From: Bernice Mistrot

My father, Beverly Arthur Bell, Machinists Mate, 1st Class, served on the Tolovana in 1945. He spoke fondly of The Leaky T. In his memoirs, dated 20 May 1997, a year before his death, he wrote:

From Norfolk I was assigned to a tanker, USS Tolovana AO 64 (auxiliary oiler). About March 1945, we left Norfolk, went down the East Coast into the Gulf of Mexico to Galveston, Texas to pick up a cargo of Bunker C to take to Honolulu; then through the Panama Canal with a stop at Balboa, Canal Zone for some repair work. Unloaded Bunker C in Honolulu. Out to sea where the tanks were Butterworthed to clean them. Then took on a cargo of 100 octane gasoline and traveled on to the Ulithi Islands which are part of the Carolines. Months of shuttling between Ulithi and Okinawa hauling gasoline between the two for the Army Air Force.

At Okinawa the tanker anchored out alongside a buoy about a half mile from the beach to which was attached a hose that ran up the hill on top of which were tanks that allowed the Air Force to have gravity feed to the planes. The ship would hook into the eye on the buoy and winch the buoy onto the deck bringing the hose with it. A simple but clever operation. King Clip valves were installed on the tanker for quick disconnection in case of emergency. Navy tankers when empty take on salt water ballast which can cause problems when tanks are not completely stripped. Result: next cargo discharge sends salt water instead of gasoline.

We were anchored off Okinawa when the atomic bombs were dropped on Japan. When the news of the Japanese surrender reached the base at Okinawa, some of the guys got to celebrating a little too much and accidentally set off an ammunition dump that continued to explode for three days. We had a full load of seven million gallons of 100 octane gasoline, and it wasnt very comfortable (understatement!) just sitting there while shells rained down around us. The Fourth of July fireworks came in August that year! =============================

Note that he says Galveston rather than Houston (a minor point), but also that Tolovana carried a load of Bunker C from Texas to Hawaii, and that the tanks had to be cleaned before she could carry gasoline, which she did for several months.