May 19, 2005 at 7:19 a.m.
The bulletin board was salvaged from the U.S.S. St. Louis, a light cruiser that Brooker served on in World War II. The ship was decommissioned in 1946. Dr. Stepaniak explained, fittingly in the month we celebrate Memorial Day, that he didn’t want the bulletin board “to get lost” in coming years and to suitably explain its presence with the plaque.
U.S.S. St. Louis earned 11 Battle Stars on the Asiatic-Pacific Area Service Medal for operations in the early 1940s.
By October 31,1942 when the “Lucky Lou” came into a Navy yard for repairs she was the most-traveled ship having made 91,016 miles.
The St. Louis made it out of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941 when a number of vessels were sunk.
In the book, The Greatest War by Gerald Astor, the crew aboard St. Louis responded to the attack on Pearl Harbor “like it was a drill.”
The captain at this time, George A. Rood declared in the book no one issued an order to commence firing. “Our battery people knew what was up, knew what to do, and they took the initiative and opened fire with everything.”
The St. Louis would down six enemy planes but officially get credit for three. A torpedo smashed into the Okalahoma moored not 1,000 yards away from St. Louis.
Cpt. Rood continued, “I knew if any Japanese submarines were present they would be lying off the (harbor) entrance ready to torpedo outgoing vessels so we buckled on speed.”
As the cruiser St. Louis headed for open water a steel cable from a dredge blocked the way, and Rood called full speed ahead and the ship, “...hit that cable a smashing blow and snapped it like a violin string.” St. Louis got out of harbor doing over 20 knots in an 8-knot zone. On the way out St. Louis hit a mini-sub with her five-inch guns and later the submarine was captured.
Brooker was aboard through the early 1940s.
He recalled the St. Louis was in New Guinea, Gaudalcanal, and north to the Aleutian islands.
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