Ray M. Strausbaugh
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#1 May 16, 2008
Ray Strausbaugh left his parent's farm in Bloomsdale, Ohio at age 17 and joined the United States Navy. He received basic training then was stationed on the USS West Virginia.
The USS West Virginia (BB-48), a Colorado class battleship, was the second ship of the United States Navy named in honor of the 35th state. The battleship was commissioned on 1 December 1923 with Captain Thomas J. Senn in command. The most recent of the "super-dreadnoughts" , West Virginia embodied the latest knowledge of naval architecture; the watertight compartmentation of her hull, and the scale of her armor protection, marked an advance over the design of battleships built or on the drawing boards before the Battle of Jutland ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_West_Virgini... (BB-48).
Ray Strausbaugh boarded the U.S.S. West Virginia in the port of New York and proceeded through the Panama Canal toward San Pedro harbor in Los Angeles, California ( http://www.militarymuseum.org/HDLA.html ).
The "Wee Vee" proceeded with a Naval Fleet to the South Pacific.
Pearl Harbor, just off the island of Oahu, Hawaii was its destination.
When the ship had been moored sailors and marines were given liberty to visit civilian sites.
There was plenty of entertainment on the island including swimming, hiking, sight seeing, fishing, nightclubs, shopping, churches, pretty women, and even a 'Red Light' district.
The "Wee Vee" was moored at "Battleship Row" on Ford Island ( http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/events/wwi... .
Ray was preparing to go on liberty for Christmas shopping early on the morning of December 7th, 1941.
The Boatswain on watch announced, "All hands, man your Battle stations."
Ray thought it might be a call to "Fire and Rescue." However, seconds later the announcement was made again.
Japanese commander Admiral Nagumo, with his naval force including six carriers and over 400 aircraft was 230 miles north of Oahu.
At 0600 Admiral Nagumo began aggressions against the United Sates with the launching of 183 aircraft made up of fighters and torpedo bombers. The Japanese military aircraft struck the naval fleet in Pearl Harbor and three airfields, including Hickam, Kaneohe, and Ewa. Bombing and strafing of Pearl Harbor began at 0753. A second wave of Japanese aircraft continued the attack shortly after. Military Casualties was 2,403 KIA and 1,178 WIA.( http://www.de220.com/Pearl%20Harbor/Pearl%20H... )
The USS West Virginia was struck by two torpedoes at 0756. It received three direct bomb hits and three more torpedoes.
One bomb came through turret three where Ray was stationed. It caused the plane above the turret to catch fire but did not explode.
USS West Virginia sank at her berth. She was raised and repaired after the attack and participated in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.
Captain Mervyn Sharp Bennion of the USS West Virginia put out an order to "Abandon Ship" shortly before he succumbed to his injuries. He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor.
Ray helped a fellow sailor burned by the airplane fuel over to the USS Tennessee. Ray spent the night on Ford Island, and then slept on bleachers at an auditorium on the mainland before volunteering to serve on the USS MacDonough (DD-351), a Farragut class destroyer commissioned in 1935.
The USS MacDonough was part of the first task force to deploy after the attack at Pearl harbor. A suicide attack on the Japanese held port of Rabaul was planned, however the ship was deployed to another action before it reached Rabaul.
Macdonough provided escort duties between the U.S. west coast, Hawaii and the south Pacific in 1941.
During the offensive attack on Guadalcanal and Tulagi in early August 1942, the destroyer operated with USS Saratoga.
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