James A. Harris to Family, Letter, September 10, 1945.
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4. I was on my way out in the harbor to the "Velocity." She is a 220 ft. minesweeper & has a crew of 93. She will only travel about 23 knots, top speed, but minesweepers aren't supposed to be fast.
I went aboard on the 2nd of May & we shoved off the 5th. We escorted a convoy of troop ships to Okinawa & then left and went just 12 miles west to a little group of Islands called "Karama Retto," in the East China Sea. We were there about 3 days & then went out and started "screening." In case you don't know what that means, It's a term they have for running a definate course around a certain area and watching for enemy subs or ships. Our course was an area about halfway between Karama & Okinawa. We would stay out about 3 weeks to a month at the time & then go back in for 3 or 4 days to re-fuel, get supplies, mail, etc., and then go back out again. We saw quite a bit of action during that time. We had General Quarters every night & some times it would last all night. All that time we had to stay at our Battle stations. There were 13 ships in our squadron when we first started screening & when we were through & the fighting was over on Okinawa there were only 8 of us out of the original 13 left. The other 5 were either sunk or so badly damaged that they had to be towed to a dry-dock. We had several pretty close calls but didn't lose a man. (I have to censor my own mail now) [written next to crossed out words]