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USS Neosho >
The U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23) in Norfolk, Virginia on August
7, 1939, about three months after it was launched. This is
just after it was commissioned by the U.S. Navy. Click on
the photo to see a larger version (600 x 400). For a
supersized photo (1200 x 900), click
Above center: The Neosho in Philadelphia in
1939. This is looking forward from the stack deck on the stern. The
catwalk is on the right.
Above right: The Neosho
in New York harbor, shortly after the ship was launched in 1939.
Above left and right:
The U.S.S. Neosho underway.
Left: Captain John S. Phillips, commander of the U.S.S.
Left: My Uncle, Bill Leu, Fireman 3rd Class, in
1941. Bill served on the Neosho during its entire active service,
from July 1941 until May 1942.
Neosho at Pearl Harbor
left: Ford Island, just before 8:00
a.m. on December 7, 1941, at the start of the Japanese attack
on Pearl Harbor. A Japanese plane flies just above the U.S.S. Neosho
(center of photo),
which is docked at Ford Island. A plume from a near-miss rises between the
U.S.S. Oklahoma and U.S.S. West Virginia, moored astern of the Neosho.
For a supersized photo, click
center: Battleship Row at about 8:00 a.m. The
U.S.S. Neosho (right) sits at the Ford Island dock. The U.S.S.
California (far right) is oozing oil. Several torpedo wakes and shock waves
are visible in the water. The U.S.S. West
Virginia has just been hit and the U.S.S. Oklahoma is starting to
list. The U.S.S. Arizona (far left) would explode moments later,
instantly killing 1,177 men. For a supersized photo, click
right: The U.S.S. Neosho (right) at about 8:30
a.m. An awning, erected for Sunday morning services, covers the bow of the
U.S.S. California (left), which is listing and straining at its
lines. The U.S.S. Oklahoma lies capsized behind the Neosho.
This was just before Captain John Phillips ordered the Neosho's lines cut.
For a supersized photo, click
left: By 8:50 a.m., the U.S.S. Neosho (circled)
was backing away from its berth and heading for Merry Point. It had
narrowly missed the overturned U.S.S. Oklahoma, which is clearly
visible. Smoke is rising from several battleships. This photo was
taken from the air control tower on Ford Island. For a supersized photo, click
center: By about 9:00 a.m., the Neosho (circled) was
still backing but was beginning to swing its bow around. Counter-flooding
kept the U.S.S. California (left) from overturning and it settles in the
mud. The overturned U.S.S. Oklahoma and smoking U.S.S. Maryland
lie behind the California. For a supersized photo, click
right: This photo, taken in October 1941, six weeks before the attack,
shows where the U.S.S. Neosho tied up at Merry Point (circled) during the
Pearl Harbor attack. It
docked here behind the U.S.S. Castor (not shown) and waited out the
attack. The U.S.S. Neosho was the only ship moored on Battleship
Row that morning which was not damaged. Because of his quick action,
Captain Phillips received the Navy Cross, but the U.S.S. Neosho was now
the only operational tanker in the mid-Pacific. For a supersized photo, click
Neosho at the Battle of the Coral Sea
left: The U.S.S. Neosho (right) refueling the
aircraft carrier Yorktown in the Coral Sea, about May 2, 1942. This was
five days before the Neosho was attacked by Japanese dive bombers.
center: The Neosho crew refueling the Yorktown
in the Coral Sea.
right: The Neosho crew during the Yorktown
left: The Yorktown (right) and Neosho
(center) from the rear of a U.S. torpedo bomber (TBD) that's just taken
off. This was just before the Battle of the Coral Sea. The
small ship on the horizon to the right of the plane's tail fin is the destroyer U.S.S.
Sims. This is the only photo that I've ever seen of the Neosho
and Sims together.
center: This is the last known picture taken of the U.S.S.
Neosho (the bow is to the left). It was taken from a Japanese plane about
1 p.m. on May 7, 1942, after Japanese torpedo planes and
dive bombers attacked the Neosho and its escort, the destroyer U.S.S.
Sims. Despite a 30-degree list, the ship would continue to float for four days until the
crewmen, including my uncle, Bill Leu, were rescued by the destroyer U.S.S. Henley
on May 11.
right: The Neosho's Chief Water Tender, Oscar
Verner Peterson, was working below decks during the attack and was badly
injured. Despite his wounds, and working alone, Peterson closed several
important valves but was severely burned in the process. He died six days
later on May 13, 1942, aboard the U.S.S. Henley, two days after the Neosho
crew was rescued by the Henley. For his valor, Peterson was
posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
days after the 123 men were rescued from the listing Neosho, the destroyer U.S.S.
Helm discovered four men in a raft. These were the only survivors from a group of
68 men who had drifted away from the Neosho shortly after the attack on
May 7 (the Helm's whaleboat is on the left and the Neosho's raft
is on the right, partly submerged).
The four men had floated in the Coral
Sea for nine days without food or water and were all in critical
condition. Sadly, shortly after being rescued, two of the four men died.
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