USS SLC...Enlisted Navy...Raymond H. Kreyer, BM1c
Ray passed away on April 24th, 2005. Info. from his widow, Dorothy
My Life as I see it
by Ray Kreyer
Sept. 17th, 2000
At the age of 16, after riding a bicycle as a message delivery boy for a
telegraph company, I joined the Navy on Dec. 28, 1938. I was sent to
the Great Lakes Naval Training Station at Waukegan, IL. White I was
there I leaned discipline, seamanship, use of firearms, Navy Regulations,
and a lot more.
In June of 1939 I was assigned o the USS NEVADA, a battleship at Long
Beach, CA. At that time I was in the 1st Division. We manned the 14
inch guns in #1 Turret. I was in the powder room and rolled the bags
onto the ram after the shell was pushed into the gun. As I remember,
we used three bags of powder about 14 inches in diameter and about 2
feet long. The whole ship would move side ways about 50 feet when a
salvo was fired broadside.
Our Division had the anchors to maintain and used when the ship
anchored. We also had to clean the ship from just aft (of #1 gun turret
which consisted of 3 fourteen inch guns.) I spent two years on the
USS NEVADA and was transferred to the USS SALT LAKE CITY, a heavy Cruiser
stationed in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
It was on the cruiser SALT LAKE CITY I advanced to 1st class Boatswain
Mate. I spent much of my time splicing wire cables. I saw most of my
combat action in the southwest Pacific. We were the first American ship
to dock in Brisbane, Australia in thirty years. Coming out of the harbor
we got a big hawser in the propellers and I had to dive down and cut them
out. When I came aboard I saw all the Marines manning machine guns or
rifles. They were stationed all around the ship. When I asked what was
going on I was told ... "Oh, we spotted sharks and didn't want them to
get near you." This was in 1940 and at that time who would think we were
to be attached to the Australian Navy in a few years at the Battle of the
Back at Pearl Harbor we met up with Admiral Halsey's Task Force. When
Pearl Harbor was attacked we had spent a great amount of time looking
for the Japanese Fleet, but as fate would have it we looked North and
they came in from the South. The evening of Dec. 7, 1941, our planes
from the Aircraft Carrier Enterprise were sent in to help out at Pearl
Harbor, but because of a change recognition signals (which our pilots
had no knowledge), all of the planes were shot down by our own forces
stationed at Pearl Harbor. Many odd things like that happened during
Our first action was with Halsey's Task Force 8. It was divided into
three groups. The 1st group Halsey's Flag ship, the carrier Enterprise,
with three destroyers, would strike Wotje, Maloelap and Kwajalein. The
2nd group, under Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance, with the cruisers,
Northampton and the USS Salt Lake City, plus one destroyer, would bombard
Wotje. The 3rd group was under Captain Thomas M. Shock on the USS
Chester with two destroyers would shell Maloelap. The attack was
launched at 4:43 a.m. Feb. 1, 1942 under a full moon. Nine torpedo
bombers and 37 dive bombers led off the attack. The dive bombers
striking Roi air base on the northern end of the atoll and the torpedo
bombers hitting Kwajalein Island across the lagoon. At Kwajalein, the
hunting was better but in spite of the fact there was no fighters
opposition and the reports brought back by pilots were enthusiastic,
damage to the Japanese installations and shipping was slight.
Then we became part of Vice Admiral William Halsey's Task Force 16.1
Halsey's flagship was the Carrier Enterprise. The group consisted of
two cruisers, Salt Lake City & Northampton, four destroyers and a tanker.
They left Hawaii on April 8 to rendezvous on Feb. 13, 1942 with Task
Force 16.2. This group was made up with the carrier Hornet (carrying
the 16 B-25 bombers commanded by Doolittle) and two cruisers, Nashville
& Vincennes. In addition, 2 submarines patrolled the area in advance of
and to the flanks of the groups.
The Japanese were aware of some sort of action being conducted by the
Americans. The Japanese expected some sort of an attack about April
16th. The Japanese gathered a large fleet of fishing boats equipped
with radios to guard the approaches to Japan.
The Task Force surged west at 16 knots for 5 days. To reach the
rendezvous on Feb. 13th the US Task Force was on constant alert and
hoping to launch General Doolittle's Mitchell B-25 Bombers (this is a
medium bomber with twin Wright Cyclones engines and a twin tail) on
After the tankers and destroyers left, the Task Force with two carriers,
Enterprise, Hornet and four cruisers, Salt Lake City, Northampton,
Nashville and Vincennes, as escorts, increased the speed to 20 knots.
On the Hornet, the 16 B-25s had 467 feet of runway. It had two white
lines painted on it. One was for their left wheel, the other for the nose
wheel. This would give the pilot about 6 feet clearance of the Hornet's
At 3 a.m. on April 18th the Enterprise reported a radar sighting of two
enemy surface crafts. At dawn the Enterprise launch search and fighter
planes, Douglas SBD & GRUMMAN F4F. One boat was spotted and about this
time lookouts on the Hornet spotted a Japanese Patrol boat, #23, the
NITTO MARU. The Japanese radioed a report to Japan. Halsey ordered the
Nashville to deal with the boat. At 8 a.m. Halsey flashed a message to
the Hornet to launch the B-25s. The Task Force was 600 miles offshore
of Japan, 200 miles short of the planned point of take-off.
On board the Salt Lake City, I could still see the bombers taking off
the Hornet. Those planes looked as if everyone would fall in the sea on
take-off. As the ships bow was rising, a signal was given to the pilot
and the plane would rush forward and take off the deck, but by not having
quite enough speed as yet, the wheels almost hit the water. I believe
every one of them had a little help from God.
Doolittle was in the first B-25, so he had the shortest runway. Each
plane gained a few more feet vacated by the other B-25. All 16 planes
were off by 9:20 a.m......one leaving every 5 minutes.
Three minutes after Doolittle's plane was off, the Nashville sand the
Japanese boat Mitto Maru. Although a search was made, no survivors were
found. It took 938 rounds of 5 inch ammunition.
It would be a year before the Japanese learned the source of this raid.
Morale in Japan sank. The people felt they had been lied to. They had
been told that the Island was invulnerable. To cover this, the Japanese
leaders told more lies.
Temporarily able to roam at will throughout the Pacific, the Japanese
turned to Australian waters. Early in May, 1942, a US observation plane
sighted a great Japanese armada in the Coral Sea, which separates
Australia from the Solomon Islands. The Japanese ships were stationed
there to secure Japan's hold on New Guinea and the Solomons and thus
assure the cutting of US supply lanes to Australia.
The first of Japan's planned expansion moves in the Spring of 1942 for
control of the Coral Sea through seizure of the Southern Solomon Islands
and Port Moresby on New Guinea from which to knock out growing allied air
power in northeastern Australia. Seizure of New Caledonia, planned as
part of the third step in the second major series of offensives, would
complete encirclement of the Coral Sea. This would leave the US
communications route to the Anzac area dangling useless at the Samoan
Islands, and later Japanese advances would push the US Pacific Fleet
back to Pearl Harbor and perhaps even to the west coast.