|Lt. Thomas Roddy's photo when he was at the US Naval Academy.|
Thomas M. Roddy could have been 100 years old today.
He was born on April 12, 1917 in Massachusetts. His mother and father were both born in Ireland. His father was a street railway mason. Thomas had three older brothers and three younger brothers and one sister, the youngest in the family. By 1940 Thomas was completing his final year at the US Naval Academy.
On February 14, 1942, Lt. Roddy reported aboard the light cruiser USS Juneau. It first conducted patrols in the Atlantic and Caribbean, but transferred to the Pacific in August 1942. Among it's first actions there were rescuing the crew of the carrier Wasp after it was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine. It also participated in the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands protecting the carriers Hornet and Enterprise from plane attack.
The Juneau's next, and final, engagement was the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal. Early in the darkness of Friday, November 13, 1942, a Japanese naval force of two battleships, one light cruiser and nine destroyers approached Guadalcanal. In contrast, the Americans had two heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and eight destroyers. In the costly battle, Juneau suffered a torpedo hit that broke her keel and knocked out most of its systems. Having no ability to contribute to the battle, it withdrew out of harm's way.
With many of the surviving American ships heavily damaged, they retreated away from Guadalcanal during the daylight hours of November 13. During the retreat, Juneau was torpedoed by a Japanese submarine and sank with all but 100 of its crew. Fearing additional submarine attacks, the other ships did not remain to pick up survivors. Due to poor communications, the survivors were not picked up for another eight days at which time only ten men were left. Lt. Roddy was one of the 687 men who were lost at sea. Also lost were all five of the Sullivan brothers, which caused the US to reverse the practice of allowing brothers to serve together in the same unit.
A painting depicting the sinking of the USS Juneau.
Lt. Roddy's sacrifice is honored at the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial.
Thanks to Darillyn Lamb Starr for recommending that Thomas be profiled.
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