1 April 1945 — Approach to Okinawa, Japan
Corporal Keith Carpenter Jensen survived the following attack:
Opting to prepare for approach to Okinawa rather than going below deck for the usual coffee and donuts spared his life. Many of his shipmates did not survive.
Sunday 1 April 1945, D-Day for Okinawa, was very nearly Hinsdale's last day in the Pacific. As she steamed toward the transport area through the pre-dawn blackness, marines already on deck and ready to disembark, Hinsdale's lookouts spotted an enemy plane skimming low over the water. With only a few seconds warning, Hinsdale could not evade the kamikaze; at 0600 the suicide plane crashed into her port side just above the water line and ripped into the engine room. Three explosions rocked the troop-laden transport as the kamikaze's bombs exploded deep inside her and tore the engine room apart— only one member of the watch survived death by scalding steam from the exploding boilers. The deck-log (page 215) of the Hinsdale has the following account: "0549 in a position about 12 miles south-southeast of the southern tip of Okinawa the ship was hit amidships on the port side and two explosions at intervals of about one second were felt. Later investigation indicated that a Jap suicide plane, probably a Tony Kawasaki Ki-61 carrying three 132 lb. bombs hit the ship on the port side at the water line in the vicinity of frame 80. The ship was holed in three places: A seven foot hole in the engine room at the water line caused by the engine and fuselage to which it is believed was attached a bomb which was the first explosion, a ten inch hole in the engine room about 2 feet above the water line caused by a bomb which was later discovered as a dud, and a four foot hole in Compartment A-304-EL a crew's berthing space, caused by a bomb which was the second explosion." USS Hinsdale(APA-120) showing kamikaze damage inflicted 1 April 1945.
Power failed immediately—lights and internal communication, so vital to damage control parties, were gone. Hinsdale came to a dead stop in the water, with three gaping holes in her port side. Marines on deck who had been ready to disembark were hastily shifted to the starboard rails to counteract a serious list to port. Below decks Hinsdale's crew were groping through the smoke-filled darkness to fight fires started by the kamikaze and to jury-rig patches. Fifteen men were dead; 40 missing or wounded. Despite the injury Hinsdale carried out her job to put the marines ashore. There were many un-sung heroes that morning one of whom was First Class Metalsmith James O. PERRY. Petty Officer Perry saw the kamikaze plane approaching and cleared the topside of Marines and Sailors thus saving many lives. For his heroism and quick thinking he was given the Type 94, Nambu pistol (SN 58787) the Japanese pilot was carrying. The pistol was made in August 1944. PO1 Perry fabricated a box of plywood and shipped it to John O. Perry in Compton, CA. It has been very difficult to track down the squadron and pilot who flew the Ki-61 Hein striking the Hinsdale on that fateful morning. It is known that seven Type 3 fighters (Tonys/Hein) of the Hiko 67 Sentai sortied from Ishigakijima toward the seas around Okinawa that morning; but many records have been lost.
2014 - Keith Carpenter Jensen is 92 years strong and continues to work at his Wyoming dude ranch with his wife, Nadine. They have been married for 68 years.