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Hinrichs, Herman

Document Type

Oral History

Date of Interview



Herman Hinrichs was born 23 January 1921 in St. Paul, Minnesota. He enlisted in the US Navy in February 1941 and, after Basic Training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center and machinists school at Ford in Dearborn, Michigan, was stationed on the battleship USS Oklahoma (BB-37). The Oklahoma was at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese attacked on 7 December 1941; she was hit by a number of torpedoes and sank rapidly, but Herman managed to escape the crippled ship and swim to safety. After a brief time on the cruiser USS Helena (CL-50), in May 1942 Herman was transferred to the newly commissioned battleship USS Massachusetts (BB-59), where he remained until mid-1945. The Massachusetts first saw action in 1942 in the Atlantic, providing support for the Allied invasion of North Africa; she then participated in numerous important campaigns in the Pacific Theater, among them the invasions of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands in late 1943 and early 1944, the Battle of Leyte Gulf/Philippines (October 1944), and support for the invasions of Luzon/Philippines (January 1945), Iwo Jima (February 1945), and Okinawa (March-June 1945). Herman left the Massachusetts in May 1945 and was transferred to the USS Grand Canyon, a repair ship; he remained on her until his discharge in December 1946. Following the war Herman worked as a tool and die maker and foreman for the Donaldson Co., St. Paul, until his retirement in 1982. He married Lorraine (d. 1996) in 1948, and the couple raised two children. At the time of this interview Herman lived in the St. Paul suburb of Roseville.


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Herman Hinrichs - Transcript.pdf (1004 kB)
PDF Transcript of Interview with Herman Hinrichs