My interest was concentrated, with an intenseness I’ve never before experienced, on finding the beach areas on which we would land our troops and the control vessels that would help guide us in. This was not easy because the transport area was about seven miles from the beach so that even with high powered telescopes we couldn’t see too clearly. Our problem was complicated by the fact that since we were carrying reserves we wouldn’t know until the last moment exactly which one of the beaches we’d hit.
The biggest worry I’ve had in connection with being responsible for the ship to shore movement of troops and cargo has been that of getting on the wrong beach. That’s happened a good many times and causes indescribable confusion on the beach and costly delay while things are getting unscrambled. It had happened during our practice operations off Coronado and I didn’t want to make any such ghastly mistake during the real thing.
Since we were carrying reserves we did not land at H-hour, which was at 0900, but from that time on we were all set to go and were waiting orders. It was during this time that I was able to see the beaches through the telescope from the signal bridge and I spent the entire morning and early afternoon there waiting for orders. Finally they came only to be cancelled a moment later. The suspense was nerve-wracking. Battleships, cruisers, and destroyers kept up a steady fire and not from over the horizon either. They stood in close and pounded away at point-blank range. The airmen were dive bombing and strafing the place from every angle with every kind of stuff planes carry rockets, cannon, machine guns, bombs and napalm. This was our first sound of battle noise and of course it heightened the excitement and tenseness of the situation.