November 11th, 2014 (Film Premiere)

A very special thing has occurred since the last post-- with the help of many wonderful people I was able to produce a documentary called "Eleven" that began from discovering this journal.

To learn more about the film please visit: ElevenTheMovie.com

At the USS Hornet Museum screening of "Eleven."

June 1st, 2012 (Introduction)


Hello, my name is George Retelas.  I was named after my grandfather, and 70 years ago he wrote a journal and took photos during his time in the Pacific (he's the one with his arms on his hips and sleeves rolled up in the group picture).  After going through all the material, I wanted to share it for family members of this squadron and any history buffs who may be interested.

There's public domain photos I've included, as well as photographs my grandpa George took on his 4x5 Graflex camera; along with trinkets and articles he kept.  I started this project a couple of years ago, and I'm delighted to finally share it. Here's a sample of some of the slide film which he had stored in his dry socks to avoid the heat in the tropics at Guadalcanal.


Journal - Slide Film
© Retelasfilm

Journal - Guadalcanal Island
© Retelasfilm

Journal - Guadalcanal Island
© Retelasfilm

Journal - Guadalcanal Island
© Retelasfilm

Journal - Guadalcanal Island
© Retelasfilm

Journal - Guadalcanal Island
© Retelasfilm
I do hope you enjoy this, as it's been a very exciting project to put together.  The blog begins with the first entry and ends with the last known one, followed by a surprising article in the newspaper some 40 years later as the final post. For any questions you can reach me at contact@georgeretelas.com

Also, the following is a scroll he created with the signatures of VT-11 and a poem he inscribed on it. This original document was on display at the Treasure Island Museum before it closed in 97'.


Torpedo Squadron Eleven - Scroll
© Retelasfilm

"Here's a toast to the widening host of Americans serving the nation.  To those millions of lads, and their brothers and dads, who are saving our civilization.  To the men from the mills, and the farms and hills, and the cities and mountains and plains.  To the workers and miners and airplane designers, and the crews on the ships and the trains.  Where ever they are, be it near, be it far, on the land, in the air, on the sea.  With a stoutness of heart, they are doing their part, to keep this the land of the free.  So good luck Torpedo Eleven, may nothing impede you all, nor make you delay or digress. May God find you with power behind you, to roll up a final success."

October 23rd, 1942 (First Entry)

Journal - pg. 1
© Retelasfilm


Climbed aboard the converted Aircraft Carrier, U.S.S. Long Island at 0930 on North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego, CA.  This is the first U.S. warship I’ve been on since my enlistment in the Naval Service and I wasn’t very thrilled.  I stepped aboard, saluted the flag, officer of the day, and checked the register for my name.  I then proceeded below for my sleeping quarters.  Weighed anchor at 1030 from North Island Pier, with two Navy tugs alongside.  In the harbor were twin Troop transports.  The ship loaded with forty-eight marines, but did not follow us.  I stood on the flight deck and watched the last speck of the California coast fall from view.  Our ship was loaded with over sixty-two planes and hundreds of men.  We set out into the Pacific alone, with only one U.S. Destroyer as protection.  As we kept steady course, our escort would circle around and patrol the area.

With no more sight of land, my memories were drifting to my perfect love and the fun I had with all the friends and shipmates I left behind, perhaps not to be seen for a long time or ever.  But there are things I wish, no matter what happens to me, I pray that God look over my mother, dad, kid brother, and my little Dottie. 

I was assigned to general battle station.  Ships lights were out at 1830.  Found bunk in 2nd and 1st class officers sleeping quarters.  Turned to at 1900, for first night’s sleep aboard ship.



October 24th, 1942


0530 Perfect breakfast.  0700 Alarm for general quarters.  0930 Alarm for “Abandon Ship”, were given orders and life jackets.  1000 Man our “Battle Stations.”  Our Destroyer dropped two depth chargers just aft of us.  This was no drill.  A Submarine was sounded and lurking near. Gosh our first day out and trouble already. 

Outside of action, life is quite dull aboard with the routine of laying out on the windy flight, or in the different quarters, listening to the radio or records, and reading every type of book or papers you can.  Then spend your small change at the Canteen.  The football games are coming in from home: Santa Clara 6 – UCLA 14.  Went topside and departed when night fell.  What a night for romance.  Turned all watches back half an hour at 1900.

October 25th, 1942


0600 Working detail.  1200 Another U.S. Destroyer over took.  1430 Sighted seven of our convoy on the horizon; two Oil Tankers, four Troop Ships, and one Destroyer.  Our Destroyer turned back for the States.  1600 Took load off the convoy.  1615 Set all watch time ahead fifteen minutes.  2000-2400 Stood flight deck watch, no moon visible due to dark overhanging clouds.  0100 Turn watch time back fifteen minutes.

Journal - Press News

October 26th, 1942


0530 General quarters lost track of one Destroyer, not in sight.  0820 Man Battle Stations, two ships of convoy changing position, and nearly ran us down doing it.  0915 Sounding of another Sub!  Alarm abandon ship.  One ship of convoy having trouble, rudder was jammed, and O’Malley was on it.  Went on flight deck and had a bull session with the Pilots.  Boy, they would all just as soon be back in the States.  2000 Turned too.

October 27th, 1942


1030 Fire drill. News of the U.S.S. Wasp Aircraft Carrier lost by the Jap Submarine.  I wrote mother and Eddie, and didn’t sleep a wink all night.

Letter to Mother (pg. 1)
© Retelasfilm
Letter to Mother (pg. 2)
© Retelasfilm
Letter to Mother (pg. 3)
© Retelasfilm
U.S.S. Wasp - Aircraft Carrier
Image courtesy United States Library of Congress