WWII Veteran Shares Secret Diary After More Than 70 Years

“680 feet long. 110 feet wide with a draft of 36 feet.”

Alfred “Alfie” Ardolf remembers every part of the USS Massachusetts.

“35,000 tons of weight. 130,000 horsepower. Our top speed was 27 knots, which is equal to about 35 miles an hour,” says Ardolf.

Screen Shot 2022 04 25 At 41950 PmA battleship he served on during WWII.

He says, “I knew I was going to be drafted. In a task force, you have the destroyers or the tin cans on the outside. Inside of them, the cruisers. Then comes the battleships. The carriers are always in the center. And it’s up to us to protect them because they’re more they’re vulnerable.”

Alfie was part of the battleship’s communication,
Working in the Conning Tower, on the highest point of the ship.

“So I had access to all the communication dispatches from the different ships, even the stuff that came out of the decoding room. And besides having a bird’s eye view from my GQ and AA station, I could see everything going on,” says Ardolf.

He spent two and a half years on board the ship, and 18 months in the Pacific. Screen Shot 2022 04 25 At 42141 Pm
The Philippines, Iwo Jima, Formosa, Okinawa, Japan, and points in between.

Ardolf describes, “What we would do is we would bombard one or 16 inch guns before the marines went ashore, bombard the islands. And then when we had the kamikazes in there with all the guns opening up, you wouldn’t believe. The sky was just black from the shelling and now, of course, knocking down the planes, the Japanese planes.”

From air strikes, lives lost, to President Roosevelt’s death.

Ardolf says, “I could still see the the kamikazes hitting the carriers and the other ships. To this day, I can recall or visualize what transpired. The one typhoon which is called Halsey’s Typhoon is we lost four tin cans the cruise or lost or ball, which is the front part of the ship. Correct. The main beam in my ship because you’ve got 30, 40 foot waves.”

Even some rest & relaxation.

“Mogmog was nothing but an island of sand and a few palm trees and we were allowed two warm beers that was by ah, that’s the only time I ever got off the ship while it was in the Pacific once.”

But being at sea comes with it’s dangers too…

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“In the, in the Atlantic they’re called hurricanes. In the Pacific they’re called typhoons. They are one and the same. I don’t know what was more scary or the kamikazes or the or the typhoons,” says Ardolf.

Throughout that time that Alfie spent aboard the ship– he kept a journal.

“If they would have caught me. I would have been in big trouble.”

A secret journal that he’s kept private for over 70 years— sharing nothing inside– and keeping it safely tucked away.

He shares, “Everything was censored. All your outgoing mail was censored. If they didn’t like something that you put in there, they blocked it out. You couldn’t tell them where you were or where you are or anything like that.”

But even without the journal, he can remember every minute in detail.

Even to this day, I can still, visualize…I can actually see stuff happening. It’s hard for me to express,” says Ardolf.

“‘What does it mean to serve our country?’ Well, if I had to do it over again, if I was young enough, I’d do it again.”

 
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