|US Naval Academy 1939 Yearbook|
Kenneth Leon Kollmyer could have been 100 years old today.
He was born on January 27, 1917 in Iowa. His parents were both Indiana born. His father was a machinist in 1920 and ten years later he owned his own machine shop. Kenneth had two older sisters and an older brother.
Kenneth graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1939. The yearbook commended him for his inherent good humor and endless knowledge of subjects of general interest. He was assigned to serve as a lieutenant junior grade on the heavy cruiser USS Houston.
The USS Houston was in the Philippines when war broke out with Japan. It was sent to Australia to join forces with British, Australian and Dutch warships. In late February 1942, this group of Allied ships were tasked with stopping the Japanese invasion of Java and were outnumbered by the enemy. One by one the allied cruisers and destroyers were sunk. The Houston lasted until February 28 when it found itself low on ammunition and surrounded by enemy destroyers and cruisers in Sunda Strait. Hit by multiple torpedoes, the Houston sunk. Among it's compliment of 1,061, just 368 survived, only to become POWs for the duration of the war. Lt. Kollmyer was among those who died.
|Painting depicting the final minutes of the USS Houston at the Battle of Sunda Strait|
The fate of the Houston remained unknown for nine more months and it wasn't until after the war that the details of the Houston's fate became known. The remains of the Houston were discovered by divers in June 2014.
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