USS Edsall DD-219
Message Board

1.
Jan. 21, 2017

I just discovered your excellent website with the California BB-44 pictures. I come from an old career navy family; both father and grandfather were China sailors, my grandfather serving on the monitor, Monandock (BM-3.) He retired to Vallejo, CA (Mare Island) sometime between WWI & WWII. Subsequently he was employed by Mare Island before retiring in 1947, I believe.

My father, Commander Robert T. Stagner (ret), a mustang, enlisted in 1933, serving on the USS Edsall  DD-219 at Shanghai during the Second Sino-Japanese War in 1937. In 1940 he volunteered for and was sent to submarine school at New London, CT. On Dec 7 th 1941 he was assigned to an S-boat, S-46, and on patrol off the Bahamas. My mother, pregnant with  me, was still in New London and returned shortly thereafter to Vallejo to spend the war years with my maternal grandparents.

They diverted my fathers boat to the Panama Canal Zone where for two months they guarded the western approaches to the Canal; he made three war patrols on the S-46. During this time the S-26 was accidently rammed by the subchaser USS Sturdy on 24 Jan 1942 while on patrol and sank with only the captain, executive officer and a lookout surviving. My mother who had by this time returned to Vallejo She heard a garbled newscast reporting the loss of S-something..6 during this time but with the information blackout at the time the news was not repeated and it took somewhat over two weeks before she was able to confirm that she was not a widow.

SubDiv 53 was then sent to Brisbane, Queensland, my father being a CPO at the time. In June 1942 he was commissioned as an ensign, upon arrival in Australia and assigned to the Submarine Tender USS Griffen (AS-13.)  In this position he was the project officer responsible for grafting on the temporary bow of the USS Growler, SS-215, before its transit back to the states for permanent repairs.

Dad was returned to the states in April 1944, seeing me for the first time a couple of weeks prior to my second birthday. Following an eight week leave he was temporarily assigned to a maintenance division in Mare Island, then ordered to Midway to join the crew of the USS Croaker SS-246. On the Croaker, he did two war patrols, the first into the Sea of Japan and the second into the South China Sea He retired from the navy in 1956 after 24 years service.

I also had an uncle, Arthur Dunham, my mother's brother, who was a seaman on the Tennessee, I believe,  at Pearl Harbor. He also retired after 30 years service, as a Master Chief Petty Officer.

Remnants of letters from my father to my aunts from his time in Shanghai have been published on this page,
Letters from Shanghai.

Robert R. Stagner
Central Point, Oregon
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Page published January 18, 2017