USS SLC...Officer...Happy Winsley Harden, CBM
Happy W. Harden passed away on Oct. 3rd, 1985 during open heart surgery
April 15th, 2004
Happy was the only Anglo child born in the small Mexican community of Hillsboro, New
Mexico, on May 27, 1914. He was the youngest child of 9 children (6 of whom lived to
be adults). He was such a happy baby that the Mexicans gave him the name of
"Allegro," which means "Happy." The name stuck. His mother had named him Howard
Winsley, but he was NEVER called that. When the courthouse burned with his birth
certificate and he had to get a delayed one, it was in the name of Happy Winsley
Harden. All of his records (government, scholastic, civil, etc) were in the name of
His father died when he was about 3 years old and the family moved to Bisbee, Arizona.
His mother had to clean houses and take in laundry to support the family. Since his
mother was working, there was very little home supervision and Hap became a pretty
wild kid, getting into trouble pulling pranks.
As he told it, "Once the Chief of Police stopped me in the wrong part of town and patted
me down for a pistol. He didn't find one but he knew I had one somewhere. I had
tucked the pistol down the front of my pants where no self-respecting policeman would
search (back in those days). The Chief of Police told my mother to get me into the
military or he would put me in reform school. So my mom lied about my age (I was 16)
and said that I was 17 and got me into the Navy." That was in 1930. From then on, my
dad was a year older than he really was according to military records which caused a
little bit of trouble in later years when he applied to collect Social Security.
Hap had to test to get into the Navy and there were only two slots open for the whole
state of Arizona. He got one of them and was soon on a train to San Diego for boot
camp. He entered the service on September 25, 1930.
In the Navy my father got the supervision that he craved and needed. He was allowed
to learn so many new things. And he got three square meals a day, something very
unusual for a poor family during the height of the Depression. One thing he said, "I
finally had enough to eat. I could have seconds on milk if I wanted. I had never had
My dad served on several ships:
USS Tennessee (12 December, 1930) Stationed San Diego, CA.
USS Argonne (31 December, 1932) Stationed San Diego, CA.
USS Cuyama (31 March, 1933) Stationed San Diego, CA.
USS Augusta (31 December, 1937) Stationed Shanghai, China
USS Luzon (31 December, 1938) Stationed Shanghai, China
USS Marblehead (18 April, 1939) Stationed Tsingtao, China
USS Salt Lake City (30 June, 1940) Stationed Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii
Happy married Frances Marietta Bailey on his birthday, May 27, in 1940, at San Diego,
CA.. He was making $82.80 per month. During the first three years my parents
were married, they had about 90 days together. He used to say, "She was the only
birthday present I ever got that didn't break or wear out!"
My sister, Loahna Yvonne, was born 10 September, 1941, just before Pearl Harbor was
attacked. Daddy did not see her until she was 33 days old. After the Second Battle of
Savo Island (10-12 October, 1942) my dad wrote the letter To a Sailor's Child," which was published in Our Navy magazine. (It is on this website for you to read. It lists some of the heros from that battle and their accomplishments.)
Daddy came aboard the SLC as a BM2c. He advanced in rating to BM1c and by the
time he left the ship, he was a Chief Boatswain's Mate.
STORIES FROM THE SALT LAKE CITY:
The SLC was supposed to go into Pearl Harbor into dry dock sometime before
Thanksgiving, 1941. However, when the USS Enterprise was taking planes to Wake
Island, my father said, "Admiral 'Bull' Halsey said 'Fall in' and the SLC went along as
escort." As it was, the SLC came back into Pearl Harbor on 8 December, 1941, and my
dad said, "We felt like rats in a trap. Ships were still burning, bodies were floating in the
water......it was not a pretty sight." Normally the provisioning of a ship would take
several days, but because everyone was "running on adrenalin," the ship was
provisioned in several hours instead and the SLC set out again.
One story Daddy told was during a battle (I don't know which battle it was) when a
torpedo jumped out of the water and hit the ship above the water line and just below his
gun. It blew the gun off the ship. My dad was unconscious and woke up in the water.
Thank God he was wearing his life jacket. The ship was still afloat and could maneuver
which was great because the battle was still raging. After several hours my dad finally
saw and recognized a mess cook in a life raft. That cook had a butcher knife in his
hand and was stabbing at Japanese who were trying to get into the raft. The Japanese
were from downed aircraft. My dad called out to the cook who called back, "Advance
and be recognized." My dad swam over and the cook pulled him into the raft. It was
more than 18 hours before the battle was over and the ship could come back to get
them. Daddy always said that he belonged to an exclusive swimming club and he didn't
care to renew his membership. The SLC made repairs and fought on. As a footnote:
The blast that blew the gun off the ship also blew Daddy's wedding band off his hand.
Later he found the ring. It had been blasted open and was just a straight, flat piece of
gold. He took it and wrapped it around a marlin spike to make it a circle again and he
wore it that way until he could get it repaired.
Letters the sailors wrote to family and friends could not contain certain references to
ships, crews, missions, and locations in them. To insure this, letters were written on
one side only of the stationery. Then the letters were sent to the censors who used
razor blades to delete any "disallowed" information. The following section of one letter
my dad wrote to my mom got past the censors who came to him amazed at how he had
worded it. They asked permission to copy the paragraph and post it for the crew to
read. This is what my dad wrote:
"Since last time, I have been hunting in different parts of the world and got some game
every time I went. Almost got the limit, but not quite because the quota is so high.
Can't tell you what kind of game it was but it was too large for chickens, although in
Texas we often hunt rabbits, this wasn't rabbits. It was much bigger and harder and
much meaner and tougher, also more yellow than rabbits. Hope to go hunting again
soon and get my limit. On another hunting trip a careless hunter nearly shot off my hat.
Got so damn mad I shot him in the pants. Hunting birds is hard work. I shoot for the
feathers and then have to duck the eggs. So don't like bird hunting. Fishing season is
nice but not so sporting. Dynamiting the pool yields the largest mass production, so that
is the approved method as we like fish. But hunting is more fun. Besides I don't like the
kind of bait we have to use to get fish into the pool we intend to dynamite."
Commendations for Harden:
U.S.S. SALT LAKE CITY
12/18/42: At the time of occurrence, no record was placed in the service record of
HARDEN as having participated in the following actions and engagements
with the enemy. It has been ascertained by the present Commanding
Officer that the above named man took part in the following:
(A) Operations in close proximity to Pearl Harbor, 7 December, 1941
(B) Raid on Marshall Island, 1 February, 1942
(C) Raid on Wake Island, 24 February, 1942
(D) Raid on Marcus Island, 4 March ,1942
(E) Raid on Tokyo, 18 April, 1942
(F) Covering force for occupation of Guadalcanal, 7-9 August, 1942
(G) Covering force for defense and capture of Guadalcanal, 10 August, 1942, to later
(H) WASP Task Force during Eastern Solomon (Stewart Island) Battle, 23-25
R. G. Ganahl
CDR, U.S. Navy
Certified to be a true copy direct from previous record,
Signed F. A. Frey, Lieut. USNR
U.S.S. SALT LAKE CITY
Attached to and serving on board the U.S.S. SALT LAKE CITY when this vessel,
as a unit Task Group 64.2 U. S. Pacific Fleet, participated in the highly successful action
against Japanese Naval Surface Units - night of 11-12 October 1942 - off Savo Island,
Solomon Islands. Extracts from the Commanding Officer's report of the engagement
under paragraph, "Commendations," is quoted: "It is a privilege to record that every
member of the ship's company performed his duty in a quiet efficient manner. The
striking feature of the action was the unified functioning of all people aboard." The
Commanding Officer is pleased to state that HARDEN performed his duties at his battle
station in a highly satisfactory manner.
E. G. SMALL
Captain, U. S. Navy,
Certified to be a true copy direct from previous record.
Signed N. J. Gipps
After the Salt Lake City:
After serving on the SLC, my dad was transferred on 31 December, 1942, to the Naval
Air Station at Moffett Field, CA., for Lighter-Than-Air School. He learned to fly
Hap was assigned to Blimp Squadrons:
ZP 33 Tillamook, Oregon (3 August, 1943)
ZP 31 Santa Ana, CA. (5 September, 1946)
ZP 1 Weeksville, North Carolina (15 November, 1946)
On VJ Day, my dad came home from the air station in Tillamook, OR, in a Navy
ambulance with the siren blaring. That's when the party started at the Harden's house
in Navy housing. There was a steady stream of people in the front door, partying and
then going out the back door. My mother was about 8 1/2 months pregnant with me at
the time and things were starting to get a little bit boisterous. So they cleared off the
couch in the livingroom and let my mother lay down and the party continued around her.
I was almost born that day. I (Linda Loraine) was born on 5 September, 1945, one of
the last babies born in the Naval Air Station Hospital in Tillamook, Oregon.
Daddy transferred to the Naval Air Station at Santa Ana, CA. in 1946, and spent
two and a half years at Weeksville, NC, flying blimps in all kinds of weather, even
around the incoming hurricanes that are so prevalent on the east coast of North
Next the Navy transferred my dad to the Naval Air Station at Alameda, CA., on 3
May, 1950, where he was Information/Education Officer for the base. The blimp
program was ending. His rate changed to AMSC (Aviation Metal Smith Chief). Daddy
shook his head and said that if he was supposed to be a metal smith, then he had better
see if he could work in metal. He went to the shops on base and he actually made two
items: an aluminum table which my sister Loahna has and a small, aluminum, rabbit-
shaped wheelbarrow (painted that military green) he made for me as an Easter present.
I can remember waking up that Easter morning and finding the wheelbarrow with a nest
of Easter grass, jellybeans and colored eggs in it. This little 5-year-old was thrilled.
That wheelbarrow is currently in a place of honor in my livingroom with a floppy-eared
rabbit in it. The wheel on the wheelbarrow is a control wheel from inside a blimp's
My dad was at Alameda until 12 October, 1953, when he retired from active service and
entered the Naval Reserve where he completed his 30 years. Our family moved back
to Tillamook, Oregon, after my dad retired. There he worked for the Diamond Lumber
Company until we moved to Taft, CA., in November, 1955, to be close to my
maternal grandfather after my grandmother died. Daddy went to work for Southern
CA. Gas Company as a Storekeeper.
The Gas company transferred my dad to Bakersfield, CA., in August, 1960. He
worked there until he earned another retirement. He stayed retired for only about three
months. He figured that when the neighborhood housewives started inviting him to
Tupperware parties, it was time for him to go back to work.
Hap went to work for County of Kern as a storekeeper then advanced to Area Services
Coordinator (he was in charge of all of the area veterans halls, their custodians and
booking reservations for them). The department head he worked for was retired Navy
Commander James Logan who liked to hire retired Navy chiefs "to get the job done."
My dad and my mom, Frances, retired in July, 1979. They loved to travel and loved
going to church.
Daddy died 3 October, 1985, during open heart surgery. Mother died
in her sleep 10 June, 1999, the day before her 84th birthday. Both are buried in
Greenlawn Cemetery in Bakersfield, CA..
My sister and I grew up on stories from all of the ships our dad served on, especially
those from the Salt Lake City. And the stories about
Captain Zacharias. Our dad was
in awe of Captain Zach. He always spoke of him with the greatest respect. While
stationed in Weeksville, NC, he and mother had invitations for a cocktail party and
banquet for then Admiral Zach. They even got to sit across the table from him at dinner
and my dad talked about that for years afterward.
Hap Harden was one of those people who remembered everything. Give him a date in
the 1930's or 1940's and he could tell you what ship he was on, what course they were
heading, what battles or assignments they were going into/just completed; or what
airship he was on and what the current assignment was. He was awesome that way.
Linda L. Harden-Brammer, Dau.
Loahna Y. Harden-Berry, Dau.
#10 in Gun Crew picture
Signed a letter in regards to the death of
Harold E. "Gus" Kronquist, 1942
To a Sailor's Child...by Happy W. Harden
SLC Deck Logs May 1942