USS SLC Enlisted Navy...Robert M. Epperson, ARM1c
Oct. 6th, 2012
Just wanted to let you know that my grandfather Robert Max Epperson joined his
shipmates today, Oct. 5th, 2012 at 4:58pm PDT in Las Vegas NV. He passed away
peacefully and with loved ones by his side. He is survived by his loving wife
Joan Epperson, four sons Eric, Randy, Roger and James and countless grandchildren.
Just wanted to thank you again for your friendship and the USS Salt Lake City website.
Awarded the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS Award
for his Arial heroics flying observation in a Kingfisher for the USS SLC
during the invasion of Okinawa, Spring 1945.
April 11, 2000
Thanks for setting up the USS SLC Web-page. I'm a son of Robert M.
"Bob" Epperson...one of the Salt Lake City's aircrewmen that flew
backseat in an OS2U Kingfisher.
I have two poster size photos (see links to pictures below) of my dad
hanging on my office walls here at the Pentagon. The first poster is dad in flight
uniform talking to his pilot and a Marine Lieutenant. The photo was taken
off the coast of Iwo Jima the morning that the Marines went a shore. Dad
flew observation. The USS Salt Lake City was responsible for the naval
bombardment of the section of land between the two air fields on Iwo Jima.
Dad was directing the SLC's fire on Iwo Jima the first day. During the
first days of the bombardment the guy in the front seat (pilot) spotted
for the SLC and the guy in the back (Robert M. "Bob" Epperson) provided
fire support for one of the destroyers who didn't have any aircraft.
Marines were on the island, then they could radio the ship for Naval fire
support. When I asked how he could tell which shells were fired from which
ship, he replied," As we flew above the island, we just watched the
projectile leave the ship's guns and followed them with our eyes to see
where they landed." "Then when the call came in over the radio that the
dive bombers from the carriers were on the way in to bomb the air fields,
all the scout planes would head out to sea and get the h*ll out of their
The second poster is a photo of a Kingfisher after it landed next to the US
SLC and was in the process of being recovered by the V-crew. It is a very
clear picture of my dad and the pilot.
Robert Epperson has a short film of a Kingfisher landing next to the SLC in high seas.
All I can say - is back then men were men.
My father is still very active & lives in Mulino, Oregon.
Before I was assigned to Washington DC I was gathering material on the SLC
and recording oral history from the officers and sailors that served aboard
CA 25. I was at the Las Vegas Reunion a few years ago and plan on attending
the next one in Reno.
son, Randy Epperson
son, James A. Epperson
Old Slow and Ugly by James L. Noles, Jr.
- Drawings done by Robert Epperson
- SLC Deck Logs, Jul., 1944
- #4 in "V" Division Picture
- USS PENSACOLA Tidbit of Information
- #18 in picture of "V" Division, Aviation Unit, June 1st, 1945
- Pilots & the Kingfisher
- Oregon Newspaper Article
The picture of the
broken OS2U Kingfisher sitting on the catapult after the trip into the
Columbia River shows the catapult bay that Robert Epperson was living in.
He remembers the day that picture was taken quite well. They
were coming into the river in the middle of a storm. They had laid off the
coast riding out the storm, facing into the waves etc. When the river pilot
from Astoria came aboard, he apparently wanted to get home in a hurry so he
turned the ship into the river just as a monster wave hit them broadside.
They leaned over so far, my Dad remembers seeing water through the catapult
bay porthole. They left the airplane at Astoria for repairs. They probably
wanted to kill the river pilot too. Having survived the war only to be
nearly sunk at the mouth of the Columbia River was not a happy thought.
- As you can see from the picture, this is a ways above the water line, so for the water to be at
the porthole, the ship was definitely heeled over.
You can't see much of the area below the catapult but apparently it was a
room big enough for a couple aircrewmen/flyers to live and still leave room
for the regular work to take place.
Attended the following SLC Reunions:
Stories from Veterans