MY 30 MONTHS ON THE
USS SIGSBEE DD 502
IN DESRON 25
BY: WILLIAM K (Billy) ROBERTS, Jr.
AMATEUR RADIO OPERATOR: W7DZ
I reported aboard the USS Sigsbee after sunset, the day she was Commissioned, January 23, 1943 at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, NY, a 17 year, six month old lad with a sea bag and a guitar. I left the Sigsbee August 5, 1945 at Pearl Harbor, a 20 year old man with unforgettable memories, a sea bag and a brand new French Fiddle. Looking back, I hated to leave my shipmates and my ship, "The Fighting Sigsbee", my only ship, my home for 2 1/2 years; I grew up on HER decks and guns during World War II...
The following statement is to the best of my recollection: From January 23 to the last week of July in 1943 the ship was used as a crash boat destroyer escorting new Aircraft Carriers in training exercises along the East coast, out of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, between Casco Bay ME and Trinidad BWI. We also stopped by Boston via the Cape Cod Canal, Norfolk and Guantanamo Bay Cuba. In late July 1943 we departed Norfolk, Virginia with other ships in route to the Panama Canal. On July 25, 1943, Fireman 2/c Myer H Shipero was lost at sea after being washed overboard. The ship searched for the missing crewman for several hours before continuing on to the Canal Zone. The Sigsbee spent a few days in the vicinity of the Panama Canal while the accompanying fleet of fighting ships transited the Canal.
Sigsbee then continued her voyage to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. About the first week of August 1943 Pearl Harbor became the Sigsbee's "Home Port". After a few weeks training and gunnery practice we were ready for action. Our first battle assignment was to escort a carrier attach on Marcus Island. The second was Wake Island. Most of 1944 saw the Sigsbee at the battles retaking the Gilbert Islands (Tarawa), the Marshal Islands, New Briton Island, Morotai Island, Guam, Marianas and the Philippine Islands (Leyte Gulf)
After landing our troops at Leyte, October 1944 the Sigsbee sailed for a much-needed overhaul at San Francisco. She was there nearly 2 months. The crew was given 21-day leaves in two shifts. In January 1945 the Sigsbee returned to Pearl Harbor via San Diego and San Pedro, CA.
The next 3 months went swiftly by as we made sortie from Ulithi to support the invasion of Iwo Jima and air strikes on mainland Japan and Okinawa.
On April 12, 1945 we received word that our Commander in Chief and President Franklin D Roosevelt had died. Two days later, April 14, 1945, The Sigsbee was on picked duty near Okinawa with several other Destroyers when a Kamikaze appeared off our starboard bow. The DD 502 commenced rapid fire, engines in emergency ahead flank speed, full left rudder. I was pointer on Gun #43, firing at the plane as it headed directly at our number two stack at bearing about 095*T and 15 feet level above the water. When the plane was approximately 75 yards from the ship smoke appeared from the engine and the plane veered left (from direction of flight) and struck the fantail in the vicinity of the 600-pound depth charge racks and the 20MM machine gun positions. The force of the explosion threw me from my gun seat to the deck. As I got to my feet shrapnel and debris was falling all around our gun area. There appeared to be no serious injures to our gun crew and they remained at their stations. The total casualties resulting from this action was 18 missing, 4 killed in action and 77 injured. One of the seriously injured transferred to the USS Dashiel for treatment died in May 1945.
Details in the following paragraph were borrowed from "A History of the USS Sigsbee DD502" By Lyle Buss.
The USS Dashiell DD-659 took the crippled Sigsbee under tow at 1623 hours. At 1757 hours the tow chain parted. The Cruiser, USS Miami took us under tow at 1923 hours. Our ship formation was under air attack by several bogeys during the night and many flares were dropped by the enemy. The following day the USS Miami met with the Seagoing Tug USS Munsee AT-107and the Sigsbee was headed for a floating dry dock in Guam. At 9.5 knots it would be a long sad journey. Since nearly half the crew had lost their living quarters and all their belongings, those of us in the aft quarters lived and slept on the second deck aft of No.2 stack.
In the dry dock at Guam, workers removed gun mount No. 5 and the extraneous metal that remained after the explosion, including a large section of the main deck that had curled up near gun mount No. 5.
The Sigsbee was soon under tow again bound for Pearl Harbor, where a new 75-foot stern section was waiting to be attached. Gaining a few knots of speed we arrived June 7, 1945 (I left the Sigsbee in late July 1945 and was aboard a troop ship from Honolulu to Seattle the first part of August. I recall hearing that A-bombs had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the voyage. V - J Day had come and gone by the time we arrived at Seattle).
I learned from "A History of the USS Sigsbee DD502 by Lyle Buss," the Sigsbee departed Pearl Harbor September 28, 1945 arriving Philadelphia October 22, 1945. Her next voyage was to Charleston, SC.
"Recent reports" say the Sigsbee was moved to the New York Navy Yard area in 1953 or 1954, where she remained in the mothball fleet, moving to Philadelphia in 1962. Finally, at rest and rusting in her last port, she was sold in June 1975 for $148,000 (minus one dollar) and scrapped later that year. (The price tag to build the ship in 1942 was $7,000,000).
This fighting Sigsbee was recycled never to sail again. No ENEMY could sink her but she could not survive the junk yard CUTTING TORCH.
USS Sigsbee Ribbons and Battle Stars as shown on my Navy Discharge:
ASIATIC PACIFIC 10 STARS (in less than 21 months Pacific Duty)
PHILIPPINE LIBERATION 1 STAR
Commander Chung-Hoon Decorations: Navy Cross and Silver Star for conspicuous gallantry and extraordinary heroism as commanding officer for USS Sigsbee (DD 502) from May 1944 to October 1945
Sigsbee CALL SIGN: COYOTE
Motto: COYOTE howls, growls and fills the sky with shells
Japanese Planes shot down: 5
William Knight Roberts Jr. GM3c