Honda (Pedernales) Point, California, Disaster, 8 September 1923
Conduct of Officers and Men at Time of Stranding of Destroyers


U.S.S. Melville, Flagship


San Diego, California
20 September 1923


SUBJECT: Conduct of Officers and Men at time of Stranding of Destroyers off Point Arguello, California.

1. The grief which the Commander Destroyer Squadrons feels, at the loss of so many brave men of the command and the further serious loss of seven vessels of the Destroyer Force, has been in some degree tempered by pride and gratification at the splendid behavior of all officers and men attached to the stranded vessels at the time of the disaster.

2. All reports are unanimous in recording the high order of discipline maintained from the moment of grounding until all of the personnel were returned to base.

3. The attention of the Commander Destroyer Squadrons has been invited to numerous special acts of highly meritorious service, among the most prominent being the following:

Robert Morris, Captain: Indefatigable in the rescue of officers and men from the S.P. Lee and Nicholas.

W. S. Pye, Commander: Saving certain vessels of his division by prompt action.

L. P. Davis, Commander: Displayed unusual decision and judgment in saving his entire crew.

W. L. Calhoun, Commander: Displayed leadership and personality which saved the lives of three quarters of the crew of the Young.

D. T. Hunter, Lieut-Cdr: For coolness and efficiency during the crisis, doing everything possible for his ship and material assistance to the Squadron Commander.

H. G. Donald, Lieut-Cdr: Valuable service in securing boilers and planning life saving appliances.

W. D. Seed, Lieut-Cdr: By personal effort and leadership saved his entire crew.

R. H. Booth, Lieut-Cdr: Rendered invaluable service in rescuing the crew of the Young.

J. F. McClain, Lieut-Cdr: For extricating the USS Farragut from a serious position.

E. G. Hersinger, Lieut.: For coolness and great assistance in face of grave danger. For personal courage and excellent manner in which he made arrangements for landing crew of Young.

H. F. Sasso, Lieut(jg) (Act’g Exec. of Nicholas): Assisted in most commendable manner taking initiative and carrying out orders promptly.

C. V. Lee, Lieut(jg) and M. Frye, C.B.M.: Who greatly aided in landing the Young’s crew.

A. H. Donaldson, Lt(jg): Who as officer of the Deck was cool, calm and most officer-like and conducted himself in a commendable manner in a grave crisis.

J. F. Ryall, (Radio Rigger from Mare Island): Rendered meritorious service in saving crew from S. P. Lee.

L. F. Blodgett, Lt(jg)
R. H. Cruzon, Lt(jg)
D. F. Aivtey WT1c
A. A. Bayes SC1c
G. E. Burke Yeo1c
G. F. Connon MM1c.
L. Cook C.S.M.
H. C. Cummings C.Q.M.
W. J. Eckenberg Sea2c
J. W. Ferrell GM1c
H. Fontan GM1c
J. C. Holdorf C.Y.
H. A. Isbell Cox.
L. V. Lattimore C.R.M.
J. F. O’Hare QM1c
E. B. Palmer Cox.

Displayed coolness, courage and efficiency.

L. G. Robbins F2c
R. L. Rhodehamel Eng2c
J. C. Roseboro GM3c
J. C. Whittaker CCM
H. H. Wilgus BM2c
H. B. Wilson CTM
Displayed coolness, courage and efficiency.

W. Short CQM
N. C. Brown CGM
Haynes TM2c
Cushner RM2c
Stillwaugh RM2c
Carlson Cox.
Particularly meritorious and commendable conduct.

The following who went below and remained in steaming boiler room until all power was lost:
H. Redout
M. E. Tillett
V. S. Griswold
J. L. White
C. Thomas
G. Herbert
S.V. Sage
E. Bangiban
W. A. Pullen
E. Sylvia
C. E. Van Buskerk
F. N. Castleberry
F. Czolgosz
E. J. Lowman
H. Cruz
D. P. O’Brien

Those who went into #2 boiler room and attempted to get up steam, but without result:
E. J. Cook
C. N. Sordyl
H. C. Wilson
G. W. Green

Peterson, CBM: Who bravely, and at great personnel risk, swam with line to the Chauncey and by so doing the crew of the Young were landed.

I[rving] T[homas] Scott, F1c: Who attempted to close the master burner valve by going back to the fireroom floor plates; but the water had risen so high he could not complete the job. Reaching deck he attempted to secure boiler stop valves and lift safety valves.

N. F. Owen QM1c and H.W. Williams Sea2c: Who were instrumental in saving the life of BM2c Braden of the USS Young.

4. The Commander Destroyer Squadrons directs that this letter be read at Quarters on all vessels of this Command and a copy be attached to the Enlistment record of each man mentioned herein. Unit Commanders will cause a certified copy to be attached to the next fitness report of the officers concerned.

/s/ Sumner E. W. Kittelle

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