Tag Archives: Samuel

Kenneth J. Swiggett, WIA

Ken Swiggett


This picture was taken around March or April 1945. Shipmate Don Young indicates that he believes the picture was taken in Oakland, California, while the men were at Treasure Island waiting for reassignment after survivors leave. The gentleman with Ken (on the left), Don believes, was either a friend of his family or a relative. Both Don and Kenney served on the Pine Island (AV-12) after serving on the Sammy B.

Jack Conway

Young Jack Conway

Patti Anne Johnson, Jack’s granddaughter, described this picture in a letter to Dick Rohde in June 1999:

Dear Mr. Rohde,

I thought I’d send this photo of my grandfather along so you can see who I am talking about. This photo was taken around 1936, his first time around in the Navy. I may be wrong, but I believe this was taken during his trip to China. His ship spent some two years in China and he has a full scrapbook of photos taken during that time. I have only seen it once, my grandmother treasures it and we aren’t really allowed to look at it. But last week I was given special permission to see it. He is around 18 or 19 here.

In 1944 he was about 27, an “old” man I’m sure. My grandpa gave this photo to my mother and she carried it around in her wallet for about 30 years. About two or so years ago she gave it to me. It is the only actual photo I have. I do have another photo of him taken just before he left for the war…. I don’t have that photo, but my mother has a copy of it. My grandmother let me take it for two hours a few months ago to scan it into our computer and my husband printed out a copy for my mom as a gift.

Some photographer in town offered free photos to all the men going off to war, so my grandparents went down and got one of him and one of the two together. They couldn’t afford to buy prints, so there is only one of each. I’ll send a copy along soon.

I looked up the Gismo, and was pleasantly surprised to see my grandpa listed- one of the fellows who went along with “Sea Daddy” Harrington to get a tattoo- he is referred to in the piece as “China” Conway. A probable reference to the above-mentioned China trip. It is in the third Gismo. My mom has a photo of her dad when he got older and he has a short-sleeve shirt on and a big Navy anchor on his bicep- guess Iknow where he got that from now!

Take care,
Patti Anne Johnson

Seaman James Gregory awarded Bronze Star

Seaman First Class
James A. Gregory
U.S. Naval Reserve



bronze star

The President of the United States takes pride in presenting

the BRONZE STAR MEDAL posthumously to



for service as set forth in the following


“For heroic achievement while serving on board the U.S.S. SAMUEL B. ROBERTS in action against enemy Japanese forces off Samar Island during the Second Battle of the Philippine Sea, October 25, 1944. Courageous and efficient despite continuous, close-range hostile fire, GREGORY assisted in loading a 5″/38 gun when the regular crew became physically exhausted during an attack by a numerically superior Japanese surface force on the SAMUEL B. ROBERTS. Despite battle damage which under ordinary circumstances would have rendered this mount inoperative, GREGORY assisted in maintaining an extremely high rate of fire and was instrumental in inflicting serious damage upon an enemy heavy cruiser. Carrying on valiantly under the most perilous conditions, he was fatally wounded when an explosion within the mount destroyed the gun. His unwavering devotion to duty reflects the highest credit upon GREGORY and the United States Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

For the President

James Forrestal
Secretary of the Navy

From the personal collection of Captain William A. Rogers, Jr., USN [per Robert Jon Cox BOSAMAR site]

DE 413 Ship’s Section Report

The following is presumed to be the official Navy information release about the ROBERTS, prepared soon after the ship was sunk.


Ship’s Section

Office of Public Information

Navy Department


Several direct hits by 8 and 14-inch salvos, scored by heavy Japanese ships, sunk the USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (DE 413) in the Battle for Leyte Gulf off Samar Island, bringing to an end her valiant slugfest with enemy vessels of superior power.

The ROBERTS dodged torpedoes, and threw punches of her own for fully 50 minutes before the superior numbers and armament of the enemy vessels sent her to the bottom on October 25, 1944.

The destroyer escort was part of a screening unit to protect a force of American aircraft carriers. When the enemy opened fire at 7 o’clock that morning, the ROBERTS immediately sought to protect her “flattops.” The first step was to lay a smoke screen and then, steaming under cover of her own screen, the ROBERTS approached within 4,000 yards of a Jap heavy cruiser, fired three torpedoes, and returned to the protection of the smoke. One of the torpedoes struck home and started fires in the enemy ship.

Keeping between the main enemy force and her own carriers, the ROBERTS settled back and turned all guns on a Japanese cruiser. One 5-inch gun fired more than 300 rounds of ammunition, all that was available, in 50 furious minutes, scoring at least 40 sure hits.

The rapid fire from this gun was halted when a Jap battleship found the range and blasted the gun out of action with a 14-inch s Six charges were rammed in by hand and fired, although the men knew that an explosion might result from each of them because the gas ejection system was not working.

The seventh round fired in this manner exploded and killed all but three members of the gun crew outright. The gun captain, Paul Henry Carr, Gunner’s Mate, Third Class, who was credited generously for the excellent performance there was wounded beside his mount, clutching the last 5-inch shell and struggling to ram the 50-pound projectile into the chamber. Upon the recommendation of his Commanding Officer, Carr was on March 1, 1945 awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.

In the next few minutes, the Japs kept sending successive salvos of major caliber projectiles into the foundering destroyer escort. The death blow was a three-gun battleship 14-inch salvo that hit in number 2 engine room, tearing a hole 40-feet long and 10-feet wide in the ship’s skin on the port side. Abandon ship was ordered.

Men abandoning the vessel to port launched a life raft on that side, but a breeze blew it into the gaping hole torn by the last salvo. Four men crawled into the aperture, embarked upon the raft, and with every ounce of strength at their command, pushed the raft against the tide of inrushing water and managed to get it outside of the rupture.

This was an important victory because the 120 men that survived had only two other rafts and two floater nets on which to cling until rescue was effected some 50 hours later.

The long ordeal at sea was marked by shark attacks and lack of water. Eighteen hours were spent in heavy, oil-covered waters and each man became so saturated with the sticky substance, that he was indistinguishable from the others. One individualist removed some oil-smeared clothes in order to ease his swimming but in so doing exposed the lower portion of his body which was still white, not being covered with oil. A shark was attracted, swam up to the naked survivor, and nudged the exposed portion. The man put his oily clothes back on with haste.

A PC (Patrol Craft), escorting a group of five LCI’s, came upon the group at the start of their third day. The ship’s commanding officer, fearing that some of the men might be dynamite-laden Jap suicide swimmers purposely smeared with oil, approached the survivors with guns manned and ready. He put them to a test by yelling, “Who won the World Series?” “The St. Louis Cardinals” the answer shot back.

The ROBERTS’ life lasted only six months. Built by the Brown Shipbuilding Company, Houston, Texas, the ship was commissioned on April 28, 1944. Lieutenant Commander R. W. Copeland, USNR, who had charge of the ship when it dodged shells at Samar, was the vessel’s commanding officer.

Mrs. Samuel B. Roberts, mother of the ship’s namesake, Samuel B. Roberts, Jr., Coxswain, USNR sponsored the vessel. Coxswain Roberts was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while serving on the crew of a landing craft that rescued stranded Marines from Guadalcanal under intense enemy fire.

The ROBERTS was a “long hull” type destroyer escort with geared turbine drive and five-inch guns. Other characteristics were: length, 306 feet; beam, 37 feet; full load displacement, 1700 tons.


Retyped from mimeographed report by Richard K. Rohde, 19 April 1999

Mine Struck Frigate Returned


FROM: Dubai, U.A.E.

CLIENT: American Sealift Command, Washington, U.S.A.

TO: Newport, Rhode Island, U.S.A.

PROJECT SUMMARY: Special recesses had been made in the deck of Mighty Servant 2 for accommodating the frigate’s protruding sonar dome and stabilizing fins. Due to tolerances of a mere few centimetres the loading operation took approx. 12 hours. Underwater, the positioning of the minestricken frigate Samual B. Roberts was carefully controlled by divers and by a video monitoring system. During the voyage Mighty Servant 2 served as a sailing dry dock as the frigate’s crew remained on board and conducted maintenance work.


VESSEL: Mighty Servant 2

CARGO PARTICULARS: Type frigate Weight 4,000 tons Length o.a. 125 metres Width 14.3 metres

LOAD-OUT OPERATION: Loading float-on Discharging float-off

TRANSIT TIME: 8,100 miles: 30 days [from http://www.dockwise.be/]