Category Archives: sadness

Bad month for Submarine Museums

While we have covered these in part in previous years, it looks like time has come and gone for the old HMAS Otama (SS 62/SSG 62), a retired Oberon-class diesel boat of the Royal Australian Navy that was decommissioned 22 years ago, the sisters USS Ling (SS 297) and USS Clamagore (SS-343), Balao-class submarines that, when retired were about the best preserved of their type anywhere in the world.

Otama

Otama, still fairly new and in good shape when she was retired after 22 years of service, was grossly neglected and never opened.

Set to be moved off Lookout Beach in Australia on Monday, she is headed to the breakers.

Ling

For over four years, the status of the USS Ling (SS 297), a Balao-class boat, has been in limbo. Decommissioned in 1946 after earning a single battle star, she was converted to an NRF training boat based at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and then disposed of in 1972. Towed to nearby  Hackensack, New Jersey the next year in near-pristine condition, she operated as a museum ship there for 40 years, a great example of a WWII fleet boat, until, cut off from shore access due to real estate development in 2018, the museum closed and “vandals” broke in and flooded her. 
 
Since then, assorted volunteer groups looking to save her formed and even bring her to Louisville, but that all stopped last winter and she is now possibly worse than ever.
 

USS Ling, in poor condition, cut off from shore, locked in the river by a bridge, and likely settled again on the bottom mud in 14 feet of river. This isn’t going to end well.

This was posted three weeks ago in a “Save the Ling” group: 
 
People are asking for updates. The best I can tell you is, we are constantly working to see things through. Due to recent circumstances, we could claim ownership of the Ling in about an hour. But, in doing that we could also own the liabilities she has, debts to the city, EPA fines, Bergen County fines, and a bunch of other hidden costs that could hit us should we become the new owners. 
 
That said, as I said in another post. Thanks to her being closed up for a year or more now, she is most likely covered in mold. She has her list back, which only tells us that she has settled back in place after the manifold system was stolen and we were unable to continue to blow tanks and exercise ballast tanks. 
We are cut off from shore. The gangway donated to LNM has fallen into the muck. There is no safe access point to her due to the developers moving on with construction. We had a window, we missed it, they moved on and that does not include the Ling. 
 
At this point, I am not sure what can be done. We continue to play cards we are dealt, but there are very few left in the deck. If someone is a lawyer, and willing to pro bono things, we can continue the fight.

Clamagore

Almost scandalously, the Patriot’s Point Naval & Maritime Museum outside Charleston, South Carolina, which had Clamagore since 1980, has scrapped her in almost total silence and, while there are supposed plans to preserve some of her artifacts in a compartment aboard the poorly preserved old Essex-class carrier USS Yorktown, also run by the organization, it seems like most of her will simply hauled off to the junk yard despite howls from Submarine Vets and those curious who have sought to pick up a small piece for their own collection.

80 Years Ago: The Worst, and Best, Telegrams, Back to Back

Via the South Pacific WWII Museum, Harold F. Rhone Collection photo.

The telegram you don’t ever want to receive, followed not too long after by the one you do.

September 1942 and Harold Rhone was missing in action, a 22-year-old ship fitter on the New Orleans-class heavy cruiser USS Astoria (CA-34), sunk in August 1942, at the Battle of Savo Island. Importantly, the loss of the ship was not made public until late October.

But thankfully, as noted in the follow-up telegram, Rhone was located and went on to serve at the Boat Repair Unit on Santo.

Earning a Purple Heart for his injuries, SF1 Rhone survived the war, left the service in 1947, and passed in 1997, aged 77.

Remembering Dieppe at 80

The colossal foul-up that was Operation Jubilee or the Dieppe Raid, using a brigade-sized mix of mostly Canadian troops augmented by a few U.S. Army Rangers and Allied Commandos to capture and hold a French Channel port in a dress rehearsal for taking Europe back, was 80 years ago today. It turned out to be the Canadian Army’s costliest day of WWII with 907 men killed, another 2,500 wounded, and 1,976 captured.

Two Canadians received the Victoria Cross for their bravery.

German officer and soldiers examining a Churchill tank stuck on the beach in front of the boardwalk after the battle, its left track broken. Wounded men lying on the ground are about to be evacuated. Dieppe, August 19th, 1942. Department of National Defence / National Archives of Canada C-017293.

The poor showing led to putting off the liberation of France for two years as the Allies concentrated on opening the second front in the Axis’s “soft underbelly” in the Med. 

This year’s commemoration includes a few of the remaining Veterans, contingents from the Canadian Army, and HMCS Kingston.

Last ‘Ace in a Day’

On this day in 1945, LT Oscar Francis Perdomo, USAAF, became the last American Ace of WWII, bagging four Ki-84 “Frank” fighters and one Yokosuka “Willow” trainer. (While the 507th Fighter Group mission reports confirm his kills as “Oscars”, they were actually Franks from the 22nd and 85th Hiko-Sentais.)

Via the Commemorative Air Force, Perdomo in front of Republic Lil Meatie’s Meat Chopper, his P-47N-2-RE Thunderbolt (serial number 44-88211), based on Ie Shima in 1945. The baby is an ode to the young officer’s boy who at the time, Kris Mitchell Perdomo, was still in diapers.

The combat took place over Seoul, Korea when Perdomo’s formation of 38 P-47 Thunderbolts, from the 507th Fighter Group of US 20th Air Force, encountered approximately 50 enemy aircraft. It was Perdomo’s last combat mission, and the five confirmed victories made him an “Ace in a Day” for which he received the Distinguished Service Cross and the Air Medal with one leaf cluster.

An El Paso Texas native whose daddy rode with Pancho Villa, Perdomo received his wings on January 7, 1944, and only flew his first combat mission on July 2, while escorting a B-29 to Kyushu. Six weeks later, he was the last American ace.

Perdomo remained in the Air Force after the war, serving in Korea, then left the military in 1958 as a major. Sadly, he succumbed to self-destruction after the loss of Kris, who died when his Huey exploded in Vietnam, and died in 1976, aged 56.

Meanwhile, the CAF has flown a P-47N made up to salute Perdomo’s Meat Chopper since 2017. 

And the Tico slaughter begins

When I was a kid growing up in Pascagoula, I remember the sleek and modern Ticonderoga class of Aegis cruisers leaving the ways at Ingalls like clockwork. They were majestic “billion-dollar” ships– back at a time when that meant something– described at the time as floating computers, something akin to being able to “death blossom” like the fictional craft in The Last Starfighter to defeat an incoming wave of Russian Backfire bombers and their cruise missiles. Literally the most lethal and capable surface warships afloat anywhere in the world.

I went to the launching for the class leader when I was in second grade. When the last of 27 left Ingalls for the fleet, I was in college. While in High School, I was on the NJROTC honor guard at the christening of the Cape. St. George (CG-71) and Port Royal (CG-73), and have the coins to prove it. 

While the five first flight ships of the class (Ticonderoga, Yorktown, Vincennes, Valley Forge, and Thomas S. Gates)– those with older MK 26 twin-armed launchers rather than VLS systems– were decommissioned in 2004/2005 after right at 20 years of service, the other 22 Ticos have continued on their regular deployment and upgrade schedules.

Until now, anyway.

This year, five especially high-mileage ships are set for retirement: San Jacinto (CG-56), Monterey (CG-61), Hué City (CG-66), Anzio (CG-68), Vella Gulf (CG-72), and Port Royal (CG-73), with Vella Gulf being the first to lay off her crew.

Commissioned on 18 September 1993, the Ingalls-built Vella Gulf was decommissioned at Norfolk on 4 August 2022, just a few weeks shy of her 29th year in the fleet.

The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Vella Gulf (CG 72) is decommissioned in Norfolk. Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jacob Milham

Ironically, she was decommissioned a week prior to the 80th anniversary of the Guadalcanal campaign’s beginning at the Battle of Savo Island. Of course, the ship was named in commemoration of the August 1943 Battle of Vella Gulf that saw six American destroyers successfully disrupt the Imperial Japanese Navy’s supply lines without taking a single casualty or damage from enemy fire. It was a decisive victory for the United States and a repudiation of the legacy of Savo.

‘It was against Japanese regulations and discovery would have meant death’

Enjoy your BBQ today but remember those who made it possible.

80 years ago today. Official caption: “American prisoners of war celebrate the 4th of July in the Japanese prison camp of Casisange in Malaybalay, on Mindanao, Philippine Islands. It was against Japanese regulations and discovery would have meant death, but the men celebrated the occasion anyway. 7/4/1942.”

Signal Corps Photo: 111-SC-333290. National Archives Identifier: 531352

 

The Last Ride of Jack Frost

Captain John Everitt “Jack” Frost, age 22, climbs into a Hawker Hurricane Mk. II of No. 3 Squadron South African Air Force at Addis Ababa, Ethiopia 9 June 1941 after rejoining his unit as “A” Flight commander following an attack of appendicitis. By the time this image was captured, he already had four Fiat CR.42 fighters of the Regia Aeronautica Italiana to his credit, for which he earned the Distinguished Flying Cross. Note the “Semper Pugnans” (Always Fighting) boxing wasp insignia on the cowling of his fighter, and its closely arranged port wing quartet of .303 Brownings.

Photo by Clements (Lt), No 1 Army Film & Photographic Section Army Film & Photographic Unit, via IWM E 3410 https://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205211980

Frost was the most successful fighter pilot in the SAAF. Having joined up in 1936, after a stint as an instructor he was posted to No. 1 Squadron SAAF in 1939 before making his way to the newly formed No. 3 Squadron the next year for combat in East Africa.

Soon after this image was snapped, he was given command of No. 5 Squadron SAAF, flying P-40 Kittyhawks. Earning at least 16 confirmed victories in his short career, he was killed 80 years ago today while escorting bombers over the El Adem area on 16 June 1942.

He was one month shy of his 24th birthday. 

As noted by SA Military History

On 16 June, whilst escorting Douglas Bostons, Frost and other P-40 pilots encountered Bf 109s from Jagdgeschwader 27 near Bir Hakeim, Egypt. Rod Hojem, one of the South African pilots involved in this combat commented:

“There was one hell of a dogfight, and after it was over I can clearly remember Jack calling up the squadron on the R/T, he said “Form up chaps I am heading North”, and that was the last we heard of him.”

Frost’s aircraft and remains have never been found, and his fate remains unclear. Some sources suggest that Frost fell victim to one of the most prominent German aces, Hans-Joachim Marseille scored six of his 158 victories that same day.

Remember Today

It isn’t about the 1,000 sales emails you get this weekend.

“So Many Graves” Arlington National Cemetery, 1995, by Army Artist Sieger Hartgers

 
 
When tomorrow starts without me
And I’m not here to see
If the sun should rise and find your eyes
All filled with tears for me
 
I wish you wouldn’t cry
The Way you did today
While thinking of the many things
We did not get to say
 
I know how much you love me
As much as I love you
Each time that you think of me
I know you will miss me too
 
When tomorrow starts with out me
Please try to understand
That an angel came and called my name
And took me by the hand
 
The angel said my place was ready
In heaven far above
And That I would have to leave behind
All those I Dearly Love
 
But When I walked through Heaven’s Gates
I felt so much at home
When GOD looked down and smiled at me
From his golden throne
 
He said This Is Eternity
And All I promised you
Today for life on earth is done
But Here it starts a new
 
I promise no tomorrow
For today will always last
And Since each day’s the exact same way
There is no longing for the past
 
So When Tomorrow starts without me
Do not think we’re apart
For every time you think of me
Remember I’m right here in your heart
 
Author: David M Romano
 
 

A brutal season, 80 years ago today

There are dozens of photos taken by the assembled escorts of the stricken aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2) as she underwent her death throes on the morning of 8 May 1942 during the Battle of the Coral Sea, but this one– probably the great explosion from the detonation of torpedo warheads stowed in the starboard side of the hangar at 1727 hrs– always caught my attention.

USS Lexington explodes while being scuttled following the Battle of the Coral Sea, 8 May 1942

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-16651

In the above photo, the smaller carrier, USS Yorktown (CV-5), can be seen on the horizon in the left-center, while the destroyer USS Hammann (DD-412) is at the extreme left.

To further punctuate the viciousness of the first year of the Pacific War, both Yorktown and Hammann, a Sims-class destroyer, would be lost in the same torpedo salvo at Midway less than a month after this image was taken. Likewise, Hammann‘s class-leader, Sims (DD-409) was sunk at the Coral Sea the day before Lexington was lost.

Before 1942 was over, Yorktown‘s sistership, Hornet (CV-7) would also rest on the bottom of the Pacific as would two other Sims-class tin cans, Walke (DD-416) and O’Brien (DD-415). In 1943, the tide turned, but there would still be years of hard effort to go.

Speaking of the Coral Sea, check out this great NHHC graphic that was just released.

The Sullivans: The Pumps are on and She is Looking Better

We’ve covered the porous hull saga of the USS The Sullivans several times in the past couple of years and the latest is (a modest) improvement.

First, the flooding is at least being controlled and the ship is slowly dewatering after several hull patches have been applied. Her list is slowly correcting.

Next, a lot of irreplaceable relics– that did not get harmed– have been removed and safely stored ashore.

“At least 40 key artifacts have been removed safely from the ship completely unharmed, including a scale model of the ship, pictures of the Sullivan brothers, artifacts from the Sullivan family church in Waterloo, Iowa, historic flags, and the Sullivan family tree.”

The latest video update is below.

« Older Entries