Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Guadalcanal - Eric Hammel Research Oral Histories

Dates: 1982-1988

The oral histories in this collection were completed by Eric Hammel while researching and writing two books on Guadalcanal, Guadalcanal: The Carrier Battles (1987) and Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea (1987). He donated the original copies of these oral histories as well as his working files and other research materials to the Navy Archives in 1987 and 1988.

Digital audio copies of these oral histories are available by request at the Navy Archives.

Beck, Charles
Date of Interview: 20 March 1988
Topics Discussed: Joined the Navy on Feb 24 1941 when he was 18, assigned to the USS HORNET in 1941 out of Norfolk VA.  Naval aviator on an F4F during the Battle of Midway.  Action/battle stations during engagements with Japanese, close to the flight deck.  Daily routines and uniforms.  Chasing part of the Japanese fleet, being attacked by Japanese planes.  Firefighting on deck.

Blevins, Millard
Date of Interview: 12 January 1987
Topics Discussed: Escorting ships to Guadalcanal during World War II.  USS FLETCHER (DD-445) engagements with Japanese aircraft, action during the battle.  Bomb arsenal of Japan and anti-aircraft guns aboard FLETCHER.  Japanese kills during the battle.

Bodd, Charles A.
Date of Interview: 17 March 1987
Topics Discussed: The Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II, friends of Bodd who were killed in action.  Details of the battle, the ship getting hit, and moving along the destroyer.  Importance of training in response to attack.

Calhoun, Cal
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Naval battle of Guadalcanal during World War II.  Going to battle station at gun director, night action and gunnery officer duties.  His background and education, graduating the USNA in 1938.  Assigned to the USS STERETT (DD-407) since 1939.  Japanese torpedo bomber engagements.

Clark, Lewis A. 
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: His experience at the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II.  Responsibilities of gun captain on USS SOUTH DAKOTA, gunner's mate 3rd class, was in Navy 2 years at time of battle.  Leaving Philadelphia Navy Yard, Panama Canal, Pearl Harbor, to South Pacific.  Joined ENTERPRISE and HORNET for Santa Cruz Islands.  Fire taken, some killed and wounded.  Recreation time activities.  Places BB-57 were hit, at least 62 KIA.  Discharged in 1948, Navy award received.

Clark, Wayne
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: His part in the Battle of Guadalcanal, on board escort ship USS BARTON (DD-599).  Preparation for battle at action station.  Armament on board.  Ship got split in two by Japanese torpedo, his escape from the sinking ship.  Getting rescued from someone with a life raft.  Finally rescued by USS PORTLAND (CA-33) after a few attempts.  One of 42 survivors.  Landed on island, stayed at Guadalcanal for a period of time until transport came and took them back to America.  Sick with malaria.  30 day leave in San Diego, ship duty next at Charleston.  Sent back to Pacific.  Importance of combat training.

Cook, James C.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Battleship USS South Dakota Oral History Project; target practice; fire control group; Battle of Guadalcanal; Served on USS PRESTON (DD-379) in World War II as escort to SOUTH DAKOTA during Battle of Guadalcanal. Description of action during the battle, ship got hit, had to escape to water, eventually was rescued.

Crow, Roger C.
Date of Interview: 21 October 1982
Topics Discussed: Experience in Air Group 3 as part of the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II.

Davidson, Willard C.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Joined the Navy in 1937, assigned to the USS O'BANNON (DD-450) at its commissioning after he finished fireman school.  Ships in his battle group and their armaments.  Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II.

Drew, John G.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: His experience at the battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II, firing on Japanese destroyers.

Eads, Allen L.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: N/A - difficult to hear interview due to static.

Esders, William G.
Date of Interview: 25 October 1982
Topics Discussed: Battles of the South Pacific during World War II.  Served on USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) with Air Group 3.  Battle of Guadalcanal.

Glassman, Russell C.
Date of Interview: 11 September 1982
Topics Discussed: Battle of Santa Cruz, August 23-24, 1942 against the Japanese during World War II in the Pacific.  USS ENTERPRISE's (CV-6) role in the battle, attacked by 40 Japanese bombers.  ENTERPRISE's offensive efforts.

Glaviano, James
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Part of Task Force 167, rated as storekeeper 2nd class, enlisted in the Navy circa 1940.  Started battle around midnight aboard USS INDIANA (BB-58), belligerent ships on both sides during Battle of Guadalcanal around Savo Islands. USS WASHINGTON (BB-56) sunk a Japanese battleship.  Personnel and camaraderie among Sailors on WASHINGTON, recreation time. His background and education, served on the USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) for at least three years.  Firing on the Japanese, attitude during battle, calmness and anxiety.  Looking at pilots he was shooting, close proximity to Japanese dive bombers.  Being called an Ace for shooting down 5 planes.  Emotional state of battle, anger at being bombed

Guillory, Troy T.
Date of Interview: 2 August 1982
Topics Discussed: Navigation charts and flight records of USS HORNET during World War II, and their incompatibilities.

Haberman, Roger A.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Member of 40 pilot, 20 plane squadron, flying during a Japanese air strike, description of a dog fight during the Battle of Guadalcanal.  Shooting and killing Japanese pilots.  Getting shot in the leg and arm, coming down for a landing.  Hospital for a week.  Still has the piece of metal in his arm.  Meeting Australian coast watchers while on leave.  Nicknamed "Uncle" in the Navy.

Higdon, Harry
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Conducting battle against 32 Japanese ships from 13 American ships during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II.  Role of the USS JUNEAU (CL-52) in the battle, and lives lost.

Hilton, J. Ross
Date of Interview: 4 February 1988
Topics Discussed: Conducting battle against 32 Japanese ships from 13 American ships during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II.  Role of the USS JUNEAU (CL-52) in the battle, and lives lost.

Hise, Henry W.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Events leading up to the Guadalcanal campaign. Bombing operations and coordination with the Navy in the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II. Description of action against Japanese destroyers during the Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II.  Battle from the eyes of a dive bomber pilot.

Horsman, Edward A.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Enlisted in USNR in December 1941, was called to active duty in 1942, basic training in Norfolk VA.  Anti-submarine sound school in Key West FL (sonar), then New York assigned to USS FLETCHER (DD-445) shakedown to Guantanamo Bay, thru Panama Canal to South Pacific.  5 cruisers and 8 destroyers sent to intercept Japanese task force going to Guadalcanal.  Radio contact with enemy and battle.

Hughes, Joseph D.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Battle of Guadalcanal on 13 November 1942 , started the day on an escort ship.  General quarters were in an engine room, heard fire above and firing about 10 torpedo, big guns at close range.  One of two men who escaped the engine room.  Was rated as a fireman, injured men all over deck, which was "slippery with blood."  Abandoned ship with 2 other men, spotted by sharks.  Rescued by Marine Corps boat.  USS MONSSEN (DD-436) exploded.  Survivors were set ashore by Marines, watched the Battle of Guadalcanal under coconut trees.  Unloaded ammunition ships afterwards.  Married a Japanese girl during the Japanese occupation.

Imholte, Robert
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Cruises to Bermuda and Azores in 1940, then to Iceland on board USS IDAHO (BB-42), injured and sent to naval hospital.  Declared fit for duty after Pearl Harbor attacks and served aboard USS DECATUR (DD-341) on patrols and escorts to Iceland.  Then to USS AARON WARD (DD-483).  Cruise to San Diego, Pearl Harbor, Fiji Islands, prepared with battle group for invasion of Guadalcanal.  Battle station, air attacks, getting fired on. Aboard USS AARON WARD (DD-483) during Battle of Guadalcanal, rescued survivors of other ships when hit by Japanese air and sea attacks.  Exemplary characters of his CO and XO.

Jett, Charles M.
Date of Interview: 5 April 1982
Topics Discussed: Commanded torpedo squadron 3 in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons in 1942.  Enlisted in the Navy in 1924, USNA graduate in 1931, received wings the following year.  Aspired to be an aviation officer at Pensacola FL in 1932-33.  35 year naval career.  Deployed on USS SARATOGA (CV-3) from San Diego, was torpedoed.  Came back, taught reserves how to land on carriers. Getting a talking-to from Admiral Halsey, limited number of pilots and men who could be trained.  Philosophy of war fighting and determination. Armaments aboard US airplanes during the Battle of Guadalcanal, action against Japanese planes and ships during World War II.  Dog fights. Difference between regular Navy officer pilots and the new reservists just trained for pilot duties, Navy was slow at promoting veteran flyers, age gaps of officers doing the same jobs.

Johnson, James
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Air action over the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II.  Coast watchers warned of Japanese bombers leaving air field, gaining altitude, was able to shoot down a few planes.  Duration of the battle and period afterwards.

Julian, A.L.
Date of Interview: 28 April 1982
Topics Discussed: General alarms on aircraft carrier, flight deck cleared by pushing other aircraft overboard.  Under attack from Japanese ships, preparing for battle, crash landings on carrier before Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific.  On 12 August 1942, at battle station he could see HORNET and ENTERPRISE get attacked, lots of planes launched, intensive AA fire. The sinking of the HORNET during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II.  A few survivors set on land.  Interest in lighter-than-air branch of the Navy.  Re-assignment of the rest of HORNET's crew.  Ship's repairs and men transferred to ENTERPRISE.

Kelber, Victor
Date of Interview: 1 October 1982
Topics Discussed: Served aboard the USS HORNET (CV-8), other servicemen who were on board during the Battle of Santa Cruz in World War II.  His education and background before and after the Navy.  2,000 men complement on the HORNET, description of air attack and sea action against the Japanese.  Was shot in the face, three gun crews completely wiped out.  Getting bombed and the HORNET was abandoned. Being President of the HORNET Club, being thought dead by shipmates, attending and organizing ship reunions.

Knubel, Edward
Date of Interview: 22 April 1982
Topics Discussed: Served on board USS HORNET (CV-8) during World War II.  Rated as a seaman 1st class at 18 years old in 1942.  On 26 October 1942, ship knew that combat was expected, had been shooting down Japanese scout planes.  Description of air attack and action, damaged at Battle of Santa Cruz.  Personnel on board, injured and killed.  Bombs on deck.

Lanvermier, George
Date of Interview: 24 April 1982
Topics Discussed: Battle of Santa Cruz on 26 October 1942 in the Solomons campaign during World War II.  At the time was a PFC in the Marine Corps.  Description of the air attack and sea battle, bombed and caught on fire.

Lavia, Joseph F.
Date of Interview: 12 - 13 January 1987
Topics Discussed: On board USS PORTLAND (CA-33) with task force of carriers, cruisers, and destroyers to reinforce troops on Guadalcanal.  Part of a 20 mm gun crew.  Proud of "Sweet P" and operated successful AA attacks.  Battle of Guadalcanal, Japanese air attacks on PORTLAND and troop transports.  Description of the night time engagement.  Watching the USS JUNEAU burn and sink, killing the 5 Sullivan brothers.

Mathews, James
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: USS PORTLAND's (CA-33) actions at the Battle of Guadalcanal on 12-13 November 1942 during World War II.  Battle stations, uniforms worn in aircraft and on the flight deck, protection worn by gun crews.  Description of air attack and bomb and torpedo action, joining HORNET and ENTERPRISE task force, Battle of Santa Cruz

Mayer, Roland
Date of Interview: 11 June 1987
Topics Discussed: Experiences as a Navy sailor during the Battle of Guadalcanal

Mayer, Walter S. Jr.
Date of Interview: 2 March 1987
Topics Discussed: Returning to Pearl Harbor in 1979, how the Navy changed in the 1970s, aircraft carriers and Navy culture.  The Navy during World War II, quality of Naval Reserve officers and men vs regular Navy. Description of aircraft carrier action during the Battles of Santa Cruz and Guadalcanal during World War II in the Pacific.

McDermott, James F.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Description of the sinking of the USS WALKE (DD-416) on 14-15 November 1942 around Savo Islands.  Hit by torpedo at the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific, abandoned ship.  Rescued wounded men on life raft, swam toward destroyer until rescued by boat and USS MEADE (DD-602) to Tulagi.

Michaels, Lawrence J.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Description of Battle of Savo Island 12-15 November 1942.  Stationed with Marines to move Marine recon missions around to different locations as part of Tulagi boat pool operations.  Rate was coxswain, part of USNR at 20 years old.  Ship and aircraft action, watching three destroyers sink.

Moran, William J.
Date of Interview: 16 August 1982
Topics Discussed: His desire to join the Navy and be an aircraft carrier fighter pilot.  His background and education.  World War II breaking out while in college, did flight training.  Fighter pilot action in the Pacific. Fighter pilots use of different airplanes, Japanese air attacks during battles of Santa Cruz and Guadalcanal.  USS SARATOGA, USS ENTERPRISE, and USS HORNET launching their groups and dog fights with Japanese aircraft.  Tactics of air action. Emotional impact of losing the USS HORNET (CV-8) from the perspective of a pilot vs sailors.  Officers' sense of attachment to their ships.  Difference between ships and airplanes. Aircraft carrier air strikes during World War II in the Pacific.  Tactics preferred by Admiral Halsey.  Japanese vs American dog fights.  Difficulties of landing on carriers at night, landings on USS BOUGAINVILLE (CVE-100).

Moredock, H. S
Date of Interview: Unknown 
Topics Discussed: Served on USS BOISE (CL-47) since June 1939 (USNA '39) until a month before the Battle of Guadalcanal in 1942.  Left the ship to serve on staff of Admiral Scott.  Used a coffin as a trunk to pack belongings.  USS SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38) as operations officer.  Breaking Japanese imperial code on 7 December 1941, knew locations of Japanese ships, attack on Pearl Harbor and the ship, arm injury. Battles of Cape Esperance and Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II aboard USS SAN FRANCISCO (CL-47).  Rescued by DC-3 aircraft, back to Espiritu Santo and hospital ship USS RELIEF (AH-1), treated for wounds.  500 wounded survivors stayed at Suma, Fiji Islands, US Army hospital.

Neal, Malcolm
Date of Interview: Unknown 
Topics Discussed: Air attack by Japanese and on Japanese ships and Japanese-held islands.  Kicking bombs out of their plane.  Crew member of a dive bomber aircraft, reloading bombs, getting hit by AA fire.  Strafe missions, molotov cocktails, beaches on fire.  Battle of Guadalcanal. Instruction recording on how to set up TV sound and audio system. Japanese ships closing in, as member of dive bomber crew, plane hit and he was injured, dove into water and rescued by destroyer.  Wounded and treated on board, Battle of Guadalcanal.

Novak, Emil
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: His experiences during World War II as a pilot at the Battle of Guadalcanal.  Dog fights against the Japanese zero aircraft. Camaraderie among Navy servicemen who went through the Battle of Guadalcanal together, especially those from his air squadron and aircraft carrier.  Reunions of veterans from Solomon Islands.

Palomaris, Robert
Date of Interview: 5 August 1982
Topics Discussed: Aboard USS NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55), received his own gun #7.  Battle of Solomon Islands, task group with USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) and USS SARATOGA (CV-3).  Action against 80 Japanese aircraft sent to sink American ships. List of when and where Japanese planes were detected, shot down, actions of American ships.  Ships on fire, damage control efforts.

Parke, Cory L.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Stationed at Bremerton Navy Yard, Washington.  Assigning troops to Charlie Company, promoted to platoon sergeant and building up his regiment.  First time commanding black troops, going in country to Korea.  Taking Korean prisoners, and American POWs captured.  Audio recorded during a reunion.  Retired as a master sergeant.

Pietrok, Vincent
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: His background and education, joining the Navy in 1942, assigned to USS PORTLAND (CA-33), battle station at #2 turret.  Battle of Santa Cruz, lost USS HORNET (CV-8).  Escorted transports to Guadalcanal, air alert, and 25-30 Japanese torpedo planes shot down except one.  One plane crashed on USS SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38).  The Battle of Guadalcanal. Battle of Guadalcanal during World War II, the night and dawn after the battle, ships on fire.  Second morning air alerts and rescuing survivors.  USS PORTLAND's commendations for WWII action.

Pigeon, Roger O.
Date of Interview:
Topics Discussed: Battle of Savo Island aboard USS O'BANNON (DD-450).  Ship received fire, men were ordered to go above deck.  Ship was on fire, fire fighting effort.

Potter, Donald
Date of Interview: 12 January 1987
Topics Discussed: Left Pearl Harbor and went to South Pacific aboard USS PRESTON (DD-379) to join in aircraft carriers that were going to stop Japanese from resupplying Guadalcanal.  November 1942, air alerts started and Battle of Savo Island ensued.  Ship hit in engine room, ship rolled and a few men were able to get off.  15 hours spent in water, picked up by destroyer, put on transport for R&R.  New Caledonia, all officers had been killed.  He returned home in 1944 after 36 months overseas.

Rhodes, Raleigh E.
Date of Interview: 21 June 1982
Topics Discussed: No audio 

Riesmeyer, David
Date of Interview: 27 June 1987
Topics Discussed: Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II.  Aboard a ship next to USS JUNEAU (CL-52), air attack, torpedo, and Japanese battle group approaching.

Rowney, James
Date of Interview: 16 August 1982
Topics Discussed: Battle of Santa Cruz in the Pacific during World War II. Audio corrupted

Schler, Jack
Date of Interview: 20 April 1987
Topics Discussed: Started flying in college, trained to be a Navy pilot in 1940.  Has served in 3 military branches.  Assigned to Anacostia, then NAS Jacksonville FL.  Injured status, then finished flight training. Torpedo bombers, battleship action during the Santa Cruz in the Pacific during World War II.  Air attacks by Japanese and American aircraft, being a pilot during the battle and shooting down Japanese Zeros.

Shiveley, Edward E.
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II.  Boarded ship in California, to Pearl Harbor, to South Pacific.  Dropping depth charges, sinking destroyers.

Skirvin, Olin
Date of Interview: 21 April 1987
Topics Discussed: Rated as RDM3, radar operator at 21 years old, joined the Navy 5 days after Pearl Harbor.  Aboard USS LAFFEY (DD-459).  Battle station was at SD radar in the bridge during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II.  Radar warning before air attack.  Unexpected sea attacks, shells fired, LAFFEY eventually was sunk.

Souza, Philip E.
Date of Interview: 18 May 1982
Topics Discussed: Member of Fighting Squadron 72 aboard USS HORNET (CV-8) at the Battle of Santa Cruz in the Pacific during World War II.  Proposal to launch air strike on Japanese planes on aircraft carriers, fueled and armed, before the Japanese launched their planes.  Born in 1919, his background and education, pilot license in 1938, joined Navy in 1941, commissioned 1942.  Attacking 4 engine sea plane, which blew up. Aircraft accidents, hazing and harassment in the squadron, personnel and personalities in the squadron aboard USS HORNET (CV-8) in the Pacific during World War II.

Swope, Ivan L. 
Date of Interview: 7 December 1985
opics Discussed: Part of Air Group 8 aboard USS HORNET (CV-8), TBF-1 Avenger aircraft.  Torpedo squadrons, Solomon Islands campaign, modifications of the ship at Pearl Harbor, new squadrons, cruising with USS WASP, USS SARATOGA, and USS ENTERPRISE.  Battle of Guadalcanal.

Thibodeaux, Clarence
Date of Interview: 9 June 1982
Topics Discussed: Aboard USS PENSACOLA (CA-24) during World War II in the Pacific.  Lack of information given to enlisted men, lack of advance notice of Japanese attack.  Radar picked up planes, general quarters, battle stations.  Aircraft launching and landing on ships.  Ships bombed and torpedoed. Ships maneuvering and refueling, realizing that a "wolf pack" of Japanese submarines were under the ships, USS WASP (CV-7) getting hit and blown up while attached to fueling tanker.  Destroyers also lost.  Thibodeaux's ESP experiences during the war. Story of losing a close friend and meeting his parents back in California.  Realizing he had the capacity and anger to kill.  Battle at Iwo Jima, getting injured.

Tucker, Lester B.
Date of Interview: 21 June 1982
Topics Discussed: Served in Navy from 1939 to 1967.  Battles of Eastern Solomons in 1942.  Rated aviation ordnanceman, gunner of 20 mm.  24 August 1942, fair weather, general quarters, getting attacked by Japanese dive bombers.  On board USS NORTH CAROLINA (BB-55) or USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6).

USS FLETCHER (DD-445) Sailors
Date of Interview: Unknown
Topics Discussed: Group of sailors interviewed; assigned to #2 turret; 5 5" guns on destroyer; ratings; battle stations; World War II destroyer armaments; different types of guns and methods of using them; importance and use of radar in World War II destroyers; maneuvers with Japanese; battle with the Japanese while on a destroyer during World War II; battle stations; asleep during explosions.

Voight, Raymond
Date of Interview: 28 January 1987
Topics Discussed: Rated as Fireman 1st class on board USS LAFFEY (DD-459), worked in engine room.  Daily routines.  Battle of Solomon Islands on 12 August 1942, actions of ships and aircraft. Evacuation of USS LAFFEY (DD-459), getting blown over the side of the ship and waking up in the water during the Battle of Solomon Islands in August 1942.  Swam towards Guadalcanal, in water for 5 hours, rescued by life raft, boarded USS ATLANTA (CL-51).  Shrapnel in right knee.

West, Kenneth
Date of Interview: 1 March 1987
Topics Discussed: Heavy machine gun officer on USS PORTLAND (CA-33) as a lieutenant during World War II.  On 12 November 1942, PORTLAND was resupplying task group on Guadalcanal, cruisers provided protection to transports.  Japanese air attacks. Torpedo fire from Japanese destroyer and battleship targeting USS PORTLAND (CA-33) at the Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942.  High-capacity shells used. Damage done to USS PORTLAND (CA-33) when hit by torpedo during the Battle of Guadalcanal in November 1942 in the Pacific during World War II.  Ships lost to fires during the war. Anti-aircraft (AA) batteries aboard USS PORTLAND (CA-33) during the Battle of Guadalcanal in the Pacific during World War II.  Ships returning to the gulf when air attacks stopped.

Published: Mon Mar 22 11:11:19 EDT 2021