Birthday: July 20, 1920
Birthplace: Babcock, Wisconsin
Family: Lambert and Anna (Karpowski) Brost
Occupation: Meat cutter and Electrician at Nekoosa Mill for 32
Branch: Navy (Air Cor)
Unit: Enterprise Aircraft Carrier
Post: rear seat gunner and radioman
Rank: 2nd Class, 1st seat dive bomber
Allen Brost lived in Babcock, WI. In 1940 he enlisted and went in to the Navy October 10, 1940. Allen wanted to be in the Navy to go to the Hawaiian Islands. Allen was the radioman and gunner in the rear seat of a SBD dive-bomber (Douglas Bomber), also called the Douglas Dauntless. This was used just for dive-bombing.
On December 3, 1940 Allen was assigned to the U.S.S. Enterprise aircraft carrier. On November 25, 1941 the Enterprise escorted it's sister ship, the Hornet, to the Wake Islands. They got to the Wake all right, but on the way back they ran into a storm. "It was the worst storm I'd ever seen. We tied the planes down to keep them from sliding off the deck. One of the destroyers that were with us split a seam and was taking on water so we had to slow up and wait for it, otherwise we were supposed to be in Pearl Harbor on Saturday night, tied to the dock where the U.S.S. Arizona was. Then they announced it that we wouldn't get in until Sunday morning.
On Sunday it was a beautiful day, blue sky and the sun shining. My pilot and I were on stand-by because our plane was down for a maintenance check. There were eleven planes, flying Submarine Patrol, ahead of the ship. I was up on the flight deck; with my gear on, watching them take off. When it got down to the last two planes, there was no one in them. My pilot came out of the ready room and said, `Come on we're going.' So we jumped into one of those two planes and took off.
About a half an hour or so later, the pilot said, `Why don't you tune the radio into the Honolulu radio station. We'll listen to some music on our way in.' Well I did, we were listening to it for about 20 minutes or so, all at once the announcer broke in and says, `I didn't know the army was holding maneuvers this morning. Boy they sure look real.' Pretty soon he said they could hear the bombs going off. A plane flew past the radio station and he shouts,
`It's a Jap plane, we're being attacked by Jap aircrafts.' I think we were the only one in our group that listened to it. The six planes that started out ahead of us were shot down. They didn't know what was going on. We kept the radio on and heard the announcer say, `It looks like it's all over, they left.' By then we were getting close enough we could see the smoke from Pearl Harbor and the U.S.S. Arizona.
Pretty soon the announcer was talking about what went on. Then 15 to 20 minutes later he says, `Here they come again. They're starting all over.' By this time we were so close we were going up the channel. There was strafing and bombing. We could see the Japanese planes up there.
I had my machine gun out and had it ready. I think I was the only one who did cause I didn't see any of the other planes that had there machine guns ready. I asked the pilot if they attack us, should I return the fire and he said, `No, because war hasn't been declared.' I had my mind made up. Well one of them started towards us and he must have seen my gun out there and veered off and shot down another plane.
We flew in and all the ground crews were firing at us. All the buildings at Hicham Field (the Army Air Corps landing field) had their roofs blown out and hanging on the side. We saw the Arizona laying on its side and all the ships burning. We flew in and had to land, as we were low on gas. When they saw us coming the Japanese took off cause they didn't know how many planes and carriers we had. We had to land on the runways that had craters in them so we had to land around them. We finally got down and we had just one hole in the plane.
The six planes ahead of us were shot down and one pilot survived. The others weren't heard of, but that one pilot that survived was so mad he came by the plane and tried to get ours."
On February 1, 1942, Allen was involved in the Battle of the Marshal and Gilbert islands. "We made the attack in the morning. Our squadron went out and bombed it. We got back to the ship and everyone got back. We were eating lunch when admiral, Halsey, figured we better give it another jab. Seven dive-bombers went out, with us being the seventh one.
We were flying at 13,000 feet, looking for a target. We were over Kwajalein in the Marshal and Gilbert islands. The rest of the dive-bombers, they already been in their dive. We were looking for a target (ship) to dive on and I spotted three planes coming because I rode backwards. I said, `Three planes are coming at 2 o'clock.' I thought the pilot would put the plane in a dive and try to get out of there, but he slowed it up as slow as it could go, about 100 miles an hour. Three Japanese planes were coming so fast they caught up to us in nothing flat. There was one behind the other coming at us from the back. I had a bead on the first one. I got four shots off and my gun jammed and I said, `Now what.' In order to clear it I had to stand up, and open the top of it.
They were close enough so they could see if I was having trouble with it, and they would come in and shoot us down. So, I stayed behind my gun and made like I was still firing at them. They went around us and they all missed us. They went around and finally got ready to come back and I had the gun cleared and ready for them. I got two shots off that time. I then flew out of my seat and it must have knocked me out for a while.
I tried to climb back up in the seat but I couldn't raise my left arm. Blood was running down my hand. Finally I got back up in the seat and here they come again. That time I got a little better bead on them, although I only used one hand on the machine gun. I then aimed for the first one and hit the second one. It started down and the third one was coming. He went by so fast; I watched the second one that I hit. I emptied the gun on him and he went down.
I reloaded and they were coming around again. I aimed at the first one again and hit the second one. They were going so fast and one was right behind the other. He started down underneath us and I watched him until he got down past the wing, then I couldn't see him anymore. I called the pilot and I said, `Nose it over he's underneath us.' He nosed the plane over and he shot four times and he pulled out. At that time the other one was coming back around, again at us. I took a little better aim on him. I hit him and he turned right around and went the other way, he had enough."
Allen was shot in the arm. He couldn't use it because the bullet cut a nerve and a tendon. Allen didn't go to a hospital after he got shot because the Enterprise was still at sea. When he did get to a hospital, three months later, his arm was operated on at Pearl Harbor, with negative results. "I was then shipped back to Mare Island, California for another operation. After spending eleven months in that hospital, I was placed on Limited Shore duty for the duration of the war."
under Learn and Serve American Grant #00LSFWI104