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 R. Mays Powell
Pharmacist's Mate 2nd Class
United States Navy Reserve
Killed in Action 11 January, 1945

Bronze Star

Pharmacist Mate 2nd Class R Mays Powell, of Anna, Texas, served as a
Corpsman (Medic)  with the US Navy in the Pacific Ocean and in the area
of the Philippine Islands. While serving on the USS WARREN, in a joint operation with the US Army, Mays was killed in combat by Japanese troops on 11 January, 1945. After being listed as Missing In Action for a year, he was then declared Killed In Action. After the war, Mays's body and others were discovered in graves. His body was returned home for burial conducted with military honors. Mays Powell was awarded the Bronze Star Medal posthumously.



(APA 530)
For more information on the USS WARREN Go Here
For more pictures of the USS WARREN Go Here

(Information submitted by  P. Dee Roesser)
Telegraph received at the Western Union office, McKinney, on January 17, 1945, then mailed to Mays's father, Y.H.E. Powell of Anna:
"The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your son "R" Mays Powell Pharmacist's Mate Second Class USNR is missing following action while in the service of this country. The Department appreciates your great anxiety but details not now available and delay in receipt thereof must necessarily be expected. To prevent possible aid to our enemies please do not divulge the name of his ship or station.
Vice Admiral Randall Jacobs Chief of Naval Personnel.
The ship's (USS WARREN, a transport ship) commander, E. S. Stokes, in a letter to Mays's fiancÚ:
"During the early part of January, this vessel conducted landing operations on enemy held territory. The boat in which R. Mays Powell and several other men were stationed was fired upon. Many men were wounded and the boat rendered unserviceable because of shell hits by the enemy. Mays received minor shell fragment wounds about the face. In spite of these wounds, Mays and a few other men who were not wounded stayed at the boat after orders had been received to abandon it. They assisted men who were either unable to swim or wounded so badly that they were unable to escape by themselves. He assisted an injured man into a life belt then proceeded to help a second man, who was wounded, out to sea to escape enemy gunfire. He was not seen again. His heroic conduct in the face of great danger to himself was outstanding and in accordance with the highest traditions of the naval service."
The ship's chaplain wrote:
"(Mays) was in a lead boat in one of the battles of the Philippines. It was ambushed by Japs as it struck the beach. The fire was heavy. The rescuing destroyer patrolled the waters for four hours and picked up a number of men: however, there was a number declared missing."
A Navy Lieutenant Brown reported:
"We were landing reinforcements on Luzon, and, as in each amphibious landing, we have a beach party whose job is to go in with the troops, supervise the small boats landings, care for the wounded. The entire area was covered with artificial smoke to protect the ships from Jap planes, and when we got to the area early in the morning, it was impossible to see more than 50 ft. in any direction. We anchored a good ways out from the beach, even farther than we thought, and the boats left for the beach. Some way, and no one was certain why or how, they did not head in the right direction, but a little to the side, and instead of landing where our troops were, they landed below our lines and on territory then in Jap possession, with the result that a Jap gun emplacement opened fire on them. The boat had beached in the meantime, and it was impossible to get off. So after our boys had fired back and accounted for a number of Japs, they were forced to leave the boat and take to the water and swim to sea, under a hail of Jap bullets and mortar. After they had left, the boat was blown up by a direct hit. Marvin S. Devines and Mays Powell, PHM, were last seen helping another boy into the water."
McKinney Examiner, January 11, 1945, reported:
"The Commander of the Fifth Fleet commends R. Mays Powell, Pharmacist's Mate, Second Class, U.S. Naval Reserve, on services as set forth in the following citation: 'For meritorious achievement in caring for and evacuating casualties from the beach during the attack on an enemy held island from July 21 to July 24, 1944. Especially cool conduct and good judgment while under machine gun and mortar fire caused the action to be performed with distinction. His conduct gives evidence of his great value to the naval service.' --Signed R.A. Spruance, Admiral, U.S. Navy."
The U.S. Navy Office of Information forwarded the following pertaining to the history of the USS WARREN:
"The ship set out for Leyte on 2 January 1945. Nine days later, she reached Lingayen Gulf off Luzon, where the ship lost the first members of her crew to enemy action. The first boat to leave the ship during the landings carried half of Warren's beach party, along with several members of the Army shore party embarked. Due to the heavy smoke screen and a faulty boat compass, the landing craft landed on a Japanese-held beach near the town of Damortis. It was a fatal mistake. Before it could get underway, the boat came under artillery, mortar, and machine gun fire, wrecking the vessel, killing several men, and wounding others. The remaining men abandoned the craft and began to swim away from the beach, but the Japanese automatic weapons opened up on them as they struggled to get out of range. Only 17 men out of 28 survived the deadly hail of fire. It was two hours before the survivors--many of them badly wounded--were picked up. By their firing on Warren's boat, the Japanese gave away positions that pre-attack bombardments and bombings had not reached. Accordingly, Russell (DD-414) and two fast transports moved in close and joined Army heavy artillery in bombarding the area until all opposition was silenced completely."
Since I sent that photo to you I received more information pertaining to my great-uncle, R. MAYS POWELL, including a photo in his Navy uniform. I've attached a copy of it. Incidentally, the child he is holding is JIMMY CANTRELL, whose father, JIM CANTRELL, was Collin County Judge for awhile. Recently, I ran into Bill Boyd downtown at Orisons. He showed me the enlarged photo of LBJ he intended for display in the old courthouse downtown and pointed out the man sitting on the steps: "That's County Judge Jim Cantrell," he said.
P. Dee Roesser

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