USS SLC...Enlisted...Charles T. Kaufman, EM1c
Charles T. Kaufman passed away on May 21st, 2007 - Info. from son Dave
Feb. 29th, 2004
I want to thank you for the wonderful job that you have done with the
website!! It is a demonstration of dedication and caring that means a lot
to the crew of the Salt Lake City and their families.
I am writing this to provide you some information passed on to me by my
father Charles T. Kaufman (listed as Kaufman, C. T., F2c, USN, 1939 F1c,
1940 EM1c, WWII) on the master index. Charles Kaufman is 87 years old and
resides with his daughter in Headland, AL.
Charles Kaufman reported aboard the ship while it was stationed in Pearl
Harbor in 1939. He remained on the ship until late 1944 (around the time of
the first landing in the Philippines) and served in all the major battles
and shore bombardments of the war.
A few of the tales related to me about his duty onboard the Swayback Maru:
Whenever the ship was anchored, there was always one boiler going with the
cooling blowers running. However, the engine room was still terribly hot.
There was a walkway between the boilers. The innovative crew used to string
a line along the walkway and used it to dry their clothes. This drying
technique was also used when the ship was underway.
One of his jobs for Charles was serving as the Oil King for the ship. In
this capacity he was in charge of oiling the ship (taking on fuel oil). He
specified how much oil was needed and coordinated the pumping of fuel from
the oil tanker. The ship, due to its relatively large size, also served as
a fueling station for escorting destroyers. Getting the escorts fueled from
the ship was hard as the escorts were smaller and large waves in the
Aleutian islands tossed them about.
Fish was served every Friday. Unfortunately, some of the cooks were not too
skilled at cooking fish and most of it got tossed overboard.
One of the funniest memories he had of his time aboard the ship was during
their transit of the Panama Canal. The ship was anchored on the Atlantic
side near the City of Colon. An enterprising local devised a method of
getting girls aboard the ship for ... shall we say, recreational activities.
The local entrepreneur would pull up beside the ship in what Charles
described as a canoe (they were called bum boats). He would then slip a
girl, oft times more than one, in through a porthole. Someone notified the
officer of the deck about the illicit activity. The officer arrived in the
room where the girls were coming in through the porthole. There was one
girl who was halfway through the porthole. The sailors, who had a few
seconds advanced knowledge of the OOD's arrival started trying to push her
back out the porthole. Meantime the local entrepreneur was pushing on the
other side trying to get her in. The girl, stuck in the middle, started
screaming. It raised quite a ruckus.
During the war, the engine room crew would sometime take rags and something
for a pillow and sleep there. They had to spend so much time there that it
was the only way they could get some rest.
One other enterprising act of the crew was smuggling alcohol aboard the
ship. Many of the crew would buy cocoanuts, drill a small hole in them and
drain the milk out. They would then refill the cocoanut with gin or rum and
innocently bring it back to the ship.
When the cruiser fleet was first sent to Honolulu, there was a dancing
outfit that would have hula dancers always greet them at the pier. He does
not recall if that practice was continued when the battleship fleet was
assigned to Hawaii the following year.
At some time during the war they got an officer, a former shoe salesman who
was what the sailors called a 90 day wonder, whose battle station was in the
engine room. Whenever the fighting started he would say "You boys do it, I
don't know a thing." He wisely left them alone.
You had to be a first class (E-6) before you could get out of a hammock and
have a bunk. According to Charles, the hammocks were a good deal. They
were a good deal because the bunks were not fastened to the deck. They were
folding bunks that had to be stored in a bin. The berthing space that
Charles was in was one deck below the main deck. At some points the space
was 57 feet wide. If the weather got rough, that provided a LOT of space
for the bunks to slide around in.
They had a large coffee pot in the mess facilities. This thing was BIG -
perhaps three feet in diameter and was always kept full of coffee.
The watches were four hours in length.
Every Sunday evening for supper there was no cooking. The crew was treated
to what they termed "horse cock and cheese". Sliced bologna and cheese with
There were eight boilers on the ship, four in the forward and four in the
aft engine room. Each of the eight boilers had 4,097 tubes. There were mud
drums at the bottom of each boiler. Each tube had to be cleaned with a wire
brush every overhaul. The smallest person in the black gang, a term used to
describe the fireman in the engine room, climbed in to clean the tubes.
All of the old chiefs that were recalled to active duty made the
possibilities of advancement in the Fireman's rating near impossible. That
caused him to change from the Fireman to the Electrician's rating when he
was a First class. The chief engineer was upset about this change and had
Charles stand watches in the engine room for a month after his rate change
Charles was an accomplished poker player. At the end of World War II he
left the service with $10,000 in poker winnings. This skill was,
unfortunately, NOT passed on to his children. Most of his poker games, at
least the ones he started, took place in a fan room above the aft boiler
room. He got caught playing poker only one time but there were no
reparations. He believes that being in a war zone at the time had a little
to do with the lack of punishment.
Before the war started, every Saturday morning there was a personnel
inspection. Charles ran out of dungaree shirts and there none other
available on the ship. The only shirts available were white officer shirts.
Charles took some of the officer's shirts and dyed them. The dye did not
hold too well but he was trying.
Recollections Battle of Battle of the Komandorski Islands
He remembers one of the dough making machines that were used to make the
bread for the crew. The machine, large and heavy, was on the main deck in a
space by itself. During the battle of Komandorski the machine broke loose.
With the rocking of the ship the machine literally beat itself on the
bulkheads. It, the dough maker, was so sturdy that the machine fared much
better than the bulkheads and was still operational after the battle.
Charles Kaufman was a Fireman - as the water tender - in the engineering
spaces (aft engine room) during the battle. An eight inch shell (?) that
exploded in the fire room. According to Charles, the explosion cut every
steam line in the engine room except for the main line. The explosion
killed one person, James F. David F2C, who was about ten feet away from
Charles. The engine room was evacuated. One of the chiefs, recently
recalled from retirement, was the first one out of the engine room when the
shell exploded. Dad said he was probably the fourth one out.
One funny thing, in afterthought anyways, from the battle happened on the
main deck. In a head, below one of the catapults, one crew member was
answering the call of nature when a shell struck. He was struck in the
buttocks and received the purple heart.
After the battle he was on the burial detail for
Winsor C. Gale, Lt. Comdr. &
James F. David, Fireman2c.
He distinctly remembers it was bitterly cold. Charles
remembers this as being the only time he ever was given alcohol aboard the
ship. The ship's medical staff gave them a stiff shot to warm them up when
they returned to the ship.
We believe, based upon his profile that Charles Kaufman is person number
eight in this photo. Charles recalls that the LCDR Gale was topside during the
battle and was struck by shrapnel.
Dave Kaufman - son
SLC Deck Logs, Oct., 1943