Daily Event for November 25, 2010

In the daylight hours of November 25, 1944 two U.S. PT boats were conducting a patrol near Halmahera Island when an enemy barge was sighted on the beach at Cape Gorango. The Japanese used these shallow draft barges to move troops and supplies all over the Pacific, they were designed to make it easy to access shallow water areas which could not be accessed by even small craft, an extra benefit to the shallow draft was that U.S. torpedoes ran right under them.

The commanding officer of PT-363 ordered the boats to close on the barge and strafe it, but before the two boats could complete the run Japanese machine guns hidden on shore opened fire on them, the gunfire knocked out the engines in PT-363 and she went dead in the water. PT-362 under the command of Lt. (j.g.) William K. Paynter moved between the stricken PT-363 and the shore guns laying a covering fire and receiving fire from shore which hit the signals locker and set it on fire. One man, Seaman 1st Class David W. Knowles, was burned, but despite his injuries he helped put out the fire and later boarded PT-363 to help remove survivors.

Onboard PT-363 her commander Lt. Frank K. Mitchell, Jr. had been badly wounded and one man was missing, the boat was damaged beyond repair and was sinking, PT-362 came alongside and while under constant fire, removed the survivors, including the C.O. and escaped under a hail of gunfire.

Lt. (j.g.) Paynter was later awarded the Navy Cross for his actions in saving the crew of PT-363, one of his men, Torpedoman 3rd Class Francis O. Cooper received the Bronze Star, so did the Second Officer of PT-363, Ensign Edwin W. Polk, he was wounded in both the arm and leg, but remained on the bridge holding up his commanding officer, Mitchell and helped to get his over to PT-362, sadly Mitchell succumbed to his wounds.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock

Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in USS PT-363
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Friedman, David L.
Quartermaster 3rd Class
Mitchell, Jr., Frank K.

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