USS SLC...Enlisted Navy...Charles E. Serey, S1c
Oct. 25th, 2000
I am Charles E. Serey and I joined the Navy at the age of 17 at Charleston,
W. VA. in 1942. There I went through boot camp at Great Lakes, IL. and
was shipped to Camp Stoneman, Pittsburg, CA. (Army Base for additional training).
Then we went by ferry to San Francisco and I went aboard the President Hayes,
a troop transport, as an armed guard and up to this time I had never fired
a gun in my hands.
We sailed to Pearl Harbor and I was assigned to the USS SLC CA25. She was
being repaired from damages received in the Solomon Islands. We were put to
work sand bagging gun emplacements on buildings at the base.
I was then assigned to anti-aircraft machine gun training at Aeia, Hawaii.
From there we sailed out on shake down cruise after repairs. This was very
dull - very much anti-aircraft firing at drones and sleeves. The seas were
very calm, although we lost one man overboard...
Un-named Parker, from Beaver Dam,
Kentucky...due to one wave. Parker and I were at boot camp together. He
was never found.
In Feb. of 1943 we were in the Aleutian Islands where we engaged a Japanese
cruiser force in a surface engagement which was the longest surface battle
of continuous firing of the war... approx. 5 hours. We were hit by 4 or 5
8" rounds and were sent back to Mare Island, CA. for repairs. After the
repairs were completed we were sent to the North Pacific for Attu and Kiska
I had an old "Our Navy" magazine my brother (ex-Navy) sent to me many years
ago which is very informative. I was very pleased to retain this for posterity.
It tells of the longest surface battle of continuous fire fought by the USS
SLC of any naval ship during WWII. We were off the Komandorski Islands.
I don't think we were scared until everything quieted down... Then it sunk in.
I do remember
Chaplain Richard W. Hodge going from man to man giving aid and comfort.
This was after the five inch gun on starboard side was hit. I thought the
Chaplain was truly a hero and most of all...some kind of Angel. He never
looked up as if fearful, only kept doing his job. We were all no doubt
praying too. I know I was. I was about 40 feet from the hit. I was on the
port 20MM gun station by #01 stack. We were hit on the well deck. The
Kingfisher observation plane (OS2U) was also hit. We were dead in the water
with water temperatures about 30 degrees and survivability being about 8-10
minutes in the water. I think that was what we were told later and we
didn't want to swim that day.
Thank God for the Destroyers Bailey, Dale, Monaghan and Coghlan. They threw
a smoke screen around us and they made a torpedo run against the Japs. Even
though we were dead in the water we still trundled ammo by hand from
forward magazines to after guns. We were low on ammo on the 8 inch guns
and the forward guns were unable to fire because of their safety stops. I
only remember we kept the 8 inch guns going until we got underway. After
that battle we went into Dutch Harbor and buried our dead. Then we
went to Mare Island for repairs. I think we got leave and when I returned to
the SLC we went to the Aleutians, Attu and Kiska. We bombarded Attu for the
invasion and also Kiska. I was on the SLC until Oct. 1943 and then went
to Terminal Island, CA. and was assigned to New Construction... the Cassin Young.
We were considered seasoned fighters and most of us were 18 years old. I
Billy J. Boegen,
Lionel A. Bergstrom, S1c,
H. B. Bass, S1c,
Alfred Silcox, S1c,
Gilbert "Gib" LeBeau, GM3c,
Jack Bacues, S1c,
William Bradford, S1c,
were all commissioning the Cassin Young in Dec. of 1943.
We had another chance to fight the Japs and a very hot time was had by all.
We were hit by a Kamikaze plane on Apr. 12, 1945 and again on Jul. 31, 1945.
I was wounded on the Jul. 31 hit and received the Purple Heart. In all I had
10 Battle Stars & 2 Navy Unit Citations. After the war ended I became a
civilian for four months and then re-enlisted in the Navy where I was assigned
to the USS Leyte, CV32. I would have made the Navy my career but couldn't get
the school I wanted so was discharged in 1948.
I want my grandchildren to have this information someday, otherwise I would
not talk about it. The USS CASSIN YOUNG is now a National Historical Landmark
berthed along side OLD IRONSIDE (another national treasure) in the Charles
Town Navy Yard in Boston, MA. I attend reunions there whenever possible.
Charles E. Serey
USS CASSIN YOUNG DD793 Website...
SLC Deck Logs Dec. 1942
Articles on the Battle of the Komandorski Islands