A memory that will stay with you forever

Ben Couillard remembered standing next to the Catholic Chaplain Father Moody on the Yorktown flight deck near the island of the ship in 1945 and saw a jap kamikaze plane hit the deck of the USS Franklin.

  "Tremendous explosions threw plane parts, bodies and debris everywhere...and to this day I remember, Father Moody, standing there in a dazed expression and utter "Oh, my God."

  "Nearly 45 years later (1988) Father Moody and I accidentally met again on the same spot on the flight deck as Father Moody looked silently to port as though in deep thought.  I asked him if he remembered what happened on that spot 45 years ago and he thought for a moment and then he thoughtfully said, "yes [the Franklin was hit and], I think I was talking to a blond haired sailor at the time."  

As I turned to face Father Moody I said to him "well, Father Moody, I am that blond haired sailor." 

We both embraced as tears flowed down our faces..."  


The Franklin's casualties are inscribed on Yorktown's Arlington exhibit plaque.  A reunion began on 17 March 1995

It was a grand day at Patriots Point; sunny, warm and downright welcoming.  As Franklin crewmen walked down the long pier toward Yorktown-an Essex class sister ship to Franklin, the group came upon the surprise that Patriots Point docent Don Ziglar had promised.  The Yorktown's ship island read "13". "13" was the Franklin's number and the Yorktown's "10" was repainted for the day.

"I couldn't believe what I was seeing; it made it hard to speak for a while" one Franklin vet said.  Said Betty J. Miller of Harrisburg PA, sister of Seaman Second Class John R. Little, "I saw a lot of men crying-it was very emotional."  "I went to the reunion to see if I could find out what really happened to my brother when he was killed on 19 March 1945."  One shipmate of her brother said "No one on the flight deck knew what hit them.  I was just hoping my brother didn't suffer long."

"We called him Edward.  He was 18 when he died and had been in the service four and a half months.  When my parents received the telegram they had a breakdown.  It was up to me to take care of things.  There was no time for thinking, so I collapsed later instead.  I was sent home from school and not told why.  On the way home I looked up at the sky and and voice said to me 'Your brother was killed.  Go home and comfort your mother and father."

"I first heard about the Arlington plaque on the Yorktown in 1980  I'd have scrubbed floors or done dishes just to get the money to help with this memorial.  My brother's name was no where on the mainland of the United States, only at the Punchbowl Cemetery in Hawaii. 

I was still living with my brother's ghost around me-we had no body, no person who was my brother."

I remember Yorktown's dedication ceremony in 1987.  There were the fly bys, a Marine salute and wreaths.

After the dedication ceremony and when I walked up to the plaques on the Yorktown that day...I felt I had finally attended my brother's funeral."

click here to see what the Japanese Kamikaze pilot was carrying; see what is left of his airplane after hitting the USS Franklin; see a model of what damage was done to the USS Franklin


James Kissick, CDRUSN@tampabay.rr.com
It was Liz Taylor, not Betty Grable (SeaV10)

As an ARM2/C at the time, an sitting in the middle of the hangar bay #1, I remember the events very well.
Randolph had the radar duty that night and had a brief contact at 35 miles, then lost it. Soon thereafter there was just a blip around 33 miles. Both were noted, and decided to be interference of some kind. The two planes were from Yap, and j
ust above the water on a clear, black night. Obviously, one had popped up momentarily to detect any lighting ahead. The movie, incidentally had nothing to do with Betty Grable-it was a very young Liz Taylor in "National Velvet".

About halfway through there came the sound of aircraft engines which, from their slightly staccato sound, were obviously not ours. Some yelled, "Those are Jap!" They sounded as if they passed starboard to pilot just above our hangar deck. Next, just as Randolph was hit in the compartment below the aft end of the flight deck, someone turned on our bright hangar-deck lights A Chief was screaming "Turn off those ...-i-n-g lights!" Utilhi was so full of targets at the time one could hardly see the horizon across the harbor from the flight deck. The other Jap plane, apparently looking for the choicest target, flew completely across the entire fleet in the dark. On the other side was a huge reef that the Jap pilot mistook as the "world's largest battleship" because he dove right into it."


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Read the recollections of Willie on the attack on the USS Franklin click here

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