Letter written by V/Adm. B. J. Rodgers, USN, Ret.
to Charles H. Carroll

Source: SLC Memorabilia Collection


June 9th, 1977

Dear Chuck,

You are doing a wonderful job planning the many details for the Third Reunion of the Salt Lake City crew and officers who served in her during the many years of her gallant "life" in the Navy of our Country!

It was my privilege and great honor to command the "One Ship Fleet" for nine months in the North Pacific during a very trying period of the WWII.

I relieved Captain Ernie Small in Pearl Harbor on January 1st, 1943, and found about a third of the 1200 crew had not previously been to sea on that or any ship.

You will remember that on March 26, 1943 we encountered a large Japanese Convoy off Komandorski Island [Russia] composed of 2 heavy cruisers, 3 CL's, 6 DD's, etc., etc., more than twice the number of our "Sway back Maru" SLC, 1 CL and 8 DD's!! The engagement at our gun range lasted well over 3 hours and ended with the enemy fleet breaking off and retiring to the Westward to their homeland, Japan!

I will never forget the splendid support every officer and man of the SLC contributed that day! May God bless you all!

We are very disappointed because it will not be practical or possible for my dear wife, Marie, and myself to attend this Third Reunion, much as we have been looking forward to it. The state of my wife's health will not permit us to attempt such a strenuous journey this year. In the past two years Marie has undergone two serious operations and is still recovering, hopefully.

Please extend our deep regrets to all the luck shipmates who will be with you for the Big Third in sunny Orlando!! My sincere thanks to each and every one of you who is fortunate to be able to be with you, and for your loyalty to our gallant ship, the Salt Lake City, and to me, down thru the years!

My very hearty wishes to you all for a successful reunion!

Faithfully yours,
Bert J. Rodgers, V/Adm. USN Ret.


Letter written by V/Adm. B. J. Rodgers, USN, Ret.
to Ryland E. Brem

Source: SLC Memorabilia Collection


Oct. 10, 1979

Dear Bill,

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 yacht.

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", "Swayback Maru"!

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


Bertram J. Rodgers
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