If you were on board the heavy cruiser, "San Francisco" as it cruised off the coast of Guadalcanal on a dark night in November of 1942, you had the right to be scared. Gino C. Caletti was there! He was scared, but he also knew he had a job to do. If he failed, his ship mates and possibly the ship itself may not survive to see the morning sunrise. The Japanese Navy was out there in the dark, waiting to pounce. Gino knew that the next moment could be his last. He and the other men were prepared, if such were to be.
But at least here, on the "San Francisco" he and the men had a fighting chance. The ship's crew knew danger was close at hand and that death was always just around the corner. They had prepared themselves and their ship as best they could. They were ready, and tried to keep the thought of dying out of their minds.
Gino, and shipmate Glenn Gash were from the same small farming town of Colusa, California. They were friends before the war, and were surprised to find themselves assigned to the same ship. Having someone from your own hometown on board, made life a little less lonely while at sea.
Surviving the war and bringing their ship home gave the men of the "San Francisco" immense pride and a great sense of relief. Now stateside, they were no longer in harm's way. Gino must have felt as if he were a lucky man as he got onboard a C-47 on March 19, 1946. It was to be the beginning of the long trip east, for the decommissioning ceremony of his great ship. The fear of battle and sudden death was behind him now. In just thirty days he would be discharged from the Navy and once again get back to a quiet civilian's life. He planned to finish his college education, and to do some fishing in the Sacramento River. This year, maybe he'll catch that big Sturgeon.
The "San Francisco" was to be decommissioned on the east coast, and Gino was to attend the ceremony. His ship mates were waiting for him, but he would not make it back. Death would meet him first over the beautiful, snow-covered Sierra Nevada Mountains of California.
The full story of this tragic accident that took the life of Gino, and 25 other young men, is in the new book "Aircraft Wrecks in The Mountains And Deserts of California", (3rd edition), by G. Pat Macha and Don R. Jordan.
If you have driven on Hwy. 89, in the Truckee area of California, then you most likely drove right through the middle of this crash site, and didn't even know it. There is nothing to marks the spot of this mile long scene of death and destruction.
The new book from Info Net Publishing
is now available at retail book stores, or directly from Don R. Jordan .
Order Book Here
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