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Austic C. Wah

Austin C. Wah was the son of immigrant parents from Tsishan, China, the 3rd of 8 children.

He was inducted into the United States Navy on December 7, 1943. NTS, Bainbridge, Mechanic at NTS NOB Norfolk, Welding School in San Francisco. Assigned to the USS Breese to perform minesweeping operations in the Pacific.

Austin participated in the Battle of Okinawa, WWII. The USS Breese led the fleet in an attempt to clear the seas in advance of the invasion. He and his fellow sailors were among the first to encounter the Japanese kamikazes of which they encountered daily. Actively looking for Japanese war planes Austin recounts noticing a Japanese plane flying very low, barely above the water, headed rapidly towards his ship. Recognizing the kamikaze, he sounded the alarm. As the plane grew closer Austin and his shipmates frantically attempted to shoot it down. In mere moments before the plane connected with his ship he suddenly saw its wing tilt down, hit the water and disappear in to the Pacific.

Just 3 days after the Battle of Okinawa, Austin recounts being on the ship’s bridge, exposed to the full force of a typhoon. His job was to look out for Japanese warplanes despite of the treacherous weather. Austin and his ship’s crew felt completely helpless against the power of the typhoon. He remembers wedging himself into a niche on the bridge which saved himself from being swept overboard. He will always remember alternatively high on top of the waves and then plunging deep between 100 foot walls of water.

Having survived the Battle of Okinawa, the USS Breeze was now headed for the invasion of Japan when word was received that Japan had surrendered in August 1945.

Austin continued his military service until May 4th, 1946.


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