Elizabeth wrote to her brother Leo stationed in New York City:

November 3, 1943

Isn't it wonderful about the USS Dennis! Toad's buddy,  Dick Lovette, was home on furlough and we found out all the details from him. Little Toadie deserved every honor he received. The Lovette boy said they didn't make very many like Toad. He was extremely well liked among all Officers, as well as the other fellows.

He said Toad was shot down at Pearl Harbor and held for three days by hostile Japanese before they were able to get him back. (Webmaster: Their plane was disabled but they were not captured.  See REPORT).  He said Toad, from that experience, wanted to fight! He said Toad was never afraid on any of his missions, so not to worry about that. In fact, he never seemed afraid of anything. Toad and Fogg deliberately peeled off into direct enemy fire, heavy anti-aircraft fire, and didn't cease until they had gotten their targets and made the raid one of the most successful. Junior said Lovette knew everyone of us... he said Toad certainly loved his family and ever ceased talking about us. All of those things are really hard to take and it was difficult for Lovette also. He had some things he wanted the folks to have, but didn't have nerve enough to take them down to them.

Mrs. J. L. Dennis,  Mattie wrote to her son,  Otis's brother Leo Dennis:

October 27, 1943

Son... you remember Dick Lovette? He has been home on a short furlough, we noticed his picture night before last, and I called Junior (Hancock)  and Elizabeth right up so Junior could go over. He called yesterday to see him and he said that he would be leaving at 1:30 yesterday, so Junior went right out and talked to him.

(click to enlarge: Dick Lovette)

He said Otis had talked so much about his family that he thought he would know any of us. He said the story in the Saturday Evening Post was nearly correct about Pearl Harbor. He said he was shot up but made the landing safe at Pearl Harbor. You remember he said he came through a terrible battle without a scratch. He said Otis and the others  were later captured by the Japanese for three days, but they killed most of them on the island where they were captured and finally got away.    (Webmaster:  Unconfirmed.  See REPORT).

Lovette said that he went on deck almost every day as they were taking off and shook hands with Otis, but that morning they left early and they were in the thick of the battle. As their time had been changed a little, he didn't get on deck until they were peeling off, but before that they had been in some terrible anti-aircraft fire, and the plane ahead of Otis as they sat on the carrier, peeled off first and didn't come back. Then it was Otis's turn and they had good luck and returned safely. But the next time was the big battle and they didn't return. He said he thought they were killed instantly, as when hit they lost control of the plane and it nosed right into the water.

He said several reports came back to the carrier that it burned, but they circled high and they said the ship didn't burn, but the gas tank exploded and the fire ran over the water. He said they radioed they were going to drop the bomb and they never heard any more. He said they were going to have shore leave when they got back and that they were going to be instructors. He said Otis was elected the Typical Sailor of his squadron and he had a cup and would have had a lot of publicity.  He thinks we will get the cup sooner or later. He said he thought it probably just as well that it happened as it did, for some of the boys had met their deaths in a much harder way. He said that very few of the Scouting Six Squadron remain alive.

After the Launching of the USS Dennis, Mattie wrote:
December 8, 1943

We left here last Wednesday morning, Dec 1st, at 6:10. We drove to Wichita Falls, Texas, arriving at 6 that afternoon. Carroll (Andrews) was there waiting for us. He had our rooms all reserved so we visited and went out to dinner. We started on at 5 Thursday morning, drove to Huntsville where the penitentiary is located, ate lunch, and drove on into Houston. We arrived there about 3:30 that afternoon.

Our rooms were all reserved. We had nice rooms, rugs all over, private bath and telephone, nice furniture, two double beds and a special guest room adjoining ours. They sent up a beautiful bouquet for our room. We cleaned up and the telephone ran. It was Mrs. Geisen, hostess from the Brown Shipbuilding Co. She wanted to come out to line up for the next evening as they had a launching for the next day. She wanted to take us out to dinner, so she took us to the Empire Room at the hotel where they had a wonderful orchestra. They treated us to a great dinner and we were kept there until 12 o'clock.

She told us that Sgt. Gallaher would come the next morning about 11, so they called for us in a big three-seater car, drove us to the Administration building where we met all the officers and men and their wives, that are on the program. I was presented with two dozen roses, the girls (Otis's sisters, Elizabeth and Lorene)  had orchids pinned to their suits, and the Brown Shipbuilding Co. force presented me with the most lovely heavy Hamilton wrist watch you ever saw.

From there Sgt. Gallaher, the hostess Mrs. Geisen, Lt. Gindy, our family, also the other men and wives drove out to the launching stand, which was 6 or 7 miles out.

They had a big platform all covered over with chairs, also a stand with loud speakers, and the ship came up against the stand. The bottle was on a red, white and blue rope, hanging to the side of the stand, leaving plenty room to swing the bottle.

We were all seated, some speeches were made, the band played, and everything moved off just like clockwork. Several pictures were snapped, there was more speaking, and in the right place I said "I christen thee the USS Otis Lee Dennis" and swung the bottle. The bottle broke on the sharp part of the ship. We were highly complimented for the manner in which the ceremony was carried out and as we came off the platform the workers presented me with a big hand painted box with the bottle in it. On the lid and sides reads "USS Dennis, Launched December 4, 1943, Sponsored by Mrs. J. L. Dennis." The girls got similar plaques.

(Photos courtesy of Jeff von Holten, Columbus, Ohio.  jeffvh@aol.com   His father served on the USS Dennis and attended the Christening.  THANK YOU!)

We drove through the shipyard and later out to the Houston Country Club for a wonderful meal, half-spring chicken with all the trimmings. We spent most of the afternoon there. They made a difficult time so pleasant. They took us to the hotel, we did some shipping and Sunday we drove to Galveston on the Gulf of Mexico. It is a kind of a resort. We came back, checked out of the hotel and started home.

Excerpts from a letter Mattie wrote on March 23, 1944

Yes, we had a fine trip, and our trip didn't cost a cent. We stayed in the Rice Hotel, had a $7.70 a day room with all our meals arranged, all my pressing, and everything. They made our reservations there on the train, sent me $25.00 for miscellaneous spending. Dad paid for his ticket to go down, but that was all it cost him. They made our reservations back and they paid Dad's way back, and we rode the reserved chair car from Houston to Dallas, and made our change there for the Pullman. When we went in the car, we had a special room with every convenience, stool, wash basin, a place for hats, closets for everything... upper and lower berths. It was just wonderful and those boys did that for us! This was one trip you kids should have been on (Leo was stationed in New York and didn't attend). They were kids like you and they treated Dad and I just like their own Dad and Mother.

Lt. Commander Hansen is 49 years old, has a girl and boy somewhere in the South Pacific. He has been in the Navy for years, served in the other wars. Some are doctors and one or two were lawyers. The chaplain has been to college... they were just swell. Ensign Arnold took Dad and I to church Sunday morning. He will be the chaplain. He is a great looking young man. We met some of his friends there, and they were at the commissioning, also his girl friend. They went through the ship, along with several other friends of the officers. The boys sent me such a beautiful corsage of Gardenias for my suit. They and their wives were there to dinner Saturday evening at the College Inn. They sat Dad and I at opposite ends of the table. They had everything just so nice, with flowers, the Navy mothers had a dance for the boys that night at the USO Lounge.

Lt. Commander Hansen said the boys were all so anxious to see us, but by the time the dinner was over it was just pouring rain, so we didn't get to go. They sent two of the little Navy boys out and they took us all over and they intended to send two out everyday we were there, but it rained so much we couldn't get around. Mrs. Geisen, the hostess that was with us for the launching, came to visit us. She is great. Now I will tell you of the commissioning.

The day was just grand. We didn't even have our coats on. It was at 4 o'clock Monday afternoon. The same Sergeant drove us this time and it is a long drive out there. They had chairs right on the edge of the water and they had all the boys lined up all around the ship on board, three deep, and the officers across each end. They came to attention, raised the flag, guarded the ship with their guns. They stood straight as sticks. The minister said a prayer, the band played, a representative of the Brown Shipbuilding Co. made a speech, and then turned the ship over to the Navy.

Lt. Commander Hansen took charge of the ship and was congratulated. He made a nice talk, saying "they chose this ship to go on as they say it s one of the very best. And, he said, they only hoped they could do as well as the one it was named for". Then Lt. Commander Hansen took Dad and I all through the ship and we had lunch in the officer's quarters along with their wives and the officers.

The first thing though when we went on board, we were taken in to Otis's picture and presented to our son. A difficult moment.   They had his picture in brass mountings and frame so it would stand the water, and so it could be kept polished. His citations were engraved in a metal plaque and put under the picture. Otis Lee Dennis was engraved in metal. The picture and plaque is placed on the wall about the middle of the room, where the officers have their quarters.

Lt. Commander Hansen has a special room with all built-in gadgets and a telephone. We went through the mess hall and they showed us the life rafts and how they are released into the water. They are loaded with food so as to enable one to live for awhile in case you are not picked up right away.

Before I saw the ship at the dinner, they said it was as large as a football field, and it is! The bunks are three deep, and there are 215 men on the ship. They were still putting on supplies and they said they already had on 500 tons but it was not yet loaded. The big guns were something to see, also the smaller anti-aircraft guns. They have refrigerators, coffee urns, all fixed like a big restaurant. I saw that they were still loading cases of everything. They have cooks who were serving with their Navy suits on They said they were very proud of their ship and that it was done up right and ready to go.

The crew checked out of the Rice Hotel and they were leaving Tuesday after the commissioning on Monday They will cruise for a month before they go over. Their address will be c/o Postmaster, New York City.

I certainly would have hated it if we hadn't been able to go, after I found out the boys feel it to be a bad omen if the Mother of the ship isn't there. They are very superstitious and it just isn't done. The same is true of the breaking of the bottle at the launching. The crew just wouldn't have it for me not to come, so they asked permission to take up a collection among themselves for our expenses. They did show that they were proud that we came and the boys showed they were proud that Dad came along. So, we had a wonderful trip and will always be glad that we went.

I forgot to mention that the McCurdy's are expecting a baby. Ensign Wayne A. McCurdy, EV-(G), USNR., Assistant Engineering Officer. If it is a boy they are naming it DENNIS McCurdy



 Christening Box and Plaque USS Dennis


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