Captain Martin J. Drury- Skipper-U.S.S.Neshoba
Captain Martin J. Drury, skipper of the U.S.S. Neshoba strikes one with his affable personality, immediately after speaking to him. Prolonged conversation further reveals why he is liked so well by both his officers and crewmen.
Tall, straight as an arrow, his voice is soft; but no doubt remained in your reporter's mind that when the time for action came that same voice issued orders with the same unhurried modulation.
Capt. Drury graduated from the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis in lune 1925. As an ensign, his first tour of duty was aboard the U.S.S. New York, as communications officer, making midshipmen cruises to Europe.
After two years aboard the dreadnought, the captain was assigned to the destroyer U.S.S. Goff, and later as assistant engineer aboard the aircraft tender. U.S.S. Wright. Still in the Atlantic Fleet, but promoted to the rank of lieut. jg, Capt. Drury was transferred to the Scouting Forces Staff of the U.S.S. Wyoming, serving two years touring the East coast and European ports.
In 1932, he had a change of oceans when he was assigned to the battleship Arkansas. He was in command of a Gun division.
Capt. Drury saw his first bit of shore duty when he attended the post graduate school at Annapolis. A year later he went to the Fifth Naval District, Norfolk, Virginia to work in the War Plans Office.
Promoted to lieutenant, Capt. Drury was assigned as executive officer of the destroyer, U.S.S. Semmes, which was engaged in sound experimentation off the Navy's principal submarine base at New London, Connecticut.
Still acting as an engineer officer he again saw duty in the Pacific, aboard the battlewagon, U.S.S. West Virginia, which was hit at Pearl Harbor. In June, 1938 he returned to the Naval Academy as instructor in Marine Engineering, until 1940 when he was transferred to the China Station. He reported aboard the light cruiser, the U.S.S. Marblehead, as 1st lieutenant. The equally famed U.S.S. Houston was flagship of the Asiatic Fleet. The fleet operated out of Tsingtao, China, with Jap destroyers and cruisers also making use of the harbor. As Capt. Drury remembers the Japanese were outwardly very polite.
With growing tenseness in the Pacific the fleet moved further south, cruising around the many Philippine Islands.
In November 1941 they were ordered to Balikpapan, Borneo, and were in that vicinity when the Japs struck at Pearl Harbor. The Marblehead continued to operate in those waters, protecting convoys to Australia.
Then on February 4, 1942, while in the straits of Madura, off the island of Java the Marblehead was hit by three 500 Ib. bombs. She suffered the following devastating damages:
(1) Large hole forward, well below waterline, forward part of ship flooded, with increase in draft from 19 to 32 ft.
(2) Fire and flooding amidships; sickbay demolished; 1 fireroom out of commission.
(3) Steering engineroom wrecked; serious fires aft; no steering gear, steamed from Java to South Africa, steering by engines.
It was through tireless efforts of Capt. Drury, in capacity of damage control officer, that the gallant Marblehead didn't find a resting place in South Pacific waters. Not able to spare any Navy units, the Marblehead had to "run for it" alone with no escort whatever, to seek haven where she could succor her wounds.
She stopped off at Caylon; Caps Town. South Africa; making her way across the Atlantic to Recifi, Brazil. On May 4, just three months from when she was hit, the Marblehead pulled into Brooklyn Navy Yard for repairs. Capt. Drury received the Navy Cross for nearly circling the globe with a crippled ship.
Capt. Drury was assigned to the South Atlantic patrol operating from Recifi and was promoted to commander.
In September 1943, Capt. Drury was assigned to the heavy cruiser Quincy as executive officer. The cruiser participated in invasion of Normandy, and later in the invasion of Southern France by Lt. Gen. A. M. Patch's Seventh Army. For this, he received the Bronze Star.
While aboard the Quincy, he received his present rank of captain.
Capt. Drury took command of the Neshoba when she was commissioned in October 1944. The Neshoba was flagship of Transport Division 42, when Okinawa was invaded, carrying members of 96th Infantry Division.
The skipper counts among post-demobilization dreams, cruiser duty in the Atlantic, to settle down in a comfortable cottage far from the sea with his wife. Mrs. Jeannette Drury.
The History of the U.S.S. Neshoba. Cover: U.S.S. Neshoba. Anon. San Angelo, Tex.: Newsfoto Publishing Co., [1946?]. 58 leaves, embossed blue hardcover with title and silhouette of APA 216, 20.5 x 27 cm, photos, ports., map, roster. Dornbusch 1950: 954, Smith: 7631