Bert Sikowitz had just returned to his bunk on the USS Horace A. Bass on July 30, 1945, when a kamikaze pilot slammed his aircraft into the ship’s superstructure.
“I got off at 12 midnight, and the next crew came on to run the ship, and the bomb that this plane was carrying fell off, did not explode when it hit the ship, but it exploded outside the engine room where I would have been, and all four men were killed,” said Sikowitz, now 91, recalling the experience from his apartment in the Country Meadows retirement community in Frederick.
About a month later, Sikowitz’s ship was among the first to enter Tokyo Bay after the cessation of hostilities with Japan on Aug. 15, 1945, tying up alongside the Japanese battleship Nagato in a photo that was widely publicized by newspapers back in the United States and of which he still keeps a copy.
“I understand my mother went crazy and she started calling all my relatives, ‘Bert’s ship is in Tokyo Bay!’” he said, laughing.
Sikowitz insists that even his close call didn’t bother him and still doesn’t.
“You’re always aware that something could happen, but I believed nothing was going to happen, that’s why I loved it so much,” he said. “It was just an experience in life, and I was in the right place at the right time.”
— Jeremy Arias