“The galloping Ghost of the Java Coast


Howard E Brooks




Born 10.30.1919 joined the US Navy September 11th 1939, boot camp: Norfolk VA.

On board the USS Pyro, an ammo ship, went to west coast.  On board the USS Portland, CA33, went to Hawaii, Pearl Harbor. At Pearl Harbor permanent assignment to USS Houston, CA30, early 1940, Captain of the ship was Jessie Oldendorf.

Went to Philippines, Manila and relieved USS Augusta, CA31. Captain A.H. Rooks became Captain of USS Houston. I was assigned to Second Division, our territory was Quarter Deck. My battle station was Trainer in Turret number two. Because of my frequent requests and refusals to be transferred to E Division, Lt Commander Gingras (ship senior eng officer) advised me to start studying and take the exam for EM3/C. I did, and in late 1940 became EM3/c and was transferred to E Division. My battle station became “After Damage Control Party”. Our location during battle was on the 2nd deck and just forward, but immediately against, the number three turret.  


On February 4th when the first bomb that hit us knocked out number three turret, just a very short time before that bomb hit us, our damage party leader, J.B. Bienert ask for two electricians to go forward to a problem, Larry Wargowesky and I were asked to go. Of course we went. But while we were away the bomb hit the Turret. When we returned to the area we saw that the bomb explosion had killed all of the After Damage Control Party, except me and Larry.