Category Archives: hero


The 45th Infantry (“Thunderbird”) Division Museum in Oklahoma recently shared a gripping series of combat drawings by Brummett Echohawk.

An unofficial war artist, Echohawk was a Pawnee, Kit-Kahaki (warrior band) and “saw the elephant” firsthand as an infantryman with the 45th’s 179th Infantry Regiment, earning the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, and Purple Heart (3), after enlisting in the Oklahoma National Guard in 1940 at age 18.

His outfit was filled with depression-era cowboys, farmers, and more than a thousand Native Americans– recently brought back into the attention of many due to the recent Liberator series on Netflix– with Echohawk and William Lasley, a Potawatomie, leading a successful charge at Anzio Beach to take the “Factory” which insured that the Allied toe-hold at Anzio Beach was secure.

A number of his drawings made it into wartime publications.

The Thunderbirds suffered 26,449 casualties in 230 days of combat across Europe, some 187.7 percent of its authorized strength.

As for Echohawk, he went on to become a well-recognized artist specializing in Western and Native themes and is well-exhibited at the Gilcrease Museum and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Center.

Trail of Tears, by Brummett Echohawk, black, and whitewash, 1957 via the Gilcrest

SGT Echohawk passed at age 83 in 2006 and is buried in Pawnee’s Highland Cemetery.

For more information, visit the Echohawk Project and pick up his books, including Drawing Fire: A Pawnee, Artist, and Thunderbird in World War II.

Don’t make me start buying rocket kits again

The whole SpaceX thing is just amazing and the Falcon 9 series is something that– I think– has revolutionized the current space program, giving a platform that is cheap and successful to both national security and commercial interests while being largely independent of NASA. In short, it is almost everything the Shuttle program tried to pull off but didn’t. Honestly, we should have had this back in the 1970s. If so, I’d think that human space exploration would be several levels higher than it is now.

And, just in time for Christmas, Estes has a 1:100 scale Space X Falcon 9 available, capable of hitting 300 feet.

I used to love Estes Rockets as a kid and I can’t imagine anything that would bring a sparkle to my eyes if I was still a 10-year-old than to get one of these.

Jim McDivitt reports for final mission

“I really take Space to heart!” Gag photo of Jim McDivitt, Gemini IV commander, aged 36 at the time. 

James Alton McDivitt, born 10 June 1929 in Chicago, grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan and, when the Korean War kicked off, enlisted in the newly-formed U.S. Air Force as a private then applied for pilot training under the aviation cadet training program. Swiftly progressing through the program, by late 1952 he was flying F-80 Shooting Stars and F-86 Sabres in combat with the 35th FBS and completed 145 missions, earning two DFCs.

While McDivitt would ultimately retire as a brigadier general in 1972, in between Korea and that time he was a daredevil test pilot and then part of “The Next Nine” astronauts that followed the “Original Seven” space explorers of The Right Stuff fame and became an integral part of NASA’s Cold War Gemini and Apollo space programs. This included serving as command pilot of Gemini IV (where he filmed Ed White’s first American spacewalk) in 1965 and Apollo 9 in 1969– the latter of which included a solo ten-day Earth orbital Lunar module test mission. Hanging up his space helmet, he was the program manager for Apollo 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 moon missions.

In retirement, he was a big wheel at Rockwell International during that company’s B-1B bomber days and while the AGM-114 Hellfire missile was developed, both of which survive in service today.

“With heavy hearts, we mourn the recent passing of Korean War veteran, former test pilot, aeronautical engineer, and NASA astronaut Jim McDivitt,” NASA’s statement said of his passing at age 93. “Rest in peace.”

Godspeed, sir. Per aspera ad astra.

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022: Stuck in the Middle

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022: Stuck in the Middle

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 97800

Above we see the camouflaged brand-new Gleaves (Bristol)-class destroyer, USS Duncan (DD-485), en route from her builder’s yard at Kearny, New Jersey, to be delivered to the Navy, on 15 April 1942. Note that her radar antenna has been edited out by a wartime censor. Commissioned the next day, her naval career would last but 179 tense days, and she would be forever retired into the shark-infested waters off Savo Island some 80 years ago today.

The Gleaves class is an unsung group of 66 destroyers and fast minesweepers who began construction pre-WWII and completed in the first stage of the war. With the huge building of the follow-on Fletcher– and Sumner-class destroyers, the Gleaves are often forgotten. What should never be forgotten is the sacrifice these ships made, with no less than 17 of the class lost during WWII or damaged to the point that they were written off as not worth repairing.

Slight ships of just 2,395 tons, and 348 feet of steel hull, they were packed with a turbine-powered 50K shp plant that gave them a theoretical speed of over 37 knots and a 6,500-mile range at an economical 12-knot cruising speed for convoy or patrol work. Armed with as many as five 5″/38 DP mounts, up to 10 torpedo tubes, ASW gear, and AAW batteries, they were ready for almost anything and could float in as little as 13 feet of seawater, leaving them able to get inshore when needed. With 269 berths and only 24 apprentice strikers out of their planned 293-man crew having to rig hammocks, the class was modern for their era, part of the “New Navy.”

USS Gleaves (DD-423): Booklet of General Plans – Inboard & Outboard Profile, 6/23/1939, as modified 1945. Note the SG and SC-3 radar rigged on the top of the mast as well as the Mk 28 radar antenna on the gun director atop the wheelhouse. National Archives Identifier: 167816741

Our Duncan was named for 19th Century naval hero Silas Duncan, who lost his right arm at Lake Champlain while assigned to USS Saratoga in 1814 but would go on to later serve on the Independence, Hornet, Guerriere, Cyane, and Ferret, then command the sloop USS Lexington on overseas stations in the 1830s. His name was honored previously by the Navy in the circa 1912 Cassin-class destroyer USS Duncan (DD-46) which earned a reputation on U-boat patrols in the Great War.

Laid down at the Federal Shipbuilding & Drydock Company in the Garden State on 31 July 1941, the second USS Duncan was launched just seven months later. Federal built several Gleaves and later Fletcher-class destroyers in World War II, setting records for both: 137 days on the 1,630-ton Gleaves-class USS Thorn (DD-647) and 170 days from keel to commissioning on the Fletcher USS Dashiell (DD-659).

USS Duncan (DD 485), keel being laid at Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company, Kearny, New Jersey, July 30, 1941. 19-LC-Box44-485.

Also launched on the same day were sisters USS Hutchins (DD 476) and USS Guest (DD 472) at Boston Naval Shipyard, and USS Lansdowne (DD 486) — the latter at Federal in the slip alongside Duncan.

USS Duncan (DD-485) en route from her builder’s yard at Kearny, New Jersey, to be delivered to the Navy, 15 April 1942. Note her stern depth charge racks. NH 97801

Commissioned 16 April 1942, just a week after the fall of Bataan in the Philippines, Duncan was placed under the command of LCDR Edmund B. Taylor (USNA 1925) a burly All-American who boxed, played football and lacrosse at Annapolis and had served almost all of his 17 years in a series of surface warfare assignments ranging from battleships to tin cans– interrupted in the early 1930s by a stint coaching ball and instructing gunnery back at the Academy.

Ducan raced through her shakedowns in the Caribbean while aiding in the escort of convoys between GTMO and Cristobal, then sailed for the South Pacific where the battle to take Guadalcanal was raging. She arrived at Espiritu Santo on 14 September and joined TF 17/18 to cover the transports carrying the 7th Marine Regiment to reinforce besieged Guadalcanal.

Duncan was next to the doomed aircraft carrier USS Wasp (CV-7) the next day when she was burning and listing Southeast of San Cristobal Island after being torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. The loss of Wasp was a hugely traumatic event to the Navy, having already seen Lexington and Yorktown sent to the bottom within the four months prior.

Loss of USS Wasp (CV-7), 15 September 1942. Sinking of USS Wasp (CV 7) after being torpedoed by Japanese submarine I-19 on 15 September 1942. She was engaged in covering the movement of supplies and reinforcements into Guadalcanal Island. Photograph released on 27 October 1942. 80-G-16352

Duncan picked up survivors from the carrier, transferring 701 officers and men to other ships, and 18 wounded and two bodies to the base hospital at Espiritu Santo the following day.

The Express

Less than three weeks later, Duncan would be steaming as part of the cruiser-destroyer force of RADM Norman Scott’s Task Force 64 (TF Sugar) consisting of the heavy cruisers USS San Francisco and USS Salt Lake City, the light cruisers USS Boise and USS Helena, along with the destroyers Farenthold, Buchanan, Laffey, and McCalla. The job? Stop the nightly Japanese resupply efforts to their garrison fighting in the jungles of Guadalcanal– the Tokyo Express.

USS Duncan (DD-485) underway in the south Pacific on 7 October 1942. Photographed from the escort carrier USS Copahee (ACV-12), which was then engaged in delivering aircraft to Guadalcanal. NH 90495

Sailing from Espiritu Santo and reaching the vicinity of Savo Island by 11 October, they were soon to contact the Express. At 1810, scout planes from the American cruisers spotted two enemy cruisers and six destroyers (actually the three heavy cruisers Furutaka, Aoba, and Kingusagasa, along with the destroyers Fubuki and Hatsuyuki, covering six destroyers and two seaplane tenders loaded with reinforcements and cargo).

By 2325, after creeping up on the Japanese force, Helena’s SG radar made contact at 27,000 yards out– heady stuff for the era. Just before midnight, Helena was requesting permission to fire, and, at 2346, both of Helena’s batteries opened on separate but unspecified targets while Salt Lake City joined in on a contact just 4,000 yards to her starboard. Soon after, the swirling scrap between the two surface action groups that went down as the Battle of Cape Esperance became disjointed and confusing– an understatement– with searchlights and gun flashes cracking across the night sky and torpedoes filling the water.

During the action, Duncan was one of the ships that may have plastered the cruiser Furutaka.

As noted by Combined Fleets:

At 2235, Rear Admiral Goto’s three cruisers and two destroyers are picked up by Captain Gilbert C. Hoover’s USS HELENA’s radar. Scott reverses course to cross the Japanese “T”. Both fleets open fire. ComCruDiv 6, Rear Admiral Goto, thinking that he is under “friendly-fire”, orders a 180-degree turn that exposes each of his ships to the Americans’ broadsides.

Flagship AOBA is damaged heavily. Admiral Goto is mortally wounded on her bridge. After AOBA is crippled, Captain Araki turns FURUTAKA out of the line to engage Captain (later Vice Admiral) C. H. McMorris’ USS SALT LAKE CITY. LtCdr E. B. Taylor’s USS DUNCAN (DD-485) launches two torpedoes toward FURUTAKA that either miss or fail to detonate. She continues firing at the cruiser until she is put out of action by numerous shell hits. At 2354, FURUTAKA receives a torpedo hit to port side that floods her forward engine room.

Destroyer FUBUKI is sunk and HATSUYUKI damaged. Captain E. J. Moran’s USS BOISE, USS SALT LAKE CITY and USS FARENHOLT (DD-491) are damaged.

About 90 shells hit FURUTAKA, jamming her No. 3 turret in train and starting several fires. Several shells penetrate the engine rooms. The Type 93 “Long Lance” torpedoes ignite as well. The fires draw more gunfire.

12 October 1942:

Around 0040 FURUTAKA goes dead in the water. After the battle flag is lowered, the order is given to abandon ship. At 0228 (local), FURUTAKA sinks stern first 22 miles NW of Savo Island, at 09-02N, 159-33 E. Thirty-three crewmen are killed and 225 counted as MIA. Captain Araki and 517 survivors are rescued by HATSUYUKI and by DesDiv 11’s MURAKUMO and SHIRAYUKI (of Admiral Joshima’s Reinforcement Group).

Duncan’s report, filed after the fact, details how at one point she was in the crossfire between the two battlelines, bracketed by cruisers at effectively point-blank distances on both sides of her beam:

In the end, wrecked by several large-bore shell hits at close range (thought to be from cruisers under both flags), the charred hulk of Duncan was abandoned and sunk just short of Savo Island just before noon on 12 October. McCalla, one of her sisters, managed to search for and save 195 men from the oil-soaked waters once dawn broke– with rifle parties on deck having to fire at sharks seen circling men in the water.

Some 48 of Duncan’s crew were lost with the ship and remain on duty. Due to the shell hits on her wheelhouse and chart room, of her 13 officers aboard during the battle, all but four were killed or seriously wounded. Of her enlisted, at least 35 of those rescued by McCalla, about one in five, were listed as wounded.

Duncan received just one battle star (Second Savo) for her brief, though eventful, World War II service.


Taylor, Duncan’s sole skipper, earned the Navy Cross for his actions during the Battle of Cape Esperance. His citation read:

For extraordinary heroism during action against enemy Japanese naval forces off Savo Island on October 11, 1942. Although his ship had sustained heavy damage under hostile bombardment, Lieutenant Commander Taylor, by skillful maneuvering, successfully launched torpedoes which contributed to the destruction of a Japanese cruiser. Maintaining the guns of the Duncan in effective fire throughout the battle, he, when the vessel was finally put out of action, persistently employed to the fullest extent all possible measures to extinguish raging fires and control severe damage.

Taylor would soon be given a second destroyer, the newly commissioned Fletcher-class tin can USS Bennett (DD-473), and the rank of captain. Taking Bennett into harm’s way, he soon earned a bronze star operating in the Bismarck Archipelago on a night raid to engage Japanese shore batteries and ammo dumps near Rabaul. He then went on to command DESDIV 90 and DESRON 45, adding a silver star to his salad bar in the Philippines. This consummate surface warrior would end the war as an aide to Forrestal. Post-war, he commanded the heavy cruiser USS Salem (CA-139), was commander of the ASW Force during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and retired in 1966 as a vice admiral.

His son, Capt. Edmund Battelle “Ted” Taylor Jr., was aboard a helicopter that developed engine trouble and crashed as it attempted to land on the cruiser USS Providence off Vietnam in the Gulf of Tonkin in May 1972 and is listed as missing in action. Vice Admiral Edmund Battelle Taylor passed the next year, aged 69, in Virginia Beach.

As for her sisters, the surviving Gleaves were slowly placed in mothballs or given away as military aid to overseas allies in the 1950s, with the last in active U.S. service, USS Fitch (DD-462/DMS-25), decommissioned in 1956. Most of those sent to the reserve was later scrapped or sunk as targets in the 1970s. Of those sent overseas, the last to be disposed of was ex-USS Lardner (DD-487), who finished her second life as the Turkish Navy’s Gemlik in 1982. No Gleaves-class destroyers are preserved.

The Navy, as it did often in the darkest days of WWII, quickly re-issued the name of the heroically lost destroyer. The third (and final) warship named in honor of Master Commandant Silas Duncan, a new Gearing-class destroyer, USS Duncan (DD-874), was commissioned on 25 February 1945. She was launched by the same distant cousin that launched “our” Duncan, would see brief service in WWII prior to D-Day, earning seven battle stars off Korea, picking up a FRAM II conversion, and standing guard on Yankee Station in Vietnam before she was retired in 1971.

USS Duncan (DD-874) at Pearl Harbor, circa the mid-1960s. Retired after a busy 26 years, she was disposed of in a 1981 SINKEX. NH 74033.

This latter Duncan maintains a veteran’s association that honors the memory of both destroyers.


Displacement: 1,630 tons
Length: 348 ft 3 in
Beam: 36 ft 1 in
Draft: 13 ft 2 in
Propulsion: four boilers; two Allis Chalmers Turbines, 50,000 shp, two propellers
Speed: 37.4 knots
Range: 6,500 nautical miles at 12 kt
Complement: 208 designed. Wartime: 16 officers, 260 enlisted
4 × 5 in/38 cal guns (1 deleted in 1945)
4 x 40mm Bofors in two twin mounts.
7 x 20mm Oerlikon in single mounts.
Torpedo Tubes: 5 x 21-inch in one quintuple mount (deleted in 1945)
ASW: 2 racks for 600-lb. charges; 6 “K”-gun projectors for 300-lb. charges, three Mousetrap devices.

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So long, Liz

Unless you have been under a rock for the past 24 hours, we have witnessed the end of the second Elizabethan age as Queen Elizabeth II died peacefully at Balmoral, Scotland, aged 96. Born early in one century and laid to rest well into another, she was crowned the same year Edmund Hillary ascended Mount Everest and an unsteady truce neared in the Korean War. Since then, she saw 14 U.S. Presidents, met with 15 Prime Ministers (Churchill was in office when she was coronated!), and saw the last leader of the Soviet Union buried.

I’m not here to eulogize, and indeed around the world lots of leftists and know-nothings, who bemoan everything British– without noting the ascendance of guys like Idi Amin/Yoweri Museveni, Robert Mugambe, and Yahya Jammeh to fill the vacuum the old Empire left behind– are celebrating her passing like a bunch of ghouls.

What I am going to do is point out her WWII military service, and the fact that she served at least 80 years continuously in the military.

Per the IWM:

queen eliz

During the Second World War, King George VI was reluctant to let his daughter – and heir – join any of the organisations that women could serve in during the war. However, in February 1945, Princess Elizabeth was allowed to join the Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS). Second Subaltern Elizabeth Windsor, as she was known, was part of Number 1 ‘Beaufront’ Company and trained as a mechanic and truck driver in Surrey. Her classes included practical maintenance, mechanics theory and map reading. She told a friend, “I never worked so hard in my life. But I enjoyed it very much.” The princess graduated as a fully qualified driver, but the war ended before she was able to make practical use of her new skills

She remained a Junior Commander, Women’s Royal Army Corps after the war, rising to Captain by 1952 with semi-regular periods of service.

Like all monarchs and members of the Windsor family, she kept up her military obligations, and for the past 70 years, from 6 February 1952 through 8 September 2022, was Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces. As such, it is possible she inspected more troops than any leader in history.


On Elizabeth’s sixteenth birthday, 21 April 1942, she was appointed Colonel of the Regiment of the Grenadier Guards and promptly inspected them in her first solo appearance. It was a responsibility she took seriously, after all, a war was on and some of the men were shipping out to North Africa shortly. 

She would inspect “her” Grenadiers as well as the Paras just prior to D-Day. 

Princess Elizabeth inspecting the 2nd (Armoured) Battalion Grenadier Guards, 5th Guards Armoured Brigade, Guards Armoured Division, at Hove in East Sussex, England prior to DDay – May 1944. IWM – Malindine E G (Captain) Photographer. © IWM H 38532

Princess Elizabeth visits British Airborne Troops prior to DDay May 1944 IWM H 38603

Ultimatley, she was named Colonel-in-Chief of the: Royal Australian Engineers, Royal Australian Infantry Corps, Royal Australian Army Ordnance Corps, Royal Australian Army Nursing Corps, le Régiment de la Chaudière, 48th Highlanders of Canada, Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada (Princess Louise’s), Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery,  Governor General’s Horse Guards, King’s Own Calgary Regiment, Corps of Royal Canadian Engineers, Royal 22e Régiment, Governor General’s Foot Guards, Canadian Grenadier Guards, Carleton and York Regiment, Canadian Guards, Royal New Brunswick Regiment, Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps, Calgary Highlanders, Wellington Regiment, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment, New Zealand Army Ordnance Corps, The Life Guards, Royal Horse Guards, Coldstream Guards, Scots Guards, Irish Guards, Welsh Guards, Royal Regiment of Artillery, Corps of Royal Engineers, Royal Tank Regiment, Malawi Rifles, Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons), Royal Scots Dragoon Guards, Corps of Royal Military Police, Queen’s Gurkha Engineers,Queen’s Royal Lancers, Royal Mercian and Lancastrian Yeomanry, Royal Welsh, Royal Regiment of Scotland, Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment.

As well as the Air-Commodore-in-Chief of the Territorial Air Force of New Zealand, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, Royal Air Force Regiment, Royal Observer Corps; Captain-General of the Honourable Artillery Company, Commandant-in-Chief of the Royal Air Force College, Countess of Ranfurly’s Own Auckland Regiment,…

She was tied to the Forces in both public and private in every way, and it could be argued her primary job since the age of 16 had been that of a service member. 

Special ties to the Fleet

Elizabeth was closely associated with the Royal Navy. After all, she was the daughter, wife, and mother of naval officers.

She was also a battleship sailor, having embarked on HMS Vanguard in 1947 for the Royal Cruise to Africa. She was familiar with the Royal Navy’s final (and largest) dreadnought, having christened her in 1944 while still Princess Elizabeth– the first time her standard was broken out on an RN vessel.

She also became possibly the only Queen in history with a Shellback certificate, as she took part in the traditional festivities upon Crossing the Line. 

Elizabeth participated in the traditional line-crossing ceremony and was initiated into the Kingdom of Neptune. Elizabeth was a good sport but was excused from a few of the harsher hazings meted out to Pollywogs

She even got in some target practice from Vanguard’s decks in 1947 and was reportedly a good shot. Of note, while I have seen several images of her with a rifle, I have never seen her use eye or ear protection– and tough old bird indeed.

The 1953 Spithead Review, while smaller than some that came before, was the largest gathering of British warships that has not been surpassed since– and likely never will. Of note, Vanguard would grace the cover of the official commemorative as flagship.

The 1953 Spithead Coronation Review.

She also sponsored five other warships and submarines including the new carrier that holds her name, HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), the largest British warship ever built, and attended her christening in 2014. A bottle of fine Scotch from the 240-year-old Bowmore Distillery was broken across the carrier’s bow via an actuator that the Queen controlled via a push button. 

In remembrance

Now, across the corners of the Commonwealth, there will be celebrations of her passing– heck, Biden has ordered all federal ensigns half-masted. The most notable, besides the looming pageantry of her state funeral, will be “Death Gun” 96-gun salutes fired from Cyprus to Sydney.

As noted by the New Zealand Army: 

𝗗𝗲𝗮𝘁𝗵 𝗚𝘂𝗻 𝗦𝗮𝗹𝘂𝘁𝗲 𝗺𝗮𝗿𝗸𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝘁𝗵𝗲 𝗽𝗮𝘀𝘀𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗳 𝗛𝗲𝗿 𝗠𝗮𝗷𝗲𝘀𝘁𝘆 𝗤𝘂𝗲𝗲𝗻 𝗘𝗹𝗶𝘇𝗮𝗯𝗲𝘁𝗵 𝗜𝗜, 𝗪𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶𝗻𝗴𝘁𝗼𝗻 𝗪𝗮𝘁𝗲𝗿𝗳𝗿𝗼𝗻𝘁, 𝟵 𝗦𝗲𝗽𝘁𝗲𝗺𝗯𝗲𝗿 𝗮𝘁 𝟲.𝟬𝟬𝗽𝗺
We will fire a Death Gun Salute marking the passing of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on the Wellington waterfront this evening.
16 Field Regiment will fire 96 rounds – one round for every year of Her Majesty’s life. The Death Gun Salute will commence at 6pm. The salute is expected to last at least 16 minutes. 
Given the length of time the gun salute will take to conduct, it is recommended that hearing protection is worn by those planning to attend.

75 Years Ago: End of the Trail

28 August 1947. Retirement ceremony of the last four U.S. Army Indian Scouts at Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

Photo from the LIFE Magazine Archives – Allan Grant Photographer

The four Apache Indian Scouts are from left to right: Sinew Riley, William Major, Kessay, and Antonio Ivan. The Officer is Col. William L. Roberts.

In his book, Fort Huachuca: Story of a Frontier Post, historian Cornelius Smith recorded Sgt. Sinew Riley’s moving words at the conclusion of his service:

We were recruited from the warriors of many famous nations. We are the last of the Army’s Indian scouts. In a few years, we shall be gone to join our comrades in the great hunting grounds beyond the sunset, for our need here is no more. There we shall always remain very proud of our Indian people and of the United States Army, for we were truly the first Americans and you in the Army are now our warriors. To you who will keep the Army’s campfires bright, we extend our hands, and to you, we will our fighting hearts.

On 1 August 1866, Congress authorized the enlistment of up to 1,000 American Indians to serve as scouts for the U.S. Army, although, as noted by the service, “Native Americans had been utilized as Scouts as far back as white men had been settling the American continent.”

It was not uncommon for Native Americans to be enlisted as Indian Scouts for very short terms, usually three or six months at a time.

Sharp Nose enlisted more than 20 times, serving between 1876 and 1890. Here, one of his six-month tours, in 1890 with the famed Buffalo Soldiers of the 9th Cavalry Regiment, is enrolled. (National Archives)

With the retirement of the four above-mentioned scouts at Fort Huachuca, the Army’s Indian Scout program came to a close after 81 years.

For more information on the Scouts, check out the National Archives.

75 Years Ago: Back-to-Back Skystreak Records

Pre-dating Chuck Yeager’s ride in X-1, U.S. Navy CDR Turner Foster “Stinky” Caldwell set a new world air-speed record of 640.663 mph while flying Douglas D-558-1 Skystreak #1 (Bureau No. 37970-NACA 140), on this day in 1947, earning the Weatherhead Award.

Just five days later, Marine Major Marion Eugene Carl bested CaIdwell’s record, hitting 650.796 mph in Skystreak # 2 (Bureau Number 37971-NACA 141).

The two pilots—Caldwell (right) and Carl (left)—are pictured here. Although both NACA 140 and 141 had been painted scarlet for improved visibility, in flying the aircraft both Douglas and NACA personnel discovered that the scarlet color was difficult to discern against the dark blue desert sky. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 2012.004.090

D-558-1 in flight. During the winter of 1947-1948, NACA repainted NACA 141 with white color. Credits: NACA / NASA Photo

Caldwell, USNA 1935, was skipper of “Shademaids” of CVLG(N)-41 and, likewise, of VF(N)-41 while aboard the light carrier USS Independence (CVL-22), the Navy’s first dedicated night combat aircraft carrier. He also had a Navy Cross, thrice. 

Navy Cross:” For…the sinking or damaging of at least eight enemy Japanese vessels at Tulagi and in the sinking or severe damaging of another in the Coral Sea…”

Gold Star in lieu of the Second Navy Cross: “For extraordinary heroism…as Commanding Officer of a detachment of his Bomber Squadron in action against enemy Japanese forces during their assaults on our Guadalcanal positions in the period August 24 to September 23, 1942…”

Gold Star in lieu of the Third Navy Cross: For contributing to the destruction of three enemy ships at Salamaua and Lea, New Guinea, on March 10, 1942. 

Caldwell retired as a Vice Admiral in 1967, presumably to get a hearing aid so he could make out what people were saying over the sound of his balls clanging together. 

Carl earned his wings in December 1939 and was the Marine’s first World War II fighter ace, with 18.5 confirmed aerial victories with VMF-221 (at Midway) and later VMF-223, flying with the Cactus Air Force from Guadalcanal. He famously ended Japanese Navy Tainan Kōkūtai ace Junichi Sasai’s career over Henderson Field. Carl, with two Navy Crosses to his credit, went on to fly tense recon missions over Mainland China in the 1950s, command the 2nd MAW in Vietnam– where he once again flew combat missions– and served as Inspector General of the Marine Corps until retiring in 1973. By then he had logged a massive 13,000 flying hours in everything from Brewster Buffalos to F-4 Phantoms. Sadly, he was killed in a home invasion in 1998, aged 82.

As for the D-558-1 Skystreak, just three were produced. D-558-1 #1 – BuNo 37970 NACA-140, flew 101 flights and today rests at the National Naval Aviation Museum, NAS Pensacola. Carl’s bird, Skystreak #2, made a total of 19 flights with the NACA before it, sadly, crashed on takeoff due to compressor disintegration on May 3, 1948, killing NACA pilot Howard C. Lilly. Skystreak #3 is owned by the Carolinas Historical Aviation Museum located at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina.

Pensacola’s D-558-1 Skystreak is on display restored to its original scarlet. Displayed on a wall in the museum as if in a tight turn, D-558-1 (Bureau Number 37970) was the first Skystreak produced and the one in which Commander Turner F. Caldwell established a world speed record of 640.743 M.P.H. on August 20, 1947, followed immediately after by Major Marion Carl in Skystreak 2

Starvation Island

Via the National Museum of the U.S. Marine Corps:

The decision by the Navy to remove all transports and cargo vessels around Guadalcanal on 9 August 1942 [following the slaughter of TG 62.6 in the Battle of Savo Island on D+3] left the Marines perilously short supplied. Marines subsisted on two meals a day to stretch out their meager stock. Guadalcanal would become known as “Starvation Island.”

In the months after the battle, Marine veterans created an unofficial medal, which poked fun at their Navy comrades. Known as the “George Medal”, it depicts an extended arm with admiral rank on its sleeve, dropping a literal “hot potato” to a scurrying cartoon Marine. The rear includes “remembrance of happy days” and the Two examples of these “awards” can be seen in the Museum’s current WWII Gallery.

The men purposefully chose the heraldry of the medal to reflect their dark humor. The outstretched hand, displaying the rank of a U.S. Navy admiral is depicted dropping a literal “hot potato” into the scrambling hands of a small Marine. The island itself is represented with a small cactus and sliver of land denoting the codename for the island of Guadalcanal. Under the scene, inscribed in Latin is the term Faciat Georgius, an approximate translation of “Let George Do It”.

The reverse of the medal was even more direct. Recalling the well-used expression “Sh-t had really hit the fan!”, the officers designed a cartoon showing the posterior of a cow pointed directly at an electric fan. Beneath it is the sarcastic script, “In fond remembrance of the happy days spent from Aug. 7th 1942 to Jan. 5th 1943. U.S.M.C.”

Certificate #2 awarded to MGEN William H. Rupertus

An initial purchase of 100 crude medals was from a small engraving shop off Little Collins Street, in Melbourne, Australia. A deliberately pretentious and humorous certificate was also printed by the Division’s lithographic branch to accompany each award. According to 1st Marine Division veteran Vernon Stimpel, the popularity of the medal soared and a second order was soon made for an additional 400 medals. These were to be presented with a large laundry bag pin, furthering the absurdity of the division’s award. Lore also has it that the manufacturing mold broke during this period. This made the determination of exactly how many original medals were produced in Australia forever unknown. In later years another mold was created and new versions were made and distributed more widely among all veterans of the 1st Marine Division. 

Brown Shoes of Fighting Six

80 years ago: Four aviators of Fighter Squadron Six (VF-6) — two of which are enlisted “silver eagle” NAP pilots– pose beside a Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat (Bureau # 5126) on board the Yorktown-class carrier USS Enterprise (CV-6), 10 August 1942. The quartet were credited with shooting down eight Japanese aircraft during the Guadalcanal-Tulagi operation a few days earlier.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-11092

The men are (from left to right): NAP Machinist Donald E. Runyon, credited with four planes at the time; NAP Aviation Pilot First Class Howard S. Packard (one plane); Ensign Joseph Donald “Joe” Shoemaker (one plane); and Ensign Wildon M. Rouse (two planes). Note the shoulder holster rigs for GI .45 pistols worn by the three in khaki while Packard, in dungarees, is armed with a utility/fighting knife on his belt.

Runyon was one of the leading Wildcat Aces, credited with shooting down 8 Japanese aircraft while flying F4Fs.

NAP Machinist Donald E. Runyon, USN of Fighting Squadron Six (VF-6) On board USS Enterprise (CV-6). He is standing by the tail of his F4F-4 (Bureau # 5193, VF-6’s # 13), which is decorated with a tombstone containing 41 meatballs, each representing a Japanese plane claimed by the squadron. During his second combat tour in the Pacific in 1943 as a commissioned officer, he scored three more victories while flying F6F Hellcats with VF-18 off of USS Bunker Hill. 80-G-11103

Ensign Wildon M. Rouse, USNR of Fighting Squadron Six (VF-6) In the cockpit of an F4F-4 Wildcat fighter, on board USS Enterprise (CV-6), 10 August 1942. Ensign Rouse was credited with shooting down two Japanese aircraft during the Guadalcanal-Tulagi operation a few days earlier. These victories are represented by two flags painted below the cockpit. Rouse would survive the war but never make it home, dying in a crash in the Philippines on 4 Dec 1945. LT(JG) Rouse is buried at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. Catalog #: 80-G-11089

Soon after the above pictures were taken, on 24 August, Enterprise would suffer bomb hits off during the Guadalcanal campaign that would force her back to Pearl Harbor where the famed Enterprise Air Group, with which the carrier had fought her first five WWII deployments, was disestablished on 1 September 1942.

When she emerged again in October, she would be carrying the newly formed Air Group 10, whose fighter squadron was the Grim Reapers of LCDR William R. “Killer” Kane’s VF-10, the first time Enterprise would sail without the cover of “Fighting Six,” although NAP aviator Howard “Pack” Packard, pictured in the first image wearing dungs, would be with them. 

As for Ensign Shoemaker, standing next to Packard in the top image, he would be killed in action on 29 September 1942, aged 22.

Warship Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022: Savo Pig Boat Avenger

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2022: Savo Pig Boat Avenger

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-33750

Above we see the bearded and very salty-looking crew of the S-42-class “Sugar Boat” USS S-44 (SS-155) manning the submarine’s 4″/50 cal Mark 9 wet-mount deck gun, circa January 1943. Note the assorted victory flags painted on the boat’s fairwater, she earned them.

The S-class submarines, derided as “pig boats” or “sugar boats.” were designed during the Great War, but none were finished in time for the conflict (S-1 was launched by the builders on 26 October 1918, just two weeks before the Armistice). Some 51 examples of these 1,000-ton diesel-electrics were built in several sub-variants by 1925 and they made up the backbone of the U.S. submarine fleet before the larger “fleet” type boats of the 1930s came online. While four were lost in training accidents, six were scrapped and another six transferred to the British in World War II, a lot of these elderly crafts saw service in the war, and seven were lost during the conflict.

The six boats of the S-42 subclass (SS-153 through SS-158) were slightly longer to enable them to carry a 4-inch (rather than 3-inch) deck gun with its own dedicated gun access hatch in the deck. Some 225 feet long overall, their submerged displacement touched 1,126 tons, making them some of the largest of the breed. Armed with four forward tubes (and no bow tubes), they had enough storage space to carry 10 21-inch torpedoes but were restricted in size to 16-foot long WWI-era fish as their tubes were shorter and couldn’t handle the newer 21-foot long Mark 14 torpedo which was introduced in 1931.

The Mark 10 of the 1920s, compared to the Mark 14, was slower and had shorter legs, but still carried a 500-pound warhead. The older torps were simple and dependable– provided you could get close enough to make them count.

It was thought the Sugar Boats, after testing, had enough fresh water for their crews and batteries to enable a patrol of about 25-30 days, and provision and diesel/lubricants for slightly longer.

S-42 subclass. Drawing & Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press. Via Navsource

Referred to as the “2nd Electric Boat/Holland” type of the S-boat series, all six were built at Bethlehem’s Fore River yard.

Commissioned on 16 February 1925 (all six of the class were similarly commissioned inside 10 months across 1925-26) S-44 completed her shakedown in New England waters and then headed south for Submarine Division (SubDiv) 19, located in the Canal Zone, where she joined her sisters. For the next five years, homeported at Coco Solo, they ranged across assorted Caribbean, Pacific, and Latin American ports. This idyllic peacetime life continued through the 1930s as the Division’s homeport shifted to Pearl Harbor, then to San Diego, and back to Panama.

USS S-44 (SS-155) In San Diego harbor, California, during the later 1920s or the 1930s. Note how big her deck gun looks and her high-viz pennant numbers. NH 42263

USS S-44 (SS-155) Underway during the later 1920s or the 1930s. NH 42262

USS S-44 (SS-155) Leaving Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 1929. Photographed by Chief Quartermaster Peck. NH 42264

With the “winds of war” on the horizon and the realization that these small and aging boats may have to clock in for real, sisters S-42, S-44, and S-46 were sent to Philadelphia Naval Yard in early 1941 to be modernized. By August 1941, S-44 was on a series of shakedown/neutrality patrols along Cape Cod and Rhode Island, conducting mock torpedo runs on the destroyer USS Mustin (DD-413), a tin can that would go on to earn 13 battle stars in WWII. Still on the East Coast when news of the attack on Pearl Harbor hit, she soon got underway for Panama.

S-44’s principal wartime skipper, from October 1940 through September 1942, covering her first three War Patrols, was Tennessee-born LT. John Raymond “Dinty” Moore (USNA 1929).

While most Sugar Boats still in the fleet in 1942 were relegated to ASW training and new submariner school tasks as well as defense of the Panama Canal Zone and Alaska, some were made ready to go to the West Pac and get active in the war. Though small and armed with obsolete torpedoes, a handful of Sugars– our S-44 included– were rushed to block the Japanese progress in the Bismarck Archipelago and the Solomon Islands, until larger and more capable Fleet Boats (Balao, Gato, Tench classes, etc.) could be sent to the area.

First Patrol

Assigned to SUBRON Five, S-44 got underway from Brisbane for her patrol area on 24 April 1942, she haunted the Cape St. George area of New Ireland in the Bismarck Archipelago for three weeks and reported a successful hit on a Japanese merchant of some 400 feet/4,000 tons on 12 May after a four-torpedo spread.

From Moore’s report: 

Post-war, this was confirmed to be the Japanese repair ship Shoei Maru (5644 GRT) returning to Rabaul after coming to the assistance of the minelayer Okinoshima, sunk by S-44′s sistership S-42 earlier in the day. Talk about teamwork.

USS S-44 returned to Brisbane on 23 May, just shy of being out for a month.

Second Patrol

After a two-week refit and resupply, S-44 left Brisbane again on 7 June 1942– just after the Battle of Midway– ordered to patrol off Guadalcanal where local Coastwatchers reported a Japanese seaplane base to be under construction. There, she compared the coastline to old Admiralty charts of the area and watched for activity, noting fires and shipping traffic. Midway into the patrol, the Sugar boat fired three torpedoes at a 200-foot/2,000-ton freighter with “69” on the side of her bridge and one visible deck gun.

From Moore’s report: 

This was post-war confirmed to be the Japanese auxiliary gunboat Keijo Maru (2626 GRT, built 1940) sent to the bottom about 12 nautical miles west of Gavutu, Solomon Islands.

As noted by DANFS:

The force of the explosion, the rain of debris, and the appearance and attack of a Japanese ASW plane forced S-44 down. At 1415, S-44 fired her torpedoes at the gunboat. At 1418, the enemy plane dropped a bomb which exploded close enough to bend the holding latch to the conning tower, allowing in 30 gallons of sea water; damaging the depth gauges, gyrocompass, and ice machine; and starting leaks. Her No. 1 periscope was thought to be damaged; but, when the submarine surfaced for repairs, a Japanese seaman’s coat was found wrapped around its head.

Two patrols, two kills under her belt, S-44 arrived back at Brisbane on 5 July.

Third Patrol

After three weeks of rest and airing out, S-44 headed North from Brisbane on 24 July, ordered to keep her eyes peeled off the New Britain/New Ireland area. After stalking a small convoy off Cape St. George in early August but unable to get a shot due to heavy seas, she began haunting the Japanese base at Kavieng Harbor on New Ireland. This, likewise, proved fruitless and she ranged the area until when, on the early morning of 10 August 1942 (80 years ago today), some 9,000 yards away, she sighted four enemy heavy cruisers steaming right for her.

What a sight it must have been!

Just 18 minutes later, having worked into a firing position for the oncoming column– over 30,000 tons of the Emperor’s bruisers in bright sunlight on a calm sea — S-44 fired all four tubes at the heavy bringing up the rear then dived deep to 130 feet. Four old reliable Mark 10s launched from just 700 yards did the trick.

Moore would later detail, “We were close enough to see the Japanese on the bridge using their glasses” and that the looming cruiser looked bigger than the Pentagon building. While submerged and listening, Moore would later say, “Evidently all her boilers blew up…You could hear hideous noises that sounded like steam hissing through the water. These noises were more terrifying to the crew than the actual depth charges that followed. It sounded as if giant chains were being dragged across our hull as if our own water and air lines were bursting.”

The details of action from Moore’s official report:

Post-war, it was confirmed this target was the Furutaka-class heavy cruiser HIJMS Kako, one of the four heavy cruisers of Cruiser Division 6 (along with Aoba, Furutaka, and Kinugasa) which just five hours before had jumped the Allied cruisers USS Astoria, Quincy, Vincennes, and HMAS Canberra off Savo Island, leaving all wrecks along Iron Bottom Sound. During that searchlight-lit surface action, Kako fired at least 192 8-inch, 124 4.7-inch, and 149 25-mm shells as well as ten Long Lance torpedoes, dealing much of the damage to the Allied vessels.

Furutaka Class Heavy Cruiser Kako pictured at Kure Naval Arsenal on March 30th, 1926

While Kako had received no damage at Savo, her meeting with S-44 was lopsided in the other sense.

As told by Combined Fleet: 

The Kawanishi E7K2 “Alf” floatplane from AOBA, patrolling overhead, fails to send a timely warning and at 0708 three torpedoes hit KAKO in rapid succession. The first strikes to starboard abreast No. 1 turret. Water enters through open scuttles of the hull as the bow dips and twists further within three minutes of being hit. The other torpedoes hit amidships, in the vicinity of the forward magazines, and further aft, abreast boiler rooms Nos. 1 and 2. KAKO rolls over on her starboard side with white smoke and steam belching from her forward funnel. An enormous roar ensues as seawater reaches her boilers.

At 0712, the Japanese start depth charging the S-44, but without success. S-44 slips away.

At 0715, KAKO disappears bow first in the sea to the surprise and dismay of her squadron mates. She sinks off Simbari Island at 02-28S, 152-11E. Sixty-eight crewmen are killed, but Captain Takahashi and 649 of KAKO’s crew are rescued by AOBA, FURUTAKA and KINUGASA.

“The S-44 (SS-155), vs HIJMS Kako. Patrolling off New Ireland, the veteran S-boat ambushes the enemy cruiser division at the entrance to Kavieng Harbor. Four torpedoes (range 700 yards) send Kako to the bottom, an 8,800-ton warship sunk by an 850-ton sub. This sinking of the first Japanese heavy cruiser avenged the defeat at Savo Island.” Drawing by LCDR Fred Freemen, courtesy of Theodore Roscoe, from his book “U.S. Submarine Operations of WW II”, published by USNI. Original painting in the LOC. 

S-44 returned to Brisbane, Australia, on 23 August 1942, where the sinking of Kako was a big deal for a Navy that had just suffered its worst night in history.

Truth be told, it was a big deal for the American Submarine Force as well.

In the first 245 days of the Pacific War, suffering from a mix of bad torpedoes (mostly the vaunted new Mark 14s) and timid leadership, U.S. subs had only accounted for nine rather minor Japanese warships, even though the Navy had no less than 56 boats in the Pacific at the beginning of the war and soon doubled that number:

  • Submarine I-73, sunk by USS Gudgeon, 27 January 1942.
  • Destroyer Natsushio, sunk by USS S-37, 9 February 1942.
  • Seaplane carrier Mizuho, sunk by USS Drum, 2 May 1942.
  • Minelayer Okinoshima, sunk by USS S-42, 11 May 1942.
  • Submarine I-28, sunk by USS Tautog, 17 May 1942.
  • Submarine I-64, sunk by USS Triton, 17 May 1942.
  • Destroyer Yamakaze, sunk by USS Nautilus, 25 June 1942.
  • Destroyer Nenohi, sunk by USS Triton, 4 July 1942.
  • Destroyer Arare, sunk by USS Growler, 5 July 1942.

Indeed, by that time in the war, the Japanese had only lost one heavy cruiser, Mikuma, which was finished off by carrier aircraft at Midway after she was crippled in a collision with another ship.

So of course, Dinty Moore earned hearty congrats and would eventually pin on a Navy Cross for S-44s action against Kako.

Captain Ralph W. Christie, USN, Commander Task Force 42 and SUBRON5 (left) Congratulates LCDR John R. Moore, USN, skipper of USS S-44 (SS-155), as he returned to this South Pacific base after a very successful week of patrol activity. (Quoted from original World War II photo caption) The original caption date is 1 September 1942, which is presumably a release date. 80-G-12171

Fourth Patrol

Dinty Moore would leave his first command to take control of the more advanced Sargo-class boat USS Sailfish (SS-192) and S-44 would head back out from Brisbane on 17 September with LT Reuben Thornton Whitaker as her skipper.

Dogged by Japanese ASW patrols as well as a persistent oil leak and a battery compartment fire, S-44 returned to Australia on 14 October after a 4,262-mile patrol with nothing to add to her tally board despite a claimed attack on an Ashashio-class destroyer that was not borne out by post-war analysis.

The boat needed some work, that’s for sure. She had spent 150 of the past 220 days at sea, with 120 of that on war patrol. She leaked and had numerous deficiencies, all exacerbated by repeated Japanese depth charging. Her crew, which was largely original men that had shipped out with her from Philadelphia in 1941, had lost up to 25 pounds apiece, and nerves were frayed.


On 4 November 1942, with LT Whitaker sent on to the Gato-class fleet boat USS Flasher (SS-249), S-44 was sailed for the East Coast via the Panama Canal under the command of LT Francis Elwood Brown (USNA ’33) (former CO of USS S-39) and slowly poked along until she arrived at Philadelphia Navy Yard in April 1943.

USS S-44 (SS-155) Underway off the Panama Canal Zone, circa February 1943, while en route to the Philadelphia Navy Yard for overhaul. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. 19-N-41382.

At PNSY, S-44 was reworked over the summer and picked up a 20mm Oerlikon as well as a JK passive sonar and SJ/ /SD radars.

USS S-44 (SS-155) Underway off the Philadelphia Navy Yard, Pennsylvania, after her last overhaul, on 11 June 1943. 19-N-46194

Same as above, 19-N-46193.

“S-44 (SS-155), was one of six E.B. boats extensively modernized during WW II. The refit included the installation of air conditioning, with the unit installed in the crew space abaft the control room, alongside the refrigerator. S-44 was fitted with radar (SJ forward, SD abaft the bridge), a loop antenna built into the periscope shears for underwater reception, & a free flooding structure carrying a 20-mm anti-aircraft gun, with a box for 4-in ready-service ammunition below it. A JK passive sonar, probably installed at Philadelphia during a refit between November & December 1941, was located on the forward deck. On the keel below it was a pair of oscillators.” Drawing by Jim Christley. Text courtesy of U.S. Submarines Through 1945, An Illustrated Design History by Norman Friedman. Naval Institute Press, via Navsource.

Fifth, and Final, Patrol

Departing PNSY on 14 June 1943, S-44 transited the Ditch once again and arrived at Dutch Harbor, Alaska on 16 September, with Brown still in command. After 10 days of making ready, S-44 sortied out past the Russian church on her 5th War Patrol on 26 September, bound for the Kuriles, where she never came back from, although two survivors eventually surfaced in 1945.

The story of what happened to her was only learned after VJ Day.

It is believed that S-44 was sunk east of the Kamchatka Peninsula by the Japanese Shimushu-class escort vessel Ishigaki.

As detailed by DANFS:

On the night of 7 October, she made radar contact with a “small merchantman” and closed in for a surface attack. Several hundred yards from the target, her deck gun fired and was answered by a salvo. The “small merchantman” was a destroyer. The order to dive was given, but S-44 failed to submerge. She took several hits, in the control room, in the forward battery room, and elsewhere.

S-44 was ordered abandoned. A pillowcase was put up from the forward battery room hatch as a flag of surrender, but the shelling continued.

Possibly eight men escaped from the submarine as she went down. Two, Chief Torpedoman’s Mate Ernest A. Duva and Radioman Third Class William F. Whitemore, were picked up by the destroyer. Taken initially to Paramushiro, then to the Naval Interrogation Camp at Ofuna, the two submariners spent the last year of World War II working in the Ashio copper mines. They were repatriated by the Allies at the end of the war.


S-44 remains one of the Lost 52 U.S. submarines from WWII still regarded on eternal patrol.

S-44 was one of six Sugar Boats lost during WWII. Their names here are inscribed on a memorial at the USS Albacore Museum in New Hampshire. Similar memorials are located in all 50 states. (Photo: Chris Eger)

Abraham Lincoln National Cemetery USS S-44 memorial in Illinois, installed in 2003 by Members of U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War Two

Thus far, her wreck, believed off Paramushir (AKA Paramushiro or Paramushiru) Island, has not been located and as that windswept volcanic rock has been occupied by the Russians since August 1945, she likely will never be discovered.

S-44’s war records from August 1941 – October 1942, including her first four War Patrols, have been digitized and are in the National Archives. She earned two battle stars during World War II.

She was remembered in postal cachets on the 40th anniversary of her loss when the USPS issued an S-class submarine stamp in 2000, among others. 

For what it is worth, her killer, the escort Ishigaki, was herself sent to the bottom by the American submarine USS Herring (SS-233) in May 1944.

S-44’s most famous skipper, Dinty Moore, would command Sailfish on that boat’s 6th, 7th, and 8th War Patrols, sinking the Japanese merchant Shinju Maru (3617 GRT) and the Japanese collier Iburi Maru (3291 GRT) in 1943. He would join Admiral Lockwood’s Roll of Honor in 1944 and ultimately retire as a rear admiral in 1958. The Navy Cross holder would pass at age 79 and is buried in Georgia. 

RADM Dinty Moore 11 Oct 1905-10 June 1985.

Of S-44’s five Fore River-built EB-designed sisters, all survived the war and gave a full 20+ years of service in each case. They conducted over 25 patrols, mostly in the West Pac, and claimed a half dozen ships with class leader S-42 being the most successful (besides S-44) with the aforementioned minelayer Okinoshima confirmed as well as an attack on a destroyer logged. All these sisters were paid off just after the war and sold for scrapping or sunk as a target by the end of 1946.

None of the 51 Sugar Boats are preserved. Those ancient bathtubs held the line in ’42-43 during the darkest days of the Pacific War and proved their worth.

The Joint Army-Navy Assessment Committee post-war attributed 201 Japanese sunken warships, totaling some 540,192 tons, to American submarines.


Displacement: 906 tons surfaced; 1,126 tons submerged
Length: 216 feet wl, 225 feet 3 inches overall
Beam: 20 feet 9 inches
Draft: 16 feet (4.9 m)
Propulsion: 2 × NELSECO diesels, 600 hp each; 2 × Electro-Dynamic electric motors, 750 horsepower each; 120 cell Exide battery; two shafts.
Speed: 15 knots surfaced; 11 knots submerged
Bunkerage: 46,363 gal
Range: 5,000 nautical miles at 10 knots surfaced
Test depth: 200 ft.
Crew: 38 (later 42) officers and men
Armament (as built):
4 x 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow, 10-12 torpedoes)
One 4″/50 deck gun

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