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Junius T. Jarman
WWII Medals & Citations


Pathfinder: Recollections of Those Who Served 1942 - 1971

Compiled by the Office of NOAA Corps Operations

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Recollections of Captain Junius T. Jarman,
of the Wartime Experiences of the U.S.S. Pathfinder

junius jarman with dogFORWARD

Junius T. Jarman was a career officer with the United States Coast and Geodetic Survey. He served as a civilian Junior Cartographic Engineer in that organization from July 1, 1927, until April 30, 1930, when he transferred to the Commissioned Officer Corps of the Coast and Geodetic Survey. Prior to WWII he served on numerous C&GS ships and field parties. By Executive Order he was transferred to the Navy on March 2, 1942. Following the war he was transferred back to the C&GS and served until retirement in 1964.


"My first Naval assignment was the temporary command of the YP-96 which operated in Puget Sound. In April 1942 I took this vessel to the Tacoma Shipyard where it was overhauled and outfitted with Sound Detection Gear. In May 1942, I was ordered to the U.S.S. EUCALYPTUS, a net tender as Executive Officer. The first project that came to this vessel was a plan to lay a Magnetic Submarine Detector Loop across the mouth of Resurrection Bay, Alaska. The design and logistics were handled by a Naval Officer temporarily assigned by Navy Personnel. The actual laying and location of the cable was my job. The work was completed in 8 days.

"My ship was in Kodiak, Alaska, preparing to lay the same type of loop across the entrance to Kodiak Harbor when I received 'Urdet' orders to report to the Hydrographic Office in Washington, D.C. for two weeks instruction; then to the U.S.S. PATHFINDER in Seattle, Washington. The PATHFINDER was a new USC&GS ship just completed by the Lake Washington Shipyard. It was transferred to the Navy in mid-1942. This ship was scheduled to operate in the South Pacific as a Survey and Charting vessel. The Navy installed various types of reproduction gear such as cameras, wirlers, etc.; a hole had to be cut into the side of the ship to install a Harris Offset press because it was too large to pass through the ship's companionways.

"My first assignment aboard the PATHFINDER was Chart Compilation Officer, and then successively Navigation Officer, First Lieutenant, and lastly as Executive Officer. In addition to the usual shipboard duties, I planned, directed and executed hydrographic and wire drag surveys. The work included astronomic azimuths, astronomic positions and all other survey phases common to combined operations. The data so produced were processed immediately and compiled into nautical charts. Generally the charts came off the press about 6 to 8 days after completion of the field work. They were then available to all Naval and Allied shipping operating in the area.

"I was selected by the Commanding Officer of the PATHFINDER to be the Officer-in-Charge of Advance Survey Parties at Manning Straits, Blanche Harbor (Treasury Islands,) and Green Islands. These areas were at or near the front lines, and survey information was needed to facilitate combat operations.

"The Manning Straits survey was requested by Admiral Halsey, Commander of the Third Fleet, as a result of the Battle of Savo Island. Prior to that battle, a U.S. reconnaissance plane had spotted an enemy Naval Task Force and noted its position. From the data available, Intelligence estimated it would take this force, travelling at flank speed, until at least 8 AM the following morning to reach Guadalcanal. The American Task Force composed of the QUINCY, ASTORIA, VINCENNES, plus the Australian cruiser CANBERRA moved behind Savo Island and anchored. All hands except those on duty turned in for a good night's rest before the expected battle the following morning. The enemy task force arrived about 2 AM instead of the predicted time of 8 AM. The Japanese force knew the exact location of the American ships which meant there was a Japanese Coast Watcher on either Savo Island or Florida Island. The enemy fleet rounded Savo Island, turned on their search lights and blew the American ships out of the water before they knew what hit them. The enemy fleet did not tarry. They rounded Savo Island at high speed and returned in the direction from which they came.

"Because the arrival of the enemy fleet was about 6 hours earlier than expected, Intelligence figured the Japanese must know of an uncharted short cut. An inspection of area charts revealed Manning Strait, although unsurveyed, might possibly be the short cut from Truk to Guadalcanal. This was the thinking which caused the request for the survey.

"The survey party, operating from a YMS, surveyed and charted a passage through Manning Strait, there-to-fore not known to exist and which was used successfully by our ships. The usual survey methods could not be used because Choiseul Island on one side of the strait was enemy occupied, and Intelligence was unsure about enemy presence on Santa Isabel to the east. Using ingenious methods, an accurate survey was made of the Strait without having to land. The survey of some 600 square miles was completed in 10 days and the resulting chart was ready for distribution in 8 days.

"I expected some trouble from Japanese planes while making this survey, but nothing developed. Our Marines were making a diversionary attack on Japanese installations on Choiseul Island while the main American force was taking Treasury Islands, and later, Bougainville; also our Air Force controlled the air space which probably explains why we saw no enemy planes.

"One afternoon we did spend an anxious 15 minutes because of our own planes. A Navy PBY was spotted flying high and escorted by 6 P-38's. As was customary, we turned our search light on the P-38's and gave the recognition signal. The P-38's immediately left their escort positions and flew at high speed to the West where they had the sun at their backs. They then started what appeared to be a strafing run on our vessel. All the while we were frantically signaling the recognition signal, but they kept coming. Finally in desperation we turned our search light on the PBY. Almost immediately, the P-38's broke ranks and returned to their escort duties. This type of situation was not unusual in the early days of the War. The Army desperately needed pilots and they were sending them into combat before they had thoroughly mastered the Morse code. The P-38's had voice contact with the PBY and the Navy pilot called off the strafing run as soon as our recognition was received.

"I no sooner returned to the PATHFINDER from surveying Manning Strait when I was detached once more in charge of the advance survey group to proceed to Blanche Harbor, Treasury Islands, to survey the Harbor there and its approaches. Our forces were in control of the Harbor, but the area was not secured. Japanese Forces still held Choiseul Island and Bougainville which made it too dangerous for a large ship such as the PATHFINDER to make this survey. The small group with me, operating from a very small APC attracted very little attention. We did endure several night bombing raids with very little resulting damage. This survey was completed and the resulting chart was ready for distribution in 12 days.

"After returning to the PATHFINDER from Blanche Harbor, I managed to remain aboard over Xmas, but I was detached on January 15, 1944 to lead an Advanced Survey Party composed of 4 Officers and 17 men. This group proceeded to Guadalcanal from Noumea, New Caledonia. Upon arrival, we were attached to Naval Advance Base Unit 11. This was something new and the name was abbreviated thus: NABU-11. It was a group of men and officers trained and organized to land with combat trooops and immediately begin functioning as a Naval Base. I learned my group was a part of the attack force scheduled to take Green Islands, a small coral atoll about 50 miles north of Bougainville and opposite New Ireland.

"The survey of Green Islands was requested because the Commander of the Third Fleet desired fighter plane protection for the bombers engaged with daily activity over Rabaul, Kavienge and Bougainville. The distance from the Russel Islands and Guadalcanal was too far for fighter escorts to remain over the target area for the duration of a raid because they did not have the necessary fuel capacity even with wing tanks. The planned runway on Green Islands was also to furnish fighter support for a scheduled attack on the Japanese Base at Kavienge. Meanwhile, MacArthur's success in by-passing strongly held bases on New Guinea, plus the heavy casualties to be expected from attacking a strong base such as Kavienge, negated that attack. The decision to negate the Kavienge attack came after our forces had taken Green Islands. The Green Island fighter base, however, was directly responsible for reducing casualties during the bombing raids on the three nearby Japanese bases.

"Not much was known about Green Islands at this time except vessels entering the lagoon at Nissan Atoll used the South Passage with a reported depth of 18 feet, coral bottom. It was suspected the atoll was being used by the Japanese as a Barge Station in the supply lines to Rabaul and Bougainville. Our Air Force activity prevented enemy surface vessels from supplying the bases of Kavienge, Rabaul and Bougainville. The only way the Japanese could safely supply these bases was to use submarines or barges which operated only at night. During daylight hours the barges were hid at convenient 'way' stations such as the one at Green Islands.

"The suspicion the enemy were using Green Islands as a barge station was verified by the findings of a reconnaissance force composed of Officers and technicians from NABU-11, Officers from a Seabee Unit, several Officers from an LST squadron, several Air Force Officers, and about 300 New Zealand combat troops. Two Officers and 5 men from my advance survey party were a part of this force. The reconnaissance force landed on the atoll at mid-night on January 31, 1944, (D-15 days,) and departed 24 hours later at mid-night. The entire force lost only 5 men killed and about 10 wounded during the 24 hour stay. It was estimated the enemy force stationed on the atoll was not over 500 men, most of them belonging to a Japanese Naval Supply Corps. My group investigated Middle and South Channels into the lagoon for least depth, ran a few exploratory lines in an east-west direction across the lagoon, and ran several sounding lines, north-south direction, along the shoreline to assist in locating LST landing sites. We also obtained 24 hours of tidal data to assist in estimating the tidal stage on 'D' day.

"'D' day for assaulting Nissan Atoll was February 15, 1944. Our forces met with very little resistance on 'D' day and the atoll was secure within a week. The estimate of 500 enemy troops was pretty accurate; we found between 400 and 500 Japanese on the atoll. They were true Japanese in that not one of them surrendered, and all were killed.

"Pinapel Island, the next largest island in the Green Island group was never searched thoroughly. It is possible some of the enemy troops may have escaped to this island since it is separated from Nissan Atoll by less than half a mile of water. My group spent one day making a hydrographic survey of Pinapel Island Lagoon. This island was not very important to the High Command in the Green Island Caper. We did discover one side of the lagoon was shallow and offered an excellent spot to beach a damaged or sinking vessel.

"My small group remained at Green Islands from 'D' day, February 15, 1944 to near the middle of March 1944. During this period, a complete hydrographic survey was made of Nissan Atoll, all shoals and channels were buoyed, two permanent tide stations were established, and party members acted as Pilots in getting supply vessels through South Channel. The commander of NABU-11 seemed to rely rather heavily on my group for assistance in establishing the Naval Base. The base demolition squad was turned over to me and I was told to use it as I saw fit. I had this squad reduce all dangerous coral heads, and pointed out high spots in the entrance channels that needed reducing. Two members of NABU-11 were given instruction and training in piloting supply vessels into Nissan Atoll through South Entrance Channel. Another of the base unit was instructed in how to obtain data from the tide staffs and interpret it.

"My party returned to the PATHFINDER on March 25, 1944. The ship was at Noumea, New Caledonia. I learned the entire complement of the PATHFINDER had enjoyed 10 days of rest and relaxation while my party was struggling at Green Islands. I requested the same treatment for my group and the ship's Commanding Officer turned me down which I thought was most unfair.

"As a result of activities at Green Islands, I received a letter of appreciation from the Commander of NABU-11 for the rapid survey of Nissan and Pinapel Atolls plus the assistance rendered in establishing the Naval Base. A letter of Commendation was also received for the hydrographic and tidal data gathered on D-15 day, and used successfully on D-day.

"The PATHFINDER surveyed Seadler Harbor, Admiralty Islands in the spring and summer of 1944. This harbor was the main staging area for the assault on the Philippines. Seadler Harbor is full of coral heads which were located and buoyed. In August 1944, Lifu-Uvea Passage was surveyed using the PATHFINDER as the sounding vessel. This extensive passage was often used by ships heading for Noumea, New Caledonia from Hawaii. Several new shoals were discovered, but none were a danger to navigation. The survey was completed in less than three weeks and the resulting chart became available in one week.

"In September 1944, the PATHFINDER received orders to return to San Francisco for much needed repairs. Prior to the departure of the ship from the South Pacific, the Commanding Officer reported by letter to the various South Pacific Commanders on the ship's activities for the two year period just ending.

"... Just before Xmas 1944, repairs and overhaul were complete and the PATHFINDER departed San Francisco for the Central Pacific with me as Executive Officer. The ship arrived at Guam late in January and was assigned an anchorage in Guam Harbor. In about a week, an assignment was received.

"Navigators on planes based at Saipan and making daily bombing raids on Tokyo reported seeing discolored water about 300 miles northwest of Guam. Almost immediately, orders were received to proceed to the spot, investigate, and locate. We found the shoal to be rather extensive in area, reasonably flat on top with a depth of 8 fathoms over it. It was thought to be of volcanic origin. The weather was inclement with very rough seas, and the Captain was having trouble maintaining his position. Finally he moved over the shoal area and anchored. Thereafter the PATHFINDER claimed the distinction of having anchored closer to Tokyo than any other Navy ship. The spot was named PATHFINDER shoal. A good location was obtained, using LORAN 'C', and astronomic sights with a dead reckoning position as a check.

"As a result of my survey work away from the PATHFINDER plus other activities, I was awarded the Bronze Star Medal, and authorized to wear the Combat 'V'...."
Oddly, Junius Jarman did not mention the Japanese bombing attack of Tulagi on April 7, 1943, in the main body of his personal memoir. However, in an Appendix he refers to a September 1961 Saturday Evening Post article entitled "The Adventure That Made a President." This article recounted the experiences of President John F. Kennedy in the South Pacific during WWII. On April 7, 1943, then Lt. (j.g.) Kennedy was a passenger on LST 449 on the last leg of a trip that was destined to end with his taking command of a PT boat at Guadalcanal. Both the PATHFINDER and LST 449 were attacked by Japanese dive-bombers. The PATHFINDER shot down two Japanese planes. Jarman was in command of the forward anti-aircraft guns on the PATHFINDER although he took no credit for directing the kills. However, "During this raid, I was on the PATHFINDER which was alongside the destroyer AARON WARD, and just ahead of the LST 449. I happened to be looking back at Kennedy's ship while four dive bombers were attacking it. There were so many exploding bombs along with the resulting water spouts that I could not see the LST." The AARON WARD was hit and put her wounded over in small boats which the PATHFINDER picked up and cared for overnight. In the Saturday Evening Post article, the PATHFINDER is not named and is referred to as a minesweeper.

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