Interview With Robert J. “Buzz” Bosone

From the interview with Robert J. “Buzz” Bosone of Eastsound, WA conducted by Shelly Randall at  the Fort Worden History Center on July 11, 2002.  Mr. Bosone served in the US Army Signal Corps in Rome, Italy as a high speed radio operator in the Army of Occupation following World War II for one year.  Here he describes a dramatic rescue that he witnessed in the stormy Atlantic Ocean on his trip home on a C2 transport ship:

“During the afternoon, the seas became heavy and the ship took on some waves right over the bow, with the waves washing down the complete deck area.  The skipper had already had his crews string rope handlines along the deck areas when it was necessary for troops personnel from the ship to travel along the decks.  This helped to make sure they could do it safely.  However, the waves got bigger and the ship was pitching up and down like a bucking bronco.  The W(omens)A(rmy)C(orps) on board either didn’t hear the announcement or were already up on deck when it was made—because the skipper said for everyone to remain below deck.  All of a sudden, a huge wave hit, and that was when one of the WACs lost her grip on the ropes and was washed overboard.  The two remaining WACs quickly reported to the crew that one of their buddies had been washed overboard.   The skipper stopped the ship and announced her name and advised her to report to any crew member if she was still onboard the ship.  In the meantime, the rest of the troops onboard were taking a beating with the ship being hammered and rolled from side to side by the waves.  It was now dark and the crew manning the searchlights began scanning the sea to see if they could possibly see her on one of the distant waves.  Sure enough, the technique worked.  They saw her on top of one of those big waves. The skipper immediately launched one motorized lifeboat to try a rescue.  The rigging on that lifeboat was fouled and they had to cut the boat loose and sink it– sink the lifeboat to keep it from getting in the way of the rescue.  Another one was immediately launched and that lifeboat departed away from the ship to begin the search.  With searchlights from the ship and radio communications taking place with the lifeboat crew, they finally made contact and were able to lift her out of the water and into the lifeboat. It took two and one-half hours in the worse conditions you could imagine and they were finally successful in rescuing her.  Later, she said, when she found herself in the water and the ship’s lights going away from her, she took off her clothes and began swimming towards the lights.  She was a gutsy young lady, and also an excellent swimmer, to be able to stay afloat for two and one-half hours.  Her story made national headlines in the States.  Had this event occurred under battle conditions, they would not have risked the ship and the entire crew to save one life.”

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