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Sinking of the USS Hornet

20 Sailors, 1 Marine and 2 Soldiers from Collin County have been Killed in Action at sea. Many went down with their ships.

22 January, 1913
McKinney - Fireman 2nd Class, US Navy
Drown while serving aboard ship at Mare Island, California.


World War I
6 February, 1918
SS Tuscania

Frisco -
US Army  

Private JAMES A. SPARKMAN was one of over 2000 soldiers being transported via troop ship across the Atlantic Ocean from New York to the war in France aboard the British Cunard Liner, Tuscania. Private Sparkman, of Company E. 589th Infantry Regiment, 90th Division, died on 6 Feb. 1918 when the Tuscania went down off the coast of Ireland after being hit by a torpedo from a German submarine off the coast of Scotland, resulting in the deaths of 264 people. James' body was one of the few recovered and he is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

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British liner TUSCANIA in use as a transport ship for American troops Artist's rendition of the sinking of the Tuscania
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It happened early in the war and the country was shocked that so many American boys could be killed in one day. Graves of American soldiers from the Tuscania - Isle of Islay Tuscania Monument - Isle of Islay
SS Tuscania website
The Sinking of the Tuscania

DAVIS, BENNIE N. - ship unknown
MORELAND, CYREL D. - ship unknown
POWELL, LEEROY J. - ship unknown
STEELMAN, W. H. JR. - ship unknown
TAYLOR, CLAUDE D. - Destroyer unknown

(The following accounts are in chronological order. Click on pictures for larger view)

7 December, 1941
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
In the opening minutes of World War II, Collin County would lose four brave men, sailors onboard the USS Arizona.

Anna - Seaman 1st Class

19 - Plano - Seaman 1st Class
USS Arizona (BB-39)
1916 - 1941
McKinney - Seaman 1st Class

Plano -Seaman 1st Class

Sunday morning - USS Arizona moored at "Battleship Row" when Japanese aircraft attacked. Japanese pilot's view.

Fifteen minutes into the attack, a Japanese high-level bomber dropped a 1,760-pound naval projectile that had been specially converted. The bomb penetrated the forecastle, detonating the forward ammunition magazines.

The massive explosion that followed lifted the 33,000-ton vessel out of the water totally destroying the ship's forward hull and superstructure.

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The Arizona sank in nine minutes, with a loss of 1177 Sailors and Marines, including four Sailors from Collin County, Texas.

USS ARIZONA MEMORIAL - Pearl Harbor, Hawaii
The wrecked battleship's hull remained where she sank,
a tomb for many of those lost with her.
Attack on Pearl Harbor documentary (8 min. 45 sec.)


Sinking of the USS Arizona (3 min. 58 sec.)


9 Aug. 1942

Lebanon - Seaman 2nd Class, US Navy

The USS Quincy (CA-39), a New Orleans Class heavy cruiser, arrived in the South Pacific  in July of 1942 along with a large contingent of warships gathering for the invasion of Guadalcanal. In preparation for the invasion by US Marines, the Quincy's guns destroyed several Japanese military installations, an oil depo at Laguna Point, and later provided close fire support for the Marines during the landing. 
A couple of weeks later, the Quincy, while on patrol during the Battle of Savo Island, was attacked in the early morning hours by a large Japanese naval force. The Quincy sustained many direct hits, lost all its guns, and sank in an area known as Ironbottom Sound, called that because of the large number of Japanese and American warships that had gone down there. Along with the ship’s captain, Richard Bolton was among the 370 Sailors who went down with the ship that night.

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19 June 1935 - 9 August, 1942
The Solomon Islands
in the South Pacific

While on patrol in the area known as Ironbottom Sound just north of Guadalcanal in the early hours of 9 August, 1942, Quincy was attacked by a large Japanese naval force during the Battle of Savo Island and sustained many direct hits, which knocked out all of her guns.

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Searchlights from the Japanese destroyer Yubari Quincy, now defenseless, caught in enemy searchlights just before she was sunk Japanese artist's rendition of the Battle of Savo Island  Quincy sank bow first at 2:38 a.m. in
Ironbottom Sound

At two o'clock in the morning, incoming shells killed or wounded almost all of Quincy’s bridge crew, including the captain. At 02:16, the cruiser was hit by a torpedo from Aoba, and the ship's remaining guns were silenced. Quincy’s assistant gunnery officer, sent to the bridge to ask for instructions, reported on what he found: "When I reached the bridge level, I found it a shambles of dead bodies with only three or four people still standing. In the Pilot House itself the only person standing was the signalman at the wheel who was vainly endeavoring to check the ship's swing to starboard to bring her to port. On questioning him I found out that the Captain, who at that time was laying near the wheel, had instructed him to beach the ship and he was trying to head for Savo Island, distant some four miles on the port quarter. I stepped to the port side of the Pilot House, and looked out to find the island and noted that the ship was heeling rapidly to port, sinking by the bow. At that instant the Captain straightened up and fell back, apparently dead, without having uttered any sound other than a moan."

Memoirs of USS Quincy Veteran:


9 August, 1942
USS Jarvis (DD-393), 1937-1942

Farmersville - Pharmacist Mate 1st Class, US Navy

Billy Honaker served as a Corpsman aboard the USS JARVIS, a 1500-ton Bagley class destroyer. Based in Hawaii, on the morning of 7 December, 1941, the Jarvis was one of many ships tied up at Pearl Harbor when the Japanese launched their attack. Able to cast off and fight back, the Jarvis crew brought down four enemy planes with her 5-inch guns. All hands survived the Battle of Pearl Harbor. 
Eight months later, during the invasion of Guadalcanal, the Jarvis had just put a contingent of US Marines ashore when she was hit by a torpedo dropped by a Japanese plane. Badly damaged, with a 50-foot gash in her side, little speed, no radio communications, and few operative guns, she set sail to Australia for repairs. On the night of 9 August, 1942, when she passed the coast of Savo Island, the Japanese mistook Jarvis for an escaping cruiser and dispatched 31 planes from Rabaul to search out and destroy her. Once discovered, the determined, but badly damaged destroyer was no match for bombers raking the ship with bullets and torpedoes. According to Japanese records, Jarvis split and sank at one o'clock in the afternoon. All 233 hands went down with the ship, including Billy Honaker.

uss jarvis 2 uss jarvis

6 July 1943
USS HELENA (1939-1943)

20 - McKinney - Watertender 2nd Class, US Navy

Jim Furr served on the USS Helena (CL-50), a 10,000-ton Saint Louis class light cruiser that was commissioned in September of 1939. On 7 December, 1941, while tied up alongside the 1010 Dock at Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, Helena was hit by a single torpedo during the Japanese attack. Jim was wounded and received one of the first Purple Heart medals of World War II. The damage to Helena included the flooding of an engine room and a boiler room.
The summer of 1942 found the Helena in the South Pacific and actively participating in the Guadalcanal Campaign. On 15 September her crew rescued survivors of the aircraft carrier USS Wasp, which had been sunk by a Japanese submarine on 15 September. The Helena engaged in night surface combat in support of the Guadalcanal invasion and shelled Japanese bases on New Georgia and Kolombangara islands. Early on the morning of 6 July 1943, Helena was part of a task force that took on a group of Japanese destroyers in the Battle of Kula Gulf. The cruiser, after being hit by three torpedoes, broke into three parts and sunk. Jim Furr was one of the 170 crewmen who were lost at sea.

USS Helena (CL-50), 1939-1943

Under construction at the
New York Naval Yard
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10,000-ton Saint Louis Class
Light Cruiser
Helena hit by torpedo at Pearl Harbor 7 Dec. 1941
Helena participated in the
Naval battle for Guadalcanal
Light Cruisers St. Louis, Helena, Honolulu on patrol
Battle of Kula Gulf.
Helena firing her guns just before being sank.
Hit by three torpedoes, she broke into three parts and sunk, with the loss of nearly 170 of her crewmen.

Eyewitness accounts of the Sinking of USS Helena 

11 September, 1943
USS Savannah

Josephine, Wylie, & Farmersville - Seaman 1st Class, US Navy

Seaman 1st Class William Corley served on the USS Savannah, a 9475-ton Brooklyn class light cruiser that was built at Camden, New Jersey and commissioned in March 1938. Operating in the Atlantic Theatre she took part in the invasion of French Morocco in November. In early 1943 Savannah assisted in capturing the crew of the German blockade runner, Kota Tjandi, after that ship was scuttled to avoid capture. In July and August 1943, Savannah provided gunfire and other support for the the Sicily invasion and in September undertook similar tasks during the landings at Salerno. While off Salerno on 11 September, 1943, a radio-controlled glide-bomb, released at a safe distance by a high-flying German twin-engine Dornier (D-217) bomber, came in out of the sun. United States P-38s and Savannah's gunners, tracking the plane at 18,700 feet, failed to stop the smoke-trailed bomb. The bomb hit the top of the ship's number-3 gun turret and penetrated through three decks before exploding deep in the hull.  Secondary explosions in the gun room hampered firefighting efforts and caused many deaths. William Corley was one of 197 American Sailors killed in the attack. Savannah was able to leave the area under her own power and in December 1943 returned to the United States for permanent repairs.

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USS Savannah, 9475-ton Brooklyn class light cruiser Savannah moored alongside five submarines. Savannah after being hit by a radio-controlled German bomb German Luftwaffe Do-217. Under the right wing is a radio controlled glide bomb. The crewman who guided the bomb had to be able to see the target at all times. The bomb had a flare in the tail so it could be seen from the controlling aircraft.
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Fritz X 1400, one of the original Smart-Bombs. The hole made by the bomb. A gallant effort by Savannah's crew to keep her afloat. Though losing 197 men, she lived to fight another day.

This is a letter from the ship's Commander to the  mother of another Sailor who was killed in the attack.
c/o Fleet Post Office
New York, New York
10 October 1943.

Mrs. Stella Mae Thomason
General Delivery
Granbury, Texas

My dear Mrs. Thomason:
It is with deep regret that I have to inform you of the untimely death of your son, Roy Earnest Thomason, seaman first class, U.S. Naval Reserve, which occurred on board this vessel at 0944, 11 September 1943.  Roy met his death while at his general quarters station when the ship was engaged by the enemy. With the thought in mind that nothing which can be said or written that will lessen the grief which you are called upon to endure, I do want you to know that his conduct was in keeping with the finest traditions of the Naval service. No greater praise of a Navy man can be expressed, for devotion to duty is the highest call of the service. Later on, when time has dulled the sharpness of your present sorrow, you and your dear ones will be comforted by the knowledge that the one whom you have lost for a while bravely gave his life that our country might endure.
On 11 September 1943, the remains of your son were taken to the Army Graves Registration, Salerno, Italy for burial. Your son was well thought of by the ship's officers and his shipmates and his loss is keenly felt by all. Enclosed please find standard form 1055 and it is requested that you complete same and send by registered mail to the Bureau of Supplies and Accounts, Navy Department, Washington, D.C. in order that you may obtain what money was due your son at the date of his death. Your local Red Cross will assist you in completing this form. The Commanding Office extends to you the heartfelt sympathy and condolences of the entire ship's company, U.S.S. SAVANNAH, in this your hour of greatest sorrow.
May the Good Lord assist and comfort you.
Sincerely yours,
Commander, U.S. Navy
Commanding, U.S.S. SAVANNAH


Four Savannah Sailors were trapped in an air-tight radio room for 60 hours before being rescued. (2 min. 12 sec.)


USS Hornet
McKinney - Machinist 1st Class - US Navy
Woodrow Allen survived five major battles at sea in the Pacific including the sinking of the aircraft carrier USS Hornet  
in the South Pacific where he was decorated for bravery.  Woodrow was killed almost a year later in an explosion
aboard another ship near New Georgia Island in the Pacific on 4 Sept. 1943.

14 Dec. 1940 - 27 Oct. 1942

Led by James Doolittle, Lt. Colonel, US Army Air Corps, the first B25 Bombers
to attack Tokyo were launched from the Hornet on 18 April, 1942.
26 Oct. 1942 Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands. - 9:09 a.m. attack begins. - 10:14 a.m.  Japanese dive bomber crashes into the stack.
Crew awarded Presidential Unit Citation for bravery. 4:55 p.m. Order given to Abandon Ship.
9:40 p.m. all US ships leave the area, Hornet is last seen burning from stem to stern.
Approximately 130 sailors and pilots were lost.

Japanese film showing combat footage of the sinking of the Hornet
Documentary of the first bomber raids on Tokyo

20 October, 1943

Collin County - Cook First Class, Merchant Marines

NIMROD SHIPP, with the rank of  Cook 1st Class in the Merchant Marines, was serving on the oil tanker Gulfbelle, owned by the Gulf Oil Corporation and based at Beaumont, Texas, the night she collided with another oil tanker, the GulfLand, off Lake Worth Inlet near Palm Beach, Florida. Due to the wartime blackout rules, both ships were running without lights. The GulfLand was sailing from Beaumont, Texas to Jacksonville, Florida, with a full cargo of aviation gasoline. The bow of the Gulfbelle rammed the port bow of the GulfLand, causing fire and explosions as well as the water around the ships to be ablaze with burning airplane fuel. Out of a total of 73 men onboard the Gulfbelle, 48 crew and 25 Navy armed guards, only 21 survived. Nimrod Shipp was one of those who went down with the ship.


Panama City News-Herald - 24 October, 1943

Palm Beach, Fla., Oct. 23 -- (AP) -- Two blacked-out tankers collided off the Florida Coast in the darkness Wednesday night and 88 men perished in the flames which spread from the explosion of one of the vessels laden with thousands of gallons of aviation gasoline.
The Navy permitted announcement of the disaster today after investigating salvage possibilities. Some Leaped Overboard.  Twenty-eight merchant crewmen and members of Navy gun crews were saved, most of them leaping overboard as the flames whipped over the decks and spread out over the water.
Persons ashore heard the explosion and saw the towering flames and gave the alarm which sent Coast Guard craft racing to the scene.
One of the ships, northbound and riding low in the water with the weight of the gasoline, had 43 crewmen aboard, including seven naval gunners, and only seven men survived. The other tanker, southbound in ballast, was manned by a crew of 73, including 25 gunners, and 21 reached safety.
Most of those on deck perished instantly.
CHRISTOPHER P. FINLEY, 28, of Miami, third assistant engineer aboard the empty tanker, as at his post at the time of the crash, as 10:50 p.m.
All Stayed At Posts.  "I knew something terrible had happened," he declared, "but every hand in the engine room stayed at his post, and that saved a lot of lives. Two explosions followed immediately. I cut off the engines and rushed topside. Forward and amidships were a holocaust. The forward magazines and gun turrets were exploding. I knew the aft magazines would go any minute. I jumped into the sea off the fantail."
Seaman JOSEPH S. O'BRIEN, of Indianapolis, member of a Navy gun crew aboard a Northbound tanker gave this account of the disaster:
"I was on watch about 10:50 p.m. as we rode Northward along the Gulf Stream. Suddenly I spotted another ship bearing down from the North. It appeared to be about 75 yards away. It looked as if it were going to pass us, but as the ship approached I saw it was going to be close."
"I turned and started for a telephone to report to the forward bridge, shouting as I ran to WALTER ATKINSON of Miami, another member of the gun crew.  Before I got to the telephone, there was a crash.  A terrific explosion followed, and I was blown about 10 feet across the deck. Regaining my feet, I raced through flames and jumped overboard off the stern. I guess I was the first one off the boat.  I swam as fast as I could for awhile, and thought I was safe. Then I stopped to look back.  Waves of flame were coming toward me on the water, and they almost caught me. Burning gasoline covered a huge area.  I could hear a lot of screaming and yelling from the direction of both ships and I know a lot of the boys were trapped. It was awful.  After I swam away from the flames I floated around until I found a lifeboat upside down. I crawled up on it and sat there until I was picked up by the Coast Guard."
The flaming hulls floated slowly Northward in the Gulf Stream. The empty, less seriously damaged, tanker ran aground. Salvage crews floated the vessel and towed it to port, with the dead still aboard. The Navy said it will be repaired, and will carry war goods again.
The laden tanker drifted almost 20 miles, burning so fiercely that it could not be approached. It struck bottom almost atop the hulk of a freighter sunk by enemy subs early in the war.  No one yet has boarded the ship but men on rescue craft reported they could see piles of burned bodies.
The masters of both ships and all except one of the Navy commissioned officers assigned to the gun crews, were lost, the Navy reported.
Second Assistant Engineer EDWARD HETHINGTON, 28, of Charleston, aboard the empty tanker, said all lifeboats were burned and fell into the sea.  Emerging from the engine room, he related, "we had to run over a mass of charred bodies which almost blocked the port companionway."

Today the bow section of the GulfLand rests in 35 feet of water close to where she went down only a mile or so offshore,
with a maximum depth in the wash out of 40 feet. This is one of the best shipwreck dives in the Ft. Pierce, Florida area.

17 November, 1943
USS McKean - (DD-90/APD-5)  1918-1943

Collin County - US Navy

Doyle McFarling, a Collin County Sailor in the US Navy, served on board the USS McKean, a Wickes class destroyer built in San Francisco in 1918. In mid November, 1943, McKean set sail for the island of Bougainville with 185 Marines onboard to be deployed on a beach there. As she approached Empress Augusta Bay she was attacked by an Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service 702 Kokutai Mitsubishi G4M torpedo plane, which launched a torpedo off the starboard quarter. McKean turned to avoid the deadly weapon, but at 0350 the torpedo struck the starboard side, exploding the after magazine and depth-charge spaces, rupturing fuel oil tanks. With approximately 57 torpedo planes in the battle, 17 of which were shot down, flaming oil engulfed McKean aft of the No. 1 stack. She lost all power and communications. Flaming oil, floating on the surface of the water, burned and killed men who were blown from the ship, or jumped overboard. At 3:55 a.m. Lieutenant Commander Ralph L. Ramsey gave the order to "Abandon Ship." At 4:00 she began to sink by the stern. Her forward magazine and oil tank exploded fifteen minutes later. The stacks disappeared beneath the surface 4:18 a.m. Doyle McFarling was among the 64 Sailors and 52 Marines who perished in the flaming inferno. The survivors were picked up by rescuing destroyers.

uss mckean

uss mckean

uss mckean

christened 4 July 1918, San Francisco

The early days

On duty at Guadalcanal

uss mckean uss mckean uss mckean

At Mare Island Navy yard April 1943

Converted to a High-Speed Transport 1942


Eyewitness account of the sinking of the USS McKean by Maury Williams, USMC:

PFC Raymond Brinkley (my best buddy) and I were aboard an APD (Destroyer-Troop Carrier) on the morning of 18 November, 1943, off Empress Augusta Bay (Bougainville) when we were attacked by enemy planes flying out of Rabaul. I think there may be some old guys still around who will remember.
"At around Zero Three Hundred Hours I came abruptly awake at the sound of a high-pitched voice coming from the direction of an open portal in the superstructure about ten feet aft of the forward gun turret (we'd slept next to it). The voice alerted me that something was up. The radio guy was apparently talking to the duty officer of the bridge. I've forgotten his exact words but the mention of  "Two bogies off the starboard bow near water level!" got my attention! I shook Brink awake and asked if he knew what in blazes a "bogie" was. He shook his head, wondering what I was talking about. I motioned to the radio room. We strained our eyes in the darkness the next few moments to see what was going on. Brink spotted the faint outline of the first bogie, a single-winged "Val" skimming just above water, "look at that!" The plane was making a starboard side pass-around and quickly disappearing behind our fantail. We ran across the deck to the port rail in time to see a fiery explosion. The Jap had obviously set his sights on a more tempting target than our own ship and was beat to the trigger. The heavens were soon lit by ack ack and machinegun fire, coming from every ship in the convoy.  We decided that this was going to be one hell of a night!
The awesome spectacle was destined to continue for the next several hours. Brink and I stayed out of the way of the nearby gun crew, which had gone into action almost immediately after the first plane exploded. Tracer rounds were arcing through the dark sky in every direction, no apparent coordination between gun crews or ships. It was a mad and haphazard affair, the rounds coming across our ship's deck so close that we had second thoughts about being up there on deck, possibly being wasted by friendly fire. Still, we considered  the dangers below deck to be much greater than those posed by "friendly fire." We were determined to stay put. Within minutes our guns began hitting planes as they came in low. It seemed impossible that any of them could get through all of that withering gunfire. Our APD was in the first position forward on the right of the convoy, so all the action was aft and port. At one point we counted five planes burning simultaneously in the water. The attack continued with all the excitement and pyrotechnics that had first got the affair started, until, at the first sign of early-morning light, a torpedo ripped through the starboard bow of the APD in our wake, some 500 yards astern. The USS McKean, a sister ship to our own, was a World War One destroyer transporting the men of I-Company, Third Battalion. With the passing of each minute the McKean burned ever more fiercely. Several mighty explosions rocked the ship as she slowed to a crawl and fell out of position. As time went by the doomed ship burned ever more brightly, black, oily smoke belching out of her insides and explosions rocking her from bow to stern. Like our own ship she had many people aboard, some of whom were guys we'd trained with ever since the formation of our division. A lot of their names were unknown to us but they were Marines, our comrades. We watched the awesome spectacle and just stood there at the rail saying nothing. Sometime before dawn, while many men floundered in the ocean swells, the U.S.S. McKean exploded a final time and went down to a watery grave."

Navy Unit Commendation
    The Secretary of the Navy takes pleasure in commending the
for participation in the following operations

    The Guadalcanal Campaign — August 7 to September 5 1942;
    The New Georgia–Rendova Group Occupation — June 30 to August 31, 1943;
    The Treasury-Bougainville Operations — October 27 to November 17, 1943;
    as set forth in the following

    “For exceptionally meritorious service and heroism in action against enemy aircraft, surface forces and submarines. In the Solomon Islands Campaign, the U.S.S. McKEAN was employed to reinforce the beleaguered garrison and air forces in the Guadalcanal area. Time and again against overwhelming odds, this slightly armed ship completed many extremely hazardous missions, thus enabling our forces to hold on until more powerful reinforcements could be obtained. In the action off Cape Torokina on November 17, 1943 when mortally wounded by an enemy torpedo, the gallantry of her crew was outstanding. Her courageous determination and effort were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”

All personnel attached to and serving on board the U.S.S. McKEAN during one or more of the designated periods
are hereby authorized to wear the NAVY UNIT COMMENDATION Ribbon.

              /s/ John L. Sullivan
              Secretary of the Navy

19 - McKinney - Merchant Marines
Killed July 1944 in explosion aboard ship at Oakland, California.


24 October, 1944
Farmersville - Private, US Army

arisan maru arisan maru arisan maru
The term HELL SHIP refers to the ships used by the Imperial Japanese Navy to transport Allied prisoners of war out of the Philippines, Hong Kong and Singapore. The POWs were taken to Japan, Taiwan, Manchuria, or Korea to be used as forced labor.

Private MORRISON, EDGAR M. US Army, of Farmersville, was serving with K Company of the 31st Infantry in the Philippine Islands when the Japanese attacked on 8 December, 1941. The overwhelming Japanese force quickly took Luzon and pushed the 31st Infantry onto the Bataan Peninsula. However, the peninsula had not been stocked with food and medical supplies and no help could come in from the outside after much of the Pacific fleet had been destroyed at Pearl Harbor, Guam and Wake Island. Despite starvation, disease, no supplies, obsolete weapons, and often inoperative ammunition, the peninsula's defenders fought the Japanese to a standstill for four months. When as a last resort the commanding officer announced that he would surrender the Bataan Defense Force, the 31st Infantry buried its colors to keep them out of enemy hands. Some of the 31st's survivors escaped to continue resisting, but most underwent brutal torture and humiliation on the Bataan Death March. Private Morrison survived the Death March and was one of the 1800 American servicemen crammed into the cargo holds of "Hell Ship" Arisan Maru. when sunk by an American submarine, the USS Shark, 24 Oct. 1944.
The Arisan Maru left Manila Bay on 11 October, 1944 and anchored off Palawan Island for over a week until it joined Convoy MATA-30 which sailed from Manila on 21 October. Two days later, on the 23rd, the Japanese convoy was spotted about 200 miles northwest of Luzon in the South China Sea by two packs of US submarines. The nine submarines launched an attack on the convoy. At about 5:30 p.m. on 24 October, the USS Shark sent three torpedoes into the Arisan Maru, unaware that the unmarked freighter carried all those Americans. The ship broke in two pieces and actually floated for a short while. Those who survived the explosions and were able to abandon ship attempted to climb aboard nearby Japanese vessels but were shot or knocked back into the water where most of them drowned. Out of the approximately 1800 Americans onboard, 1795 were killed, making the sinking of the Arisan Maru the worst naval disaster in the history of the United States.
Two days later five of the survivors were rescued by a Chinese fishing junk. The Chinese helped them reach American Air Corps forces. The other survivors were recaptured by a Japanese destroyer and taken to Formosa.
The submariners may have never known that Shark torpedoes had killed so many fellow Americans; the USS Shark was sunk later that same day by a Japanese depth charge between Hainan and Bashi Channel, killing all hands.

Retreat to Bataan


25 Oct. 1944
USS Johnston

Collin County - Radioman 3rd Class, US Navy

William G. Burnett served as a radioman aboard the USS Johnston (DD-557), a Fletcher class destroyer, small by destroyer standards and known as a "Tin Can". On the morning of 25 October, 1944, in the Philippine Sea off the coast of Samar Island the Johnston led a valiant attack on a much larger Japanese naval force, in what has been described as a suicide mission. At 7:10 a.m. the USS JOHNSTON, with no orders, undertook a lone attack on the Japanese surface fleet. After taking numerous hits and expending most of her torpedoes and ammunition, at 9:30 a survivor said : "We were going dead in the water; even the Japanese couldn't miss us. They made a sort of running semi-circle around our ship, shooting at us like a bunch of Indians attacking a prairie schooner. Our lone engine and fire room was knocked out; we lost all power, and even the indomitable skipper knew we were finished. At 0945 he gave the saddest order a captain can give: 'Abandon Ship.'..."
10:10 she rolled over and began to sink. A Japanese destroyer came to within 1,000 yards and fired one last shot to make sure she sank. A survivor reported that the crew of the Japanese destroyer saluted her as she went down. Out of a crew of 327 men, 50 were killed by enemy action, 45 died on rafts from wounds, and 92, including the captain, were alive in the water after Johnston sank, but were never heard from again.  It is not know exactly how William Burnett died that day, but he was never heard from again. The crew was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for bravery and the captain was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Also sunk in the Battle of Samar were the USS Samuel B. Roberts and USS Hoel.

uss joihnston Photobucket USS Johnston Photobucket Photobucket
(DD557 destroyer)
25 March 1943 - 25 Oct. 1944
4 - Battle off Samar Artists rendition of the
Monument dedicated to the men of USS HOEL (DD 533), USS JOHNSTON (DD 557), and USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE 413)
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma,
San Diego, California.
Commander Ernest E. Evans, from Pawnee, Oklahoma

The President of the United States in the name of the Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the
United States Navy
for service as set forth in the following

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. JOHNSTON in action against major units of the enemy Japanese fleet during the Battle off Samar on 25 October 1944. The first to lay a smokescreen and to open fire as an enemy task force, vastly superior in number, firepower and armor, rapidly approached. Commander Evans gallantly diverted the powerful blasts of hostile guns from the lightly armed and armored carriers under his protection, launching the first torpedo attack when the JOHNSTON came under straddling Japanese shellfire. Undaunted by damage sustained under the terrific volume of fire, he unhesitatingly joined others of his group to provide fire support during subsequent torpedo attacks against the Japanese and, outshooting and outmaneuvering the enemy as he consistently interposed his vessel between the hostile fleet units and our carriers despite the crippling loss of engine power and communications with steering aft, shifted command to the fantail, shouted steering orders through an open hatch to men turning the rudder by hand and battled furiously until the JOHNSTON, burning and shuddering from a mortal blow, lay dead in the water after 3 hours of fierce combat. Seriously wounded early in the engagement, Commander Evans, by his indomitable courage and brilliant professional skill, aided materially in turning back the enemy during a critical phase of the action. His valiant fighting spirit throughout this historic battle will venture as an inspiration to all who served with him."
/signed/ HARRY S. TRUMAN, President


10 DECEMBER, 1944

Wylie, US Navy Signalman 2nd Class

Johnny Rogers, of Wylie, served as a signalman with a 27-man US Navy security detail on the merchant ship SS Dan Bead. On 10 Dec, 1944, a radio telegram was intercepted from German Submarine U-1202, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Rolf Thomsen, that reported sinking four ships in a convoy.  However, the message was incorrect. Only the unescorted Dan Beard was hit.  The ship, a Steam Merchant, also known as a Liberty Ship, had left Barry, Wales, headed for Belfast, Northern Ireland, at 2:00 a.m. unescorted due to the fact that the Admiralty had reported the Irish Sea clear of U-boats and ordered the ship to sail alone. At 1:55 p.m., in rough seas off Strumble Head, North Wales, a single torpedo slammed into the Number-3 hold on the port side. A second torpedo struck the stern, which raised the ship out of the water, blew off the rudder and broke the propeller. The motion of the ship caused her to break in two at the Number-3 hold, where a plate had been welded over a crack in December 1943; this left the vessel in a weakened state. The after section sank immediately and the forepart drifted ashore and was wrecked. No SOS was sent because both antennas were destroyed. Her complement of eight officers, 32 men and 27 armed guards (the ship was armed with one 4-inch, one 3-inch, and eight 20mm guns) abandoned ship in four lifeboats. One of the boats swamped and another capsized in the 30-feet seas. Sixteen men in one boat landed at Pwll-Deri Bay, South Wales. Another boat made landfall with nine men. A coastal craft picked up 13 others from a raft. Johnny was among the three officers, 14 men and 12 armed guards who were lost at sea.

According to recent reports, Dan Beard now rests in the shallow waters of Pwll Deri Bay, off Strumble Head near Abercastle, Pembrokeshire, North Wales. Local divers report that she is "... well broken up and flattened by storms ... there is often a swell where she lies and as the depth is only 10 meters you can get moved around. The biggest part of this wreck is the bow section, which is upside down with the flukes of the four-ton anchor two meters off the sea bed. From the bow you can follow the anchor chain to the biggest pile of chain you have ever seen."

SS Dan Beard survivors
This is the only known photograph of the SS Dan Beard, owned by the Stockard Steamship Company, New York,; a locomotive being loaded aboard. Survivors of the SS Dan Beard. Nine-and-a-half hours in the cold water.
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This gun, from the American Liberty Ship, Dan Beard, was found by divers off the northern coast of Pembrokeshire.
The gun is now on display in the tiny harbor village of Porthgain, by diver Matthew Blakiston

Underwater footage of the wrecked Dan Beard


15 December, 1944
Collin County, Captain, USMC

Oryoku Maru Oryoku Maru Oryoku Maru Oryoku Maru

The Oryoku Maru was a luxury liner before becoming a Hell Ship

Burning after being hit by US Navy planes. The small white dots are American POWs swimming for the shore.

The Oryoku Maru sinking off Olongapo, Luzon, Philippines, December 15, 1944.

Captain JACK KELLY was captured at Corregidor Island in the Philippines and held in Japanese Prisoner Camp #1 near Manila. On 15 December, 1944, Captain Kelly, after surviving the Bataan Death March, was one of 1619 prisoners packed aboard the Oryoku Maru. The ship left Manila on 13 December, destination Japan, but the unmarked ship was attacked by US Navy bombers from the USS Hornet and stood dead in the water off Olongopo Point in Subic Bay. The ship had to be abandoned and at least 250  men who weren’t killed in the bombing were either machine gunned by their Japanese captors or drown. The survivors were loaded onto another Japanese ship, the Enoura Maru, which took a direct hit killing over half of the 500 prisoners. Those survivors were taken aboard the Brazil Maru and transported to Moji, Japan.
The Voyage began on 13 December, 1944 in Manila, Philippines and ended on 30 January, 1945 in Moji, Japan. Of the original 1619 POW passengers 1187 were killed or died in route; 161 died shortly after arriving in Japan; The total number of dead Americans was 1348. Only 271 lived through captivity to be liberated in August 1945.   

The Oryoku Maru Story


McKinney - Seaman 1st Class, US  Navy,
Killed Jan. 2, 1945, in an accident onboard ship.

25 - Nevada - Quartermaster 1st Class.
Served 5 years at sea and participated in 9 major battles, including Pearl Harbor, the Aleutian Campaign, and the Philippine Liberation.
Killed in Action 7 March, 1945, while serving onboard a destroyer during the Philippine Liberation .

20 - McKinney - Fireman 2nd Class, US Navy
Killed in action May 1945 at Bougainville in the Solomon Islands.

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Naval battle near Bougainville in the Solomon Islands

Culleoka - US Navy
Killed in action in May 1945, when the destroyer on which he was serving was sunk off the coast of Okinawa. Three destroyers were sunk by Japanese Kamikaze planes in May during the Battle of Okinawa. Steelman could have served on either USS Morrison (dd-560),  USS
Luce (dd-522), both sunk on 4 May, or USS Drexler (DD-741) which went down on 28 May.

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Kamikaze warfare was prevalent in the Battle of Okinawa
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johnny c jones

22 - McKinney - Engineman 3rd Class, US Navy

The combat role of the US Navy in Vietnam consisted mostly of patrolling the coast and the numerous waterways throughout the country. Johnny Jones served as a black-beret wearing, Brown Water sailor, known as Mobil Riverines, who sailed on river patrol boats, called PBRs, that navigated the waterways of the Mekong Delta. Assigned to Operation Game Warden, River Patrol Forces-Task Force 116, and mainly patrolled the Dong Tien Canal, or what the Americans called the Grand Canal. Duties of those boats included the clandestine insertion of Navy Seal teams, or Army Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols, the transportation and assistance of Army assault units, as well as river patrols where they boarded boats and sampans searching for illegal weapons and personnel. The PBRs were heavily armed with machine guns and regularly returned fire when fired upon from the banks of the river or in support of Army grunts.
In mid September, 1970, the boats of River Section 522, call sign ‘Woodholly,’ Johnny’s unit, were ‘nested’ together near the mid-point of the Grand Canal in Gia Dinh Province, as they prepared to embark on another night operation. There had been big rainstorms shortly before, and the river was running high, with the current flowing swift and very dangerous. It was late in the day, getting near dark, and the crewmen had just finished chow. Just before they were ready to pull out of their moors for a night mission, Johnny and another sailor were on the bow, doing what bored energetic young men tend to do to pass the time, engaging in a friendly bit of wrestling. The strong current caused the boat to rock, and Johnny slipped on the wet deck and fell overboard. His crewmates frantically tried to grab him, but before any of them could jump in with a rope to rescue him, the current had swept him between, and then under the nested boats, where he quickly disappeared from sight. It would be two days before his body was discovered by Vietnamese farmers, and recovered by the sailors of his unit.
Johnny was declared dead September 22, 1970, at the age of 22.

River Patrol Boats in Vietnam