“Can I take it? The older men had met and recognized this fear, had accepted it and wasn’t ashamed of it. They had found that a man can do a lot when he is scared. To these men who had felt the weight of exploding bombs weaken their knees, who had watched tracers zip over and around them and who had seen the death and destruction that a torpedo can cause, came the thought that maybe the odds would catch them tomorrow.”
The USS St. Mary’s was the second ship in the center column after the flagship USS Chilton. At 18:38, the ship formation was attacked without warning by about 10 Japanese suicide bombers. One hundred and forty one men died within minutes. At 18:38: the USS Chilton, directly in front of the St. Mary’s, was struck first from the starboard quarter.