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The USS Huron wallowed slowly through the swells of a following sea southwest of Okinawa. Stretching from her port side was the fuel delivery umbilical cord from the tanker off her beam. The entire off-duty ship's company was drawn up in ranks along the starboard side of the flight deck. The air group; pilots, non-flying officers and enlisted men, stood at attention in front of the tethered fighters aft. The sun was hot and bright in early April of 1945.
Ensign Sam Gaunt stood stiffly listening to the air group commander's voice, pitched loud enough to carry to the ship's company above the noise of the slapping of the waves against the hull of the ship.
"... been separated from his division...displayed initiative... personal disregard for his own safety ... dove through heavy anti-aircraft fire..."
Sam, standing two paces in front of the rest of his squadron as befit the subject of the standardized phrases that went with the award of the DFC, the Distinguished Flying Cross, felt uneasy. More than uneasy, he felt sick.
What if they knew the real story? Instead of a medal he should be getting a court martial. Do they send officers to Leavenworth?
" ... successfully destroyed an attacking kamikaze... engaged and shot down a second enemy aircraft...highest traditions of the Naval Service..."
Sam's head began to float. Gray spots that darkened into black lace dropped across the back of his eyes. Slowly Ensign Samuel Harris Gaunt crumpled to the gently heaving flight deck of the Huron. Before the astonished eyes of the ship's company and of his squadron mates, Sam fainted dead away.