(Courtesy of Carmen Trimarchi)
Carmen N. Trimarchi was born and raised in Englewood, New Jersey. After graduating from Dwight Morrow High School in 1944, he was eager to get into the fight for freedom. Carmen enlisted in the Navy in the Spring of 1944 and reported for active duty in September.
Following basic training at the Sampson Navy base in Geneva, NY, and radio school in Bainbridge, MD, he traveled by troop train cross country to San Francisco, CA. After a week waiting for his assignment, Carmen was one of a hundred navy sailors who boarded a troop ship with thousands of marines headed to the South Pacific. Their trip took four days, and Carmen remembers that many of the marines didn’t return as they were headed to the next invasion.
Once they reached the Ulithi atoll in the Western Caroline Islands, Carmen then reported to his ship, the USS Kendall C. Campbell – DE 443. To him, it appeared “small,” no larger than his ferry back home from New Jersey to New York.
Beginning in April 1945, Carmen served aboard DE-443 as an RM1/c radioman.
One of Carmen’s fond memories was of Sparky, their mascot, in the radio room. The dog was picked up on an island prior to Carmen’s coming onboard. Sparky lived in the radio room but had the run of the ship when he was “off duty.”
During the time the War was still underway, Carmen and the radiomen received important messages that the Campbell was slated to be part of the invasion fleet into Japan. Fortunately, the War ended before that had to happen.
The Campbell and crew had the distinct honor of being one of the first ships to arrive in Tokyo Bay for the signing of the Japanese surrender. This is what Carmen remembers about that historic time in September-October 1945.
“As we entered Tokyo Bay, on September 1, 1945, all was quiet aboard the Campbell. Along the banks — spooky, there was no sign of life. It was weird, I don’t know what we expected. We anchored about 300 yards from the Missouri. The following morning, we watched as a motorboat brought the Japanese dignitaries to the Missouri for the signing of the surrender. A short while later, they returned to their boat, and the great war was over. We didn’t celebrate then — we had already done that while in Manila Bay. The Campbell and half the fleet that was massed for the planned, but never implemented, invasion of Japan. It was a wild scene with guns being fired, flares being shot off, and a lot of hugging, much like the 4th of July, only two months later and miles from home.
“The war may have technically ended, but that didn’t mean we could go home. We remained on duty in the South Pacific in defensive mode. We spent several weeks in Japan. Shore leave was not very exciting. Understandably, we were limited to where we could go, and what we could do.
“One experience I never want to experience again is the typhoon in the South China Sea. The Campbell left Japan in early October 1945, escorting a group of LST (tank landing ships which carried tanks, vehicles, cargo, and troops) heading to Manila. I often wonder if the weather reports were wrong or we were ordered to stay on course. In the early evening, we ran right into the storm. There was no food served, and no one was allowed on deck. From the radio room we could sneak a peek. Waves as high as the ship’s bridge and, on the lee side, the water seemed to be twenty stories down. The Campbell was rolling 25 degrees. I was too young and stupid to be scared. The following morning, we saw there was damage to a couple of the gun tubes, and some railings were missing. We survived, but it was rough. We arrived in Manila without any further excitement.”
Note: In April 2017, Carmen Trimarchi contacted me after seeing this website. I asked if he would share what he remembered about the war so I could create a page about him. He agreed and sent me the information above.