The Maine Potato Growers Association awarded this plaque to the USS O’BANNON for ‘unusual use of their product’ during WWII. The original plaque, a fixture on the OBANNON’s Quarterdeck was lost; this reproduction (arranged for by President David Heeter) is a replica of the original casting.
The Japanese submarine was surfaced at very close range alongside our ship following a depth charge attack, to the surprise of the OB crew. The 5-inch guns of the OB would not depress enough to shell the submarine, whose crew were now manning their own deck gun.
The only weapon available was a crate of potatoes next to the galley. Our sailors grabbed the potatoes and began throwing them at the Jap sub, who thought they were hand grenades. During the melee the guns in the small arms locker on the main deck were locked up. The sailors of the OB picked the ‘best weapon of opportunity’, close at hand.
The sub submerged and was finally destroyed by a final depth charge attack. (An excellent view of the OB’s stern depth charge racks can be seen in the November 2016 Quarterly Newsletter).
The incident received wide coverage in the press and recognition by the Maine Potato Growers Assn.