The video shown below was the third Typhoon to strike the 3rd Fleet. This one occurred in June 1945 with 1 life lost. The Typhoon in October 1944 was Typhoon Cobra and sunk three ships, took 790 lives, and injured about 80.


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