USS HOUSTON CA 30
“The galloping Ghost of the
was the only son of his parents, Erma and Paul. He was born in
On the USS Houston he was Store
Keeper, 3rd Class and knew everybody as he handed out the pay. After the
sinking of the USS Houston, he spent the next 3 1/2 years in Bicycle Camp and
then in Changi Gaol. He
never understood why he did not go to work on the Burma-Thai railway as he
would try to position himself in line so that he would get picked to go by the
camp guards. But that was not to be. Instead, he labored in
the end of WWII, he could not get home fast enough to see his mother and
father. He never forgot the sight of his mother as he walked up the sidewalk to
the front door. Telling that story always brought tears to his eyes. In
Pap, as he was known to everyone,
retired from the US Navy after 21 years as a Chief, in
Pap worked for Litton Manufacturing,
Joy Manufacturing and Denver Equipment before retiring. His retirement years were
spent in much joy with his precious wife and family, traveling the world and
enjoying his family. He and is love were
married for 58 years before he died on
Dad was a great story teller but did not like telling about the sinking of the USS Houston and the horrors of Changi. While he did not like to tell them when he talked to students he wanted them to know the terrible things about war, he wanted them to remember what their grandparents gave up for them, what they sacrificed for them. He wanted to instill in today's youth the understanding that Freedom is NOT free!
"I heard the order to abandon ship. It was both hard to leave her and yet I wanted off. She was my home and I grew to love her. When the time came, I jumped off her port side, close to the area of the plane catapult. When I came back up after jumping my first thought to find a raft and there it was, close to me. It was the raft for the airplane. I climbed in; little did I know I was climbing into a trap.
The raft was stuck to the sinking
I started swimming away from her. My last look before the
My vest was getting water logged so I looked for another raft and found one with my friend, Punchy Parham already in. After climbing in, I heaved a sigh of relief and we talked about what to do next. Suddenly, I knew. I yelled at all of the guys in the raft, "We have to get out of this raft, now.". They thought I had lost it. I yelled it again and jumped out, so did my buddy, the others did not. That was the last we saw of them for the Japanese were strafing every raft they could see as they flew over the survivors in the water. They even strafed some of our men they could see bobbing in the ocean.
I don't remember how long we floated but early in the morning we made it to the beach. All I can recall about that is fighting my way up away from the surf, laying down and then I slept for a long time. But that was just the start of the next 3 1/2 years of struggling to survive at the hands of the Japanese."