Veteran spotlight: WWII veteran survives sinking of troop ship » TCPalm.com PORT SALERNO — It was December 1944 off the coast of the Philippines, Quilly McHardy, 84, remembers. He was a seaman first class standing on the deck of aa troop-carrying ship with some other men, listening to Tokyo Rose describe what their wives and girlfriends were doing at home. “I don’t remember any gunfire, but someone shouted ‘duck!’ and we heard the whir of an airplane propeller,” McHardy said. A Japanese kamikaze pilot had flown his plane low across the water and slammed into the ship at the waterline directly by the engine room. “The abandon ship order came and we went into the ocean,” McHardy said. The ship sank in the darkness. “We thought we would swim to some lights we thought were on shore, but then realized they were ships further out at sea.” McHardy said he was afraid of going into the water, but thought about all the others around him, and tried not to let his fear show. “You could hear men hollering in the water all around.” After about two hours, a fishing boat and an Australian destroyer came and started plucking men from the water. “They were picking up people all night and into the next day. They said we did not lose many,” said McHardy. “I lost all my clothes. money and pictures, but the Navy gave us $1,500 so we could replace what we could.” The ship had come from San Francisco by way of Australia, usually traveling by itself because it was so fast, McHardy said. It carried Seabees, Marines, a contingent of sailors and was supposed to build an airfield on Samar. McHardy was put shore at an Army camp where he stayed five days, then was reassigned as a baker in a Navy commissary that was set up on an island. When the atom bomb was dropped, everyone knew the war would end, he said. His father died and the Navy was going to send him home for the funeral, but there were no planes for seamen first class and he had to travel by ship, which caused him to miss the funeral service. Upon his discharge, McHardy, a native of Martin County, returned home, married Arlene Livingston and graduated from Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach in 1950 with a teaching degree. He taught school in segregated Martin County Schools then in the integrated system. He earned a masters degree in administration and supervision from Nova University and became president of the Assistant Principal’s Association of Florida.