Voices of Veterans: Douglass Starr

By: Andy Conner Email
By: Andy Conner Email

"Well, I had to go to school first, 6 months, because the navy at the time had a policy not to send 17 year olds into battle, so I had to wait until I was 18, and I was 18 in 6 weeks when I was assigned to the Nicholas and a month later, we were in the Marshals shooting up the place."

Douglass Starr went into the service in World War II at age 17, and had to wait until his 18th birthday to be deployed. He was sent to sonar school in San Diego and assigned to the destroyer class ship, the U.S.S. Nicholas in 1943.

"I was a sonar man and we send out a signal underwater, a sound signal, and it bounces off the submarine and comes back and from that we can tell the range and the bearing and so that we know where the submarine is and which way it's and everything except how deep it is…and we dropped the depth charges. We didn't have to hit the submarines, we just had to get close."

Starr saw his first action of the war in the Marshal Islands in January of 1944.

"We went in and we bombarded the beach - that was our job as a destroyer - so we bombarded the beach and as we approached the beach, I noticed that there was some battleships sitting out in the middle of the ocean shooting and I thought, 'why are they shooting and what are they shooting at,' and I found out that they were 12 miles away from the island and they were shooting from back there, because they didn't have to be that close, we did and on the way out after the fight, we ran into a submarine and sank it, and we didn't find out for 3 years - it was a possible and finally the Japanese told us, 'yeah, it never came back from that cruise."

From there, Starr was sent with the USS Nicholas to be with Admiral Halsey's 3rd fleet in preparation for the ground assault on the main island of Japan.

"We were lead ship in the Hulsey's 3rd fleet off Japan, 55 days waiting to make the initial invasion of the home country of Japan, and it was said that none of us would come out of it. The whole bunch of us would stay over there forever. And then the bomb was dropped and we got the word…admiral Hulsey went on the radio to all the ships and told us about it."

After the surrender, the USS Nicholas, along with other destroyers, performed taxi service for the Japanese delegation during the famous signing of the surrender agreement aboard the USS Missouri.

"We were lead ship in and we went and picked up the Japanese group. The interpreters, the pilots, some of the dignitaries, and we transferred them to the key ships in the fleet, to the Missouri, and some of the other ships...we had 100 people, Russians, French, Dutch, and U.S., we had General Wainwright, still well from China. Top people. We had 2 Russian admirals on board, and we ferried them from the wharf to the Missouri and then we stood off - the next ships did the same - and we stood off and waited until they signed everything and we went and picked them up and took them back."

"And then we went in and since we were lead ship, Hulsey so designated us, because of what Nicholas had done in 1942 and '43, and we went and anchored in Sagami bay, right there in view of Mt. Fuji, beautiful mountain, with snow on top, and when the sun went down, we darkened ship, which was routine in the war and Hulsey went on the radio and he said, 'light ship, we won."

Tune in to News 3 at noon Thursday, May 27th, for the conclusion of Douglass Starr's two-part Voices of Veterans profile.


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