U.S.S. Neosho: Veteran's Forum
This section is devoted to the men who served on the U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23). I posted this section in 2004 when I created this section of my
website devoted to the U.S.S. Neosho, though I continue to update it over time. I'm also including here stories 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 were serving on the U.S.S. Neosho during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Of these, only 111 survived the attack by
Japanese dive bombers on May 7, 1942. The fatality rate of the U.S.S. Sims was even higher, with only 14 of the 252 men surviving the
attack. Altogether, 124 men aboard the Neosho and Sims survived the attack while 423 men perished.
I've compiled stories about Neosho veterans and have posted them below. If you know a veteran who served on either the U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23)
or the U.S.S. Sims (DD-409) and would like to share their 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:
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. - Taneya.
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 three-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
My uncle, James William Hardwick, known as JW, was a Seaman 2nd Class on the USS Neosho and 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 them. - Jeff Hardwick
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
onboard 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 waters. 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, Alabama, 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) Clem
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, 1941 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. - Dalyne Easley
On your 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 faded only in death.
I am in contact with Vernon’s brother via email to this day. - Loren Parkhurst
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, Bruce Bennett.
If any survivor should remember Harry F. Bradshaw (Bud) who served on the USS Neosho please 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 his ship, 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
exactly what happened to him.
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 five 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.
Table of Contents:
U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23)
The Battle of the Coral Sea (continued)
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