U.S.S. SLC...USN...Luther C. Barkley, S1c
Luther C. Barkley passed away on March 4th, 2013 at the age of 90. Information from his daughter Cathy Leach.
July 26, 2013
From daughter Cathy Leach
My dad, Luther C. Barkley, seldom talked about his navy experiences when I was a child. Yet, as he approached his 80's and then his 90's, it was the topic he talked the most about. He really enjoyed "show and tell" with his blue USS Salt Lake City Navy book, even though his name had been omitted from the list of crew members when it was printed many years ago. He liked to engage his grandchildren, children, friends, caretakers, or anyone else he could snare into conversation about his Navy days. This is the story I recorded one day when he (at age 87) was reminiscing.
I (Luther) volunteered for the Navy when I was 20 years old after getting a "Congratulations Letter" from the Army. I did not want to dig fox holes for the Army. I rode a bus from Collinsville to Birmingham, AL. by myself. I was sworn into the Navy in Birmingham on September 30th, 1942. Then I rode a bus from Birmingham to San Diego, CA. for Boot Camp. It took us 5-6 days to get there. It was the first time I had been out of the state of Alabama except one trip to Chattanooga, TN. to visit my brother. I rode the troop transport ship "Henderson" from Treasure Island, CA. to Pearl Harbor. It took 8 days and I got very sea sick.
I boarded the USS Salt Lake City on November 1st, 1942 at Pearl Harbor. I had 20/20 vision so I was assigned to L Division to be a lookout for enemy planes. I got to see the Pacific through a pair of binoculars. I even saw the flag raised on Iwo Jima when our ship was 500 yards from the beach.
The two scariest times were when our ship got hit by 8-inch shells in the Komandorski Islands and when the ship rolled coming into the Columbia River. After the ship was hit in the Komandorski Islands, it was sitting dead in the water and other ships made a smoke screen around the SLC to keep enemy ships from being able to target it. I was at the guns on the back deck in a life jacket standing by to abandon ship. Fortunately, I never had to abandon ship and the SLC limped back to the states for repairs. The other scariest time was when the Salt Lake City rolled 47 degrees entering the Columbia River during a storm coming home. If it had rolled 55 degrees it would have rolled completely over! Definitely not a good way to end my service in the Navy.
I was discharged with the rank of Seaman 1st Class on December 20th, 1945. I spent 3 years, 2 months, and 21 days in the Navy. Bening in the Navy made me want to travel.
After the war my dad returned to his home town of Collinsville, AL. and married his sweetheart on April 6th, 1946. They had 2 children and 4 grandchildren and later resided in Gadsden, AL. where he taught Air Conditioning and Refrigeration at Alabama Technical College until he retired in 1984. He enjoyed traveling and camping across the US with his family until his 80's. He was proud of his service to his country and died at the age of 90 on March 4th, 2013.
SLC Deck Logs Dec. 1942