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The Macaw disaster inspired the following two poems.




The U.S.S. Macaw

It was late one afternoon

The waves were breaking high,

That the Flyer came to Midway,

Going out for her first try.

She was caught by the reef

Which forever has been the foe,

Of every ship that sails,

Especially, the A-S-R Macaw.

It was her call to duty

Her crew we can’t explain,

Only they stood up to traditions

Of the greatest naval game.

She met her call to duty

But that reef holds our hate,

Although we knew not then,

It held the Macaw’s fate.

She stayed there for days and days

The weather seemed to never still

She rode the reef all this time

Against her crew and skipper’s will.

We watched from time to time

To see just how she lay,

All to be seen was the torture,

Of her — by mighty waves at play.

The mast still rises to show

Where she lies in her watery grave

If God would only give some man

Humble words, to show just praise.

She will be in Midway history,

For the reef that holds our hate

Carried the U.S.S. Macaw, Comdr. Burton,

And seven sailors to their fate.

— Reuben Pickett


Reuben Pickett of Mountain Pine, Arkansas, served as a radioman 2/c aboard the USS Snapper (SS-185), a submarine that departed Midway January 7, 1944, the day before the Macaw’s arrival there, and returned March 13 to the forlorn sight of the Macaw’s mast projecting from the water at the mouth of the entrance canal.

Louis Hale I’m not sure about, but he was probably also a sailor in the submarine service, assigned either to a boat that, like the Snapper, stopped at Midway about the time the Macaw went down or to the base there.

Hale’s poem appears as a scanned reproduction of the copy in my father’s files. The author of its preface is unknown. Nor is it clear whether the title “Home and Reason” applies just to the preface, just to the poem, or to both. It could be that Hale intended “Home and Reason” as his title, with “Greater Love Hath No Man” as a sort of epigraph. Or “Greater Love” may have been his title, and “Home and Reason” added by whoever wrote the preface. The footnote was written by my father. Two of the names are misspelled, but his meaning, too, is clear enough.



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