Oct. 10, 1979
I have delayed writing you hoping that something would happen to permit my wife, Marie and
myself to undertake the journey from Coronado to San Antonio for this year's reunion. Sorry,
we simply cannot attempt to be with you this year.
When I was retired from active duty I was 62 years old after 44 years of active service. I had
had duty on 2 BB's, Submarines (9 years), Air Ships (LTA) 7 years, 3 years at the Panama Canal,
2 years on the DD SELFRIDGE, 1 year at naval War College, then 3 years in Washington Navy War Plans and only got to sea in 1943 to command the Salt Lake City.
I am sure quite a few of you SLC veterans were with me on the "Swayback Maru" for some of the 9
months in 1943 when I got you all in trouble with my radical combat tactics! I sure want to
thank every one of you who won that battle for me so I could get all this undeserved credit!!
You were all marvelous!!
I had the privilege of serving thru to the end of the war. First for 4 months with the late
British War hero (and I mean he was a "hero"), Lord Louis Mount Batten, recently killed on his
I was recalled from India to command the center section of our amphib landing in Southern
France at the time of the Normandy landings to chase the NAZIS out of France. When that was
successful I asked to be ordered to the Pacific to fight Japs, where the action was. My
flagship was the BB NEVADA for the Iwo Jima assaults and our successful captures of Okinawa,
etc. and the surrender of the Japs at Tokyo, and that ended that war. After a year there and
at Shanghi, China, I was ordered back to Coronado to command the Amphibious Force Pacific. I
had the command when the good ol "Swayback Maru" was brought back from Bikini and ordered
destroyed off San Diego by my amphibious force commander. She was to contaminated for any
further use and it was "my" job to have her destroyed and sunk off our CA. coast.
We used all kinds of weapons to do this - high level bombers, medium cruiser gunfire, DD's,
submarines, etc. It took hours to reduce her buoyancy. It was my privilege to stand on the
bridge of my flagship and watch her gallant end.
I will never forget witnessing that ship's spectacular end - as she had always done in her
active service. She had taken such terrible punishment that, as she started finally to sink,
she gradually assumed what looked like a graceful nose dive!! Her hull was absolutely
vertical, her four propellers and shafts aloft were the last thing we saw of her!! Our gallant
home and ship had earned this most gallant burial!!
We are really distressed over our failure to be with you this month! We are both 85 and I am
feeling my age. I have cataracts in both eyes and wearing a contact soft lens on a substitute
hard lens to be able to drive. Don't you ever get old shipmates!!
May I congratulate all you faithful lovers of the best ship of the Fleet, the "Salt Lake City",
I am enclosing a small check to be sure you send me the next of your meetings and bill me for
anything I owe.
My best wishes to all you faithful ex-shipmates and a fine reunion.
"Capt" Bert J. Rodgers