Navy Memorabilia

Countryman, R.D.

Rank: Seaman 2c
Serial Number: 8940312
Military Branch: USS Shea DM 30
Origin: Georgia
Date of Death: 1945-5-4
Rose Hill, Rockmart, Ga.
Featured: No


R.D. Countryman was born in Cedartown, Gaorgia on November 27, 1925. He enlisted on April 19, 1944 in Atlanta. His hometown is listed as Lindale, Georgia. His first name is listed in all the paperwork as "R".

The USS Shea was a 3100 ton  "light" minelayer operating in the Pacific. On the morning of 4 May 1945, Shea was en route to radar picket duty 20 miles NE of Zampa Misaki, Okinawa. She arrived just after 06:00, having encountered two Japanese aircraft along the way, firing on both and possibly downing one. Upon receipt of reports indicating the approach of large Japanese air formations, Shea's crew went to General Quarters. Soon thereafter, a “considerable smoke haze blew over the ship from the Hagushi beaches” and “visibility was at a maximum 5.000 yards.” At 08:54 a single Betty was sighted six miles distant; and, four minutes later, one was shot down by Shea-directed CAP. At 08:59, five minutes after the initial sighting, a lookout spotted a Japanese Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka on Shea's starboard beam, closing the ship at better than 450 knots (830 km/h). Almost instantaneously, the Ohka crashed Shea "on the starboard side of her bridge structure, entering the sonar room, traversing the chart house, passageway and batch, and exploding beyond the port side on the surface of the water. Fire broke out in the mess hall, CIC, chart house, division commander's stateroom, #2 upper handling room, and compartment A-304-L."

Shea lost all ship's communications, 5" gun mounts numbers 1 and 2 were inoperative; and the forward port 20 millimeter guns were damaged. The main director was jammed and the gyro and computer rendered unserviceable. One officer and 26 men were killed, and 91 others were wounded to varying degrees.

With repair parties and survivors from damaged areas scurrying about, helping the wounded and fighting fires, Shea, listing 5 degrees to port, began limping off to Haeushi and medical assistance. She arrived there at 10:52; her most seriously wounded crew members were transferred to Cresent City (APA-21); and the bodies of the 27 dead were removed for burial on Okinawa. Shea then resumed her limping, this time to  Kerama Retto anchorage. At Kerama Retto, she underwent repairs and disgorged all but 10 percent of her ammunition. In addition, much of her gear, particularly radar and fighter direction equipment, was transferred to DesRon 2 for distribution to less severely damaged ships. After a memorial service on 11 May for her dead crewmen and the removal of some armament, Shea was underway on 15 May to join convoy OKU #4 (TU 51.29.9), heading for Ulithi Atoll.

Seaman Countryman was initially buried in the Okinawa 7th Division Cemetery. He was disinterred and sent to to the Freeman Harris Funeral Home in Rockmart, Georgia. His father, Robert, of Lindale, Georgia was in receipt of the remains. S2c Countryman's group includes his posthumous Type 2 officially engraved Purple Heart, Victory medal , American Campaign medal, and Pacific Campaign medal. It also includes the short titled Purple Heart box.

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