About the Ship

The USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE 413) was launched by the U.S. Navy on January 20, 1944, commissioned on April 28, 1944, and sunk by the Imperial Japanese Navy in the Battle off Samar on October 25, 1944. Why would a destroyer escort that existed for less than one year merit a web site? Read on.

Though our crew had only six months in 1944 to get to know one another, we formed bonds that exist today. These bonds will continue, long beyond the time that the last survivor has gone on to join those crew members who were killed when our ship was sunk, so many years ago. Children and other family members have formed strong friendships which will endure.

In addition to the families of the original crew, there exists another family involved with the SAMUEL B. ROBERTS. This is the family of officers and men who have served on the namesakes of the DE 413: the destroyer SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DD 823), and the fast frigate, SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG 58). Additionally, let us not forget the fast frigate, USS COPELAND (FFG 25), named after our Captain, Robert W. Copeland, and the fast frigate USS CARR (FFG 52), named after our heroic Gunners Mate, Paul Henry Carr.

You will have to search the history books to come up with a heritage such as that of the Sammy B, as our ship has come to be known. We were a crew of teenagers on a ship of which we were immensely proud. As we sailed, we were still making friends, playing together, working together, sharing those pictures and letters from home, and wondering what the future might hold.

On October 25, 1944, we discovered abruptly what fate had in store for us. We were suddenly in mortal combat with our enemy, the Japanese. We fought well and died not so well, but drove off the enemy against unbelievable odds.

What follows is our story. We hope that through this website neither we, nor our comrades who went on before us, will be forgotten.

Read on.

[Introduction by Survivor Dick Rohde, RADM 3]

55 Responses to About the Ship

  1. Gandalf_10001@yahoo.com

    John … I really enjoyed your book … My dad served on the De413.. your book told the personal story of the people on board not just t a recap of a naval battle. As such, I found it a the most effective depiction of something that was in the big picture a very historic event, but in the smaller context an important demonstration of ordinary men rising to the extraordinary, Thank you so much for telling a well known story in such a particular, and I hope appreciated , fashion.

    Shawn Stevenson

  2. Contact his daughter, Sue Hartley, in Long view, WA

  3. My uncle Yeoman Anthony Blaszczyk served on the Samuel B. Roberts.

  4. I’ve done some research on S2nd Class John J Paone. John liv3ed one block away from me in North Phila on 3000 N. 23rd St.
    John is listed on a plaque with his name inscribed and he was KIA on October 25, 1944 . He is also listed on the Tablet of Honor Manila American Cem Ft. Bonifacio, Manila, Philippines.
    I can be reached at avasso@aol.com.
    Jack Yusan mentioned John during the broadcast of WWII In HD as being his very good friend and how he was killed. I do have a couple of pictures of the Tablet of Honor that was atken by my Daughter-in-law on a visit to the cemetery.

  5. I believe my uncle was on the Roberts during the Battle of Leyte Gulf…. Ralph Natali……. does anyone know him or can confirm this

  6. CDR Darcy Guyant, USCG (ret)

    As I was reading “For Crew and Country” I realized there is a Coast Guard/Navy connection with Samuel B. Roberts, name sake of DE-413, and Petty Officer Douglas Munro, the ONLY US Coast Guard member in history to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Both men died on the same day, 27 September 1942, during the same evacuation operation of US Marines trapped on a beachhead on Guadalcanal. Both Roberts and Munro guided their Higgins Boats to protect the Marines as they were evacuated. Both men performed heroically, died from wounds suffered during this operation and have ships bearing their names to remember their sacrifice.

  7. CDR Darcy Guyant, USCG (ret)

    Does anyone know where RADM Copeland is buried? I know he died in Tacoma, WA in 1973, but my internet research has not turned up the cemetery where he is buried. I live near Tacoma and would like to visit his grave site at some point.

  8. I was on the USS Remey, DD-688, Fletcher Class. We were dispatched to Tacloban, Leyte to help the town celebrate the 4th of July, (1954, their and our Independence Day is the same date.) Operated off of Korea and China. I just finished the book, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors. Going over the Straits again in the book brought back memories. The only thing I’m sorry about is that I was 10 years too young to be there with you guys.
    Best Wishes,
    Norbert Tanguay

  9. My father was a survivor from the Sammy B! He was in battle on my 2nd birthday, Oct 20 1944! My father’s name was Archie Wallace Killough. He wrote an account of the battle which is on my website. Military Pride
    http://www.killoughnc.org

  10. I served on two tin cans . The USS EVANS (DE1023) and the USS BRIDGET(DE1024). I just finished reading”FOR CREW AND COUNTRY”. The history of this ship made me feel like a wimp when I gripped about 60′ sea states, 47 degree rolls and three section watches. Thank GOD for USS Samuel B. Roberts Brave Souls

  11. Wow. I just ran across this again. My email is shawntiller@hotmail.com. I have absolutely no information in Jackson McCaskill but would love to find out anything at all about him. @ rohdec12: my mother was Jackson’s oldest child which makes him my maternal grandfather. But, as it is, I don’t know who you are either.

  12. John, Did you ever get a list of serviors on theUSS SAmual B Roberts. I found out my father Lewis K. Meaney had a Destroyer sunk under him but don’t know which one, he never talked abou it. any help in this matter would be appreciated. thank you R K Meaney.

  13. Randy Watkins

    I served in USS Loeser (DE-680), a Buckley class DE, when she was a reserve training ship in Norfolk, VA back in the 60′s and later on USS Henley (DD-762) a Sumner class destroyer.

    I’m now reading “For Crew and Country” about the “Sammy B”. What a ship and what a crew.

  14. Larry Chalkley

    Looking for information on John Chalkley who was a crewman on the USS Samuel B. Roberts. He was in the battle for Leyte Gulf in October 1944, when the ship was sunk. He survived the sinking, but has since passed on.

    I am asking for this information on behalf of my father, age 80. John was his first cousin. Do you have a physical address where dad could write to for more information?

  15. Adrienne Pohrte

    I am a baby boomer who has always been interested in WWII as my family members served. In the 60′s I read of the USS Gambier Bay and was moved at the actions of the men and the horrors they endured. I just read The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors. This book brought the action to life as never before, especially to a non-swimming reluctant sailboat mate.

    Thank you for revisiting your stories and making them last in your association. I hope that it has been an easing of the burden of memory to allow Americans to read in absolute awe of your men and your ships. I also hope that your meetings are enriching and beneficial.

    God bless you and bring only the good memories.

    With respect, and with thanks for the opportunity of allowing me to express my thanks to you for your actions person-to-person.

    Adrienne Pohrte

  16. Willard G. Brown, Jr.

    What happened to Steward Freddie L. Washington?

    • I don’t believe Freddie ever made it to a reunion. My recollection is that efforts to find him failed. I think there’s information about that in the Copeland book.

  17. Bill Ferdinand

    I, like many before, after recently reading about Taffy 3 and the “Tin Can Sailors”, can only wonder at the incredible heroic performance by a dedicated group of Americans! Your actions and the sacrifices you made, fill me with astonishment and inspiration. It has allowed later generations of Americans such as myself, to be filled with gratitude for protecting this great land of ours. Thank you so very much and may God bless.

  18. I never get tired of the story of the Sammy B and the Taffy 3 unit sailors fighting like lions against a 23 ship task force of Imperial Navy cruisers, battleships and destroyers. Like the boxer that keeps getting up after a knockdown and keeps fighting, Taffy 3 eventually scared off Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita and his dreadnaughts (saving MacArthur’s landing force from possible destruction) .

    My utmost respect to the men that gave their lives and all of those that showed uncommon valor and bravery under the most harrowing of conditions. We’ll never forget this– I’ll make sure of this by passing the history on.

    This is high praise coming from an ex “bubblehead” too!

  19. The experiences of these men indescribable with mere words. Thank you to all the men. I wish I had the autograph of at least one of these heroes!!

  20. Theodore Gillmann

    Oops, embarrassing. Well, second guess is the guy who didn’t go thru hazing and regretted it. :)

  21. Theodore Gillmann

    Who is alive today and are there still meetings? This is one of the all-time greatest stories ever told. I would like to see James Cameron make a film of this. What a movie this would make.

    I read “Tin Can Sailors” and am now reading “The Spirit of Sammy B.” I am fairly convinced I was Lloyd Gurnett in my last life. While in meditation, I attended someone freezing to death in a compartment in a sunken ship.

    Everyone else was dead, “burned but not by fire.” Ten years later, while dying of a brain tumor (now removed) I find this story. It fits a lot of things from my entire life, and anyway if Cameron got in his little supersub and found the Sammy B, he is going to find Lloyd in a compartment near where the boiler blew up. That much I am confident of. That he was me is more of an informed guess, but fits with me here and now.

    • I did find a posting where there is a film in the works, with a shooting date to start sometime in 2013.
      http://www.navyhistory.org/2011/12/battle-off-samar-film/

      John Helsley
      USS Hoel DDG-13
      BM3, 69-73

      • Don’t know about the movie you mention, but there is an episode in History Channel series Dogfights, Season 1, episode 08: Death of the Japanese Navy (12/29/06): The Leyte Gulf attack on Taffy 3, and the counterattack of destroyers, destroyer escorts and escort carriers against an armored main battle force in the Battle off Samar. Despite lacking suitable armament except for torpedoes, destroyers with carrier air support inflicted enough damage and confusion to send the Japanese force back without it accomplishing its primary goal. The episode also covers Operation Ten-Go, the last major Japanese naval operation in the Pacific campaign of World War II, and the sinking of the Japanese battleship Yamato.

        I’m currently listening to Hornfischer’ book Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors, about the Battle of Samar. My father was a US Navy Lt jg in the Pacific. I believe he did repair on Navy plane.

  22. I believe my uncle, Rudy Skau was on the Sammy B. Does anyone know him? He died many years ago but I grew up hearing the stories of the hours he spent in the water.
    Thanks to all of you heros, our Country is safe today.
    Blessings to you all,
    Jeannie

  23. I was hopeing to get some information on my grandfather mm1or2 lewis meaney he was in your task force an was told his destroyer went down out there also.I have tried to get help from the navy an the only thing we got back was that he was on the hospital ship mercy after word.thank you GMG1 scott meaney ret.

  24. I have heard over the years about the battle and valor of the destroyers
    Off samar in
    ww2 and what you went threw.i dont know what to say but
    THANK YOU for what you did and the courage you showed for all of us americans.i wish i could shake you hand and thank all of you.
    But all i can say is god bless you and your sacrifice is and allways
    Will be remembered…mike

  25. I just finished reading “The Last of the Tin Can Sailors” and was astounded by what all you guys went through. I served in the Navy from 1963 to 1967 and was on a survey ship working up and down the coast of VietNam and had some interesting experiences, but nothing like what you guys had to face. My hat is off to you completely.

    -Larry Riehn June 13, 2012

    • I am about 2/3 of the way through “The Last of the Tin Can Sailors”. You are right, our life aboard ship was nothing in comparison. I served for 4 years on the USS Hoel DDG-13. We NEVER forgot our brothers that passed before us. Any time that we would pass over the spot where the Hoel DD-533 was sunk, we would “all engines stop”, and remember. All the ships that were there had brave men.

      John Helsley
      BM3, 69-73

      • Also I must note that one of my shipmates on the Hoel DDG-13 went to the last reunion just recently for the Johnston/Hoel survivors. Only a few are left now. He got me the book, and had it signed by half dozen of the remaining survivors.

  26. Frank A. Pelaggi

    Sirs…I viewed “WW2in HD” and the comments make by Jack Yusen about the Samuel B. Roberts sinking in 1944. At that time, I was a child of 2, safely at home in my mother’s arms while these brave men endured the unedurable. They went in my place. What strikes me is how many of our fellow citizens take our beautiful country for granted and have no understanding or appreciation for those who went before us to answer the call of duty. I am now 70 and often think about how fortunate we are to be Americans, to be citizens of the greatest country on earth. Not in an arrogant manner but to understand that we are truly blessed to be in America. I thank you and my grandchildren thank you. Frank A. Pelaggi, Bethlehem, PA

  27. Your bravery and sacrafice will be remembered as long as there are sailors who put to sea and defend this great nation. I am a Tin Can Sailor from the VietNam era and can well identify with your shipmates. Thank God I never was put in the position you were but all, to a man, of those I served with were willing to put ourselves in harms way. Thank you for your service.

  28. EM2 Bradley Carlson

    To the brave crew of DE-413, I offer my thanks. You men are heroes. I was a tin can sailor and saw a little action, but nothing in the same league as what you faced. I would say that few sailors have. You stood with your captain as he set a course into the teeth of 14” guns, and turned back the enemy against impossible odds. You fought your ship beyond its capability. It’s a story that will still be told long after all of us are gone. Well done.

  29. God bless all the brave men of the Sammy B (DE-413) and Taffy 3. I am a retired Chief Petty Officer having served aboard three ships, the last one USS Aylwin (FF-1081) homeported in Newport, RI, on the same pier as the newest Sammy B (FFG-58). I wish I knew then what I know now about the original Sammy B. Since then, I’ve read quite a bit on the Battle of Sumar and Taffy 3 especially “The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.” This former tin can sailor thanks all of you brave men for your service. You are truly the Greatest Generation!

  30. I too have read “the Last stand of the Tin Can Sailors” along with other numerous books and magazine articles about naval combat in WWII. I can honestly say that battle off Samar has to be one of the most heroic acts of bravery by the US Navy. The odds were incredible. I salute all the men of DE-413 and Taffy 3. I am truly thankful for their service and sacrifice. May God bless them!

  31. I just finished reading “The Last Stand of the Tin Cab Sailors” by James Hornfischer. What can any individual say? How can anyone stand up to what the crew of the Samuel B. Roberts went through and accomplished? I never served in the armed forces and as I read the book (and others) I’ve tried to imagine the unimaginable. The terror of that battle. The courage and sacrifice of every man on board. Horrible and uplifting at the same time. Magnificent but very, very sad. These men paid a more than ultimate price for what they did. Hopefully all will have eternal peace and the thanks of a forever grateful nation.

    • Thank you for the comment. This webmaster recently visited amazon.com and learned that the #1 helpful positive review was from my father, Dick Rohde, who passed away in 2009. I didn’t know that he had written the review. He was always humbled by those who served and were not as fortunate as he to survive the battle.

  32. I served on the Samuel B Roberts from May 1961 thru April of 1964. [Ed. note: presumably a reference to the Samuel B. Roberts, DD-823] Would love to hear from any shipmates who servered at this time. Roger

  33. David Gayton lilbigman76@yahoo.com
    Dec 7, 2011

    Shipmates,
    My name is MM1(SW/AW)Dave Gayton and I am an Machinist Mate in our Navy. I take this time on the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack to let you all know I THANK YOU for your sacrifice for our freedoms. Without YOU I couldn’t see my little girl’s smile everyday and when I put on this uniform I honor those who have fallen! I thank DE 413 for their unwaivering courage during the Battle off Samar Oct 1944. I will never forget it or you shipmates.

    Very Respectfully
    MM1(SW/AW)Dave Gayton

  34. Honored to read the warm words of so many on this site. My Dad, Peter Mihos served on the Beatty and the Tweedy in both WWII and Korea. His memories of his time serving were something I always looked forward to hearing. God Bless All Patriots Who Served Our Country. Christy

  35. Hi.I ever was in the military.I just have a ball cap-a navy cap with Samuel B Roberts FFG 58 o n it and I was wondering if anyone wanted it-free including shipping.I decided that I am not going to keep it for my collection.I bought it at our church yard sale.If you would like to see a picture of it I posted it on my facebook page.Thanks y’all and God bless.

  36. Having just finished reading “the Last stand of the Tin Can Sailors”, I have a far deeper understanding and respect for all US Navy’s Greatest Generation. Thank you and may you always have fair winds and following seas and may long your big jib draw.

  37. I am writing regarding my father Francis Dickson. He is now 85 years old and suffering from advanced dementia. When he was younger he told us of his destroyer being sunk in the Philippines in 1944. He told us of floating at sea for several days and of being picked up by a ship. He had shrapnel wounds in his knee and suffered from malaria. He was not one to speak of the war often.

    I contacted the records office in St. Louis many years ago to obtain his service records. There is no listing of where he was serving during the 1944-1945 time period.

    While cleaning out my parent’s house after my mother’s death recently, I came across a newspaper clipping from November 1944 entitled “survivor” and accounting the events as described above, but no ship’s name is listed in the article.

    I recently found your site and I have looked at the list of survivors of the USS Samuel Roberts to see if his name is on the list. It is not. I have also contacted the Hoel and Johnston Association. He is not on their lists either.

    Can you tell me if this is a complete list of survivors and where I might be able to find information regarding what ship he may have been on?

    Thank you for any information you can provide.

    Sincerely,

    Linda Congdon

  38. Evie Jones Burchett

    I am trying to find out if Hershel Jones was on this ship. He survived a shipwreck that I believe was the USS Samuel B. Roberts DE 413. Can you help me in any way? Thank You

  39. Sgt. William J. Phillips Jr

    Hello,
    My wifes grandfather was a crewman on the Sammy B. S 2/C John J. Paone MIA. My wifes family only has three picture of John and I was hoping to find some of him for them. If anyone remembers John or has any pictures of him the family would greatly appreciate it. I was also hoping to but a display together for my father in law and was wondering if anyone knew what awards he would have recieved had he survived. Thank you for any help.

  40. Thank you for your service.
    I had the honor to meet Mr Whitney Felt but never found out much about his service on the Sammy B until after his passing. A great American that served upon a mighty ship.

  41. I am a plank owner of the USS Copeland (FFG-25) and trying to get a reunion together for her. Some of the crew suggests that we have a combined greeting with USS Carr, USS Samuel B. Roberts. Is there a point of contact for either the Carr or Roberts that I can contact. Thanks Rm1 Humphrey.

  42. David Bergman

    My father Frank S Bergman served on Destroyer Escorts during the same time period, I was wondering if any survivors of the D-E 413remmember serving with him. I’m not sure what ships he was on, But I do know two or more of them were lost in action. He was from Pittsburgh Pa and past away in 1966. If any one knows of serving with him, and on what ships he was on,I would like any information you can share. Thank you

  43. I was wondering if there is a crews list anywhere of the Sammie B?
    My fiancée’s father was on two different ships in WWII that were sunk while he was aboard them, He never spoke of either and has passed in the last few years, I am trying to help her find either ship, His name was” J. Poston”

  44. I have read “The Last of the Tin Can Sailors” by James Hornfischer. This afternoon I was watching “WW II in HD” and the Roberts is in this show. I heard Jack Yusel talk about the Roberts.

    My father was a paratrooper inWWII. When it came my time to serve, my father would not let me go. I regret not serving my country but do appreciate the sacrifices all of you have made. I have had a good life as I was lucky to meet and marry the girl of my dreams. We recently had our 37th anniversary. The service I still do is voluntering in the Boy Scouts of America. I am one of the persons who sign off on a Scout becoming an Eagle Scout. I feel every time we have a new Eagle Scout, the world is a better place. Thanks to all of you for what you have done.

  45. peter j benedict

    I was a friend of Don Young SC2. He was an old timer in AA when I first met him at a meeting. Both Don and his wife Gin,interesting name for a wife of an alky, are gone now. He was my sponsor in AA and we were doing step work on my divorce when he said I need to talk to you about my WWII experience. I was a carrier sailor for Vietnam. He had put his Sammy B experience behind him, but his boys got him a picture of the ship for Christmas and all of the PTSD stuff came back to him and he needed to talk. That was 1996 and I have forgotten some of what he said, but I do remember saying that the Japanese put pastel dyes in their shells, so that they could tell what ship had sunk what. He floated around in the Pacific for two days before they were rescured. The steel on the Sammy B was so thin that the Japanese shells did not explode when they passed through the ship. They just punched holes in the boat, Don remember the ship being lifted out of the water by 3 to 5 feet when the shells hit. Thats all I remember about his experience. We all miss him at the Thursday Night meeting in Los Alamos, CA

  46. I am writing b/c my grandfather was a survivor of this ship. He passed away a little over 2 years ago and have recently come across some of his possessions from the Navy. Looking for info., photos, etc. Thanks!

  47. my father servered on the samual roberts 413.he was burned pretty bad from the oil/fuel in the water,he always spoke kindly of the men he servered with.he was a proud sailor,an never spoke much about their ordeal.god bless the men of ww11,a generation not soon forgotten.

  48. Tom Williams

    Dear Survivors:

    I just wanted to drop a note to say thanks. I think of you every time I hear the National Anthem.

    Tom Williams

  49. Shawn Horne McKelvey

    I just wanted to drop a line here. I’m not sure if I have the right sight. I think my grandfather served on this ship. His name was Jackson McCaskill. I never knew him and only saw him once before he died.
    I was just online researching his name so I could try and find out anything about him.

    • Shawn:

      I am a WWII historian writing a book about the Samuel B. Roberts. I would like to chat with you about your grandfather, as I am very interested in obtaining whatever information I can about him and his shipmates. Jackson was quite a heroic individual from what I can gather. E-mail me if you receive this.

      Thanks,
      John

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