Manzano Alley Press
About the Book
About the Book

Just Do It, Crazy or Not is a first-person account of Irvin Hornkohl's life. Told in his natural, storytelling voice, readers relive Irvin's adventures with him. The book is divided into eight parts. These parts chronicle different chapters in Irvin's life. Highlights from each section are listed below:


Part I - Young Dreams: 1923 – 1941

  • Irvin's adventures as a child during the Depression; hopping freight trains; working in the Civilian Conservation Corps
 
Part II - The Navy & Pearl Harbor: 1941
  • Serving on the battleship USS Oklahoma and living through the attack at Pearl Harbor
 
Part III - World War II & Submarines: 1942 - 1945
  • Eleven wartime patrols on submarines, including Gudgeon, Gar, Sealion II; winning the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for heroic conduct; rescuing survivors after sinking the Rakuyo Maru; sinking the largest battleship in the Japanese fleet, the Kongo
 
Part IV – Between the Wars: 1945 – 1962
  • Serving on submarines Cubera, Amberjack, and Volador; working on a merchant ship on the Great Lakes, the railroad, and oil rigs in Canada
 
Part V – The Seabees & Vietnam: 1963 – 1968
  • Mobile Construction Battalion 62 (MCB 62) at Hue/Phu Bai, South Vietnam; MCB 6201 at Phan Rang, South Vietnam
 

Part VI – Czechoslovakia & Cambodia: 1969 – 1973

  • Duty at American embassies in Prague and Phnom Penh
 
Part VII – Japan & Puerto Rico: 1973 – 1979
  • Special assignments
 
Part VIII – New Beginnings: 1980 – Present
  • Life after the Navy; running, flying, starting a small business, building, ranching
 
 

 Sample chapter from Part III


We Charged in There like a Mad Bull

 

One time on the Sealion we were just south of Korea, riding on the surface in the fog. We had radar and we could see a Japanese freighter standing out just like a sore thumb. It was a pretty good-sized freighter, about 8,000 tons, I think. We went charging in there after him. I was on the wheel. The old man hollered down, “Battle stations! Battle stations surface!” And we all went to battle stations, except me.

I said, “Where’s my relief?” My station was in between the tubes, throwing the interlocks, and sometimes I had to fire the torpedoes.

Captain Reich said, “Who’s on the helm?”

 “Hornkohl.”
“Leave him.”

That made me feel pretty good. It’s a necessary thing to have a good helmsman when you’re in a battle. I was so proud that he trusted me. I did everything he told me.

“Left two degrees!” he hollered. I gave it a little twitch, and gave the captain his two degrees. That got him lined up with the target. We charged in there like a mad bull. I’d been through so many battles, I could feel in my gut what was going to happen. We fired three torpedoes from the forward torpedo room. Uno, dos, tres, out they went with ten second intervals between them.

I was still hanging onto the helm and we were practically on a collision course. I was thinking, boy, those torpedoes are running hot, straight, and normal. They’re going to get there in a matter of seconds. Then the torpedoes slammed into the ship and debris hit the Sealion.

So, I was waiting and waiting and the captain didn’t say anything. He didn’t seem to mind it, but I sure did. I had ahold of the helm and I was ready to give hard right rudder or hard left rudder to get us out of there or we were going to go right through that freighter. Finally, we were down to about 1,200 yards from the freighter; it wouldn’t take long to collide with the target from that distance. We came out of a big cloud of fog, and suddenly the freighter loomed up in front of the sub. It had a big hole in the side. If we went into that ship we were going to go down with it. Finally, I heard those beautiful words.

“Hard right rudder!” the captain said. “I mean hard!”

“Hard right rudder! I got it Captain!”

I put my foot in it. The wheel is a big spoke and I had my foot in it to give me some extra umph, and I rode that sucker all the way to the right. I mean I laid into it.

The people that came down afterwards, from the topside, said, “Man, that was a close one.” We sank that freighter and we would’ve gone down with it if we hadn’t turned when we did.


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