USS SLC...Enlisted Navy...George W. "Red" Smyser, GM3c
George "Red" Smyser passed away on Aug. 12, 1968 in a small plane accident. Ironically, the plane
crash was into a large lake in Idaho due to engine failure. I guess one
could say, "Red died at sea after all."
8 Oct 2000
I write this to add a name of a family member to the roster of the
USS SLC. That members name would be GM3c George W. "Red" Smyser who
became my Brother-in-Law in 1944. I can only give approximate dates to
his time on board ship from verbal accounts he related to me when I was a
young man after WWII.
He was aboard ship on its return to Pearl Harbor, 8 Dec 41. I can only
guess to the time period until he was transferred off, probably after the
battle in the Aleutians when the ship went dead in the water. I don't know,
but have reason to believe the SLC went back to Frisco for major repairs at
that time. At any rate, he was transferred to shore duty in the Frisco area
where he became a gunner instructor.
Red related some of the SLC's battle history that took place during the time
he was aboard ship, although like most veterans, very little from a
personnel standpoint. I asked Red one time where was his battle station,
once I understood what the designation of Gunner's Mate stood for. I got
kind of a sly grin and he said, as far up top side as one could get with out
being in the crows nest, manning a 50 Cal machine gun. As he put it, "I had
a birds eye view to what was going on most of the time." I asked him if he
ever had to fire his 50 Cal machine gun? "Only when a plane might get too
close" and with a slight wave of his hand, that was the end of that subject.
I know he was immensely proud having served on the USS Salt Lake City.
Red was at "Operations Crossroads".
He was assigned to house keeping duties on "that" Japanese Battleship
Nagato. He left the Nagato after it was anchored in the bay but told me
there were only two Japanese ships in the harbor so it had to be the
Nagato that Red talked about. In a previous message, I had indicated
that Red was assigned to a J-Battleship but was housed on some type of a
support ship during this period of time. I've racked my brain trying to
remember if he'd seen any of the explosions, but don't remember what
might have been said. Ironically, I was a part of the task force that
dropped the last nuclear bombs in 62. I was about 35 miles from target
zero in the back of a C-130 and saw the brilliance's of the last 7 nuclear
explosions. Awesome is about all I could say for that.
Best wishes and again thanks for his inclusion. He was a super guy to me
as a kid.
Henry W. Martin, MSG
Smyser, George W. USN
Enlisted in the Navy on Dec. 16th, 1940
Shipped to NTS Great Lakes
Boarded the USS SLC on Feb. 17, 1941
Promoted to S1c- Date Unknown
Transfered to Anti-Aircraft training center, Pearl Harbor, T.H.
for temporary duty...Date Unknown
Promoted to GM3c April 1, 1943
Transfered to SS George W. Julian for further transfer to new construction
Dec. 26, 1943
Information from SLC Microfilm
#7 in 1st Division Group Picture-Jan. 8, 1944
Wedding Party of "Red" & Lorraine Smyser
SLC Deck Logs
Picture contributed by Dolores Hankins, widow of SLC Veteran,
Lowell D. Hankins, GM1c
Oct. 15th, 2000 Addition
I did know Red was with the task force 200 miles out on Dec 7th, 41.
I knew he was in the south pacific engagement, during escort on the
Doolittle Raid, the Aleutians episode when the ship was dead in the water.
He was one of those that was trundling 8"ers down the deck, front to rear.
Here's a little story he told me about that episode, undocumented but I have
no reason not to believe it. We got into the discussion about "fear" and
how it can aggravate a person into doing unusual feats probably from the
adrenaline rush of the battle. Anyway, seems there was a fellow on board
that was not particularly big, just average built that during the battle,
would grab up two 8" shells, one under each arm and run down the deck to the
rear mounts. Return the same way, grab two more and run back down the deck.
Red never said how many times he did this, but after the battle when things
settled down, someone pointed to a 8" shell laying on the deck and asked
this guy to pick it up and move it. He couldn't even budge it let alone
pick it up.
The rivalry in ships? Red's claim had the SLC been allowed to fire on that
fishing trawler on the Doolittle Raid, the trawler would never have gotten a
message off. Said the ship that tried and did sink the trawler couldn't hit
the broad side of a barn had they been inside with the door closed. The
cruiser Boise? His version to what has been documented is different from
his and he had absolutely no use for the Boise. Ironic, he's buried in
Boise, Idaho now.
Best wish's and again, thanks. As a young guy (I'm 70 now) Red became
special to me, more than just a Brother-in-Law.
Henry W. Martin