As we approached Wonsan, our entire crew of the USS Henley (dd762), became more nervous than we had imagined. Accordingly, we operated on high alert. The first couple of days were pretty quiet for our destroyers. But on the fourth day, we were all called to man our battle stations.
In short time, our destroyers were in firing range, but that also meant that we were in the enemy's firing range. Shortly after exchanging volleys with the enemy's gun fire, a deafening explosion, like a thunderclap, violently shook our gun mount, leaving me staring out in the semi-darkness of thick, smoke-filled daylight. We had been hit, and the entire left barrel had been blown off. The extremely heavy barrel thudded against our deck, wrenching the ship and tilting us to the left, which was followed by a loud splash, suggesting that the barrel had rolled into the water. Immediately, the mount was choked with dense, gray-black smoke, brightened only by errant sparks flickering like the fourth of July. During that moment, I realized that if one spark, just one tiny little flint of a spark, hit the right spot of our powder supply, we'd be goners.
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