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H-082-1: "Doc" of YMS-365

Dog looking through a circular window on a ship bridge.

"Doc" standing a bridge watch on YMS-365. Courtesy of collection of Chief Motor Machinist's Mate Edwin Johnson, USN, on MaritimeQuest.

H-Gram 082, Attachment 1

Samuel J. Cox, Director NHHC

April 2024

War is hell, but sometimes there is a bright spot: 26 June 1945 was the worst day for the U.S. minesweepers at Balikpapan, Borneo, as YMS-39 and YMS-365 both set off mines and sank. YMS-39 triggered a magnetic mine, previously laid by U.S. aircraft, and partly disintegrated, capsized, and sank in less than one minute, suffering four killed. The minesweeper, commanded by Lieutenant (j.g.) Frederick C. Huff, USNR, also triggered an influence mine and then hit a Japanese contact mine. Miraculously no one aboard YMS-365 was killed although 18 were wounded (out of 35), and some initially trapped in wreckage and debris, including the commanding officer, which necessitated some heroic rescue efforts. After being extricated from under the fallen mast, Huff gave the order to abandon ship, just as the minesweeper broke in two, with the bow section immediately capsizing. Huff was the last off the ship. Well, almost the last.

After the entire crew of YMS-365 had been brought aboard YMS-364, the mascot dog of YMS-365, “Doc,” was seen to swim out of the wreckage and perch on the capsized bow, just as the officer-in-tactical command (OTC) embarked on a destroyer ordered another YMS to move in and sink the floating wreck with gunfire before it drifted to the Japanese-held shore. Before the other YMS could move into position, the survivors of YMS-365 beseeched the commanding officer of YMS-364 to let them rescue the dog. After obtaining permission from the OTC, YMS-364 heaved to and backed down to within 25 yards of the floating hull. Attempts to call Doc to jump in the water and swim to YMS-364 failed. So, Chief Motor Machinist's Mate Edwin Johnson jumped into the water and swam to the dog. Doc then jumped in the water and furiously "dog-paddled" to YMS-364, beating Chief Johnson back. Doc had been aboard YMS-365 for more than two years, under fire on multiple occasions. Doc returned with the crew to California and apparently lived happily afterward, as one “Lucky Dog.”

For more information about “Doc,” see H-051-1: The Last Sacrifices.

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Published: Wed Apr 03 14:38:22 EDT 2024