On the night of 24-25 October 1944, Torpedoman's Mate Third Class Roy West and the other men manning a torpedo mount on the destroyer USS McDermut (DD-677) did not know the details of the battle plan, but they did know that a large Japanese force was coming north through Surigao Strait directly toward them. The lifejackets and helmets that always seemed a burdensome nuisance during drills now brought a mixed sense of foreboding and comfort as the minutes ticked slowly by.
Sometime after 0200 a quick look at the gyro repeater confirmed that the ship had turned south. West heard someone nearby say, "This is it," and he felt the soft rustling of butterfly wings somewhere deep in his stomach.
A torpedo firing solution took shape as West began matching pointers with the information coming down from the torpedo director, cranking in gyro angle and alternately engaging and disengaging spindles. He tried to ignore the thumping cadence of his heart as he concentrated on the glowing dials spinning about in a jerky dance of whirling numbers.