Floyd E. Keller, Navy Gunner's Mate USS Goldsborough APD 32



 
This project was made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.

Floyd E. Keller, Jr. at the very beginning of his service.
Floyd at the very end of his time in service.
With his Gunner's Mate crew. Floyd is on the left.
PhotoPhoto
 
Photo

A good documentary about the Navy and the Kamikaze attacks at Okinawa is called "The Fleet That Came to Stay." It is free and at the Fedflix website.
 
Floyd Everal Keller, Jr. U.S. Navy Gunner's Mate, served on several vessels and at several stations during WW II including  NTS (Naval Training Station) Farragut, Idaho, USS Goldsborough APD 32, USS LST 1052, Ad Com Phibs Pac Marianas USS LST 696, and PSC USNB Bremerton, Washington. He enlisted on March 14, 1944, began active service June 4, 1944 and was Honorably Discharged in June 1946. Early photos of the USS Goldsborough before it was converted to an APD.
 
A brief overview of my time in the US Navy
during World War II: June 1944 to June of 1946
 
Floyd E. Keller
 
      "I enlisted in the US Navy in early March of my senior year in order that I would not be drafted before I finished my last two months of my senior year. I then was able to graduate from high school with my class and two days later, June 4, 1944, I left for Navy boot camp and, later, Gunner's Mate training at Farragut, Idaho. After training I boarded an Army troop ship [USAT Frederick Lykes] and was transported to Noume, New Caldonia. There I was assigned to the USS Goldsborough APD 32 as a replacement for men lost previously.
        The ship then joined transports at Ulithi bound for the battle of Okinawa and arrived off its coast on 11 April 1945. Our ship was assigned as an anti-aircraft screen where we fought daily and nightly aerial raids near Hagushi beaches, and on one of these days rescued a Navy fighter pilot whose plane crashed into the water near us. The "Goldie" departed Okinawa 14 April for repairs to Guam and returned to Okinawa 15 May to continue patrol until the 31 of May. 
       We then returned by way of the islands, Marianas, Marshalls, and Pearl Harbor, to San Pedro, California on 1 July, 1945. Later, with the war over, but with insufficient time served for discharge, I was sent back to sea on board an LST (Landing Ship Tank) hauling Japanese troops isolated on South Pacific islands back to Japan. This sometimes included their families, and on one trip back I had to assist as a Japanese mother gave birth to twins!
       I finally completed my two years of service with some 18 months at sea, starting when I was 18 and ending when I was 20 years old and was released at Bremerton, Washington!"
 
 

Memories of World War II

Floyd E. Keller, S1c (GM)

First Impressions

I was one of seven or eight replacements that boarded the "Goldie" [USS Goldsborough, APD-32, a high speed transport / Auxiliary Personnel Destroyer] in Noumea, New Caledonia (750 miles east of Australia) in March of 1945. I had just come from the States after finishing boot camp and gunner's mate training in Farragut, Idaho. I was taken aback the day I boarded the Goldie, as it lay rafted to several other ships. It looked old and worn to me, with a shell hole in one stack.

I was clean shaven and dressed in whites and was greeted by men in jeans only, darkly tanned and bearded. I was later to learn that they had been out to sea for some 32 months and in a number of battles! Everything about the ship and its daily life was foreign to me in spite of my boot camp training. I was added to the deck crew to begin with and quickly learned how to chip deck paint.

My Illiterate Shipmate

One of my bunk mates, also new, was from the South and he could play the guitar and sing country tunes but when he first got letters from his girlfriend, he could not read them. We worked out an agreement. He would teach me chords on the guitar, and I would teach him how to read. We used his girlfriend's letters as our textbook and soon he could recognize every word that she wrote and would rearrange the words and write letters back.

Kamikaze attack at Okinawa

Another memory is leaving the picket line and going into Buckner Bay at Okinawa and anchoring near a a new destroyer from the States. That afternoon, with a sunny sky and a few large cumulus clouds, a Japanese Zero made a run at us, and with both ships firing, the destroyer hit it and the Zero crashed between us with the destroyer still firing, laying shells on all sides of us. Being stationed on the fantail with 50 caliber guns, I backed into the "head" doorway and bumped into our gunner officer, also backing into the head, seeking cover from "friendly fire!"

Monsoon

In spite of the kamikazes on the picket line off Okinawa, the moment that I was most frightened was riding the edge of a monsoon that had broken off the bow of a nearby cruiser. The waves were huge rolling, mountains and the Goldie would teeter at the tops with screws thrashing partially out of the water, then descend with a rush only to be caught in the trough and be submerged, almost suspended, and then slowly start to come up again.

Everything was battened down, and one could hardly stand. I was supposed to be a lookout but because of weather was inside the wheel house, and as I remember it, the Captain and other officers were discussing the pros and cons of adding or subtracting more sea water to the ballast tanks to make the ship ride better and more safely. Their faces looked more worried than at any time on the picket line!

Goldie's Return to the States

I will always remember the joy of the crew, most of whom had been out to sea for almost three years, arriving back in Pearl Harbor and being treated to milk, steaks, ice cream and liberty!

We then left for the States, arriving in San Pedro, California, in July of 1945.

When the war ended, most of the crew had more than enough points to get out right away, and the Goldie had come to the end of the line, being decommissioned a bit later.

LST [Landing Ship Tank] duty transporting Japanese troops and delivering babies

Having been on sea duty for only about six months, I was sent back out to the Pacific and ended up on an LST, repatriating Japanese troops and sometimes their families to Japan from the many islands.

On one trip back I had to assist as a Japanes mother gave birth to twins. As in the movies, I boiled water and cloth bandages, and afterwards, I didn't eat for three days!

Growing up during World War II

I completed two years of service with about 18 months at sea, starting when I was 18 and ending when I was 20 years old.

If one should ask me when I changed from a boy to a man, I would not hesitate to say that it most certainly occurred when I served with the marvelous and courageous crew of the USS Goldsborough, APD-32!

After the War

After the war, I met and married my wife, Ruth, at Gustavus Adolphus College and have three sons, six grandchildren, and am a retired educator.

____________________________________

Notes of Kevin Callahan: Friday Oct 12, 2012

Floyd said that the ships were attacked by Japanese planes every night at Okinawa, when he was on picket duty protecting the other ships and beach, and otherwise it almost seemed like he was a spectator or watching the events on land. He slept in the same bunk as if the ship was in San Francisco and had clean clothes, ate on the ship, etc. The soldiers and Marines on Okinawa had to sleep in mud, etc. His ship was an older ship built in 1918 and converted to an APD for getting people onto a beach efficiently. The Kamikazes wanted the bigger ships, so the "Goldie" had less chance of one diving on them. The "four stackers" had a three inch gun on the front, and 40 mms, and his .50 cal on the stern but he didn't recall if the 3 inch gun used the new proximity fused shells. (That may have been more of an aspect of the 5 inch guns on the other Navy ships.)

Notes of Kevin Callahan Friday Oct. 19, 2012

Floyd did not have a recollection of getting a lot of gunnery training at Farragut, Idaho before going to sea. He was in Tokyo Bay shortly after the war ended and remembers Tokyo and Yokohama looking like a couple of burnt ant hills from the ship. He visited Japan years later and was amazed at the sight of the modern vibrant city. Later in life he also visited Hiroshima and saw some of the preserved terrible devastation from the dropping of the first atomic bomb. He thought (like I do) that  he might not be here today if the atomic bombs had not helped to shorten the war before the already planned invasion of the main islands.

Floyd described the LSTs as having a superstructure on the back and having a flat hold designed to land tanks. The Japanese being repatriated from distant islands after the war slept on the floor on pads (like straw futons) on their way back to Japan. The APDs were modified WW I ships that had landing craft (or Higgins Boats -- named after their inventor) that swung down from the side of the ship to allow the Marines a quick access to shore to make landings.

Floyd said he did not personally have a problem with seasickness, except once on a temporary basis at the beginning of his service when he was in the rather smelly garbage room when they hit rough water.

By getting someone he knew to change a Navy record from "GM" (Gunners Mate) to "QM" (Quartermaster), he was able to assist in the navigation of the ship, which was done with star sightings, sun positions for determining latitude, etc. Unlike the Army, where a Quartermaster's job primarily involved handled supplies, he indicated that in the Navy the Quartermaster assisted with ship navigation. Floyd said he still remembered some of the stars used for navigation, like Betelgeuse, etc.


__________________________________________________

Obituary 

I am very sorry to have to report the passing of Floyd Keller on July 31, 2017. His obituary from the Bradshaw funeral home read as follows. "Floyd E. Keller. Age 91, passed away peacefully puzzled by the whole thing! While he did not agree with Shakespeare that life was “…full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, he did feel that the script needed a lot of work. Floyd felt it was important for others to have the tools in their lives to search out their own meanings and, therefore, committed his life to public education. After graduating from Gustavus Adolphus College (where he met his wife), he went on to become a teacher and assistant superintendent in Stillwater and director of elementary and secondary education for the State of Minnesota. On November 13, 2013, Dr. Keller was presented The Distinguished Alumni Award by the University of Minnesota for exemplary leadership in education. After retirement he promoted informal philosophy discussion groups, called Café Philos, in Florida, Arizona and Minnesota. His hobbies were traveling, sailing, cycling and reading. His favorite saying was, “I know a lot of things for sure….that aren’t true”. He is survived by his wife, life-long companion and soulmate, Ruth; sons, Mark (Jody), Paul (Pam)and Daniel; grandchildren, Ricki, Joie, Mikenna, Mitchell, Mara, and Ciana; great-grandchildren, Carter, Peyton, Parker and Graham; sister, Barbara; niece, Julia. A Celebration of Life will take place at Croixdale in Bayport on Tuesday, August 8, from 4:00 to 7:00. Any memorials may be given to Parks and Trails or Bayport Public Library."

We will miss you Floyd. The world was a better place for your having been in it.


Comments