Combat artist Tom Lea spent 66 days on the USS Hornet (CV-8) off Guadalcanal in the fall of 1942 on assignment for Life magazine. He left her just days before she was lost on 26 October in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. In 1943, by then on assignment in China, Lea reminisced about the carrier and her crew with Darrell "Berry" Berrigan, the Associated Press correspondent in Chungking. Following is part of Lea's reflections.
The Chinese-American Institute of Cultural Relations seemed rather mellow. Berry was wiping up the last of the gravy with his latest french fry when he asked, "What about that trick four bits again? You a coin collector?"
"Nope. But I think a lot of this one. It's my lucky piece."
"I never saw one before."
"It's a grizzly from the Coral Sea."
"How do you mean? It's a California commemorative half dollar."
"It's a silver bear I carry in my pocket, and California has nothing to do with it."
Berry was a nice guy. He didn't say "Roger." He just grinned and said, "Please go on."