Dwight Huddle, B3/c, aboard the USS Leon APA 48 still recalls seeing his first typhoon—and more—on September 17, 1945. Dwight had struggled up four decks from the boiler room and stepped outside to see his first typhoon. He saw a ship some ways off and marveled as it disappeared behind a monstrous wave. When the ship reappeared he saw a flash of light signaling a mine strike. The stricken ship, USS Colbert APA 145, had just embarked a shipload of Allied POWs… soldiers and sailors who had been held prisoner in China at Mukden and Manchuria.
Mine Damage to USS Colbert
The dread felt throughout the fleet, a ship stricken 15 days after the war’s end, was starkly portrayed in the Leon’s ship history:
“Few of us will forget the sinking feeling in the pit of our stomachs and the rush of pity we felt for those poor devils aboard who had just escaped the hell of a Japanese concentration camp. Men with rosy visions of home and loved ones… were suddenly confronted with the stark peril of a crippled ship in a typhoon. However, the Colbert took it and came back fighting. Her skipper reported her engine room was knocked out and she was dead in the water, but that the flooding was under control and she could remain afloat. Later in the day, she was expertly taken in tow by the Butte, and we returned to Hagushi.”
Source: A War History of the USS LEON (APA 48) quoted in All Came Home by Paul K. McDevitt