Audubon County

Fireman 1/c Roy H. Knudsen




Iowa Men Decorated for Heroic Service in Pacific

U.S. SOUTH PACIFIC HEADQUARTERS, Dec.2.—(Delayed)—(AP)—Japanese twin engine planes bombed a destroyed sized seaplane tender off Vanikoro island in the southern part of the Santa Cruz group 10 times on July 16 and 17, starting eight fires but failing to sink her.

The story of how the tender’s crew kept her afloat, though the engine room was destroyed, and brought her home has just been released.

The Japanese assaults started at 7:15 in the morning of July 16 and continued intermittently until 3 o’clock in the afternoon, averaging five bombers in each attack. The tender sent up over 700 rounds of ammunition and shot down at least one of the attacking planes.

With her power gone and her midship compartments flooded by water pouring through shrapnel holes, the tender halted and listed heavily to starboard. Not until four days later were all eight fires—ranging from gasoline and electric combustions to a raging oil blaze in the engine room—extinguished. Then the ship reached a safe base after surviving one direct hit and a half a dozen near misses by enemy bombs.

Three members of her crew have been recommended for the Silver Star. They are Chief Carpenter’s Mate, Dale D. Huffman, son of Mrs. Inez Huffman, Jefferson, Iowa, Chief Electrician’s Mate Roy W. Nevills, San Diego, Calif., and Chief Boatswains Mate William B. Sedor, Binghamton, N.Y.

Huffman voluntarily went below decks to spray the bulkheads and prevent the engine room fire from spreading after the routine procedure of flooding became too risky. After shrapnel punctured the ship’s sides, he went over into shark-infested waters to patch the holes.

Nevills, knocked unconscious in the seventh attack, later made emergency repairs to high voltage electric lines. Then he managed to start a generator with water well above the floorplates and led shipmates in fighting the fires.

Sedor was captain of a gun crew that fought back at the Japanese bombers. Then he stopped a leak in the hull in the partly flooded engine room and led a crew of fire fighters.

Three other members of the crew were recommended for the marine corps medal for heroic work in plugging shrapnel holes and fighting the fires. They are Fireman First Class Roy H. Knudsen, Audubon, Ia.; Motor Machinist’s Mate 2/c Emra F. Castle, jr., Fort Smith, Ark.; and Electrician’s Mate 1/c Alagram H. Nordgram, Salt Lake City.

Source: Council Bluffs Nonpareil, January 8, 1944