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The Unsinkable 70

Posted 06:33 PM | May 19, 2010

This is in honor of my Uncle Gilbert V. Ortiz who during WWII served aboard the LCI (G) 70. When I was a child I remember being told the story of how Uncle Gilbert's ship survived a hit by a Japanese Kamikaze. LCI's are not very big vessels to begin with. During LCI(G) 70's tour in the Pacific it became a battle hardened veteran of many battles. In one battle during the Bougainville campaign the LCI (G) 70 survived an attack by a swarm of Japanese torpedo planes, that is documented in the book, "The Glory of the Solomons" by Edwin P. Hoyt. The LCI (G)70 took a direct hit by one of the torpedos above the water line, punching a hole into the engine room killing one crewman. The little ship survived because the torpedo was a dud. The other occassion in which the ship took a direct hit by a Kamikaze was told to me by my Uncle Gilbert, along with a handfull of his crewmates whom I corresponded with. On January 5, 1945, at 1740 while in convoy during the Lingayen Gulf operation, a Japanese Kamikaze fixed his sights on the little LCI(G) 70 which was in station at the rear of the convoy. I was told by the crew that they fired everything they had at the plane as it made it's way toward them. The approach was from aft of the ship. The plane came in low over the water, and many pieces were seen falling off the plane from the 70's gunfire, but the plane kept coming at them. One crew member told me that he could see the pilot's face as he flew over them as they fired into the plane. Crew members all thought that it was the end for them. The Zero missed the Conn tower, flew thru the ship's mast crashing onto the bow 40mm gun tub, and exploading. The 40mm gun, and crew were never found. Later that day Japanese float planes attempted to bomb the the 70 while being assisted by a US Navy Destroyer. The bombs missed, and the plane had it's floats shot off by the 70's gunners. I am an artist, and recently painted the scene at the moment when the Zero flew thru the mast of the 70 with the information that the crew provided me. The painting "THE UNSINKABLE 70" is now part of the collection of the National Museum of the Pacific War in Fredericksburg Texas. Thank You to all who served. Joe Ortiz