I was at Pearl Harbor December 7th, 1941, during the Japanese surprise attack, taking care of a motor launch that my ship, the heavy cruiser USS Salt Lake City, left in port while out to sea with Admiral Halsey’s Task Force taking Marine air reinforcements to Wake Island.

When the attack started I was on the upper level of the coal dock looking out to sea because my ship was due to return. The Marines gave me a Browning automatic rifle and I was ordered to take a 35 foot motor launch from those moored at the coal dock. I acted as coxswain in rescuing men from the sinking battleships and delivering injured to the Navy Yard Hospital until the boats engine cooling system was disabled from strafing enemy aircraft. I received a minor leg wound from a small piece of shrapnel.

I returned to my ship the next day and served in seven major campaigns including the Marshall and Gilbert Islands - Wake Island - Doolittle Raid on Tokyo - the Guadalcanal and Tulagi Landings - the Battle of Cape Esperance - the Komandorski Battle and the invasion of Attu in the Aleutians.

In 1944 I returned to the U.S, flew anti-submarine patrols over the Atlantic and instructed advanced air crews in PB4Y aircraft. In 1945 I was sent back to the Pacific in a Patrol Bombing Squadron as part of the northern invasion force to invade Japan.


I also served in CASU 31, VPT-3 and VPB-120. After the war I was discharged From the US Navy as an Aviation Machinist Mate 1/C and enrolled at the University of Washington on the GI Bill.

After graduation I entered the US Air Force and served in the 497th Fighter Squadron, 503rd Air Material Group and instructor at the Aircraft Maintenance Officers and Maintenance Engineering Analysis Schools at Chanute AFB in Illinois.

After four years, 1953-1957, I left the Air Force and worked for Douglas Aircraft. When the Russians launched Sputnik I was assigned into missile engineering and in 18 months we designed, built and launched the first Thor Missile, (still being used today to launch Global Positioning Satellites). I served as test operations supervisor and a test conductor on this and much of the development testing on other programs, such as Titan, Apollo, Anti-Missile Missile, etc. I was missile launch Conductor for two years, 1970-1972, on Kwajalein Atoll, intercepting warheads launched from Vandenberg AFB and Navy units at sea. Our last eleven launches were successful incoming warhead kills.

I also served as a member of the launch crew at Kennedy Space Center for several Apollo launches.

I married my lovely wife, Merle Whitworth, in 1946. We now have two daughters, Pamela Kay Roesjadi and Kristine Jaekel Wilfong, three grandchildren and one great-granddaughter.

After leaving the military I pursued two hobbies, fishing and flying. I obtained my FAA aircraft mechanics license and in pursuing years bought and repaired four damaged airplanes and built a Burt Rutan designed Long Eze from scratch. My wife and I traveled border to border and coast to coast seeing our great country from the air in it after I retired. I finally had to give up flying but still go fishing once in awhile.

My Long Eze

I worked in aerospace engineering for Boeing and Douglas and retired from Aerojet in 1986.

While working in Aerospace I also served in the Air Force Reserve and the California Army National Guard and retired as a Captain in1980; However, I continued to serve in the State Military Forces until 1985 and was discharged with the temporary rank of Lieutenant Colonel.

In July 2000, I was one of 27 survivors of the unprovoked sneak attack on Pearl Harbor 7 December, 1941 invited by the officers and crew of the USS Pearl Harbor to sail with them on their Millennium Tiger Cruise 2000 from Pearl Harbor Hawaii to Camp Pendelton and San Diego California. It was truly a rewarding experience and honor to witness today’s Navy and Marine Corps in action. I sincerely thank the US Navy and the Captain and crew of the USS Pearl Harbor. May warm wishes, fair winds and following seas guide them on future adventures.