Sunday, December 14, 2008

Latest Photo Collections

Shawn Flynn's USS Albums
The USS Houston FLICKR albums
.. you can comment on these photos (add names and places from what you know of the photos and the events. Select "Slide Show" for a very nice sequence of photos on your computer screen. See one you want to share? Just select in and then select Email. This avoids having to send lots of photos by email when only a link will do and the recipient can just download the photo when they wish. .many of these are the same photos on Flickr and on the Flynn site.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

"Son, We are Going to Hell" - epic story

More about this topic from the film at
Ship of Ghosts The Story of the USS Houston  FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser  and the Epic Saga of her Survivors

“Son, we’re going to Hell.”

The navigator of the USS Houston confided these prophetic words to a young officer as he and his captain charted a course into U.S. naval legend. Renowned as FDR’s favorite warship, the cruiser USS Houston was a prize target trapped in the far Pacific after Pearl Harbor. Without hope of reinforcement, her crew faced a superior Japanese force ruthlessly committed to total conquest. It wasn’t a fair fight, but the men of the Houston would wage it to the death.

 blog it

Monday, December 08, 2008

December 1941 not a Conspiracy

clipped from

As the anniversary of the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor rolls around, critics of President Franklin Roosevelt will again claim he had advanced knowledge of the strike and allowed it to happen. That would be treasonable on FDR’s part, of course. A rational examination of events, though, shows that FDR had no such knowledge of the attack and that, preoccupied with the Nazi threat to Great Britain, he had absolutely no intent to provoke war with Japan.

Why Those Pearl Harbor 'Conspiracy' Theories Ain’t So
 blog it

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Sketch given to fellow POW-British

I am looking for an ensign of the US Navy who served aboard the USS Houston, survived the battle where she was sunk, and was a POW in Formosa (now Taiwan). He was in the camp Shirakawa and was alive on 5/30/1944. He drew a picture in my father's autograph/scrapbook of what I assume is the USS Houston's coat of arms, surrounded by her battle honours. His signature is pretty much illegible, but perhaps if we could find an ensign who was in Shirakawa at that time we could identify him. My father died in November, aged 99. He was a British Army (Royal Artillery) officer during the war. My father (Captain W K Forbes) must have known this man quite well to have him draw a picture in the booklet, which is only 2.5 x 3.5 inches in size. I now live in Texas and would like to find out what happened to this man. Perhaps he was moved from the camp before the war's end.
I would be grateful if you could explain to me how an ensign would be described on the Crew Roster which is a part of the USS Houston website.
With Regards, David Forbes - Texas.

Don Kehn deciphered the name. This is Ens. Herb Levitt - noted in the crew roster to have died in an Automobile Accident - home of record - NYC. The year of his death is unknown. MORE PHOTOS HERE.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Stanley Woodey - News

USS Houston and POW survivor Stanley Woody ARTICLE. I had the pleasure of knowing “Woody” while I was growing up in Norfolk. He is a wonderful and inspiring person. Submiteed for this blog by Jim Outland -- Midlothian, Va. This is also Posted at and

Sunday, October 12, 2008

AXPOW & USS Houston on 2009 Calendar

For more info, go to the AXPOW website: USS Houston
featured in 2009 Calendar.
Dear HOUSTON family, (from R. Dana Charles)
I urge all NGs to join the American Ex-Prisoners of War organization (AXPOW). Membership is available not only to former POWS, but also to spouses/widowers and children of Ex-POWS. It's a very worthy organization, which needs members to continue its efforts on behalf of all American Ex-POWS and their families. Membership includes the organization's official national magazine "AXPOW Bulletin," which helps keep Ex-POW families up-to-date on ongoing POW health issues, legislation pertaining to Ex-POWS, AXPOW projects, efforts, and more.
As you know, most VA benefits that only Ex-POWS have today did not exist until the early 1980s. All of that began to change when AXPOW leaders, backed by other national veterans' organizations including the American Legion, the Disabled American Veterans, Veterans of Foreign Wars, and a great "grass roots" letter-writing effort by AXPOW members persuaded
Congress to pass Public Law 97-37, Former Prisoner of War Benefits Act (1981).

Today, AXPOW leaders are still pressing lawmakers for additional "presumptives." A few years ago, I attended the AXPOW national convention and heard (then) VA Secretary Principi announce that Cardiac problems would be added to the list of "presumptives."

Trained National Service Officers (NSOs) of AXPOW are always available to help Ex-POWS and their families deal with the VA system. Some of our NGs might want to pitch in and help in this great effort.

AXPOW's motto: "We exist to help those who cannot help themselves." I think that these words express a point of view that American POWS have had to learn the hard way, which is that POWS can hope to survive as long as other POWS are around to help. The track record of this organization shows that this motto is more than mere words.
AXPOW also produces some nice calendars, too. -- Dana For more info, go to the AXPOW website: R. Dana Charles Son of H.R. "Bob" Charles US Marine Survivor USS HOUSTON (CA-30)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Superb Blog by Jerry Ranger

Ranger's notes and photos from the dive on the USS HOUSTON WRECK. This is a superb presentation of his experinces with photos impossible to take only a few years ago.

Tuesday, September 02, 2008


After 66 years of Misinformation and Mystery, the actual story of the American destroyer USS Edsall (DD-219) is scheduled to be released this December. The book, four years in the making, and with original sources from the National Archives in Wash. DC to others in Holland, Australia, New Zealand, & Japan, as well as from family members & veterans, is entitled A Blue Sea of Blood and will be published by Zenith Press.

Despite the fact that the general contours of Edsall's fate have been recognized for some time, almost all accounts--particularly on the Internet--are erroneous to one degree or another. This new book will focus on the ship's lengthy career, and set the record straight at last. It will correct errors of both omission & commission in addition to illuminating areas of the ship's service not covered in any detail previously.


Although attempts have been made to preempt some of the rare information contained within the text, the old adage, "Accept no substitute" is a good policy when it comes to A Blue Sea of Blood and understanding Edsall's history. The book, which was written to honor the memory of those young men lost so many years ago and so needlessly, will be well worth the wait.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Happy 4th of July!

To: All our USS Houston survivors
From: a grateful nation of Americans

Thank you for your service to our country and
may you and your families have a ...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

New River Kwai Book

More prisoners of war died at Sonkrai than any other camp on the infamous River Kwai Railway. Seven thousand Australian and British POWs were sent by the Japanese to build the toughest section of the railway in the mountains between Thailand and Burma. Three thousand died from slave labour, disease, starvation and exposure the never-ending monsoon rain. After the war, a military tribunal tried five Japanese and two Koreans for those deaths.
In A River Kwai Story you will also find:

For the first time it tells the story of a River Kwai POW camp from both sides Allied and Japanese, based on the investigative and trial records.

The charge in the case was keeping prisoners in "inhuman/inhumane"
conditions, a subject which is still relevant given current controversies over how detainees are held, so the book looks at the concept of inhuman conditions then and now.

One of the main characters is British Col. Cyril Wild, who was the UK's chief war crimes investigator in Southeast Asia. Wild's papers throw new light on the Yamashita case and raise more questions about the Manila military commission that tried the Japanese general.
How you can get the book.
Allan and Unwin in Australia has rights to distribute the book in Australia, New Zealand, the western Pacific and has non-exclusive English language rights for Asia.
It is NOT easily available so far in North America or Europe.
The current rights restrictions also means you cannot order it through Amazon.
However, again if you go to my website you will find links to online bookstores in Australia that do ship internationally.You should also be able to order it if you have access to a good independent specialty bookstore or university bookstore. (These notes are from the author - Robin Rowland).

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Notes from the DIVES

Also noted at the Asiatic Fleet Blog .
Ranger's Blog 2008 Dive
Rangers Web for USS Houston

From: William Deertz []
Jerry, saw your write up on your recent dive trip to the USS Houston. Wish I had known a group of you were coming as I would have liked to join the expedition. I am a US expat and have been living in Jakarta for the past 11 years. A group of us dove the USS Houston on the 60th anniversary of the sinking. You can see a few photos and a short video I put together from this trip at this link As you’ll know from diving it the visibility is poor so in the video its often difficult to make out where you are at. I would have liked to get more wide angle from outside the wreck but the poor visibility makes this difficult.
Here is a 2007 PHOTO Album from another earlier Ranger Dive.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Raymond Davis - 2008 Scholarship Winner

The 2008 scholarship winner was announced at the recent reunion. He is - drumroll please! - Raymond Davis. Ray is a freshman at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA, majoring in Communications with a concentration in Video Production and Screen Writing.

His winning essay addressed the topic "What Does the Memory of the Crew of the USS Houston (CA-30) Mean to Me?" in which he wrote about his great uncle Lt. George E. Davis, Jr. USN, a 1935 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, who served on the USS Houston from May 1938 until
February 4, 1942. On that day, Lt. Davis was in command of a gun turret when it was struck by Japanese bombers in the Flores Sea battle and was killed. The U.S.S. George E. Davis (DE-357) destroyer escort was later named for Lt. Davis.

Ray writes that several family members say that Ray bears an uncanny resemblance to his great uncle George (see picture above right). They do look a lot alike, don't you think?

We extend our hearty congratulations and well wishes for the future to Ray.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Annual Reunion and Memorial Service

The annual reunion of the USS Houston Survivors Association and Next Generations occurred last weekend (Feb. 21-23) and was a big success. Six of the 28 Houston survivors attended along with many of their families and friends. The highlight of the weekend was the memorial service which honored the survivors and remembered those crew members who have passed away while commemorating the 66th anniversary of the sinking of the ship. See the following links for pictures of the weekend: Shawn Flynn's Pictures and Tim Joseph's Pictures

The picture below was taken in front of the Cruiser Houston special collection at the University of Houston. The six survivors who attended the reunion are (from left to right):
Harry Kelley, David Flynn, Skip Schilperoort, Howard Brooks, Marvin Sizemore, and Bill Ingram.

In the picture below, from left to right, are Marvin Sizemore, Harry Kelley, Lin Drees, David Flynn, Val Poss, Howard Brooks, Skip Schilperoort, and Bill Ingram.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

CHRONICLE - Feb. 21, 2008

Spring Branch VFW member honors crew of USS Houston
Memorial service to be held Saturday
Chronicle Correspondent
Richard Jenke was 12 the first time he saw the USS Houston (CA-30).
The cruiser made a visit to Houston in 1939.
"My parents took me to see it," said Jenke, a member of VFW Post 576 in
Spring Branch, who will turn 81 Feb. 25. "I was so impressed when I saw it I
knew I would be a sailor. What I didn't know is three years later it would
be sunk by the Japanese.
"That's why I joined the Navy at age 15."
Jenke, who served in the U.S. Navy from 1942-1954, has made a point of
honoring those who served aboard the USS for more than 10 years. Surviving
crewmen and their loved ones have gathered each year for memorial services
and reunions at the USS Houston Memorial Monument in downtown Houston.
"I gave honor to the guys who made it and remembered the guys who didn't
make it," said Jenke..
The services, presented by the USS Houston Survivors Association and the USS
Houston Next Generation, honors all those who served aboard the USS Houston,
living and deceased.
This year's service will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday behind the Houston
Heritage Society offices at Sam Houston Park, 1100 Bagby.
"To me, it just makes me realize what these men have gone through," said
Venice, Fla. resident Jane Matthews, an association member who attends the
service in memory of her father, John B. Stefanek.
The Japanese sunk the USS Houston on March 1, 1942, while it was trying to
run the Sunda Strait into the India Ocean between Java and Sumatra.
Seven hundred of the 1,068 men onboard died.
The remaining 369 men were captured by the Japanese and used as slave
laborers. Many were forced to help build the Burma Railway, known as the
railroad to death.
Approximately 100 of the USS Houston survivors died before the prisoners
were liberated in fall 1945.
"Dad didn't like to talk about it," Matthews said. "He didn't really talk
about the beatings he must have received. It's a miracle any of these men
made it through."
Today, only 28 USS Houston survivors are alive, said Pflugerville resident
Val Poss, who heads up the USS Houston Survivors Association, along with Lin
Drees. The organization was founded by survivor Otto Schwartz of New Jersey
in 1948.
Six survivors are expected to attend the memorial service, along with five
surviving spouses and numerous family members.
Association members will announce the arrival of each survivor with a
boatswain's whistle, the traditional signaling device used aboard U.S. Navy
A sea cadet will salute each survivor and bring him "aboard" the service
Organizers then will sound four bells, another Navy tradition to announce
that someone of importance is coming aboard.
Poss will announce each survivor by name and rank.
Service participants will lay wreaths at the USS Houston Memorial Monument,
and musicians will perform the Navy Hymn.
After a moment of silence, volunteers will sound "All Hands: Attention" on
the boatswain's whistle and eight bells, the signal for end of watch.
The ceremony will end with a three-volley salute, and performances of taps,
God Bless America and Before You Go.
Poss said Before You Go, a song of thanks for older veterans, always moves
"Before they die, they need to know how much they mean to us," Poss said.
"This entire reunion is in their honor."
The organization is determined to honor the USS survivors as much as
Its Web site,, features a collection of personal photos
and biographies.
"My primary goal is to keep these men's memories alive," said site creator
Shawn Flynn of Kelseyville, Calif. The site is dedicated to Flynn's father,
USS Houston survivor David Flynn.
There are bright memories, too, Matthews said. Not everyone knows the USS
Houston had its own baseball team. And while her father didn't discuss his
days as a POW, he loved to share tales of his days with the team.
While he was stationed in Manila, Philippines, Stefanek hit a home run in
the same spot Babe Ruth hit a run.
"He was very proud of that," Matthews said.
Today, Matthews is working on getting a Purple Heart awarded to her father
"It's unfortunate that when these men came home, after what they endured,
they didn't get recognition," she said.
For more information, visit or

Friday, January 04, 2008

Joe Garrett Joins Shipmates "Standing Watch"

Survivor Joe Garrett passed away unexpectedly from pneumonia and congestive heart failure on Dec. 18th after a short hospital stay. After the USS Houston sank, he became a POW for 3 1/2 years during which he participated in construction of the "Death Railway". Following the war, he remained on active duty in the Navy serving for 20 years. In the pictures below, he is shown soon after returning from prison camp (left) and at the time he received the Purple Heart and POW medals in 2003 (right). Joe attended the Houston reunions in 2002, 2004, and 2006. Most recently, he enjoyed reading the book Ship of Ghosts about the USS Houston by James Hornfischer - not once, but twice! For Joe's full biography, see this link: Joe's Biography. He will be missed by all as he now joins his shipmates standing watch over Sunda Strait.