The following was written by Gerard Viracola Sr., who served on the Geoanna during
World War II. He wrote this description on February 8, 2003 after discovering the picture
of his old ship on this web site. Reprinted here with permission:
I landed on Milne Bay, New Guinea on August 13, 1944. I was then sent to
MacArthur's headquarters as a high speed operator.
Due to the diseases prevalent in New Guinea such as scrub typhus, dengue fever,
malaria, etc. I had a chance to volunteer for sea duty. From high up on a mountain
in Hollandia I could see the ship to which I would be assigned - the TP 249.
Our first voyage out to sea we met with challenges from our own PBY flying boats who
thought we were Japanese. They would transmit from their low flying plane "O -
E," meaning, respond with the code of the day or I'm releasing a depth charge.
What a relief when the pilot would wave good-bye. Our ship was about 15 ft wide and
120 ft long. We had a crew of 18 men, twin .50 calibre guns on the bough, on
the port and starboard sides and a 20 mm gun on the fantail.
The photo you have of the TP 249 must have been taken before the 20 mm gun was
completely installed. The heavy equipment installed midships was an AT20
transmitter. Below deck were the quarters for the 18 men and the captain, plus a
dozen receivers. This weighed down the ship so that the portholes were partially
below the waterline.
Our first destination was the Molluccas (Dutch) or Spice Islands. We docked near
the airport and were in constant contact with Hollandia. The name of our island was
Morotai. There were other ships in the harbor. Nearly every night the Japanese
would bomb the airport on Morotai. Our Black Widow planes would engage their Betty
We would use our 20 mm anti-aircraft gun during the day against low flying
Zeros. Our ship would be sent to remote islands being attacked by our troops.
Ground forces would be in constant contact with our ship by use of key and the morse
code. I would then encode the message, then send it to Hollandia (2,000 miles away)
by high speed "bug." The Geoanna was perfect for such an arrangement
since one mast was used as a transmitter and the other as a receiver. The
Geoanna performed brilliantly.
The worst part of the operation was my turn to get into the crow's nest. When the
ship rocked from side to side it seemed as though that small hull below would never get me
straight up again.
Getting back to some of your questions, I cannot identify the port in the
picture. I was told before boarding the Geoanna that this was the only schooner
used for communication purposes.
We were later sent to Leyte Gulf during the landing at Tacloban by
Gerard Viracola Sr.