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USS Neosho Veteran's Forum
Neosho Veteran's Forum
This section is
devoted to the veterans of the U.S.S. Neosho
(AO-23). I'm also including stories here about veterans who served on the
destroyer U.S.S. Sims (DD-409), the Neosho's valiant escort during
the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Approximately 293 men served on the U.S.S. Neosho at the Battle of the Coral Sea.
Of these, only 111 survived the attack and returned to Australia. The
fatality rate of the U.S.S. Sims was even higher, with only 14 of the
252 men surviving and returning to Australia. Altogether, only 124 men
aboard the Neosho and Sims survived the attack, while 421 men
gathered stories about
Neosho veterans and have posted them below. If you know a veteran who
served on either the U.S.S. Neosho or the U.S.S. Sims and would
like to share his story, please contact me
and I'll be happy to post it here.
On separate pages, I've posted in-depth
stories and photos about the following Neosho veterans:
About U.S.S. Neosho Veterans
December 7th marks the anniversary of Pearl Harbor and my
great-uncle, Lorenza McNair (1921-2005), was in the military during this
time of war. I’d always heard from my mother that after he returned, he told the
family that if they had any questions about what happened, they’d better ask
then because he was never going to talk about it again. To the best of my
mother’ s knowledge, he never did.
about Lorenza McNair's service on the U.S.S. Neosho and in WWII is posted
My brother, Audress Casey Dunn, Fireman 2nd Class, was killed aboard the Neosho
during the Coral Sea Battle. He was from Mounds, Illinois. As I understand, his battle station was in the
ammunition lockers for the 3-inch 50-caliber AA guns. I saw him once after he
was assigned to the Neosho, his only berth. Those poor sailors were worked
to the bone delivering aviation fuel to Pearl before the war. His hands
were so grimy he couldn't get them clean from boiler work and not even time
for a shore haircut.
- Ralph Dunn, formerly S1CL USNR
William Hardwick, known as JW, was a Seaman 2nd Class on the USS Neosho
served on her the entire time from when they took possession at the US Naval
Receiving Station at Puget Sound until her demise in the Coral Sea. I even
have letters he wrote from the Receiving Station. He was listed as MIA and
no one heard anything about him after the day they were attacked. I can't
tell you how many times I wished he would have survived the war. I would
have really liked hearing his stories but I guess it wasn't to be. I was
told by my Dad (his brother) that his battle station was on a forward gun.
That's about all I know.
I have a great desire to find out as much as I can
about my Uncle JW. His name is inscribed on a monument in the Philippines.
I intend to try and get a copy of his Navy records. I just finished copying
all his letters and cards he sent home during World War II to preserve
My father, Tony Bustos, was on the Neosho and survived.
If he was in water for a long period of time (e.g., a swimming pool) he
would start to smell oil. Also, he could not eat canned pears.
They reminded him of eating while they were floating. He said that
they would dive under the water and swim into the ship to try and get food
and supplies, and ended up with a lot of canned pears.
- Jim Bustos
My first cousin, Wallace F. (Frank) Quillin,
Seaman 1st class, was a survivor, not only of the Neosho, but of the
Arizona. Here is his story: Frank survived the attack on the Arizona
by being on shore leave that Sunday morning in order to go to church
services on the island. When he returned to the beach after church, he found
it under attack and his ship sinking.
He was reassigned to the Neosho, and told of his escape
from the ship during the Coral Sea battle.
The Neosho was on fire and sinking. The boys on board were diving or jumping
into the burning oil covering the water. Some of the boys were injured in the
attack and bleeding as they bailed out into the shark infested water. Their
screams as they were attacked by sharks rang in the ears of their escaping
shipmates, who were helpless to try and rescue them.
Frank was one of the lucky ones who was unhurt and was quickly picked up by
another American ship. He did sustain some hearing loss as a result of getting
oil in his ears. After the war, he arrived back in the states in
California, where he married and settled down. He was originally from
Florence, AL, where his mother (my aunt) Cora Quillin lived for many years.
Frank's name appears in the National Park Service historical statistics as a
survivor of the Arizona. - Nancy (Mrs. James)
I was in
the Navy during Vietnam, and served aboard the Gearing Class Destroyer,
"Henry W. Tucker" (DD-875). Henry W. Tucker was a Pharmacist's
Mate aboard the USS Neosho, and died while swimming from life raft to life
raft giving first aid at the time of her sinking, until he just disappeared.
The Tucker also has a website and
every two years has a reunion. I have been to two reunions and they
were wonderful experiences. The Tucker was a very tight and proud ship
and served admirably in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.
- John Gross
I am the
great niece of Clifford Christopher Tatge, the young second class
seaman and radio operator on the tanker Neosho that was attacked by the
Japanese in the Coral Sea battle. Christopher was the youngest of
seven brothers and sisters. Being a minor, his parents had to consent for
him to enlist in the navy. Christopher was visiting his sister's home in
California on December 7th when he heard about the attack on Pearl Harbor.
He was carrying the signed papers around in his pocket and that very day he
mailed his papers in.
My mother has a copy of a letter that Christopher had
typed (not written) to my mothers' parents (her father was Christopher's
brother). The letter is dated April 2, 1942 and in the letter he mostly talks
about the family, his motorcycle that he missed (he said upon his return he was
going to "ride the wheels off of it"), and the 16 pounds he had put on since he
had been in the navy. Apparently his parents came to California to see him off
on his tour as he briefly mentions their visit. The only thing he mentions about
the ship is that he is a radio operator on the ship and he liked it fine. -
list of survivors you list Loren B. Parkhurst. This was my father.
He was 19 at the time and a Fireman third class. My father was in
the boiler room when the ship was hit. He told the tale of having to stay
put in a listing, sinking ship. He said they thought she was going
down at the time, until the steam lines finished spilling out steam. Of the
crew in the boiler room he said the only deaths were two guys who panicked
and tried to make it through the steam. His best friend from boot camp was
Vernon Zeddies, killed in action that day. Dad stayed in contact with
Vernon’s parents and they were like grandparents to me. The bonds that were
made between them only faded in death. I am in contact with Vernon’s
brother via email to this day. - Loren
Survivor Contact List for the
If any Neosho survivor should remember
Herbert L. Bennett (Fireman 1st Class on AO-23, later served on
USS Neosho (AO-48), died in 1990), please contact his son,
If any survivor should
remember Harry F. Bradshaw (Bud) who served on the USS Neosho
contact his sister
Marian Bradshaw. He had been
stateside on leave and hitched a ride back to
Pearl Harbor on the
Neosho and arrived on Dec. 6, 1941. He did not have time to rejoin
the Arizona, before the
attack December 7. He remained on the Neosho until it was lost in
the Battle of
the Coral Sea in May
1942 when he was reported Missing in Action. We have never known
My uncle was Robert Lee Peterson,
seamen second class, and just 17 and joined the Navy and was one of
the many killed on the Neosho. He was from a small town (Broadland
Illinois) the son of Grover and Mamie Peterson, brother to 5 other
siblings. There was also another Peterson who served alongside my
Uncle. Until the day my grandmother passed in 1990 she always
believed Robert was not dead and that it had been another Peterson
on the Neosho. If there is anyone who is yet alive and remembers my
Uncle could they please contact me,
Connie (Peterson) Ruggles.
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