1. On 4 August 1943, the Executive Officer and I were each presented with the Silver Star Medal, aboard the USS SLC, for our part in that vessel's action off the Komandorski Islands. Admiral Baker (CTC 16.6) read the citation and conducted the ceremony. I was deeply moved and am very grateful for the recognition accorded my efforts.
2. In his remarks, Admiral Baker said that the medals were to be taken in the name of the entire ship's company and that the USS SLC had made a good start toward the Presidential Unit Citation.
3. At the time, I would have been much happier had the ceremony included the ship, as a whole. Since then, I have covered the SLC's career many times in retrospect and it is my sincerely considered opinion that she is, at present, eminently qualified to receive the Presidential Unit Citation. This conclusion is based on a survey of her performance marked by sustained competence and instances of definite brilliancy.
4. The USS SLC is an itinerate cruiser. She has never carried a flag. She has served in many task forces under many task force commanders. There has been no one of high rank continuously associated with the ship, its missions or its capabilities. Consequently, the USS SLC has had no one to champion its continuously effective career. The Navy is so large today and its activities so far flung that it is entirely natural for this ship's part to be overlooked. In recognition of these facts, therefore, I feel obligated respectfully to invite attention to her chronology. Viewed continuously, her saga represents a uniform series of successful endeavors that indicate a combination of consistent ability and good fortune. The sum total of her performance is definitely outstanding.
5. It is my earnest belief that the Presidential Citation for the USS SLC is deserved and in substantiation I respectfully submit this summary of her record, without embellishment, as viewed by one who has served on her continuously since before hostilities began:
6. The USS SLC departed from Mare Island Navy Yard in February 1941 and proceeded to Pearl Harbor where routine operations were conducted until:
MISSION NUMBER I
The war began for the USS SLC on 16 July 1941.
16 July 1941 to 12 September 1941
Scene of Operation:
From Pearl Harbor, T.H. to Torres Straits to Brisbane, Australia to Port Moresby, New Guines to Rabaul, New Britain to Pearl Harbor, T.H.
USS NORTHAMPTON (Admiral Taffinder) & USS SLC CA25
(a) Convoy S. S. JAGERSFONTEIN from Pearl Harbor, T.H. to Torres Straits.
(b) Familiarization cruise to Australia, New Guinea and New Britain.
Successful - Delivered S. S. JAGERSFONTEIN to a Dutch Man O' War for further convoy from Torres Straits.
Cruise made under actual war conditions.
Eight weeks at sea; four days in Brisbane plus one afternoon in Port Moresby and one in Rabaul.
Continuous Condition III watches stood.
Ready ammunition up
Early discipline in censorship
The S. S. JAGERSFONTEIN transported volunteer pilots and planes for China which were much needed and used in defense of the Burma Road.
7. Return to Pearl from above cruise meant accelerated operating schedule in September to make up for events which could not be held while on MISSION NUMBER I.
8. MISSION NUMBER II
9. MISSION NUMBER III
28 November 1941 to 8 December 1941
Scene of Operation:
From Pearl Harbor, T.H. to Wake Island and back to Pearl
Task Force 8: - USS ENTERPRISE, CV6 (Admiral Halsey), USS NORTHAMPTON CA26, USS SALT LAKE CITY, USS CHESTER, CA27, USS CRAVEN DD382, ELLET DD398, (plus six (6) other DD's).
Escort USS ENTERPRISE to Wake to deliver 12 Crumman Fighter planes for defense of that Island.
Mission successfully completed - Planes flown off and delivery made. Task Force returned at high speed. The planes delivered were those which figured so prominently in the defense of Wake.
Immediately on leaving Pearl, ready ammunition was brought up, wartime cruising watches set and instructions given by the commanding officer, Captain Zacharias, to fire on any submarine sighted. Continued so until morning of 7 December when Japanese raid on Pearl was broadcast. Task Group was about 200 miles out of Pearl and immediately went to General Quarters and flank speed. ENTERPRISE launched planes for search. Remained at General quarters all day and searched for enemy. Planes of this force contacted Jap stragglers. In afternoon, the few ships which could steam out of Pearl joined our Task Force. Went into Pearl on 8 December to fuel.
Morale value to personnel at Pearl, on that day, in seeing our Task Force intact, organized and, fortunately afloat, cannot be overestimated.
10. MISSION NUMBER IV
9 December 1941 to 16 December 1941
Scene of Operation:
Shipping lanes off North and East of Oahu.
Task Force 8 - USS ENTERPRISE (Admiral Halsey), USS NORTHAMPTON, USS SALT LAKE CITY, USS CHESTER, USS BENHAM DD-397, USS MAURY DD401, USS FANNING DD385, USS BALCH DD363, USS GRIDLEY DD380, USS MCCALL DD400, and USS CRAVEN.
(a) Clear shipping lanes of submarines.
(b) Patrol against further Japanese attacks on Oahu and approaches to the US from that direction.
Mission successfully completed -
(a) Area made untenable for enemy submarines.
(b) No surface contacts made.
Recent diaries made available by ONI obtained from Japanese sources state:
(a) Submarines were active in vicinity of Oahu at that time.
(b) At least, one submarine carried a plane for observation.
(c) Presence of our patrols made enemy reluctant to surface.
(d) Damage was inflicted on more than one submarine by depth charges
When shipping was again resumed, no losses were inflicted by enemy submarines in that area.
11. MISSION NUMBER V
19 December 1941 to 31 December 1941
Scene of Operation:
Patrolled between 20 degrees N. and 30 degrees N. along 180th meridian
Task Force 8 -USS ENTERPRISE (Admiral Halsey), USS SALT LAKE CITY, USS CHESTER, CRAVEN, GRIDLEY, FANNING, BENHAM, ELLET and MCCALL.
Patrol, covering intended relief of Wake. Upon fall of Wake, shifted covering area to Northwest approaches to Midway to cover reinforcements of that Island.
Wake Fell. No enemy contacts. No losses suffered by forces covered.
This is the only mission involving the SLC about which there was an air of uncertainty.
12. MISSION NUMBER VI
11 January 1942 to 24 January 1942
Scene of Operation:
From Pearl Harbor, T. H. to within sight of Island of Savali, near Samoa.
Task Force 8 - USS ENTERPRISE (Admiral Halsey), USS NORTHAMPTON (Admiral Spruance), USS SALT LAKE CITY, USS CHESTER, USS SAN FRANCISCO CA38, USS CLARK, USS BLUE, USS RALPH TALBOT, USS LAMSON, USS DRAYTON, USS BALCH, USS CRAVEN, USS DUNLAP, USS FANNING, USS GRIDLEY, USS MAURY, USS MCCALL and USS PLATTE.
To cover the reinforcement of Samoa
Mission successfully completed - The first major US troop movement in the Pacific
Mission accomplished without incident.
24 January 1942 to 5 February 1942
Scene of Operation
North of Savil near Samoa through Japanese occupied Marshall Islands to Pearl Harbor, T.H.
Task Force 8 - USS ENTERPRISE (Admiral Halsey), USS NORTHAMPTION (Admiral Spruance), USS SALT LAKE CITY, USS CHESTER, DUNLAP, BALCH, CRAVEN, FANNING, GRIDLEY, and MAURY.
Task Group consisting of NORTHAMPTON, SALT LAKE CITY and DUNLAP specifically assigned to raid Wotje - Sinking ships encountered and reducing installations.
Ships damaged or sunk - "Four or five auxiliary or cargo vessels of 4,000 to 5,000 tons and three or four small 'bird' class".
Shore Installations - "The entire installation was apparently destroyed. This includes two hangars, fuel oil tanks, gasoline storage, warehouses, shops, and barracks. Two AA Batteries and all coastal defense guns were silenced or abandoned".
At Sea - on retirement, SALT LAKE CITY shot down one twin engine bomber and damaged another.
A subsequent dispatch reported that the Japanese sent a hospital ship to Wotje shortly after the raid.
(Quotations above are taken from ONI Combat narrative, "Early Raids in the Pacific Ocean")
This is the first offensive naval action of the war.
It was conducted in Japanese waters, in range of shore batteries and in the face of land based air forces of unknown strength.
The raid was carried out with no information concerning the enemy installations or strength. The officers and crew were carefully instructed, if taken prisoner, to give only name, rank or rate and number. In other words, anything could have happened and was anticipated.
The raid on Wotje was the most successful held in the Marshall-Gilbert activity, practically all damage being inflicted by the surface units involved.
The morale effect upon the navy and among the civilian population cannot be over estimated. It demonstrated that our Navy could stride offensively. It demonstrated the Japs could also be caught off guard. It restored the confidence of our people in their Navy.