VIA AIRMAIL FROM RUDOLPH ELIE JR WAR CORR NO 117 (6 August, 1945)
ON BOARD APA-216, AT SEA (Delayed) - The skipper of the APA-216 is Captain Martin J. Drury, USN, of Newport, R.l. Like his ship, he conveys the impression of having a lot in reserve. You can't help but feel, when you meet him, that he's probably a good man to have around if anything goes wrong. As he has proved that he is on several rather spectacular occasions, the ship's company (which consists mainly of civilian landlubbers anyway), is somewhat awed by him. When you ask them about him they say "He was the First Lieutenant of the old Marblehead." It is clear from the way they say it you're supposed to know just what that. means so you don't dare pursue the matter farther.
Perhaps in -the neighborhood of 45, Captain Drury is tall, slim, very wiry, a little grey at the temples and of light complexion. He is a man of slow, rather casual movement, and he speaks slowly and quietly when he speaks at all which is rarely. Rarely at least officially. In his own cabin his conversation is still quiet, but filled with charm, relaxation and a dry Yankee humor. And you will see him standing on his bridge, slouched comfortably over the windscreen, chatting with a signalman, a seaman, a junior officer or somebody, and it is clear from the easy attitude of the man he's talking with that they're amiably passing the time of day.
But he is the boss, and when he is being boss, it is a different matter. He is still quiet, but there is a certain inflection in his voice. You never speak to him except on official business or unless he speaks to you first. Even then it's never time for familiarity. You don't put your feet up and say, "Well, Cap'n as I was telling the boys the other day-" There is something about a captain of a ship, even if it's an old mud scow, that sets him apart. Generals, I am told, feel they are reduced to the status of cabin boys when they set feet on shipboard.
In the case of Captain Drury, being something of a legendary figure anyway, he reduced everybody to that status just because he's who he is, He certainly doesn't enforce such a status. But everybody knows he is the man who brought the old Marblehead half way around the world to Mew York City in 1942 following a terrific aerial bombardment by the Japs in the Java Sea. He (then a Lieutenant Commander) was her First Lieutenant, the man in charge of her work details, her damage control. He directed the cleaning of the gutted ship, buried her dead, improvised repairs, kept her pumps going, fixed her rudders, and made it possible for her to escape to safer waters where she was made sea-worthy enough to hobble across the Atlantic to New York, In one African port an American fighting ship nearly opened fire on her when she said she was the Marblehead. They thought it was a ruse by a Nazi cruiser. Everybody knew the Marblehead had been sunk in the Java sea months before.
So this Navy Cross exploit-and only seaman can quite realize what an achievement it was-and his later record as executive officer of the Quincy off Normandy, give Captain Drury a standing no amount of bellowing could, Everybody knows he could get their ship out of about any trouble that come along, but in the meantime he doesn't stamp around. The only trouble is everybody thinks they're going to lose him. He is, they say, at the between ages period. A little too young for a cruiser, a little too experienced for a smaller ship. But one of these days, when they get in to San Francisco, they're going to lose him. It will be a sad day for the Neshoba, that is very plain.
To make the Neshoba even more unique, the Executive Officer is also universally admired on shipboard. He is also liked. This is too much for the men to understand. Nobody ever heard of both the skipper and the exec being acceptable all around by everyone. Lt, Comdr. Daniel C. Davis of San Francisco, as the exec, is the working boss of the ship. He sets the tone of the wardroom, and this tone of correct but easy informality, of fellowship, of Let's Get the Damned Job Done and Go Home, is reflected throughout the ship as the men take their cue from the junior officers. If the junior officers are made touchy, irritable and morose by an officious and arrogant exec, they tend to become officious and arrogant themselves. Comdr. Davis (who looks pretty much like Esquire thinks a Navy Officer ought to) takes his cue from the skipper. He figures the Neshoba isn't, after all, a boys’ camp; that everybody knows what has to be done and how to do it.
As Stanley Anderson of 15 Eaton Street, Wakefield, a Carpenter's .Mate aboard Ship (who can't get over being on a ship on which both the skipper and the exec are okay) put it, "The good thing about the Captain and the Exec is that they don't go around looking for fly specks in the pepper."