Sunday, March 17, 2019

USS Helm (DD-388)-- Part 1: Pearl Harbor and the Japanese Mini-Sub

In the last post I wrote about the death of Pearl Harbor survivor Robert Winslow, 98, who was on the USS Helm and served on that ship for the rest of the war.

The USS Helm (DD-388) was a Bagley-class destroyer named for Rear Admiral  James Meredith Helm who was an officer in the Spanish-American War and World War I.  The ship earned 11 Battle Stars during World War II.It was launched at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 27 May 1937 and commissioned  16 October 1937 with Lt.Cmdr. P.H. Talbot in command.

At 0755 on the morning of December 7, 1941, the Helms had just turned into West Loch, Pearl Harbor, en route to deperming buoys when the attack began.  They manned the guns and shot down at least one plane while being strafed and suffering slight damage from two nearby bomb hits.

As the Helm left the channel, the lookout spotted a Japanese mini-sub, HA-19, snagged on a reef and ran hard right towards it, shot and missed.  The two-man sub broke free and submerged  but got snagged again.  Trying to escape, one crew member drowned and the other washed ashore and became the first U.S. World War II prisoner of war.


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