Andrew “Andy” Bauer, who worked for nearly five decades at Lockheed Martin and its predecessor companies and during World War II served as a machinist aboard a dock landing craft in the Pacific theater, died Dec. 28 of heart disease at Oak Crest Village retirement community in Parkville. The longtime Essex resident was 98.
Andrew Bauer, son of Andrew Bauer Sr., a speak-easy owner, and his wife, Mary Bauer, a statehouse custodian, was born and raised in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, where he graduated from William Penn High School.
Mr. Bauer began his career in 1940 as a machinist helper at the old Glenn L. Martin Co. in Middle River, and advanced to machinist first class.
In 1944, he enlisted in the Navy, and after completing training at the Naval Training Center in Bainbridge, joined the USS Shadwell, a Casa Grande-class dock landing ship that had been launched in May 1944 at the Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Co. in Newport News, Virginia.
After a three-week shakedown cruise in the Chesapeake Bay, the Shadwell arrived in San Diego in the middle of September.
“Made some good liberty in San Diego,” Mr. Bauer confided to a journal where he chronicled his wartime experiences. “Also made history. Plenty of everything out here. Hollywood, L.A., and all along the coast. San Diego another dry dock. Burned out all the bearings on the propeller shafts.”
In early October, the ship sailed for Guadalcanal with a cargo of invasion tanks and a complement of Marines and sailors. Other ports of call included Tulagi, Manus Island, and north of the Solomon Islands, where he experienced combat for the first time.
“Upon arriving at Manus, I saw for the first time the U.S. Navy, the fighting Navy,” he wrote. “There were about 200 hundred ships there, anything from battle wagons to DE’s (destroyer escorts), to big carriers. We unloaded the power plant there and after a few days got underway to go to Hollandia, New Guinea.”
After unloading their cargo, the ship was reloaded with engineering equipment for the Army.
“There is a bad current in the bay and the other night a big tanker loaded with fuel oil swung around and hit our fantail,” he wrote. There are five L.S.D.s in the bay now, three just got sunk in the Leyte campaign. This place is just full of AUX (auxilliary) ships.”
“I’ll bet my bottom dollar there is going to be a big push somewhere in the Philippine Islands. We were at Hollandia three weeks and no one got liberty or was there any beer aboard ship,” Mr. Bauer complained to his journal. “A lot of ships come in and out all day and night from Leyte. I can see a big Army base from the ship. A whole mountain seems alive.”
On Christmas Eve, after loading Army engineers aboard along with plow drivers, cranes and Jeeps, they sailed at midnight accompanied by two cargo ships and joined a large convoy that was forming 100 miles from Hollandia.
“This is the loneliest Christmas Eve I’ve ever spent,” he confided to his journal.
The convoy, known as TF-78 (Task Force 78), was subjected to continual submarine, surface and air attack.
“Moving in convoy is no picnic for the throttle man. Every five minutes you get a change in speed. This is what we’ve been waiting for. It is a pleasure to get back steaming watch. I had enough of Hollandia, New Guinea for a long time,” he wrote.
On New Year’s Eve, he wrote that the Shadwell was steaming through “rough water” ready to take part in the invasion of Luzon.
“Still in convoy heading northwest. About 80 ships in convoy. New Year’s Eve will be spent in the engine room this year. I am going to a party but not a drinking one,” he recorded.
New Year’s Day brought a new experience for Mr. Bauer. “I heard my first real depth charge go off. I was looking for the reduction gears to hop out on the deck. Sub contact.”
At 8:30 on the morning of Jan. 6, 1945, Japanese Zeros were spotted, and the convoy’s ships begin firing at them. The next day, the full fury was unleashed upon the convoy by the enemy.
“One Jap plane shot down aft of us. L.C.I. (landing craft infantry) shot it down,” he wrote. “At 2300, a Jap destroyer tried to get into the convoy. It was sunk off the starboard side.”
Gunners from the Shadwell succeeded in shooting down an A6M Zero on Jan. 9.
As the convoy of 600 ships sailed into Lingayen Gulf at Luzon, battleships and cruisers bombarded the beach, aided by destroyers and destroyer escorts.
“We unloaded at 1530. There was an air attack at dusk and about half the ships were covered with a smoke screen,” he wrote. “We were forming another convoy to leave the gulf when this happened. On the attack we shot down two Jap planes. It was already dark when we got the last one. He came down in flames, 16 shots from the 40 MM got him.”
On the evening of Jan. 24, the convoy of 30 ships was sailing back to Leyte and Hollandia for more war materiel when it was attacked by three Japanese torpedo planes.
“We were torpedoed by a Jap torpedo plane,” he wrote. “Two men were hurt. We were very lucky. If it had hit anywhere within five feet of the spot it hit, there would have been a good many dead sailors today.”
The torpedo had blown a hole that measured 50 by 35 feet and blew out a quarter of a ballast tank. The Shadwell hemorrhaged 100,000 gallons of fuel oil, and at 2300 hours, Mr. Bauer recalled, the crew and officers were to prepare to abandon ship.
“The bow dropped 7 feet in one hour. I was in the engine room, port side, when it hit. The lights went out and the steam pressure dropped. we secured main engines for a few minutes. I was really scared,” he recalled in the journal.
Shadowed by two destroyers who stood by the vessel in case its crew had to be removed, they rallied and by morning the Shadwell was steaming on her own and making for Leyte where temporary repairs were completed, and the ship returned to duty.
In March, the vessel again was in dry dock at Manus, where Mr. Bauer observed, “Plenty of beer here and not too hot. We have a very good chance of getting back to the States.”
While in Pearl Harbor, Mr. Bauer wrote that he made liberty — “just one” — in Honolulu. “It was a good one. I got all drunk, got in a fight with a guy from my own ship. Lost $40 dollars and was late coming back. I had a helluva good time.”
“He got into a few scrapes and kept going to the brig,” said a son, Andrew J. “Drew” Bauer of Kingsville. “He was a freewheeling guy, and he loved his wartime service. He found it a lot more interesting than being in Harrisburg.”
Mr. Bauer advanced to general manager and director of the Navy Vertical Life Systems and Army Patriot Missile programs at what became Martin Marietta and later Lockheed Martin’s aerospace division, from which he retired in 1986.
Mr. Bauer was the past president of the 15th District Democratic Club and was active in the Back River Little League. He was the founder of the Silver Leaf Pleasure Club that was headquartered at his Rocky Point home where he lived for 72 years before moving to Oak Crest Village in 2017.
Because of the coronavirus pandemic, services and interment are private.
In addition to his son, Mr. Bauer is survived by his wife of 72 years, the former Leona C. Dotterweich; another son, Craig S. Bauer of Edison, New Jersey; a daughter, Suzanne Lee Holt of Essex; three grandchildren; and a great-grandson. Another son, David M. Bauer, died in 2012.