U.S.S. SLC...USN...Richard K. Rosenblatt, SM3c
Nov. 22nd, 2009
I was a 20 year old single man when I enlisted in the Navy. I lived in Kew Gardens L.I. New York
I went to Boot Camp in Chicago, IL. I boarded the SLC in late 1940 and left her the end of 1942. My rate was Signalman 3rd class. I also served on the submarines "U.S.S. Sawfish" 275 & "U.S.S. Plaice" 390.
Above and Below
I had a dream of adventure when I was about twelve years old. I had a friend named Arthur Gould. We were best friends thru public school and high school. His father was in the navy during WWI and served on a gunboat in China on the Yang Sea River fighting pirates. He would fill us up with stories of his adventures during that time. He had a life size painting of himself in a Samaria outfit with a sword hanging on the living room wall. The stories he told were so exciting I couldn't wait to enlist. I would go to the post office where you enlisted in those days and they sent me home to get my father to sin for me, but he never would. Finally, they came to my house to speak to my parents and the next day I went to the Post Office bright and early and signed up. I was about to leave when they told me I'm in the Navy now and will be leaving for Chicago in one hour. I had no money, no jacket, nothing. I called home, said goodby, and headed for New York for the train to Chicago.
I arrived at boot camp and they assigned me to signalman school. I guess I was there for about six weeks and came out a 3rd class signalman. From there I went to San Diego, CA. to board my first ship that was the U.S.S. Salt Lake City CA25. When I went aboard I met Dan Divenuto, Pat & Vito Monteleone. We all became close friends. While we were in port, Pat & Vito took Dan & I to their house several times. Their family treated us royally. Finally, the day came and we sailed for Pearl Harbor.
We left Pearl Harbor for maneuvers and target practice several times. The next trip we stopped at Midway Island and went ashore. There was nothing there but a couple of shacks with bunks and a runway. We slept in the shacks that night and the men who slept in the lower bunks had the skin on the tips of their fingers eaten off by sand rats. There was no shortage of Gooney Birds. We left Midway and the next time we visited there, the Sea Bees made a tremendous base there. It was hard to believe.
We made another trip from Pearl Harbor to Johnson Island and it was such a nice day there was going to be swimming. They lowered the Whaleboat with armed guards to look for sharks. They made a couple of circles and sure enough, sharks … so swimming was called off. Some of the deck hands got an idea to go fishing and caught a couple and they started pulling their teeth and blood got all over our nice clean teak decks, so they had to stop. I have pictures of the sharks.
The next trip that I can remember was one I could not find any information on. We left Pearl and headed west to meet up with a Dutch freighter with some planes on board. We kept heading west. It seemed we were escorting this ship. In a few days we crossed the equator and the 180th meridian at 12 o'clock noon, which was a special event. We had a big celebration with King Neptune and all his Pollywogs. We all got certificates. From there we headed for New Britten, the Dutch East Indies, Port Rabaul and Port Morsby. Some officers and a photographer took pictures of the Chief with some of the kids and women. The young girls came out to the ship with outriggers in grass skirts and not tops. They were diving for coins thrown by some of the crew. From there we headed for Brisbane, Australia.
On the way the sail locker made a very large American Flag which we had to fly on the yard arm. As we entered the Brisbane Ricer, we had the flag flying. The people were lined up along the river back cheering. Our crew lined the rail. It was a very exciting moment. I was told that we were the first American "Man of War" since WWI that had visited Brisbane.
The next day we had liberty and Dan and I went ashore early. We were walking down a street and along came an old time limo with a driver in the front and an old couple in the back. They stopped and asked if we would like to see the town and we said yes. They took us all over town and then took us to lunch. They were taking pictures of us the whole time. When we were finished with our tour, they asked for our home addresses and our service addresses, and then we parted company. About 6 months later, I received a stack of pictures and so did our family.
We left Brisbane and headed for Pearl Harbor and when we arrived, we made a few liberties. I went to visit my friend Arthur who was serving on the U.S.S. WEST VIRGINIA. We made a liberty together, picked up some Christmas presents, and stored them at some friends of my cousins.
The next thing I remember was the historic trip to Wake Island. The SLC, the PENSACOLA, the ENTERPRISE, and six destroyers went to Wake Island to deliver some planes. On the way back we heard the President's speech over the loud speakers that the Japs had attack Pearl Harbor. We had about two hundred miles to go to Pearl. Full speed ahead. The uniform of the day changed from white to dungarees. I was issued a WWI helmet, a cork life jacket and a B.A.R. rifle with no ammunition and no instructions. When we arrived at Pearl, everything seemed to be on fire. The water in the harbor had about 6 inches of bunker oiil on it and was burning. Ships were sunk. The NEVADA was beached, the WEST VIRGINIA mast was sticking up. I don't remember what was showing of the OKLAHOMA. We pulled up to the refueling dock, turned the bow to sea, refueled. There were men with axes standing by the lines to let them go in case the planes came back. As soon as we were loaded, we steamed out looking for the enemy. They thought they had a contact on a mini sub and sunk it. The next thing I remember the SLC had quad mounted 40mm guns mounted on the lower bridge and the PENSACOLA had a very large radar antenna mounted on the mast.
We went to Wake Island and shelled it… then the next battle I remember was the attack on the Marshal Islands. When we returned to Pearl Harbor, they had repaired some of the ships so they could get them back to the states for repair. They needed crew to man them and they were picking from wherever they could. I didn't get picked, but a call came fro submarine school in New London, Conn. and I volunteered. I was discharged from the SLC and reported to the base for transportation back to the States. I was assigned to report aboard the H.M.S. Aquitania, an English 4 stack coal burning cruise ship. They were evacuating women and children from the Philippines. Carved in the handrail on the PROMENARD was the Fighting 69 Div, 1917. The life boats had peddles by the seats that were attached to the propeller shaft. The people had to pedal to make it go and the Captain's gig was a sailboat.
When we arrived in San Francisco, we were detached and received letters from the Captain. I still have mine.
We went straight to Mare Island base but the guard would not let us in because we didn't have our papers with us. There were supposed to have been sent ahead. We went into town and stayed a couple of days until our money ran out. We went back to Mare Island and told the guard we were out of money and had to get in. They next thing we heard was the Admiral wanted to see us in his office. He asked us to sin down, got our names, and wanted to hear our stories about Pearl Harbor and other engagements we were in. One by one, he spoke to us and then he gave each of us a deal in reporting so we could go home. I received a 35-day leave and then I was to report to Sub School in New London, Conn.
SLC Deck Log Mar. 1942