||Clay and Joan Blair
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The fleet submarine Shark wallowed heavily in an oily following sea. It was a moonless night with no breeze. The six men on bridge watch searched the dark horizon more intently than usual. Shark lay astride the Japanese convoy routes from the Marianas to Japan—a busy spot in the northern reaches of the Bonin Islands—and the SJ surface-search radar was temporarily out of commission. At 0134, Willie Bonsel, one of three lookouts who were standing on a platform in the periscope shears, broke the silence on the bridge. "Smoke on the horizon. Zero-three-zero." The contact had apparently not fazed Fireman Bonsel, who was noted for his taciturnity, but the other five men on the bridge were electrified. Especially the quartermaster, Jack Childress, fresh out of sub school and making his first war patrol. When he swung his 7-by-50 binoculars to the horizon off the starboard bow, his hands trembled so badly he could not focus the lens. The officer of the deck, Jim Bell, a reserve lieutenant, junior grade, who was Shark's communications officer, riveted his binoculars on the horizon and spoke quietly but authoritatively into the intercom to the conning tower immediately below: "Report to the captain. Smoke on the horizon. Zero-three-zero. Come right to two-five-oh. Secure the battery charge. Put all four main engines on the line. All ahead full."...