Many gave and some gave all. Remember those that made the ultimate sacrifice and thank those who came back safe and those that serve today.

“Iron Bottom Bay” by Walter A. Mahler, chaplain, USS Astoria (World War 2)

Memorial to USS ASTORIA_CA-34_Crew_BJ_4x3_1200x

Crew of the USS Astoria


I stood on a wide and desolate shore

And the night was dismal and cold.

I watched the weary rise, –

And the moon was a riband of gold.


Far off I heard the trumpet sound,

Calling the quick and the dead,

The long and rumbling roll of drums,

And the moon was a riband of red.


Dead sailors rose from out of the deep,

Nor looked not left or right,

But shoreward marched upon the sea,

And the moon was a riband of white.


A hundred ghosts stood on the shore

At the turn of the midnight flood,

They beckoned me with spectral hands,

And the moon was a riband of blood.


Slowly I walked to the waters edge,

And never once looked back

Till the waters swirled about my feet,

And the moon was a riband of black.


I woke alone on a desolate shore

From a dream not sound or sweet,

For there in the sands in the moonlight

Were the marks of phantom feet.


9 responses

  1. duketurner48 says:

    I lost my uncle, GM1 Elvin E. Mitchell, on the Astoria. He was my mother’s older brother and when I was born in 1948, she gave me his name as my middle name. I have always honored his memory, service and sacrifice.

    Wayne Elvin Turner.


    • So sorry for your family’s loss. He made agree at sacrifice and something to honor. Thanks for stopping by my blog.


      • duketurner48 says:

        Ms. Holloway.
        Thank you very much for your reply. I was wondering if it would be possible to obtain a copy of the photo of the ship’s company on the fantail of the Astoria as featured in your article. I did make a copy of the digital version with the article, but that copy was of such poor resolution that it was impossible to enlarge to the point where I was able to find my uncle. I am in possession of several photos of Elvin E. Mitchell and may be able to pick him out of the company if his image is large enough to make out details.

        I do not know the date when that picture was taken but Uncle Elvin served aboard the Astoria from 1938 until his death, so he may well be somewhere among the men pictured. Also, I know large panoramic photos like those of the Astoria’s crew were usually taken using very fine-grained negative film or onto glass plates, which also have very fine-grained images. So some photos can be enlarged many times without losing much detail.

        I would gladly pay for any expense involved in obtaining a copy.

        Wayne Elvin Turner
        214 N. Denver
        El Dorado, KS 67042


        • I wish I could help. It is just from the Internet. I found it in google images by search. What is on my site is a scaled down size though so if you go to outside my site you may find a better copy. If I recall because it has been a while since I first wrote about that poem and the Astoria (the recent was a reprise of my post), there is an entire website dedicated to that ship and that is where the photo originates. There are also many archive sites of naval photos. I write about my father’s aircraft carrier the USS Hornet (CV-12) and I have obtain many photos on archives. Just search the ship name and you’ll find it.


  2. Very moving and touching poem.
    Barbara, blogging at Life & Faith in Caneyhead


  3. GP Cox says:

    Fantastic, Mary Ann.


  4. Denise Hammond says:

    Lovely poem of a sad experience. Thanks for sharing.