DD – THE MASCOT OF THE U.S.S. LITTLE DD 803
Larry Papenfuss – Son of Clarence Papenfuss – S1/c
May 03, 2000 marked the 55th anniversary of the sinking of the U.S.S. Little – DD 803. I was fortunate enough to have been able to attend the 16th U.S.S. Little Reunion in Branson, MO (May 03 – 06, 2000) to gather information for this website. One of my goals was to obtain the story of a dog who was smuggled aboard destined to be the ship’s mascot. After four days of visiting with the former crew as well as crew of a couple of support ships, I was able to put together the following story of DD, the mascot of the U.S.S. Little – DD 803.
DD, a Rat Terrier, was “acquired” by Louis Turkus (Cox) from a dog pound in Seattle, WA one day while the gentleman running the pound went for lunch. DD soon became part of the U.S.S. Little’s crew and adjusted to the lifestyle aboard a U.S. Navy Destroyer in World War II quite well.
George Finter (MM1c) recalled DD’s downfall. Gunfire. “DD was totally terrified of any gunfire aboard the Little and would do just about anything to get away from it.”
It is rumored that a motor scooter was smuggled aboard the Little one day only to be ordered overboard by the Captain after he found out about it. Before being thrown overboard the inner-tube from the front tire was removed and designated as DD’s personal life jacket.
On May 03, 1945, during the invasion of Okinawa Gunto a group of Kamikaze suicide planes bore down on the Little and other ships in Radar Picket Station 10. After four direct hits the Little broke in two and sank in a matter of minutes.
DD soon found herself in the water with many of the crew. She is said to have reached a group of eight or so crewmen and swam back and forth from one to another until they were rescued by LCS(L) 14.
Eugene Scott, a radio operator from the LCS(L) 14 recalled that DD was one of the survivors picked up by them on the night of the sinking of the U.S.S. Little. His memory also recalled that DD was given to their crew by the U.S.S. Little and that one of the LCS(L) 14 crewmen, D.H. Chamberlan, took DD back to the states with him.
Eugene then informed me that Tom Allen, one of his shipmates from LCS(L) 14, was at the reunion and had diary of the events as they unfolded on that night of May 03, 1945. I soon located Tom and sure enough out popped the diary that he kept during the entire action that night. Listed below is what I will refer to as DD’s entry:
” 2200 – Picked up survivors from D.D. Little. First survivor black dog named DD which was later given to us. 150 survivors from Little. 6 – Aaron Ward.”
It turned out that DD made it back to the U.S.A., had a litter of puppies and later died of natural causes. Thus ends an adventurous story of a rat terrier who was drafted into the U.S. Navy, served in World War II and came home to live out a full and peaceful life void of any further gunfire.