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Praise the Lord And Pass the Ammo

Discussion in 'General Gun Discussions' started by WAGCEVP, Jul 20, 2003.

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    WAGCEVP Member

    May 26, 2003

    "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition"; was written by Frank Loesser. According to the song a chaplain ("sky pilot") was with some fighting men who were being attacked by an enemy. (Generally given at the time to be the Japanese at Pearl Harbor.) He was asked to say a prayer for the men who were engaged in the firing at the on-coming Japanese planes. The chaplain; the song went on to infer, put down his bible, manned one of the ship's gun turrets and begin firing back, saying, "Praise The Lord and pass the ammunition".

    Now; however, there are now facts available setting the story straight.

    According to the writer, Jack S. McDowall, through the years the lyrics of the song have generally credited "a chaplain" manning the gun turrets of a ship, while under attack. "This was not true". says, McDowell.

    For some time, long after the attack at Pearl Harbor, stories and reports continued to pop-up about the incident, involving a chaplain who was to have uttered the now famous words, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition."

    These stories eventualy made their way through the servicemen back to the press. The press, as McDowell noted, . . . led some writers erroneously to identify other chaplains as authors of the phrase.

    Nonetheless, the real Chaplain, Howell Forgy, aboard the U.S.S. New Orleans; during the Japanese attack, was that Chaplain. He was a Lieutenant (j.g.) on that Sunday morning in December, 1941.

    Another Lieutenant who had been in charge of an ammunition line on the USS New Orleans during the attack remembered.

    "I heard a voice behind me saying, Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition. I turned and saw Chaplain Forgy walking toward me along the line of men. He was patting the men on the back and making that remark to cheer them and keep them going. I know it helped me a lot, too", he said.

    Another Lieutenant j.g. said, the men aboard the USS New Orleans would thereafter kid Chaplain Forgy about the role he played whenever they heard the song that had been written. They also encouraged him to set the record straight as to who actually said what. According to that same Lieutenant the Chaplain would decline saying he felt "the episode should remain a legend rather than be associated with any particular person."

    Author McDowell said that press reporters were eventually permitted to interview men of the U.S.S. New Orleans involved in the "ammunition" story. Chaplain Forgy's superior officers set up a meeting with some of the press and; at last, the the real story of the wonderful song and the wonderful man who had inspired it was finally confirmed.

    The preceeding information was provided by Henry Wristen, President of the U.S.S New Orleans (CA-32) Reunion Association.
    "Pearl Harbor: Remembered" Web site thanks him.

    The Song

    Down went the gunner, a bullet was his fate
    Down went the gunner, then the gunners mate
    Up jumped the sky pilot, gave the boys a look
    And manned the gun himself as he laid aside The Book, shouting
    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!
    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and we'll all stay free!

    Praise the Lord and swing into position!
    Can't afford to sit around and wishin'
    Praise the Lord we're all between perdition
    and the deep blue sea!

    Yes the sky pilot said it
    You've got to give him credit
    for a son - of - gun - of - a - gunner was he,
    Praise the Lord we're on a mighty mission!
    All aboard, we're not a - goin' fishin;
    Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition and we'll all stay free!
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