Very Cool. I love to see stuff like this! Wish I could have lended a hand! That is one mean PT Boat!-SF
It was a run-in with the enemy that was too close for comfort, and more than 70 years later, the details remain vivid in the mind of a Navy veteran who served aboard a legendary ship.
U.S. Navy Torpedoman 1st Class James Nerison was part of the PT-305 crew patrolling off the coast of Corsica in 1944 when a pair of German destroyers locked onto them. The Higgins Industries Patrol-Torpedo boats were known for their speed and maneuverability, but they were up against superior Nazi firepower.
“We couldn’t shake them off for about 45 minutes and we were drawing a lot of fire,” Nerison, now 91, recalled. “I secured the torpedo rack that we launched the torpedoes with and ran up to the skipper and said, ‘Do you want me to throw over a smoke pot?’”
The young sailor was referring to a 5-gallon can with chemicals that emitted smoke as a distraction. He was given the approval to toss the container over the side, and the German warships quickly started firing at it as PT-305 slipped off into the darkness.
“We got off to one side and they weren’t able to find us that night,” Nerison said.
The California native’s experience is just one of many among the 44 officers and enlisted men who called PT-305 home during World War II. Now Nerison, along with Joseph Brannan, a former 1st class gunner’s mate who also served on PT-305, hope to ride the boat once again.
The National World War II Museum, located in New Orleans, on Tuesday launched a Kickstarter campaign to raise $100,000 to complete its PT-305 restoration project, and hopes to have the boat sailing Louisiana’s Lake Pontchartrain by early next year.
“It helps us cover all of the costs that are needed to transport the boat to the water and cover all the testing and certifications so the boat is ready to operate,” Tom Czekanski, the museum’s director of exhibitions and collections, told FoxNews.com.
The battle-hardened boat, which operated in the Mediterranean along the coasts of southern France and Northern Italy, conducted more than 77 offensive patrols and operations, fought in 11 separate actions and sank three German ships during its 14-month deployment, according to the museum.
After the war, PT-305 took on a civilian role as a tour boat in New York Harbor, a fishing charter and an oyster boat, while falling into disrepair before the museum scooped it up in 2007.
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