In memoriam of Roy Leon Edwards.
July 10, 1923 - January 5, 2002
March 26, 2002, marks the 59th anniversary of the Battle of the Komandorski
Islands, part of the Aleutian Island chain very near what was once the
Soviet Union. The U.S.S. Salt Lake City -or the "Swayback Maru" as the ship
was known- was heavily involved in a running battle with a Japanese naval
task force that was 10 ship strong. The Salt Lake received six hits, and was
"dead in the water" for eight long minutes.
The Komandorski Battle is not one of the "memorable" battles of the Pacific
Theater of Operations in World War II, however there were no unimportant
battles in that Great War, and the Salt Lake played an integral role in most
of the enemy engagements in the Pacific.
From Pearl Harbor, to Wotje, to Wake, to Guadalcanal, to Savo, to
Komandorski, to Kiska, to Tarawa, to Apemmama, to Taroa, to Saipan, to Iwo
Jima, the Salt Lake made its presence felt and contributed its share. The
men who served in it referred to it as the "one ship fleet".
From February 13, 1941 to September 19, 1945, the U.S.S. Salt Lake City was
the home of one Roy Leon Edwards then known as Roy Leon DeFluiter. A slight
and lean blue eyed hero with a ruddy complexion and the quintessential navy
tattoos depicting the word "Mother" on one deltoid and "United States Navy"
on the other.
He held the ratings of Apprentice Seaman, Seaman Second Class, Seaman First
Class, and finally a Coxswain. He was never a high ranking officer, and to
the best of my knowledge he was never decorated, though the resolve and
bravery with which he served his country can never be questioned.
He was merely seventeen when he enlisted in the war effort, and stayed with
his ship practically from the beginning to the end of its operations in
World War II. Upon receiving an honorable discharge, and a check for
$178.38 -based on a monthly salary of $81.90- (plus 5 cents per mile from
Seattle -his port of disembarkation- to Reno his hometown), he took the next
train to San Francisco, where he accepted the first job that was offered to
him: that of bicycle messenger for Western Union.
The thought of such heroes walking the streets, performing seemingly mundane
tasks immediately after the war is baffling to our present and privileged
generation, yet such was life and reality in post war America.
It was this quiet excellence which remarked the remainder of his life, and
he approached everything since with the resolve and integrity he learned
during his years in the service. For everyone he had always a smile, a kind
word, deference and respect. Late into the twilight of his life he had the
grip of a bear, a lion's heart, and that twinkle in his eye which often
signaled his frequent paroxysms of laughter. He loved to laugh perhaps more
than anything else.
He was a father and a fisherman. An excellent machinist and a football fan.
He loved Denver, Reno, Los Angeles, and America. Most of all he loved to
love my mother, and he loved to say "I love you" each and every time I saw
He was ever grateful, and would be most uncomfortable with so much time
being spent praising him and eulogizing him. He never really talked about
the war, but he did talk a lot about his time serving his ship. His
experiences in Brisbane, Australia, or Wellington, New Zealand, or any of
the exotic ports of call he was privileged to visit. I think he was
grateful for the war, for the service to his country, for the experiences he
lived. Miraculously, he was spared all injury save some loss of hearing
from being on the ship's deck during combat.
Although fortune eluded him, he always felt fortunate. Gratitude was his
greatest virtue, and a wealth of gratitude has been released upon his
passing. Were he here to speak to you today, I'm sure he wouldn't have more
to say except "thank you".
On behalf of my father Roy Leon Edwards I thank you. You were all most
important to him.
God bless Roy Leon Edwards.
God bless our family and friends.
God bless our nation.
Let us rejoice and be thankful.
Fernando Edwards Carcamo.
Son of Roy Leon Edwards formerly known as Roy Leon DeFluiter.