Theodore R. Swenson, CMM
USS Salt Lake City CA25


USS SLC..."Enlisted Navy"...Theodore "Ted" R. Swenson, CMM

US FLAG Ted passed away on Feb. 27th, 2013. Information from son, Steve Swenson.

Hello Sandy,

At present I am serving as treasurer for Pat Monteleone during his tour as President of the USS Salt Lake City Association.(2000-2001) He tells me that you may join us at the next reunion. We look forward to meeting you and the family. I think that you are doing a tremendous job of putting the USS Salt Lake City (CA-25) on the internet. Your Dad would be very proud of what you have accomplished.
Ted Swenson

Feb. 18th, 2000


With much help from my wife, here is my picture and a short history of my tour aboard the USS Salt Lake City.

I enlisted in the US Navy on Feb. 11, 1938, at Kansas City, MO. and was sent to San Diego Naval Training Center. After completing recruit training I boarded the USS Richmond for transportation to Norfolk, VA., for Machinist School. Graduated from school in November and reported aboard the USS Salt Lake City at Long Beach, CA. just a few days before Christmas, 1938. The first duty assignment was to "B" Division #3 fireroom. In March, I was transferred to "A" division with duties in the Machine Shop and Boat Shop as Boat Engineer.

In July I was assigned "Mess Cook" duties for the "A" Division. Prior to Dec., 1940, food was served "family style". Each mess cook took care of 20 men at two tables for his division. The tables and benches were stored in the overhead above the spot where the men were served. Food was brought down from the galley in tureens by the mess cook. As a mess cook, you could and did make extra money by taking good care of the men at his tables. The crew was paid monthly and good mess cook could make as much as $15.00 in tips. One must remember that the mess cook's pay was only $36.00 per month.

We had to take care of our own tables, benches, plates and silverware. If you dropped a plate and it broke, the cost of replacement came our of your pay. Every Friday was "Field day" in preparation for Captain's inspection on Saturday. Mess cooks had to have their tables all set up with plates and silverware. The "B1" tables were adjacent to "A" division tables.

If I recall correctly the B1 mess cook was ball-red-02 Deceased Oren T. "Red" Woodford. All I remember for sure was that everyone called him "Red. He and I worked together as a team in getting ready for inspection. After the first couple of inspections we had figured out what the inspecting officer was looking for to make his selection of #1 and #2 best tables. All of us had an assortment of new and old plates and silverware. "Red" and I traded plates and silverware so that he could have one table with all new plates and shiny silverware (he had more new plates than I did is the reason he got the additional new ones). The rest of the table settings were carefully arranged from the shiniest at one end to the dullest at the far end. This was like lining up your men for inspection with the tallest at the beginning and the shortest at the far end. After that "Red" and I place first and second nearly every week. There was monetary reward for this from the "Welfare and Recreation Fund" of $2 and $1 each week.

The general area of where your division ate was also the berthing area. Large storage bins lined the outside edge of the compartment to store hammocks, cots and bedding. There was space for about twelve cots in the "A" division area, the rest had to sleep in hammocks. In stormy weather the hammocks were the best place to be to sleep.

In September, 1939, a big storm hit southern CA., and the ship had to go to sea to ride out the storm. Over half of the crew was ashore on liberty along with motor launches and motor boats and crews. The mess cooks fed the crew on watch as they were on four hours and off four. Sandwiches and coffee were the menu of the day.

In October, a new group took over mess cooking duties, and we were returned to our prior assignments. My duties were as boat engineer of #2 Motor Launch and as messenger in the after engine room when the ship was underway. The ship spent the next thirteen months operating out of Pearl Harbor. In December, 1940, the ship entered Mare Island Naval Shipyard for extensive modifications to the living areas. After that the men were fed cafeteria style and bunks were installed. Diesel powered boats were brought on board. The emergency power system of storage batteries was replaced by diesel powered generators. One of the bunker fuel oil tanks was converted to store diesel fuel. It is my understanding that when the salt water contaminated fuel put out the fires under all the boilers during the Komandorski battle, diesel oil fuel was used to light the fires under the boilers. The ship would not have been able to recover so quickly without that availability of diesel fuel oil.

With diesel powered boats on board, I was no longer considered qualified as boat engineer. My new duty assignment included steam heating system, refrigeration, anchor windlass, steering gear maintenance and standing underway watches in after engine room. During the summer of 1943 I was promoted to Chief Machinist Mate and in charge of "A" Division.

During the period of bombardment at Tarawa the port hydraulic "A" steering unit jammed and steering power was shifted to the starboard unit. ball-red-02 Deceased LCDR John Lambert, the Engineering Officer, stated that the Captain wanted to remain with the task force if we could make the necessary repairs underway. I assured him that we could, but would need a minimum of six chain falls to hoist the unit and keep it from swinging and sliding around or damaging the other piping and machinery. Mr. Lambert said I could have all the chain falls that we needed. It took B. C. Allgood, MM1c and I three weeks to get the job done as we stood our regular watches and worked during our off watch time. Mr. Lambert came down while we were assembling the repaired parts and stamped the date repairs were made on the parts using metal stamping tools.

In April, 1944, orders came for my transfer back to the USA to be commissioned as Ensign. The next time I saw the USS Salt Lake City was in Okinawa as she lay at anchor and providing fire support for the ground troops. I was engineering officer on the USS LCS (L) 123.

In November, 1962, I retired from active duty. My last duty station was at the Navy and Marine Corps Reserve Training Center at Danville, IL.

One thing I missed having in the modern Navy was the "family style" of feeding the crew as one got to see and talk to the other members of the division at meal time each day. This led to getting to know each other better and encouraged greater camaraderie.

Theodore "Ted" Swenson

SLC Deck Logs Mar. 1943  Dec. 1943  Apr. 1944
#22 in "A" Division, 1944

Ted & Louise have attended the following SLC Reunions:
1973  1975  1981  1983  1989  1991  1995  1997  2001  2002  2003  2004


In Loving Memory of
Louise Swenson
Feb. 8, 1918
Sept. 24, 2001

God saw you getting weary
He did what He thought best.
He put His arms around you
And said "come and rest".
He opened up His golden gate
On that heartbreaking day
And with His arms around you,
You gently slipped away.
It broke our hearts to lose you,
You did not go alone,
A part of us went with you,
The day God called you home.



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