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May 18, 2007

Right after last weeks story about Seaman Richard LaRose went to press I called committee member and Master of our Website, Daryl Autrey and told him about the lost Seaman. He immediately went to the Wide Wonderful Web, up there in the sky somewhere and pulled out the following story.

From Navy History .com
Elder- YN-15 was launched 19 June 1941 by Mareitta Manufacturing Co, Point Pleasant, W. VA.; and placed in service 12 November 1941, Lieutenant T. D. E. Martin, USNR, in charge. She was redesigned AN-20 on 20 January 1944. She was commissioned 15 December 1942, Lieutenant D. H. Morse, USNR, in command. Elder returned to Boston 25, June 1943, and sailed 8 August for San Diego, Pearl Harbor, and Funafuti Ellice Islands, arriving 15 November. She assembled, launched and tended nets there, and after the capture of the Gilberts, sailed to Tarawa in December for mooring and net operations off that island, Makin, and Abemama. Departing the Gilberts in February 1944 with LCT-247 in tow for Kwajalein, she laid and cared for nets in the Marshalls until the end of the year.

After an overhaul on the west coast, Elder returned to the South Pacific to repair nets at the fleet base at Manus, arriving there 30 April 1945. The following month she got underway for Luzon, searching for and towing the disabled merchant tanker SS McKitteric Hills en route. She delivered the tanker to Mangarin Bay, Mindoro, then continued to Subic Bay for voyage repairs. She remained in the Philippines for the rest of the war. Elder sailed back to Corregidor in November 1945 for a unique assignment. Until May 1946 she conducted diving operations in Caballo Bay to recover thousands of silver pesos, Philippine currency which had been dumped in the bay to prevent its capture by the Japanese.

Elder returned to the west coast 3 August 1948 for duty at the Naval Net Depot at Tiburon, Calif. On 23 May 1949 she sailed for Alaskan waters where she conducted buoy operations at Adak; carried a scientific party form Great Sitkin Island to Adak; and transported there Navy petty officers to service the weather station of Simeonoff Island. She returned to her base at Tiburon 13 October 1949. In 1950 Elder was ordered to the western Pacific, but on 11 March when a week out of Pearl Harbor, a serious fire broke out in the engine room. With all headway lost and no water pressure, Elder appeared doomed. But sound training and Navy “know-how,” combined with determined courage in the ship’s intrepid damage control parties, subdued the raging flames. Her engines damaged beyond repair, the stricken net tender drifted helplessly for a week before assistance in the form of Comstock (LSD-19) and Piedmont (AD-17) arrived on 18 March. The next day Elder was taken in tow by Deliverer (ARS-23) and began the long slow haul to Pearl Harbor. Her extensive repairs complete, Elder sailed from Pearl Harbor 26 January 1951 for net operations at Yokosuka, Japan, a key operating base in the Korean war. She returned to Tiburon 27 January 1952, and except for occasional cruises to Eniwetok, Kwajalein, and Guam for net and buoy operations, served on the west coast. In April 1954 was assigned to the 13th Naval District for training with the harbor defense unit of the Pacific Northwest. She was decommissioned there 18 December 1959. Elder received one battle star for World War II service.

Stu’s Notes; The Navy had so many ships and men that served our country well. We hear more about the Battleships, Submarines, Carriers etc, but thousands of less know ships and crews did their jobs. Many were lost, but not the USS Elder, it crews throughout its service served in the finest of Naval Tradition. What would I do without Daryl? Now if we can find Richard La Rose we will know the rest of the story. Just as we go to press my friend and Oroville Historian, Jim Lenoff has found Richard LaRose’s brother, stay tuned for more of this story next week.
Oh by the way, none of my writings are “Outsourced” to India; what you read comes from me. Although many of the stories I use come right from the Soldiers in the field long ago.