USS SLC...Enlisted Navy...Arch McGougan, Jr., S2c
SLC Deck Log, Feb. 12th, 1943...Boarded the SLC
Small World....story about the SLC from Dave McGougan
Arch & Family Members have attended the following SLC Reunions:
Apr. 22nd, 2001
My dad's name is Arch McGougan. He joined the Navy his sophomore year of
high school when he lied about his age (16 yr.). At the completion of Basic
Training the correct age was discovered and he was sent home. At the
completion of his Junior year of school at age 17 yr. he enlisted legally.
He completed basic and then gunnery school with high marks (which would keep
him busy later). He shipped from the west coast to Pearl Harbor in early
1943 and was assigned to the USS Salt Lake City as a member of one of her
new 40mm gun crews. The SLC was having two of her four planes removed in
early 43 to make room for anti-aircraft guns. When she set sail for her next
patrol in the Aleutians, my Dad was on her.
During the Battle of the Komandorski Islands in March my Dad was at his duty
station, the 40mm guns, when the ship was hit by the shell that killed
Lieut. Comdr. Winsor C. Gale
James David [See More Information]. The shell burst
was close enough that my dad felt the impact and
heard the cries near him. There was no aircraft up that day so he left his
guns and helped carry wounded to aid. He later told me that he helped "one"
[Don Rholl] with a leg wound and one with a
severe wound (he would not say anymore). He
remembers to this day very vividly seeing Commander Gale's body and how long
it lay there. Eventually, after helping with the wounded he was tasked with
helping transport Ammo from the front turrets to the rear. When the ship
reached Dutch Harbor and a repair ship, my dad stayed on board and watched
the emergency repairs. He was amazed that the divers were welding plates on
SLC under water.
When the ship returned to Mare Island for permanent
repairs, many of the crewmen were transferred back to the pacific, my dad
included. He was given an active assignment as a 40mm gunner on a transport
back to Pearl on the Mt. Vernon, a converted cruise ship. At Pearl he
was assigned to the Colorado and shelled Islands for marine landings in the
pacific. Upon reaching Pearl again he was yet reassigned back to 40mm duty again on
another troop transport USS Typhoon which was sunk by torpedo, somewhere in
the pacific after disembarking troops. My dad spent about 18 hours
in the water with a handful of men sharing a small raft. They were picked up
by an American ship and dropped off at Pearl.
Return to Battle of the Komandorski Island Index
My dad was then assigned to an
Admiral as his personal driver for the rest of his time. He said this
Admiral always had food, gum, soda and even money for him. Through out his
time in the Navy he always felt like the SLC was his real home and he could
never get back to her. I remember as a kid growing up in the 50's he had to
have several shards of shrapnel removed from his upper back by our family
doctor. Often I questioned him about it and he would only say that it
happened during "The Battle of the Aleutians".
He said he thought he was
only scratched and there were brave men all around him with bad wounds. My
dad is now in his mid 70's and is finding it easier to talk about his time in
the Navy. He has been an absolutely wonderful father to my brother and I all
these years. He is a retired Bell Telephone technician living in near DeSoto, MO.
My goal is to get him to a Reunion soon, if not this one then the next one.
Please tell the Veterans to visit the Veterans Museum in Branson, MO. My
Dad and I went through it, it takes about 2-3 hours to go through it and it will
move you, especially the bronze statue depicting 50 men (lifesize) running
ashore in formation. The artist used a face from a veteran (WW2) from each
state. The statue is in a huge room whose 3 walls are covered from top to
bottom with the names of the dead and missing of WW-2 in alphbetical order.
I found the 2 killed during the Battle of the Komondorskis and pointed them
out to my Dad. That night we went to one of the shows there and at the end
they recognized the vets and my Dad and I were able to stand together and
Thank you for your effort.
Dave McGougan, Son
Aug. 6th... Feedback
I just read your recent submission to Sandy about your Dad. I was the
only one on the flight deck that day, if memory serves, who was wounded
in the leg. Also, I'm sure I was the one your Dad heard scream because the
schrapnel was lodged in my leg and it was terribly hot. The doctor told
me later there was not much bleeding because the hot schrapnel had
cauterized the wound. After reading your account I'm sure it was your
E. C. "Buddy" Porterfield who carried
me to the aid station that day in
the wardroom. I probably didn't tell him thanks so will you pass on my
thanks to him even though it is 58 plus years late.
Oct. 2nd, 2002
Comments from son Dave McGougan, about 2002 SLC Reunion in Branson, MO.
During the first hour that I was in the
hospitality room I met
Jake Jaekel our new Pres. Without introductions he
began to show me where his station was during the Komondorskis Battle with
the help of that wonderful model [built by SLC Veteran Frank Bell].
He told me of hearing the shell burst that wounded Don Rholl and killed Lt. Comdr. Winsor C. Gale. He showed me exactly as he remembered what happened after that, not knowing that my dad and Don were yet to meet this day and that they had met that day he was talking about those many years ago. He told me he watched two men carry off Don and showed me the ladder one came down. He showed me the hatch
Windsor Gale had just come through when he was struck and where he died. Then he
told me that he and Gale were very good friends from the same hometown and
often swapped fishing stories. Then he showed me where James David was hit
and suddenly by being in the right place at the right time I had a complete
story from a third party of the experience my dad had lived through. Shortly
after this conversation ended You [Sandy Eskew-Historian] were able to introduce Don and my dad to each other. Don sprang from his seat and shook my dad's hand and then they
had a long talk. They talked about that day in March of 1943 and I sat there
wondering why I had left my video camera upstairs in our room? I listened to
every detail as those two relived that horrific battle and I wondered what
made my dad leap down that ladder and run to Don's aid as Ernie Porterfield
struggled to help him.
Would I have moved as fast to help in the heat of
battle? One thing that I did not know and learned from Jake was that the
shell that wounded Don also knocked a shackle loose on the airplane that left
a 350lb. depth charge dangling near the ship's side. Before they had
realized it, one young man sensing the imminent danger they were in, jumped up,
ran to the charge, wrestled it from the other shackle and tossed it
overboard. Jake said, "he was a little guy, like you". I felt proud I was
little. Later that day I made my dad show me his station on the model and
relived those moments that intertwined his and Don's lives. I was numb when
he finished because it sounded just like Jake's story, with one exception.
When he and Ernie got back to help Windsor Gale, they discovered the severe nature
of his wound and my dad got sick. He returned to his post but before long he
was pushing a cart with two other sailors as the SLC lay dead in the water,
moving projectiles from the front turret to the rear.
Then we met
Albert had been in the turret passing projectiles out. He and my dad talked for quite awhile about that adventure.
I do remember one of them saying that if they had dropped one of those
projectiles, it would have been curtains.
My dad and Don were able to share many moments together and I must say that I
found Don to be one heck of a nice guy. I will never forget the jokes he
told myself and Chuck Kepper that last night at the banquet. Our family was
honored by Don's presence to Springfield where we dropped him off at the
airport. Nothing doing but he had to stop and buy us all lunch and then
blessed us with a few of those jokes.