U.S.S. Sudden Jerk

Deborah Hendrick on Monday, May 29th, 2006

At 0500, the XO called out a new bearing and the helmsman turned her, heading home to Bastia harbor. The night had been warm, moonless, and star-lit. The patrol was uneventful this time—no sightings, no encounters with the enemy, nothing at all to chase. Dawn gave way to the sunrise, until finally the sky was bright and the water was blue again.

The boat, up on her step, flew across the glassy water, because sometimes she needed to run all out, and it burned the carbon out of her Packards. It was a roar, each man thought, that he would never forget for as long as he lived. And they smiled at each other, because they had lived another day.


“What boat is that, Dad?”

“She doesn’t look quite right now, but that’s a PT boat—the PT 305. She served in the Mediterranean Sea during World War II, at Corsica. She’s missing fifteen feet from her stern, because after the war, she was converted into an oyster boat and worked for more than fifty years on Chesapeake Bay.”

“What’s she doing sitting on boat-jacks here Galveston?”

“Most of the PT Boats were destroyed after the war. The country couldn’t afford to bring them home, so they were lined up on the beaches and burned. That’s a hard thing to understand today, but there were good reasons.”

“The 305 survived because when the war in Europe was over, the boats in Squadron 22 came back to the east coast. They were to be refitted and made ready for the war in the Pacific, but before those repairs could be finished, the war in the Pacific ended too, so the boats were auctioned off instead of being destroyed. The PT 305 and her sisters were very lucky.”

“There’s a group of men and women who plan to restore the PT 305 and make her sea-worthy again. They’ve done it before; they restored her sister, the 309. A lot of work has been done, but next she needs a truckload of new mahogany and spruce to replace her missing stern.”

“After sixty-one years, the men who served on her are almost all gone. It’s more important than ever that we don’t forget what she looked like running across the open water.”


In memory and honor of those who served, and still serve.

Memorial Day 2006
Deborah Hendrick

Defenders of American Naval Museum, Inc.

Defenders of America Naval Museum, Inc.
P.O. Box 36
Kemah Texas 77565

Topics: Short stories

One Response to “U.S.S. Sudden Jerk”

Lori Says:
May 30th, 2006 at 9:34 am

Thank you for reminding me of the great sacrifices our fathers have and are making in the world. These ships are vessels that were used to protect our liberty and our heroes. May we never forget “that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” (Abraham Lincoln, Gettysburg Address.)


Leave a Comment