USS Juneau (CL-52) off of New York City in February 1942. Source: Wikimedia
Seventy-six years after she was sunk in the Battle of Guadalcanal by Japanese torpedoes, taking 687 sailors with her, including the five Sullivan brothers, billionaire Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen located the doomed cruiser USS Juneau (CL-52) on 17 March 2018, St. Patrick’s Day.
Paul Allen Locates USS Juneau
Allen has been on a roll lately, having only in the last few weeks located the sunken aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-2), and this past summer finding USS Indianapolis (CA-35); the latter sharing a legacy with Juneau of epic tragedy and the sad loss of many young American servicemen.
USS Juneau (CL-52) in New York Harbor, 11 February 1942. National Archives Photograph
A statement from Lt. Roger W. O’Neill, the senior surviving officer of USS Juneau. Unknown to many, there were actually 14 survivors from Juneau. Ten were pulled from the sea, but there were four ship’s company men that had been transferred to USS San Francisco (CA-38) the very same day Juneau was sunk. They had been sent over to help with wounded. Lt. O’Neill was one of them, and he took three Pharmacist’s Mates with him. He details that, and the sinking of their ship here:
On board USS Juneau (CL-52) at the time of her commissioning ceremonies at the New York Navy Yard, 14 February 1942. All were lost with the ship following the 13 November 1942, Battle of Guadalcanal. The brothers are (from left to right): Joseph, Francis, Albert, Madison and George Sullivan. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 52362)
A list of the Juneau survivors:
More on USS Juneau and the Sullivan Brothers:
Capt. Lyman K. Swenson, Commanding Officer, USS Juneau (CL-52), went down with his ship when it was torpedoed on 13 November 1942.
USS Lexington (CV-2) was recently discovered some 500 miles off the eastern coast of Australia in the Coral Sea by Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen this past Sunday.
“Lady Lex,” as she was known, was scuttled after receiving numerous bomb and torpedo hits from Japanese aircraft during the Battle of the Coral Sea on May 8, 1942. The battle was the first in history in which the various ships from opposing sides never sighted nor fired upon one another. The battle was mainly fought by fighter, torpedo and dive bomber aircraft from the U.S. and Japanese fleet carriers, which included Lexington and USS Yorktown (CV-3), as well as Imperial Japanese Navy carriers Shoho and Shokaku. To prevent her capture, Lady Lex was sent two miles to the bottom by USS Phelps (DD-360), taking 216 crew members with her.
The photos taken by R/V Petrel show sections of Lexington, as well as some of the 35 aircraft that had also been sent to the bottom. Among some shots of almost pristine looking Devastator torpedo bombers, a much-talked about Grumman F4F Wildcat complete with Felix the Cat insignia of VF-3, as well as the markings for four aerial kills, has led to speculation over whom the pilot of the fighter had been. Many have speculated it was Ensign Dale Peterson, who had flown alongside famed pilots Lt. Butch O’Hare and Lt. Cmdr. Jimmy Thach. However, Ens. Peterson was killed on May 8, 1942, during an air mission flying escort for bombers of VT-2 against Shokaku, hundreds of miles away from Lexington. He also had only 1.5 kills in his tragically brief career as a fighter pilot. Some have also claimed the owner of the White F5 was Lt. Noel Gayler, a decorated pilot who later retired from the Navy as an admiral.
Despite ongoing research and arguments concerning the U.S. Navy aircraft lying two miles below the Coral Sea, the discovery of Lady Lex, following so closely after Allen’s discovery of the tragic USS Indianapolis (CA-35), has really left World War II and naval history buffs excited.