Lying moored to the northeast bank of Mariveles Bay, Philippine Islands, early in the afternoon watch on 5 January 1942, the submarine tender Canopus (AS-9), opened fire with her four 3-inch antiaircraft guns as seven Japanese bombers approached, the sharp bark of the 3-inchers mingling with the drone of the planes overhead. Lieutenant Bethel V. Otter, the gunnery officer, directed the battery’s fire up to the instant the bombs began to straddle the ship. One struck the stack and exploded, showering shards of metal on the tender’s upperworks and wounding “Red” Otter and 12 of his 20 men.
The 27-year-old lieutenant from Kentucky, despite having suffered many shrapnel wounds in his back, seemed animated by only one thought: to check on the welfare of the captain. Otter rushed to the bridge and after finding Commander Earl L. Sackett unhurt quickly returned to his men. Refusing first aid for himself, he tended to the casualties. Ten wounded sailors went to facilities ashore for treatment. The next morning, Otter finally consented to leave the ship for treatment.