Samuel Booker Roberts, Jr., born in San Francisco, Calif., on 12 May 1921, enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve on 13 April 1939 at Portland, Oreg. He advanced to the rank of Coxswain and served continuously until his death on 28 September 1942. He was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism while serving on the crew of a landing craft that, despite intense enemy fire, rescued stranded marines from Guadalcanal.
(DE-413: dp. 1,745 (f.); l. 306'0"; b. 36'7"; dr. 13'4"; s. 24 k.; cpl. 222; a. 2 5", 4 40mm., 10 20mm., 3 21" tt., 2 dct., 8 dcp., 1 dcp. (hh.) ; cl. John C. Butler)
The first Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) was laid down on 6 December 1943 by Brown Shipbuilding Co., Houston, Tex.; launched on 20 January 1944; sponsored by Mrs. Samuel B. Roberts; and commissioned on 28 April 1944, Lt. Comdr. R. W. Copeland, USNR, in command.
Following shakedown off Bermuda from 21 May to 19 June and availability at Boston Navy Yard, Samuel B. Roberts departed from Norfolk on 22 July 1944, and transited the Panama Canal on 27 July to join the Pacific Fleet.
She arrived at Pearl Harbor on 10 August, and conducted training exercises until sailing on the 21st escorting a convoy to Eniwetok which she reached on 30 August. On 2 September, she steamed back for Pearl Harbor, arriving there with a convoy on the 10th. Following further training, she got underway on the 21st escorting a convoy to Eniwetok where she arrived on 30 September.
Samuel B. Roberts proceeded to Manus Island where she joined Task Unit 77.4.3, then steamed for the Leyte Gulf area and commenced operations with the Northern Air Support Group off Samar.
Shortly after dawn on 25 October 1944, Samuel B. Roberts was protecting American escort carriers off Samar, when a Japanese task force suddenly appeared on the horizon and opened fire. After joining in a daring torpedo attack on the Japanese cruisers and scoring a torpedo hit on one and at least 40 gunfire hits on a second, Samuel B. Roberts was hit by a salvo of 14-inch shells which tore a hole 40 feet long and 10 feet wide in the port side of her number 2 engine room. The ship was abandoned and soon sank. The 120 survivors clung to 3 life rafts for 50 hours before being rescued.
Samuel B. Roberts was included in the Presidential Unit Citation given to TU 77.4.3 “for extraordinary heroism in action.” She was struck from the Navy list on 27 November 1944.
Samuel B. Roberts earned one battle star for World War II service.