Andrew J. Green, USN: From Pearl Harbor to Nagasaki

Andrew J. Green joined the U.S. Navy just after his 18th birthday in June of 1940.  A native of Culpeper, Virginia, he did basic training in nearby Norfolk and was sent to Pearl Harbor right off the bat. It was his first experience away from home, that time in life when friendships are so important, and the sailors with which he jointed up had good times those next 14 or so months. Then came December 7, 1941. His daughter, Ruth, advises: “Dad used to say nothing was ever the same after that.  He would talk a lot about the war over the years but always refused to discuss casualties on that day.  Her dad explained: ‘I just want to remember those guys for the good times we had.'”

On the day of the attack, Drew was serving on the heavy cruiser U.S.S. Indianapolis which was delivering supplies to a radio station on a nearby island.  Suddenly, an alarmed voice came over the loudspeaker: “Now hear this! Our base at Pearl Harbor is under attack.  This is not a drill!  Pearl Harbor is under attack!  Repeat; this is not a drill!”  Drew was leaning over the side of the ship lowering supplies to boats below when the announcement was made, but crew members hurriedly pulled in the ropes and then manned their battle stations. The Indianapolis came under torpedo attack and had to zig zag as it steamed towards Pearl Harbor.  While Indianapolis was worried about another massive Japanese attack on Pearl, it needed to load more ammunition and pick up sailors whose ships had sunk. Green told his daughter that sailors lined the sides cheering the cruiser as it came back into Pearl Harbor, for the Navy base was still smoking with fire. “They thought we were reinforcements,” reported the senior Green.  Indianapolis participated with the ships of Task Force 12 in searching for the Japanese carriers responsible for the bombing.

This was only the beginning for Gunners Mate 2nd Class Drew Green.  Later in the war, he also served in both the Mediterranean and Atlantic Oceans before returning to the Pacific Theater.  His postings included service on six different vessels:  Indianapolis, Prometheus, Wyoming, Catoctin, Yosemite & Everett F. Larson.  A particular service highlight took place on the amphibious force flagship Catoctin in February of 1945.  Catoctin served as President Roosevelt’s flagship at the Yalta Conference and – while proud to see and host his president – the young sailor was distressed to see how frail America’s wartime leader looked.

Six days after the war with Japan came to a close, Gunners Mate Green and his shipmates anchored in the harbor at Nagasaki, Japan, where an atomic bomb had been dropped on August 9.  He remembered doing shore duty in that decimated town and being able to see his ship at anchor as he patrolled….but being unable to contact the ship via radio because radiation levels were so high!

Andrew Green mustered out of the Navy in August of 1946 and made a living in the family publishing business in Orange, Virginia. In particular, he and five of his six siblings spent years writing, printing and distributing the weekly Orange Review that his father had founded.  That proud veteran was buried with military honors at the National Cemetery in Culpeper, Virginia in October of 2002.