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         Pompano Beach  High School 

 

 

Pompano
 by Bud Garner, Class of 48


 

 Pompano is a fish, it is found up and down the Atlantic seaboard.  Not
in such quantities now as in years past.
Pompano is known for its flavor,  ranking close to the very top in
saltwater fish.  Pompano are caught in the surf, mostly during the
month of April in Broward county.  They are caught on a "pompano
rig" consisting of several hooks on a fan shaped wire leader rig using
live sand fleas for bait.

Pompano, originally was a town, now a city.  It is named after the fish,
Pompano, Now Pompano Beach.
Legend has it that when Frank Sheen and George Butler were
surveying and platting South Florida before the coming of the railroad,
the lunch they had  was fish and when Frank enquired as to what kind
of fish they were eating the answer was "pompano" it was reported he
made that notation on his map and when it was recorded, the name of
the delicious fish he had for lunch became the name for the town of
Pompano.
Pompano  is a ship, a submarine.  Submarines were named after fish.
The USS Pompano , a P-class submarine built before World War ll
and just missed being at Pearl Harbor on December 7,1941 by a
matter of hours.
USS Pompano  was 300 feet long, displacing 1,300 tons. The design
dive depth was 250 feet.  It carried 90.000 gallons of fuel for its diesel
engines and had a submerged speed of 8 knots for a short period of
time with a surface speed of 15 knots (one knot is equivalent to 1.6
MPH.)  The Pompano  had four twenty one inch torpedo tubes forward
and 2 tubes aft and a 3" deck gun.
The crew consisted of 5 officers and 50 enlisted men and on a ship
this small with all the machinery below, it was crowded.
Pompano  arrived at Pearl Harbor and just missed being on a
"collision course" with the Japanese "sneak fleet" that bombed the
Hawaiian Islands on Dec. 7th,1941.
The Captain of Pompano , Lewis Smith Parks, was ordered to take
Pompano  on its first war patrol on Dec. 11. 1941, four days after the
attack on Pearl harbor.  The patrol would be to the Marshall Islands.
Captain Parks had the only periscope rigged camera in the submarine
fleet which he had perfected himself and got some of the very first
sinking pictures of Japanese ships in the war.
After leaving Pearl, the Pompano  nearly met is end on her very first
mission when planes from the aircraft carrier Enterprise  discovered
her and dropped bombs on her while submerging, the bombs split
some of the submarines seams and she began losing fuel oil.  Captain
Parks opted to continue on his patrol and it paid off when they sighted
and sank a huge Japanese transport of 16,000 tons, the "Yawata." 
Two days later, Pompano  sighted and fired four torpedoes at a
Japanese patrol boat getting two hits and sinking it.
Pompano  sighted a Japanese Destroyer, fired two torpedoes that
exploded prematurely, nearly sinking the Pompano.   With fuel getting
low from the leaking tanks, Parks set course back to Pearl. finishing a
successful patrol .Capt. Parks was awarded the Navy Cross for his
actions on this patrol.
The next war patrol was with fleet units and resulted in no sinkings but
in recon.                                                                                                               
The next patrol in February, 1942 nearly resulted in Pompano  being
sunk, again by planes of the Enterprise  that apparently did not know
where the submarines were operating.
Pompano  happened upon a small tanker but could not get a shot.
finally getting close enough to sink it with a torpedo.  It was the Tokyo
Maru, a tanker of 900 tons.  A few days later Pompano  sunk a 7,983
ton tanker, the Atsuta Maru. Captain Parks was awarded another
Navy Cross for this patrol.
Captain Parks was transferred to another command and Captain
Willis Manning Thomas became the skipper of Pompano.  On the first
patrol with the new skipper, Pompano  nearly came to grief for the
third time.
While patrolling off Honshu, Japan, Pompano  was caught on the
surface by a Japanese Destroyer.  They dived ,were depth charged
heavily and sprung a leak and forced to the bottom where all the sonar
gear was ripped off.  The decision was nearly made to scuttle the ship
but they decided to wait it out and finally the destroyer left and
Pompano  made it to the surface.
On Capt. Thomas' third patrol in Pompano,  they put a torpedo into the
Japanese Carrier Shokuku,  a ship of 29,900 tons damaging her but
not sinking it.
The next patrol off Honshu produced  two sinkings, the Akama Maru,
5,600 tons and the Takio Maru 3,000 tons.
In August, 1943, Pompano departed Pearl Harbor on her 7th war
patrol bound again for northeast Honshu Japan. 
Pompano  was never heard from again.
Men that served on submarines were volunteers, they could ask to be
removed from submarine duty at any time.  The only time they could
not be removed was when leaving on patrol after the lines tying the
ship to the dock was slipped and they were under way.  They would
have to wait until they returned from their patrol.
The 55 men that left on the Pompano , never to return were well
aware of the dangers of wartime submarine duty. Of the many
submarines that went to war 39 never returned.
Pompano  was the 12th Submarine lost in World War ll.
How Pompano  met its end is not known, we can only hope the 76
men, now shipmates for eternity, their skeletal remains entombed in
the rusting hulk of Pompano , that was their "home" met a quick,
merciful end.
We, the people of the city of Pompano Beach should make every
effort to make this unique namesake  POMPANO (fish) POMPANO
(city) POMPANO  (ship)  the most caring, compassionate , benevolent
and pleasent place there is in which to live.  We owe that to these
men.

(A flag that at one time flew on the USS  Pompano plus several other
articles that is associated with the ship, including the "silver" container
that held the champagne bottle used in the christening of the ship  is
in the archives of the Pompano Beach Historical Society.)
The first commanding officer of the Pompano, Captain Lewis S. Parks
retired as an admiral after spending 30 years in the navy and lived in
Pompano Beach until his death.