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Subdeacon Joe

USS Samuel B. Roberts

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“Destroyer Escort That Fought Like a Battleship”

 

 

It was the early morning of 25th of October, and the red sun reflected its image on the ocean’s surface. All of a sudden, there were ships behind the sun’s reflection — a 23-vessel-strong task force under the command of Vice Admiral Takeo Kurita — appeared out of nowhere on the horizon and opened fire. Taken by surprise and extremely overpowered, USS Samuel B. Roberts was indeed in a tight spot.

Nevertheless, it decided to charge the Japanese ships without question. The CO, Lieutenant Commander Robert W. Copeland announced to his men:

“We’re making a torpedo run. The outcome is doubtful, but we will do our duty.”

 

 

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Robert Copeland was a Tacoma lawyer who died shortly before I started practicing law in this city. He was, of course, well-known hereabouts for the actions of the Samuel B. Roberts. I heard many tellings of the Battle Off Samar from my senior partner, Claude M. Pearson, Capt. USNR, who had been a submariner in the War and came to know Copeland well in the Tacoma legal community. (Capt. Pearson was on four war patrols on the USS Pogy. He died just last year at 94; a really fine man.)

 

The story is timeless. A guided-missile frigate was eventually named after Robert W. Copeland.

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The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors is one of the best military history books I've read. Possibly the best. Amazing the levels of courage.

 

 

There's a reason I refer to October 25th as Underdog Day:

 

Battle of Agincourt, 1415

 

Battle of Balaclava, 1854

 

Battle Off Samar, 1945

 

 

 

The USS Johnston (DD-821) also made a name for herself that day also.

 

 

 

Survivors of the Johnston reported a Japanese officer aboard one ship saluting as she sank. High praise from them.

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The Japanese never learned how to handle free for all anything goes bar fight. Here is too the memory of Taffy 3:

 

U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts (sunk), Johnston (sunk), Hoel (sunk) and C.V.E. Gambier Bay (sunk).

Edited by Seldom Seen #16162

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The Japanese never learned how to handle free for all bar anything goes bar fight. Here is too the memory of Taffy 3:

 

U.S.S. Samuel B. Roberts (sunk), Johnston (sunk), Hoel (sunk) and C.V.E. Gambier Bay (sunk).

Message from Taffy 3 commander to task force ships over the TBS (Talk Between Ships radio), "Small boys, ATTACK!"

 

"Oh, hear us when we cry to Thee for those in peril on the sea." - From the Navy Hymn.

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