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U.S.S. Neosho Photo Gallery
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
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
Uncle, Bill Leu, Fireman 3rd Class, in 1941. Bill served on
the Neosho during its entire active service, from July 1941
until May 1942.
U.S.S. Neosho at Pearl Harbor
Above 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,
Above center: Battleship Row at about 8:00 a.m.
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,
Above 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,
Above 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,
Above 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
lie behind the California. For a supersized photo,
Above 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,
U.S.S. Neosho at the Battle of the Coral Sea
Above 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
Above center: The Neosho crew refueling
in the Coral Sea.
Above right: The Neosho crew during the
Above left: The Yorktown (right) and
(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.
Above 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 surviving 123 crewmen, including my uncle, Bill
Leu, were rescued by the destroyer U.S.S. Henley
on May 11.
Above 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
crew was rescued by the Henley. For his valor, Peterson was
posthumously awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
Five 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
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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