USS SLC...Officer...Swift C. Barnes, LT.
I was delighted to receive your letter concerning the SLC. Yes, I was aboard the SLC from Feb. 22nd, 1942 until March of 1943.
Our first engagement was the bombardment of Wake and Marcus Islands. In March [April] we escorted the HORNET with Jimmy Doolittle on their attack on Tokyo.
In April we just missed the Coral Sea Action. We were assigned along with the SAN FRANCISCO (I think) and half dozen destroyers to occasional sweeps up into the Coral Sea. We were based in Brisbane.
In early August we escorted the 1st Marine Division from New Zealand to Fiji where they made a trial landing.
Shortly after that we were assigned to the WASP task force. We were with the WASP when she was torpedoed and lost. I was playing acey-duecy in the wardroom when the first torpedo when off, taking out a well deck. I saw and heard the subsequent torpedo hits. We took aboard many of the WASP crew, some horribly burned.
We then joined a task group along with the SAN FRANCISCO, BOISE and HELENA. After the Guadalcanal landings, our group stood by to intercept Japanese ships coming to reinforce Guadalcanal. On Oct. 10th, word was received that a Japanese force was heading to Guadalcanal and we steamed up to it. Just opposite Cape Esperance we launched one of our planes. A few hundred yards after the launch, the plane burst into flames and crashed into the sea. It seemed a bad omen, but apparently the Japanese never saw it. The two men on the plane survived the crash, got into their rubber raft and finally got around to the area then occupied by our Marines. [See Two Men on a Raft]
My battle station at the time was Spot II for the 8" guns. I was located on the aft tower. Because Spot I, (Lt. Lyle Ramsey, a superb officer) was never a casualty, I was not required to take over, but I had a front line visual of the battle.....WILD! Our Captain Earnest G. Small did an excellent job.
After the battle we returned to Esparito Santo. On the way we buried the several men killed. The BOISE, in line ahead of us lost many men. It took hours to bury all of them. The most emotional moment for me was as we were returning to Esparito Santo, after the battle, we passed by the USS SAN FRANCISCO and her crew was lining the deck and they gave us three cheers as we passed by.
After that we returned to Pearl Harbor for repairs.
To regress just a moment, I must say that the most emotional moment for me was as we returned to Esperato Santos. After out battle we passed close to the USS San Francisco. Her crew was lining the deck and they gave us three cheers as we passed their ship. The USS SAN FRANCISCO went down only a month later with terrible loss of life.