Saturday, September 6, 2014

Death of a Pearl Harbor Survivor in 2012: Gene Oliver (USS Dale): "The Channel of Hell"

From the March 22, 2012, Press Democrat "Gene Oliver" by Chris Smith.

Gene Oliver was 20-years old that day and died at age 90 on March 6, 2012.  He was a seaman whose duty station was in the engine room and was walking up from his bunk on the USS Dale when he heard an airplane.

The plane "was doing a bank and I could see that it was all silver with a big red sun.  I still didn't know what it was.  I thought it was practice.  Then, one by one, I heard explosions."

The Dale's crew went to battle stations.  Oliver was ordered to a whaleboat to get the destroyer's captain from officers' quarters a quarter mile or so away.  When passing Battleship Row "it was like being caught in the eye of a storm."

He and the crew saw sailors in the water but had orders to get the captain so they didn't stop to help.  Once at the officers' quarters, they found that their captain was not there so headed back into "the channel of hell" as Oliver described it.

Oliver and the USS Dale fought throughout the war in were in 20 major engagements.  He named his first-born son Dale, after his ship.  He was active in the Luther Burbank Chapter, No. 23, PHSA.

--GreGen

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