By Bob Reiss, from the Re-Echo, Spring 2005
The last naval battle of surface ships in WWII, perhaps for all time, was the Battle of Leyte Gulf for the retaking of the Philippines. A part of that battle was known as the Battle Off Samar. The mission of six escort carriers, three destroyers and four destroyer escorts was only to provide aircraft cover for the landing force, but unexpectedly became engaged with the main body of the Japanese fleet, including the largest battleship ever built. In the very uneven contest, the two American escort carriers, two destroyers and the destroyer escort, Samuel B. Roberts, were lost. Eventually the Japanese cancelled their plans and retreated. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of the American command, most of the ships’ survivors spent some fifty hours in the water, dealing with wounds, sharks, water to drink and despair.
One of the sailors aboard the Roberts was Ensign Dudley Moylan, a longtime resident of St. Louis Park and a member of the Historical Society.
The Society has two copies of a book about the Battle Off Samar, The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors.
Dudley Moylan died on December 25, 2009. Click here for his obituary by the StarTribune.