Joseph Venalia joined the Navy in 1938, went through Boot Camp in Newport, RI, and was sent to Philadelphia, Pa to put the USS Nashville in commission in June, 1938. He transferred to Deer Island Signal Tower in July 1941. He was to be discharged in January 1942 but December 7th came along and he shipped over. He transferred to the USAT Edmund B Alexander 1941 to 1942, the SS Santore in June 1942 (torpedoed), the SS Alcoa Voyager 1942 and 1943, and the USS President Polk 1944 and 1945.
USS NASHVILLE CL-43 Displacement: 9,475 t. Length: 608 ft 4 inches Beam: 61 ft 8 inches Draft: 19 ft 2 inches Speed: 32.5 k. Complement: 868 Armament: 15 6”; 8 5”; 8 .50 cal. MG Class: BROOKLYN The second NASHVILLE (CL-43) was laid down 24 January 1935 by New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; launched 2 October 1937; sponsored by Misses Ann and Mildred Stahlman; and commissioned 6 June 1938, Capt. William W. Wilson in command. NASHVILLE departed Philadelphia 19 July 1938 for shakedown in the Caribbean. In early August, she sailed for Northern Europe on a good will visit, arriving at Cherbourg, France, 24 August. Getting underway 21 September from Portland, England, with 25 million dollars in British gold bullion aboard, NASHVILLE arrived at Brooklyn Navy Yard 30 September, offloaded the gold, and returned to Philadelphia 5 October. In the spring of 1939, NASHVILLE carried American representatives to the Pan-American Defense Conference in Rio de Janeiro, returning them to Annapolis 20 June. On the 23rd, she sailed from Norfolk for the Pacific via the Panama Canal, arriving San Pedro, California, 16 July for two years of operations. In February 1941, she and three other cruisers carried marines to Wake Island. On 20 May, she departed Pearl Harbor for the east coast, arriving Boston 19 June to escort a convoy carrying marines to Iceland. From August to December 1941, NASHVILLE was based at Bermuda for neutrality patrols in the Central Atlantic. With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, NASHVILLE sailed to Casco Bay, Maine, where she picked up a troop and cargo convoy to escort to Iceland. She continued escort duty to Bermuda and Iceland until February 1942. On 4 March, she rendezvoused with HORNET (CV-8) off the Virginia capes and escorted the carrier to the west coast, via the Panama Canal, arriving 20 March at San Diego. HORNET and NASHVILLE sailed, under Admiral William Halsey, from San Diego 2 April, the carrier laden with 16 Army B-25 bombers under the command of Lt. Col. James Doolittle. On 13 April, they rendezvoused with TF 16 north of Midway and set course for Japan. When 1,000 miles from Japan, on 17 April, the destroyers were detached; NASHVILLE, other escorting cruisers, and carriers HORNET and ENTERPRISE (CV-6) made a high speed run to the launching point, 500 miles from Japan. The next day, the force was sighted by a Japanese picket boat, who reported the task force before being sunk by scout planes from ENTERPRISE. A second scout vessel was sunk by NASHVILLE, but the advantage of surprise was lost. The B-25s were launched 150 miles short of the intended point in heavy seas. Immediately after the launch, the strike force reversed course and eluded Japanese forces, except for patrol vessels which were sunk by the carriers' aircraft. NASHVILLE's guns destroyed a second enemy scout vessel. The "Shangri La" task force returned to Pearl Harbor 25 April 1942. The cruiser left Hawaii 14 May to become flagship of TF 8 defending Alaska and the Aleutians, and arrived at Dutch Harbor, Alaska, 26 May. She sailed for Kodiak two days later to join other units of the task force. On 3 and 4 June, Japanese carrier planes struck Dutch Harbor; NASHVILLE and her task force were unable to make contact with the enemy due to heavy fog. Admiral Yamamoto withdrew his diversionary force from the Aleutians after the defeat at Midway. As the Japanese departed, they left occupying forces behind on Attu and Kiska in the Aleutians. From June to November 1942, NASHVILLE patrolled the North Pacific, and participated in the attack on Kiska, 7 August, in which heavy damage was inflicted on Japanese shore installations. NASHVILLE arrived at Pearl Harbor 22 November 1942 and proceeded south to the Fiji Islands on 24 December. At Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, she became flagship of TF 67. After escorting troopships to Guadalcanal, NASHVILLE, HELENA (CL-50) and ST. LOUIS (CL-49) inflicted heavy damage on the Japanese air base at Munda on the night of 4 January 1943. Subsequent attacks were made on Kolombangara Island and New Georgia in the next several months. While shelling Vila Airfield on Kolombangara on the night of 12 May, she had an explosion of powder charges in one of her forward turrets, killing 18 and injuring 17. Leaving Espiritu Santo 22 May, NASHVILLE arrived at Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs and modernization. Departing San Francisco 6 August, she arrived at Pearl Harbor on the 12th to join carrier task forces for strikes on Marcus and Wake during the next two months. NASHVILLE returned to Espiritu Santo 25 October and for the next seven months shelled targets in New Guinea and the Admiralty Islands. As the Allies pursued the Japanese along the New Guinea coast, NASHVILLE provided fire support for the landings at Bougainville and Cape Gloucester, New Britain. After bombarding Wadke Island, 21-22 April 1944, NASHVILLE provided fire support and carried General Douglas MacArthur to the amphibious operations at Hollandia, Tanahmerah Bay, and Aitape, on 22-23 April. On 27 May, the light cruiser was a member of the assault force invading Biak, Schouten Islands, where on 4 June, she sustained moderate damage from a near miss while repelling a Japanese air attack. After repairs and patrol duty out of Espiritu Santo, NASHVILLE twice more carried General MacArthur and his staff to invasions, at Morotai in mid-September, and on his return to the Philippines, for which she sailed from Manus 16 October. She provided fire support for the Leyte landings 20 October and remained on station at the mouth of Leyte Gulf until 25 October, guarding the beachhead and transports. Returning to Manus for brief repairs, NASHVILLE left the Admiralties 28 November as flagship for Commander, Visayan Attack Force, en route to the invasion of Mindoro. On 13 December, she was struck by a kamikaze off Negros Island. The aircraft crashed into her port 5-inch mount, both bombs exploding about 10 feet off the deck. Gasoline fires and exploding ammunition made her midships area an inferno, but although 133 were killed and 190 wounded, her remaining 5-inch guns continued to provide antiaircraft cover. The Attack Group Commander shifted his flag, and the damaged cruiser sailed for San Pedro Bay, Pearl Harbor, and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, arriving 12 January 1945, for permanent repairs. Underway 12 March, NASHVILLE departed San Diego 15 April after training exercises. Arriving at Subic Bay 16 May, NASHVILLE became flagship of TF 74. The closing months of the war found her providing fire support for the landings at Brunei Bay, Borneo, and protecting carriers in the Makassar Straits. On 29 July, NASHVILLE made a brief sortie from Subic to intercept a Japanese convoy reported off Indochina, but the sortie was cancelled, ending the cruiser's final wartime operation. NASHVILLE, CTF 73 embarked, entered Shanghai harbor 19 September 1945. CTF 73 hauled down his flag 17 November, and NASHVILLE sailed for the west coast with 450 returning troops. Picking up 90 more in Hawaii, she reached San Pedro California, 3 December, then immediately sailed to Eniwetok and Kwajalein for more returning troops. Nearing the west coast 3 January 1946, NASHVILLE came to the aid of ST. MARY’S (APA-126), laboring in heavy seas with engine breakdown and 1,800 men aboard. The cruiser took ST. MARY’S in tow, delivering her safely to tugs at the San Francisco Lightship, 6 January. NASHVILLE departed San Francisco 21 January and arrived at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard for preinactivation overhaul. Decommissioned 24 June 1946, she remained in reserve until 1950. After overhaul at Philadelphia, she was sold to Chile 9 January 1951. In 1970 she still serves in the Chilean Navy as CAPITAN PRAT (03). NASHVILLE received 10 battle stars for World War II service.
Transcribed by Michael Hansen
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