Commander Jack Pohl, the ship’s navigator, and I were standing on the navigation bridge, looking down on an august assembly. The group was dominated by a figure in a wheelchair wearing a turned-up grey fedora and having a cigarette in a holder clamped between his teeth. It was the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt. Surrounding him, we could single out Admiral W. D. Leahy, General George C. Marshall, Admiral Ernest J. King, General H. H. Arnold, Lieutenant General B. B. Somervell, and the Presidential Advisor, Harry Hopkins. The President and the Joint Chiefs of Staff were en route to the memorable Tehran Conference with Winston Churchill and Marshal Josef Stalin.
It was a sunny, but gusty Sunday afternoon, 14 November 1943, with the USS Iowa (BB-61) slicing her way through a moderate, white-capped sea at 32 knots. Attention at the moment was riveted on the Iowa’s weather balloons which had been sent aloft to test the capabilities of the ship’s 40-mm. guns. It was Captain John L. McCrea’s answer to General Arnold’s jocular statements deriding the effectiveness of ship anti-aircraft fire.