Daily Event for October 26, 2010

In late October of 1942 two powerful task forces were on a collision course with Guadalcanal as the intended target. The two groups had the same goal, to reinforce their troops in the Solomons. The plan on both sides was to destroy the naval force of the enemy in a decisive battle, with the ultimate prize being the Solomons. The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands began on October 26, 1942 when aircraft from USS Enterprise CV-6 located the enemy force northeast of the Solomons and attacked.

The Japanese would win the day, but loose the battle. When the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands is mentioned one name above all others comes to mind, USS Hornet, the carrier which launched the Doolittle Raid became the largest casualty of the battle, but the other U.S. ship which was lost, in fact the only other ship lost in the battle on either side is mostly ignored.

USS Porter DD-356 under the command of Lt. Commander David G. Roberts was part of the escort group assigned to the task force. Porter had begun the war en route to the U.S.A. after leaving Pearl Harbor on Dec. 5, 1941, keeping her from damage when the Japanese attacked two days later. She was ordered to return to Pearl and later was used as a convoy escort off the west coast of the U.S.A.

After returning to Pearl she was assigned to TF-16 with USS Enterprise CV-6 and steamed off to the Solomons. During the battle the men on the Porter put up a heavy anti-aircraft screen against the Japanese who were attacking Hornet, at about the same time aircraft from Enterprise were returning from their attack on the Japanese fleet, the planes were low on fuel and one, an Avenger, crash landed in the water near Porter, Roberts moved his ship toward the downed aircraft to rescue the crew.

What nobody knew was that when the plane went into the water the torpedo it was carrying separated and began running, it appears to have run two circles as two torpedoes were seen, on the second trip round it hit Porter in the forward engineering spaces, the explosion instantly killed eleven of the crew and injured nine others. USS Shaw DD-373 came alongside to aid the ship, but soon reported picking up the signal of a submarine on her sonar so she moved off to engage the unseen target. The men on Porter did all they could to keep their ship afloat, but the damage was too great.

Roberts ordered the ship abandoned and Shaw, having found no submarine, returned and took off the crew. An hour or so later when the ship was empty Shaw put a torpedo and several shells into the ship and the first casualty of the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands slipped beneath the waves. Not a victim of a Japanese submarine as first thought and often repeated, but a victim of a U.S. torpedo. Before the battle was over however four more of Porter's crew died from their injuries, making fifteen men lost in the incident.
© 2010 Michael W. Pocock
MaritimeQuest.com



Roll of Honor
In memory of those who lost their lives in
USS Porter DD-356
"As long as we embrace them in our memory, their spirit will always be with us"

Name
Rate
*
Anderson, Jr., Thomas M.
Fireman 1st Class
Bailey, John W.
Fireman 1st Class
**
Baner, Robert E.
Chief Watertender
Bethner, Michael E.
Fireman 1st Class
Holmes, Francis N.
Watertender 2nd Class
Janssen, Ralph W.
Lieutenant (j.g.) (USNR)
Kostelnik Jr., John R.
Boilermaker 2nd Class
Lewis, Marquis E.
Fireman 1st Class
Martens, Arnoe H.
Watertender 2nd Class
***
McCarthy, Charles P.
Watertender 1st Class
Miller, Glen A.
Fireman 1st Class
Ritzinger, Joseph L
Watertender 1st Class
Schirmer, Chester N.
Fireman 1st Class
Sexton, Vencent W.
Watertender 2nd Class
Wilson, Offa L.
Watertender 1st Class
       
*
Died of wounds Oct. 29.
**
Died of wounds Oct. 28.
***
Died of wounds Oct. 27.


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USS Porter DD-356 seen in July 1942.






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