"Betty" Bomber Pill Box, 1965 by Joe Richard


"...I can see why we had eight or nine thousand casualties the first day, not making it to the first ridge above the beach..."



image of american flag

 William "Bill" Newbauer

  • Branch of Service: U. S. Navy
  • Unit: USS President Jackson, APA-18, LCVP Engineer
  • Dates: 1944 - 1945
  • Location: Pacific Theater, Iwo Jima & Bonin Islands
  • Rank: F1C
  • Birth Year: 1918
  • Entered Service: South Bend, IN



Iwo Jima Memoirs


Bill Newbauer
USS President Jackson, APA-18, LCVP Engineer
Time on Iwo Jima: February 19, 1945
United States Navy





How do I find some one that may have seen any of this?

     A particular event occurred during the Iwo Jima invasion that this veteran is seeking answers for. Below is a short story of Bill Newbauer's experience during D-Day+1 (20 February 1945) that took place. He is seeking answers. He is attempting to reach out to someone who was there and witnessed what happened below. If you can assist in his search, please contact this web master.


One old sailor needs help, witnesses!

     "I was on the U.S.S. President Jackson (APA-18), an engineer on a L.C.V.P., at Iwo (Jima). This small boat landed a fire control Jeep and a couple Marines at what was "Red Beach" at one time. This Jeep was upset in our boat, we came through it all right, I only lost my small machine gun in the drink. It was loaded once more, very rough seas, and we headed to and down the beach until called in. No beach party, this was on the 20th (of February), we held in position with the screws and rudder. The jeep got off, don't know how far--- we broached and the screw picked up a floating line, all power gone! Some how I and the two others made it to shore. I don't recall any names at all, I know it happened, I can't find any witnesses, I was behind the bowdoors of a craft, I think a L.S.M., until the next afternoon when I got a tow back to the Jackson. I had one shark knife and I was scared, I saw a lot of the stuff on the beach, now like a nightmare. How do I find some one that may have seen any of this?"

     Webmaster's note: A few days ago, after spending the last month or so playing catch-up with regards to the three web sites that I manage, due to a crash of my external hard drive containing five years of research materials pertaining to this web site as well as two Civil War web sites, I came across an entry in the World War II Guest Book. This Guest Book entry led to the following follow-up story as dictated by Bill Newbauer to his son Steven. The following story is very interesting and moving reading. I highly recommend it!

     Many THANKS Bill and Steven Newbauer!


In His Own Words

     The following is a composition my dad made up a few years ago which he titled...


"It's about my little part in the big war":

     The following isn't meant to be a "Blood and Guts" type of story, there was some witnessed in close proximity, some of this will be mentioned as I try to recall the names and places I was a witness to. I got into the Navy by being a "Selective Volunteer", not too many of us around, I wasn't drafted, in fact, the draft board didn't know if I would be called or not. They even made a phone call to the Selective Service Headquarters to try to find out but they had no definite answer. I had a few deferments because of my job and being married, with one child and my age bracket wasn't being drafted at that time. I was told that if I volunteer I could pick the Navy, be in for the duration plus, I found out later what the plus was and that I would not have been drafted, too late! I turned down my latest deferment, got my severance pay and did the volunteer thing. A physical in Auburn, Indiana and soon I was on my way to Indianapolis to be sworn in plus a lot more physicals, tests and soon I was on my way to Great Lakes Naval Training Center near North Chicago. I began a new life which I had problems adjusting to, at least for a few weeks. This is something you wouln't wish on your worst enemy (if you had one). I was in a six weeks company, kept very busy all of this time. I was glad of that. We stripped down to just a smile or a sneer, whichever, put all of our belongings in a cardboard pre-addressed box, ran around bare for half a day, finally got some Navy clothes. I broke my glasses putting on a 'blouse'. I didn't wear any glasses the rest of the time I was in the Navy. I soon learned what really being insignificant was, what hate and mistrust was. These people dealt it all out. We drilled, marched, had calesthenics until some of the guys couldn't do any more. I made out somehow. I wasn't the best athlete at that time in my life. We swam a lot. I liked to swim and dive. We jumped from towers into the water to simulate getting off of a ship in an emergency situation. We learned to use clothing for life preservers (entrapping air in them) and swam the length of the pool underwater. This was training for the event of having to escape an area of burning oil or fuel floating atop the water. Each day was filled with the above plus classes, watches to stand in the area buildings, and good ol' KP duty. This was a long day. We had to get up in the night, dress and drill for hours, another sort of punishment when someone had made a mistake and we all paid for it. With all the hatred I had I began to shape up. I almost enjoyed it!

     These punishments went on all day too. If a man did something and really messed up, he was forced to drill with full gear, rifle and sometimes with his hat in his mouth if he had talked to get the punishment in the first place. This drilling went on for hours, usually the guy would collapse, you didn't help him as if you did you would take his place! I saw two men die from this sort of punishment. It does weed out the unfit and the weak! The six weeks finally rolled by and we were no longer "boots". We were given a few days leave during which time I went home, of course. The time went so fast. I was soon back at Great Lakes and was selected to go to Basic Engineering School. This lasted about a month. I didn't really learn much. It was like a refresher course of what I learned at the specialist school in Fort Wayne. This school was put in my records which helped later as I was assigned to groups with similar backgrounds. I ended up with a nice bunch of guys which was a welcome change. This group was supposed to go to a diesel and gasoline engine school on the East coast, but a storm took down a lot of the buildings so the plans were changed and we were sent to Camp Shoemaker, California, up in the mountains. This ended up as a place to stay until more changes were made in our orders. The guys were broken up once more. We had more serious calesthenics, rough workouts, hikes, and anything to keep us in shape. It was very cold at night and hot in the daytime. We were all rounded up, put in a stockade and locked in. This was with all of our gear so I figured this was some sort of final move. At night we were loaded on a Navy bus. It was not the large group I started out with, probably only about a dozen of the bunch that I got to know a little. We were taken to a pier in Oakland, mustered in and marched around to the far side. There she was ... my first ship, the President Jackson, all camouflaged, loaded with landing craft and she had lots of guns all over. As this was my new home I went up the gangway, saluted as I should and was escorted to a partial deck above the forward end of the mess hall. This would be my "room" for a week or so, living out of my sea bag once more. Finally I was assigned a rack in the aft end of the ship and a locker about 40 feet away., but at least the "head" (toilet) was very near by. I was right by the hatch opening into it. There was no welcoming committee on this ship, only an order to follow a first class machinist mate below to the boiler room.

officers of Pres. Jackson

Officers of the
USS President Jackson
Click on Image for Larger View

     This is quite an experience. Very soon I was told that this was where I would be assigned as a watertender, striker, to advance to a Machinist's Mate Third Class Petty Officer. I stood a trial watch and was shown my jobs to do. These people were not really the best of teachers. At this time the ship needed only one of her boilers in operation and only three burners in use. I caught on to the job rapidly and also the routine of living each day, touring the ship on my own. So far so good. The first task I had was as the ship was moved from the dock at Oakland to one at Hunters Point, farther south, to have some work done on some steam lines and newer radar screens added topside. My job was to run up two decks to see how far we were from the pier so that we would know when to shut down unnecessary burners. My judgement must have been good, after a few fast trips topside we made it alongside the dock and tied up without popping any safety valves or losing any flame in the firebox. We left the States with a sister ship, the President Adams, with a blimp for an escort to watch for subs. We zigzagged towards Hawaii, picking up a couple LSMs for escorts fo the trip. Not much happened at this spot. We anchored in Pearl Harbor. I was off the ship one day during which I took a trip to downtown Honolulu, mostly just looking around. The place was full of servicemen. Most of them were drunk and loud. We tied up at a pier next to a Russian freighter which had big buxom women sailors on deck doing the usual work topside. The Jackson and the Adams left Pearl Harbor with two smaller landing type craft for escort. They were out of sight in the swells most of the time. We headed for Noumea, New Caledonia east of Australia. Enroute we crossed the International Date Line and the Equator at about the same time which meant the usual initiation which lasted a couple of days longer than normal. Nothing about this can be considered normal and this crew pushed the capers to the limit. The captain finally put a stop to the proceedings and we got back to the normal routine. Each day the work was done, the watches were "stood" and the meals were served. And we had General Quarters day and night and all hands had to man their assigned battle stations when not actually on watch. The guns were manned and very little sleep was had. We anchored out from the shore at Noumea.

     The ship's boats were put to use doing all sorts of delivering and hauling troops to be put aboard the Jackson and the Adams. These men seemed to be all rated and an elite bunch, mostly tehnicians, probably engineers and gunnery people. I never did find out, but our job was to put them on New Guinea which we did. We also unloaded supplies, ammunition and a few trucks to haul them inland. We stood by for a day then headed in a northerly direction on up to Guam which was taken at that time although it was still under some battle conditions in the jungles to the west. We had another journey to make, we loaded up a few hundred troops and went farther east to Guadelcanal. This was to refuel and take on supplies. We spent one Christmas tied up there. Soon we headed back west and farther north to Leyte Gulf in the Philippines where one of the larger landings in the Pacific was in progress. We stood by and made smoke to shield ships in the area. The naval battle was north of us but the Jap planes were out in force with day and night bombings and suicide planes all around. The gulf was full of anti-aircraft projectiles, tracers and explosions up in the sky where the planes were coming in from the land. My General Quarters station was as the "talker" on one of the gun mounts. The battle conditions improved in a couple of days and we pulled out to go west through channels, some of them so shallow we had to take soundings from small boats to get through safely. Finally we made it to the China Sea and headed north once more past Manila and Corregidor where the battle was still being fought. Our mission was to get the troops we had aboard father north to Lingayen Gulf in Luzon. We entered the Gulf and anchored at the south end of a large bay. The troops were put ashore, mostly up rivers and to small villages which we had taken back from the Japs a few days before. Air attacks continued daily with lots of suicide planes. One suicide plane took out two LST landing crafts tied up alongside each other located about a thousand feet from us. They both were heavily damaged. Big guns in the mountains kept firing at the bay. We seemed to be lucky as usual as we had no close hits. You could see those projectiles coming through the air which was a very scary sight. There was great relief when we watched them fall short or go over us. None of them seemed to do much damage. Our planes seemed to be very lucky too as they flew through thousands of bursting projectiles in the low sky. We had these air raids daily while in the bay. While all of this wierd sort of battle was in progress the routine aboard ship went on as it did each day.

     Whether underway or at anchorage General Quarters was all day and night. Our regular watches usually were top priority. The gun crew could usually be a man short unless we were actually firing. While serving in the boiler room I developed a bad rash all over my body. The people in Sick Bay could not do much with it so I was ordered topside to get some sunshine. This is how I got into small boats. I had other duties as well like working in the mess hall part time. I had been made head mess cook for a week or so and my job was to make sure all of the cooks helpers were in the mess hall on time. I had to learn where all of them were quartered and get them up to go to work on time. The rash I had finally went away but I stayed topside and assigned to small boats the remainder of the time I served aboard the Jackson. We left Lingayen Gulf and headed back south in the China Sea. Each morning more ships would be in the convoy and now totalled a dozen or so. The Zeilen was alongside us about 300 yards to our starboard. This was another period when we were at General Quarters day and night as enemy subs and planes were all around us. We dropped "ash cans" from the stern until they were all gone. A Tojo, Japanese twin engine fighter bomber, came overhead. We were ordered to hold our fire. A turret on the Zeilen opened up firing and the tracers which were like a ribbon going out from the ship were used by the plane to lead it right to the ship. The gun turret was fired upon and all of the crew was hit or blown over the side. The plane went two decks down exploding all the way. Twelve men were killed or lost. The ship slowed to a stop to get organized. The whole convoy slowed to about ten knots until the raid was over but kept moving south. The next day the dead were buried at sea. Then we proceeded at 15 knots to the southern part of the Philippines again. The convoy broke up and the Jackson went east to Guam once more. In about a week we loaded up a few hundred troops, trucks and armored vehicles. It looked like another landing coming up for sure. At Tinian we took on fuel then went in a northerly direction. In a day or so the engineers and boat crews were called to assemble on the starboard promenade deck. Some officers were handing out information concerning where we were bound. They had a topographical map of an island shaped like a pear.

     It was a volcanic peak jutting up through the ocean. The main flow went northeast to form the wide portion of the island about three miles across and five miles long. The volcano was at the extreme southeast end. The only beach was what was eroded from constant wave and swell action ... no more than fifty feet inland. This we found out later to be black ashes, firmness similar to quicksand. Of course, the map didn't point any of this out. It was Iwo Jima. I had never heard of it before, but soon we learned a lot about it. The navy had been shelling it for a couple of months with no damage at all. Planes had bombed it for the same length of time, yet still there was no damage. The island was honeycombed from one end to the other. Suribachi, the volcano, was one huge fortress with tunnels and gun positions at every level, and it was tall. This was probably what we were trained for, the roughest of all of our landings. We had a few days before it was to happen. I don't recall any special training which took place at this time ... only getting the boats in top shape, tanks full of fuel, batteries charged and a couple of extra boats added to our usual complement. All of the cables, ropes and life jackets were placed aboard. We all did a lot of staring at each other. At this time I still did not know the names of any of these people nor did anybody offer to be the least bit friendly. On the day before the landing we were barely moving north towards Iwo when I looked over the port side and saw a body floating in our bow wake. It was headless ... probably one of our pilots. This was not too unusual except that I had dreamed of seeing the same picture the night before! The Jackson pulled up within about a quarter mile, too close as we found out soon. We were hit with small fire, some phosper 40 mm shot. This spatters like solder. A few guys were hit. The 'take cover' order was given too late. Needless to say, we moved out beyond the range of those guns. The landing took place in daylight, unusual for us. The boats that were needed were launched. The boat I was engineer on was one of the first. We circled a short distance from the ship until called in. This sea was the roughest I'd ever been in with swells at least 15 feet and close together making a troop loading very hazardous. Boats all around us were attempting to take on troops and other cargo. I am telling about the one I was on.

     Some of the happenings are vague to me now. Our load was a Jeep type vehicle loaded with radio equipment to direct fire from the ships farther out. There were many cruisers, destroyers, rocket ships, escorts and about any type of war ship the navy had. This gunfire from these ships was going on all around us with no let up all day and night long. Two cruisers within a quarter mile of us fired broadsides all day and most of the night. This helped us keep our heads clear and down! We were called in to load up and made a nice approach and tried to hold against the ship ... sometimes against the rail ... sometimes under the belly below the water line. The navy way at this time to lower any piece of equipment was to fasten it to a cable which goes up to a pulley, down the boom to another pulley, across to a winch in the center of the deck. Other winches moved the boom from side to side, in this case, over the side. Another winch lifted the boom to the height needed. This isn't all of the niceties. A man stands at the rail looking down at us, wondering why we can't hold the boat any closer and in one spot. He signals to a man who handles the winch controls who raises or lowers the vehicle hopefully gently and accurately into our boat. The first attempt was a disaster. The Jeep lit on the gunwale on my side, sent my machine gun to the bottom of the sea, and upset in the boat. Luckily there was some slack in the cable and we got it lashed up so it could be hoisted and relashed to try once more. The war continues around us, we try to hold our position as well as possible. As a swell took us up very high the Jeep was on its way down again, and as we dropped back down the Jeep was lowered perfectly into the boat. We unhooked all cables and lines so they could be taken back up and then moved out to circle until called in. The cox'sn, now at the wheel, somhow started in at the wrong place. There was a huge rock on shore. No problem there except a few Japs who owned that rock decided to protect it and opened up on us with rifle fire. We moved out of there very quickly. Once more, down the beach at the foot of Suribachi we found our spot to land the Jeep and three Marines, all radiomen, all with tears streaming down their faces. I think I know why. We were getting a lot of very close hits. I am so glad they were only close. The water spouts would be several feet high.

     We were signalled in and headed to the beach, what beach there was. We were at full speed. I lowered the bow ramp. The crank used in lowering the ramp slipped out of my hand and put a nasty gash in my arm, through a denim jacket and shirt. We held the boat in by turning the rudder and holding the power on. Then it happened ... the propeller picked up a line floating along the beach. It had a length of cable tied to it, within a couple seconds the reverse gear was literally burned up and we had no power at all. These high swells continued in to shore, although now a little smaller but still very strong with a rip tide effect. We immediately broached, the starboard side was crushed in and we were pulled out about a hundred feet, to be tossed about. We scrambled over the lowered ramp and made it to shore. It was not the fanciest swimming done but it was effective. I got around the bow of a landing craft. I think it was an LCI, beached to take on casualities. This was a fairly safe place as long as there wasn't a big mortar projectile heading my way. I didn't have a weapon, only my knife, so I just stayed there until the next day. This was the real thing, with a lot of those mortars dumping their shells in the nearby area. I saw a lot of guys get it. My luck still held out. I didn't run out in the open and ask for it. I wanted to come home if possible. All day and through the night until about noon the next day I witnessed up close what the landing was really like on the beach. I had a taste of it in the water. I did a lot of peeking around the bow of the boat but I was taking cover from whatever came my direction. I can see why we had eight or nine thousand casualties the first day, not making it to the first ridge above the beach. Around noon the next day a landing craft, an LCM, a bit larger than the one I was on, landed some equipment and offered to tow our boat out to the Jackson. We accepted, located our boat about a hundred yards east of us, still afloat but beat up. We lashed the two boats together and headed out. I had to ride in the wreck. The swells were still twelve feet high near the island. The lines broke twice on the way. As we neared the Jackson, Larry Pabst, a friend and a carpenter, was at the rail. He looked down and yelled, "There's old Bill! We heard you were dead." I don't remember how I got topside or how the boat was hoisted. I know I went to my rack, crawled in, helmet and all, and soon I was out, dead to the world.

     In the early evening our Master-at Arms awakened me and said I'd better go to the mess hall to get some food. I had only eaten a couple of candy bars in all the time I was off the ship. After the food and a shower I felt better. I had gained a few friends I hadn't known before. I reported to the first class machinist's mate. He found out I was assigned to another LCVP like the previous one I had been on. The duty was to 'be in the water' to do any job that needed done, on call. The unloading was still going on. Troops were coming over the side to board the landing boats, now in smaller numbers. Among them were gunnery teams and some BAR men. The BAR was a larger than usual machine gun which was very heavy. One man lugs it around while another man carries the ammo for it. The seas were still high so landing operations were still scary and risky. A BAR man was coming down the net when he lost his grip and fell into the sea ... going down below the curvature of the hull and up to to where he had lost his hold. The gun was still on his back and shoulders. The Chaplain of the Jackson, who was very overweight, crawled down the net far enough to get the soldier's head between his upper legs, but he couldn't do anything more except half drown the man who was now about unconscious, so he let him go back into the water. At this point our boat attempted to rescue the soldier. I lowered the ramp about to the water line and we attempted to get closer. We were moving up and down some twelve feet or more. I tried to get into a position to try to grab the soldier, but there was no way. It was just too risky. The "feel" of the ship pulled our boat in too close. I was lying partly on the gunwhale and when the boat moved toward the ship my body was as a "fender", but I am not that tough so I got two broken ribs out of this. We maneuvered back out away from the ship and another boat approached but not as close and a young crew member jumped in with a life jacket on and some lines (ropes) to be used to pull him and the soldier back to their boat. I don't think that soldier had to go in with the landing that day. I will tell more about the young crew member who jumped in to rescue this man later. Later I was allowed to climb up the largest cargo net to have about a mile and a half of tape put around my ribcage. The pain was not all that bad yet. I had to go back aboard the small boats and continue my job there. We were assigned to a job along the beach, pulling out and sinking the disabled craft that cluttered up the shoreline. Probably there were some of the crew and soldiers still inside these crafts. We didn't check.

     At the end of the first day of this new assignment to this landing craft we contacted the people on the bridge to see if we could be hoisted. No way, it was too risky, swells too high. We were handed down some food in containers that kept it warm. A refueling hose was lowered down and we filled the tank. We shoved off and continued our work. There was no relief from the high seas and no hoisting. More food and fuel was passed down to us. On the fifth night we were finally caught up with the salvage jobs and went out to the ship but were denied boarding again. We had it with this task! A person can only take so much. We were exhausted and just didn't feel like we could possibly go on. We pulled alongside the ship and tied up to a cable we called the sea painter which ran the length of the port side. The two men with me crawled up the cargo net and were supposed to try to get somebody to relieve us. I had to remain in the boat until that happened. As I waited the line tying the boat to the cable slipped along the cable and the boat had moved back over half way along the ship, just below the promenade deck. I had given up on any hope of being relieved as the two men of our boat's crew never showed back up nor did anyone else. My intentions were now to get aboard somehow. There was no cargo net back here but there was a fender just below the top deck made up of a metal drum covered with rope netting to make it softer and flexible. It was hung on two lines, one on each end. It looked as though the lines might be within reach when the boat was at the top of the swell. I had to stand on the stern sheet, no rails at all, and reach up to grab the line on the end of the fender. Of course, after grabbng the line I was hanging in mid air as the boat dropped down in the swell. I was pretty scared.

     I was never too good at climbing up a rope but I decided to improve that night. Somehow I made it to the rail and got over it to lay on the deck and try to remember what ship I am on. A guy in a hammock saw all of this, and later he told me that he thought I would make it so he didn't come to help me. I made it down to the Master-at-Arms compartment, awakened him and told him what had been going on. The two guys from the boat hadn't told anyone anything. They found a rack in a troop compartment and "passed out". I could have been in serious trouble with some officers, but the Master-at-Arms was a nice guy and said he would handle everything. I went to sick bay, got checked out, and was given a small bottle of brandy. I headed for my rack. I took a sip of the brandy but it was not for me! I went over to the far side of the ship to where one of my shipmates was asleep. I knew he loved anything with alcohol in it. I held the small bottle of brandy under his nose. He woke up and drank it down quickly. We talked a little before I went to sleep.

     The Master-at-Arms awakened me to get some food and so could get a hot shower with fresh water while it was available. No one was the least bit interested in what I had been doing so I didn't tell anyone where I had been for the last few day before this. I was assigned a watch on the gun deck which was the highest deck, but below the bridge, abaft the stack, like from 90 degrees to 270 degrees to watch for anything that moved or was worthy of reporting to the bridge. From this position I saw a lot more action on the island. The fighting was in it's first week still. We hadn't gained much ground yet, but we had a lot of casualties. We started taking them aboard the Jackson. Anyone not on watch helped out in any way they could. We ended up with over 350 wounded, some died on board. They were wrapped up for burial at sea and stored in cold (refrigerated) rooms until the burial could be done. The mess hall was used as a sick bay overflow. One marine was laid on a table in the mess hall and was bleeding profusely from shrapnel wounds in his back and sides. The blood ran out as fast as the plasma was put in him. It ran down the mess hall deck and out the scuppers amidships over the side into the ocean. I hung a sheet around him to sort of cover him from the others. He died that night and was put in a cold room. I helped with feeding and anything else I could with those who were wounded. There were a lot of foot, ankle and leg wounds placed in this area. The doctors were busy amputating in sick bay. Sometimes in the evening hours they would come down to the mess deck to redress the wounds which were now pretty bad, lots of sulfa all over them. There was also lots of face and head damage. The doctors looked at each other and shook their heads. My watch on the gun deck went on, four hours on and eight hours off. They were busy hours and went fast. I had on sound powered phones and could hear about anything that was happening. I would relay it to anyone nearby so we could watch it. I saw the first B-29 land on Iwo, as soon as the strip was taken and repaired. Those 500 pounds mortars make huge craters in the ground.

     We had one officer aboard who was about the meanest person in the Pacific. You couldn't please him no matter no matter how hard you tried or how right you were. He would make you tear down a gun and put in back together ... not too difficult ... except he would have you do it in the dark. One seaman had a small phonograph and I think only one record, "What a difference a day makes" by Dinah Washington. He would take this up into the crows nest and play it into the sound powered phones and we could hear it. This officer knew it was being done but never found out from where. He got up on the gun deck but might have been afraid to climb any higher to seek it out. I was on watch on the gun deck one night, crouched down with my back against the stack. I dozed off and a little later I was awakened by this officer by him putting a blanket over my shoulders. He sat nearby on a beach chair. I never got to know him. I had to go back to small boats to continue doing errands etc. Soon we were filled with casualties, the last loaded from an LCI which was tied up along our starboard side. This is where the fenders come in as they separate two vessels from each other as the swells move both around up and down. We were called in the following day and the boat was hoisted and staed up and once more my job was the watch on the gun deck. The rest of the boats were being hoisted aboard, the davits full with a boat to the rail. The big booms were lifting the last few boats onto the ship. The starboard boom was outboard with a boat that had a canopy on it. It was about 60 feet above the water when a plate which was welded to the bulkhead just a few feet below where I was standing, taking in all the activity, came "unwelded" and shot across the tops of the stacked boats already on deck. I saw this plate which was about 3 feet square, go over a man's upper legs. The load of the boat caused it to go very fast until it reached the spot where the cable entered another pulley. The boat being hoisted aboard fell back down until it hit the rail on the starboard quarter. The engine was the heaviest part of the boat and as it hit the rail it broke in two and the whole thing fell down into the sea. One deck hand jumped and was rescued. The two men in the canopy were killed and were picked up the next day by a destroyer. One of the men was the one that had pulled the BAR man to safety from out of the sea a couple of days before. The ship moved out and headed south to Saipan, slowed to bury seven bodies over the side, "deep sixed" them as sailors would say. This is something to remember. The bodies float in the wake for a few miles then sink below the surface. I don't know if these were weighted down or not. I do know they are gone ... that they never wrote home again.

     We unloaded several hundred casualties which took a few days. I don't know how long we stayed at Saipan. We moved on south toward Guam and in a day or more the Fireman First Class were called to the Engineering Officers quarters, lined up and notified that no more firemen could advance in rank because the men above (Third Class Petty Officers) could not advance either. Two of us would have to leave the ship. There was no sure destination, maybe another ship nearby, maybe a shore job. Also a trip stateside may be in order. No one seemed to know. To decide who would go would be the navy way cutting cards. The deck of cards was passed down the line and we each took a card. I had a ten of diamonds and assumed I had no chance at all. One guy had an ace and out of fourteen men no one had any thing above my ten spot. The other guy was Paul Robbins, from Detroit. We got our gear together, signed a lot of papers to prove we did not owe the ship anything. I had only a few goodbyes to say. The next morning we got off while moving along at ten knots. The boat took us to shore, right up the ramp that the Pan American flying boats used in peacetime. We were assigned a tent with a lot of mosquito netting over the cots. Paul and I were the only ones in the tent. We mustered in the mornings, ate our meals, just sorta goofed off, trying to get some information about where we were headed. We found out that we were going stateside but nothing else. The days went by and more guys were mustering in each morning, now about twenty plus a first class machinist mate who was in charge. The group was called a draft. We were told to stay together and soon we would be on our way. About three weeks on Guam and then we were boated out to a big old Victory ship. Talk about a "slow boat to China". They creek and groan and break in two on occasion. Anyhow, this was our ride to the States. We boarded via a cargo net over the side. Our gear was hoisted on deck with the usual hooks and cables. As I was pulling mine out from the pile I plopped it down on deck and as it was very tight, with mattess and all, it bounced back up and pushed my right thumb about halfway to my elbow. Hurt? You bet! This was a good start. My rack was the top one in the side of a hold. We were given a box of cereal and some coffee. That was breakfast. At noon we had a bowl of soup similiar to Mrs. Grasses, mostly water. We had a glass of Kool Ade type drink.

     We could hardly wait for supper ... except there wasn't any supper! Luckily there was some candy available. One night I was really hungry for some food of some sort so I decided to go up in the crews quarters to talk to someone about how I could get some. I was told that if I would volunteer for a watch I could eat with them, so, of course, I did. On the way back to my rack I was in this long dark passageway and feeling my way along when I came to an opening. The door was not locked. I reached inside and felt some boxes. I had no idea what I was feeling. Maybe it was soap and, if so, maybe I could trade it for some food! I took a few boxes placing them under my shirt and headed for my rack. The red lights in the berthing compartment gave enough light to see what was on the boxes. There was a bunch of numbers and the word "baked" which caught my attention. I tore open one of the boxes and discovered cookies ... like Oreos we had later after the war. I made a few friends that night. I began feeling sick, weak and sweaty most of the time and found out later that I had malaria which I had been exposed to on Guam. We had taken pills to keep from getting it but they obviously didn't work for me. Maybe it was one big mosquito! I have some of it to this day as it comes and goes. I stood the watch ... 4 hours on and 8 hours off ... and got to eat some good food for a change. This trip back stateside took 3 weeks. I began to feel better each day and passing under the Golden Gate bridge again made me a lot healthier. I was put on Yerba Buena, one of the Treasure Islands in San Francisco bay. Once more I tried to get some information about my future in the Navy and this time I was successful. I found a yeoman who looked up my records and he said I had 18 days delay enroute to San Diego Naval Repair Base so I had a few days available to go home to my wife and daughter in Indiana. This being in the 1940s meant taking a train, about 4-5 days each way. The freight trains had the right of way so the passenger trains had to pull over to the sidings to let them pass. I headed for Chicago on a normal overloaded train with old straight seats. There was no possible way to relax or lie down except on the floor, but it was so full of luggage and sea bags. In those days we had to lug our mattresses around along with our sea bags and ditty bags so it was a very large amount to handle. I arrived in Chicago and found a train to Waterloo, In. which is about 5 miles north of Auburn ... my destination. I got a ride in a car to Auburn with some people who were going to Fort Wayne.

     They dropped me off about 3 blocks from my house. As I walked down the street towards home I felt like I was walking in the air. I saw Deann, our daughter, with a friend a couple of doors from our house. They were out in the yard near some flowers. I walked over to her but she didn't know who I was for sure until I accepted some flowers from her. We walked home together and knocked on the door. The other love of my life ... my wife, Bonnie, was bathing so she answered the door wearing a towel. My navy gear on the train had been put in the baggage car. I was concerned that I would never see it again, but it was delivered to my house a couple of days later. I spent about six days home ... not long enough ... but I had to get back to the Navy. I left for San Diego with my freshly laundered clothes. The train trip back was a little better than the one to Indiana. People were so nice ... I couldn't buy anything ... even pillows or soft drinks. I arrived at the Repair Base but was 4 hours late so I was assigned to some Marine people to go to the brig where the first thing that happens is you get the boot camp type haircut and are put to work on cleanup duty for the whole base. I walked across the huge drill field (while the Marines drove a jeep) to a barracks type building which was all new. The Marines took me into an old Chief Petty Officer who was behind some wire mesh. The Marines had handed him some papers on me and my records. He told the Marines that he would take care of me and they left. The Chief then threw the papers the Marines had typed up into the wastebasket and asked me how I would like to go on liberty. I was put in one of the new barracks nearby where there were a few other guys. They all spoke to me but that's all. I found an empty bunk and started putting my gear away. Another guy came in and he was next to me so we talked a little. He was also just in from the Pacific theater so we had things in common to talk about. He told me that they treated us very good because we'd seen some action and we were being rehabilitated. He was so right. I was assigned to duty in a machine shop and a balance shop where we balanced everything from small motor armatures to huge ship screws (propellers). It was a joy to work with this group. We could sleep in if we wanted and a "boot" would get us up in time to get to work. The food was the best ... two or three kinds of soup each meal, seafood once a day ... and all very tasty.

     I went to class on alternate nights. This would last for a few weeks. I had liberty on port or starboard nights (every other night) but I usually didn't go out. I thought about Bonnie and Deann and how nice it would be to have them there with me. I called Bonnie at work and suggested my idea. She quit her job and sold our Ford the next day to get the money needed to make the trip. That night they were on a train for California. We lived in several small apartments, always moving closer to the base. We went to a lot of stage shows, big bands and good movies. We went to the zoo a few times and had fun while we could. I did a job on a huge troop ship which was loaded and in a huge drydock. Three of the four blades of the screw were damaged with tips either missing or bent terribly. It must have hit something huge to do that much damage. The shaft had to be rotated by hand from inside the engine room to bring the blades up to a position so we could grind and fill in the tips. We did real good and got them repaired in less than a day. The drydock was reflooded and the ship was on her way ... with no abnormal vibrations or shakes ... so we must have accomplished our job successfully. This was the most work I had done since I was at the base. All of it was interesting and almost fun for a change. Earlier I was notified that I was assigned to a new ship, the USS Avery Island (AG-76), which was a repair type ship of the Basilan class. She was soon to be on her way to some islands near southern Japan to erect towers for radar and radio antennaes. Bonnie and Deann returned to Indiana soon after I shipped out. The group I was in was mostly personnel to stand watches as needed, but none of this came to be as the war in the Pacific ended when the Japanese surrenderd. All plans were changed and we were once again broken up. I was assigned to a Destroyer Tender, the USS Piedmont (AD-17). She was a large ship designed and equipped to repair and service several destroyers at once. She had huge shops aboard to accomplish about anything needed as well as food service and medical and dental care for not only her own crew but the crews of destroyers tied up alongside. I went into Tokyo Bay area with the surrender fleet aboard the Piedmont.

     We were tied up in a huge shipyard in Sagami Wan, the entrance to Tokyo Bay. This was another time in my life in the Navy where I was very pleased with everything that happened. The crew aboard the Piedmont ... which was now a skeleton crew ... was the best. I asked for an assignment in refrigeration and was approved for this. I met all the people in charge. We had our own little galley. The watches were simple ... just keep the food and anything that is perishable cold. I had several months of this duty. My "points" were building up and soon I could be homeward bound.

     My time on the Piedmont seemed to drag by. I was so excited about the end coming up soon. Finally one night I was called up to officers country. I was told that this is it .. to get all my releases signed ... so that I didn't owe the Navy anything and would be ready the following morning. Of course, I didn't do any sleeping that night. I was ready and got out onto the pier. I walked along toward the stern of the Piedmont where I boarded a landing craft and had a tour of the bay where I saw lots of submarines, sunken ships, one large battleship lying on the bottom of the bay with her top deck just above the waterline. I had been around the area where the Piedmont was tied up. I had seen a lot of tanks and sat in a few of them. I had gone into a few large caves in the mountainside alongside the pier. The Japanese had used them as machine shops and had lots of tools and other stuff stored in them. I had found a few souvenirs in the way of tools. I was taken to a small ship, the smallest I was ever on. I found a rack and got acquainted with some men already set to go. We were a happy bunch ... passengers once more. After a couple of days of looking the ship over we were told that she was going stateside to be decommissioned. I never found out what she was doing in the Pacific ... probably some launch for some admiral or big wig of some sort. We took off like a speed boat ... probably 20 knots or more ... headed for the good ol' USA. This lasted for only 3 days as the electric motor driven ship lost all power ... something wrong with the generating system. We drifted into the Japanese current with no way to move ahead into the swells. Our sea legs were really tested out. Finally an auxiallary generator was started and we radioed Pearl Harbor to send two sea going tug boats out to tow us in. The sea was over the deck most of the time. We wallowed in the swells like a life boat. Some people finally got some power to the DC motors and this was enough to make a little headway ... about 12 knots. The tugs were sent back and we proceeded north and east ... getting help from the current. We fired all the guns on board using up all the ammunition and tossed a lot of the guns over the side ... no bodies this time. Some of the men had never been around guns like this. They held their hands to their ears and hit the deck pronto. We made it to the States in almost 3 weeks. It was a very slow voyage. We followed the coast down to San Diego and pulled into a dock. A draft of men was made up and we went ashore on a wharf where a Red Cross stand had donuts and coffee for a quarter. Down the line the Salvation Army had the same for free.

     I don't recall exactly what happened that night as to where I stayed although I know it was on the base. I went to downtown San Diego and had some fresh salad and milk. A 'draft' was made up of a group of men, all going to Chicago. We were all warned not to get lost or separated or our discharge date could be delayed a month or so. So many guys had to go out and see how drunk they could get. I'll never understand that way of thinking. A lot of questions were asked during the discharge procedure, mostly of our attitudes, our overall treatment and care, and a little about what we would be doing after we got home ... like work and where we would be living a year from now. Finally the big moment arrived when I went out the gate to get a train to Chicago and then another train, the B & O railroad, to Garrett. I suppose it was 6 hours or so from Chicago to Garrett when I finally arrived at the station where Bonnie, Deann, mom, dad, and my sister came to meet me. We went to my parents' home and ate. Later my sister loaned us her car and Bonnie and I went to Auburn. This was a lot of excitement for one day! My former employer, General Electric, was on strike at that time so going back to work for them was not an option. I wanted to continue my training in toolmaking so I went to work at a small shop in Auburn. This was the very next day after arriving home which was probably too soon, but our financial picture didn't look too good and the money was needed. All through the years I worked at several places leaning a lot about my work. I made tool and die, mold making and prototype modelmaking my life's 'career'. It has been a good career and has certainly been something I have enjoyed doing. This has nothing to do with my navy career, but I wanted to share some of the transition to the new life back as a civilian. I retired at age 62 from the company where I was last employed. However, I continued to work at home in self employment for another 20 years doing a variety of things including small engine repair, saw chain sharpening, harmonica repair, general repair, and machining. I had only a few machines out in our garage but they were enough to do a lot of work ... the same sort of work I had done all my life. Some of that work included making guns for radio controlled model ships of war used by hobbyists for mock battles they have on ponds and certain other waters. These mock battles are among those of WW2 ... some of which I witnessed in Leyte Gulf in the Philippines as ships engaged in the real thing. If you do a search on the internet for "bill newbauer" (using quotations) in a good search engine such as Google you will find among the results my name associated with these guns. They are also known as "Indiana guns". I finally had to sell my machinery and retire from my life's work. Bonnie was having some physical problems due mostly to Diabetis which required me to devote myself to her as full time care giver. And her condition and needs required us to make a hard decision to sell our home and move to the Fort Wayne area to be closer to Deann and her family so they could help us out. Sadly, Bonnie was only able to live in our new home for about a week before she took a turn for the worse and had to be hospitalized. From there she went into a nursing home for less than 3 months before I lost her in death. I miss her so very much and it is hard to go on without her. But I am going on as I must. Even though my navy career ended some 66 years ago in some ways it has never ended as I have recurring dreams at least once a week where I am back in the navy. That's about it. Some people are interested in this sort of story while others could care less to hear about it. If you have read this far you obviously are one of the first group. Thank you for your interest.


Bill Newbauer




A very special THANK YOU is extended to BOTH Bill and Steve Newbauer for their kind and generous permission to use the materials contained on this web page. Stories such as this story go a long way in preserving yet another piece of the overall picture that was World War II.


26 June 2011

It is with extreme saddness that we at World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words pass on the following information received from Bill's son, Steve...

"...I am writing to inform you that my dad, William (Bill) Newbauer passed away into eternity last month..."



Some web sites that are about the U.S.S. President Jackson (APA-18) and related material:

DANFS USS President Jackson (QP-37-APA18)

Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1940-1945, USS (APA-18) President Jackson

Online Library of U.S. Navy Ships - President Jackson (AP-37-APA18)

Online Library (additional images) USS President Jackson (QP-37-APA18)

Attack Transport -- APA-18 President Jackson

AP-37 USS President Jackson

USS President Hayes Association

Associations: USS President Jackson (QP-37-APA18)

Reunions and Contact List (USS President Jackson)

WWII Hero Interviews

Attack Transport -- APA-18 President Jackson


Original Story submitted 30 April 2002.

Story updated on 26 June 2011


Note: To view images taken by the web master on World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words during his year on Iwo Jima, please click on the following link to my World War II Stories Photo Album:

WW II Stories: Iwo Jima Photo Album 1965-1966


Did YOU serve on Iwo Jima?

Did you know that there is a group of veterans who have gotten together to form an association of servicemen, no matter what branch of service, who served at one time or another starting at the invasion of the island on February 19, 1945 and continuing until the island was eventually returned to the Japanese in 1968?

Iwo Veterans Organization



We, at the Iwo Jima Memoirs web site wish to offer to Mr. Bill Newbauer our most profound THANK YOU for his poignant story of his personal experiences -- during his tour of Iwo Jima and especially for allowing us to share those memories.


Original story transcribed on 16 February 2005


Did YOU serve on Iwo Jima?
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