USS California BB-44
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Messages 50 to 74

June 19, 2021

My uncle Richard Kenneth Lee died January 6,1945  while serving on the USS California bb44. His buddy had told my Dad he was killed while on watch in the crows nest. Haven't found any information confirming this. Or his duties or division to look for any photo's. I just recently found where he is listed on the Tablet of the missing. He was buried at sea. Any information you could find would be so appreciated. My Dad turns 94 in August I was hoping to find a crew photo for him.

Thank you,
Janet Lee

Reply 1
June 20, 2021

Your uncle was killed in a Kamikaze attack on USS California during the Battle of Lingayen Gulf Jan. 6, 1945. I don't have the exact details of where he was, but you mentioned the crow's nest, and it was one of the areas hit by the aircraft. In Navy terms it is called the "after lookout station." He was buried at sea from USS California on Jan. 7, 1945 at 2243 hours at position 17°North 119°-55' East. Sadly I don't have any photos which might include him, and I have no idea where you could find one.

Michael W. Pocock

May 18, 2021

I'm looking for information on a Marine Private named John N. Krell, that supposedly was on the USS California Dec. 7, 1941 during the attack. Hope you can help.

Best regards,
Nick Barba

Reply 1
May 24, 2021

I don't have a list of Marines that were in US California, but I did find his name on a passenger list for USS Altair dated June 16, 1941 with his destination being USS California.

Michael W. Pocock

Feb. 25, 2021

I am trying to find information on my grandfather who served as a Marine on the USS California BB44 during Pearl Harbor. His name is John P. Whitaker. As I have researched this information, I do not see him listed on available rosters, and wondering if you would be able to share anything from your sources?

Thank you,
Mike Rackley

Oct. 11, 2018

I came across your page the other day while I was doing research on my grandfather, John Rupprecht, who served on the USS California. It seems from the message boards that you have access to information of people who served on the ship. Any chance you could direct me to a source where I can look up information on my grandfather?

Tom Geller
New Orleans, Louisiana

Oct. 11, 2018
Reply 1

Here is the information I have on him.

John George Rupprecht, Seman 2nd Class USNR
Service number 378 68 10
Born Feb. 22, 1927 in Novato, CA to Joe and Mary Rupprecht
Enlisted at San Francisco, CA Mar. 1, 1944
Transhipped via USS General Hugh L. Scott AP-136 from San Francisco to FRAY (Don't know what FRAY is.)
June 28, 1944 Received aboard USS California BB-44 at USN Receiving Base Shoemaker, CA for duty
Jan. 6, 1945 Wounded in Kamikaze attack, burns to arms, face and back.
Jan. 9, 1945 Transferred to USS Bolivar APA-34 for transfer to hospital.
Jan. 13, 1945 Taken aboard HMNS Maetsuycker (Netherlands Hospital Ship) at Navy 3964 (Tacloban, Leyte, PI.)

Mar. 19, 1945 Received aboard USS California BB-44 at USN Receiving Station Shoemaker, CA
(How he got from the Philippines to California I don't know.)
Apr. 30, 1945 Transferred to Receiving Station, Puget Sound Naval Ship Yard, Bremerton, WA

How he got from Bremerton to California I don't know.

Dec. 2, 1945 Received aboard USS PC-1121 at Receiving Station Shoemaker, CA for duty.
Jan. 6, 1946 Received aboard USS Repose AH-16 (probably at or near Shanghai, China)
Jan. 10, 1946 Transferred to Kiangwan Airfield, Shanghai, China

I lose track of him there. I did find his name on a list of injured in USS Repose. The note says "Amp. Traun Rt. Hand." Did he have some kind of amputation on his right hand? There is no date on this report, but I is from Jan.-Feb. 1946.

I don't know why he was transferred to Repose, which is a hospital ship, unless he was injured. But I have no records from PC-1121 or from Repose.

Hope this helps.

Michael W. Pocock

Oct. 12, 2018

Words can not thank you enough for digging this up. John was my grandfather, and this, means the world to me. He did, as the records indicate have his arm blown off. Thank you!

Tom Geller

Oct. 10, 2018

Just letting you know that my father, Lieutenant Hugh Bell Ogburn, left the U.S. Navy R.O.T.C. program at Princeton University, (before his graduation, Princeton University Class of 1945), in late 1944 to join the U.S.S. California in late 1944, as the Senior Damage Control Officer at age 22. My father told me he was the Senior Damage Control Officer when the U.S.S. California was struck by the Japanese Kamikasi plane in 1945 that killed 50 men. My father (after the Kamikasi attack) personally arrived on the attack location, assessed the Damage, Organized the Medics, Organized and he personally Joined the Fire Fighting crew and informed the Captain of the extent of the damage. My father also Supervised all the subsequent repairs after this damage to the ship.

My father also served in all the Battles on the U.S.S. California in all the Spring and Summer of 1945 until the end of WW II in August as the Senior Damage Control Officer.

My father also served as a U.S. Navy Military Police Officer in the initial occupation of Tokyo. And my father stayed on the U.S.S. California on its voyage home to the United States in October 1945.

My father received his B.S. Degree in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University (Class of 1945) in late 1945. My father then received his M.S. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 1947. And then my father received his Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Princeton University in 1950, with Professor Dr. Albert Einstein on his Ph.D. Dissertation Committee. For 30 years, my father held the number One All time highest GPA Grade Point Average ever achieved by a student at Princeton University, which included all the grades from all the courses of all three of his Chemical Engineering degrees at Princeton University.

My father then worked for a number of Oil Companies, becoming the Department Head of Chemical Research at Atlantic Richfield, then a Vice President of Atlantic Richfield, then a Vice President of Union Carbide in charge of all their Oil Refineries, then a Vice President of Weyerhauser's Chemical Products Division, then a Vice President of the Pacific Resources Oil Company in Honolulu, Hawaii.

My father retired to Honolulu, Hawaii in 1989, with his second wife, Nancy Wrenn of Honolulu. My father's first wife, Anne Wotherspoon was my Mother and my father also had a daughter with Anne Wotherspoon, Margaret Mathews - Berenson, (my sister), and had me as his son with his first wife, Anne Wotherspoon, Dr. Scott A. Ogburn, Ph.D. in Sacred Architecture.

My father passed away in October, 2007.

Feel free to add any of my father's remarkable service Record aboard the U.S.S. California from late 1944 to October 1945 in the annals and WW II Service Records of the U.S.S. California. In my opinion, my father should have received the U.S. Navy Cross for his heroic actions in dealing with the aftermath of the Kamikazi attack on the U.S.S. California. My father did receive all the Pacific Theater Battle Ribbons that the U.S.S. California received in late 1944 and 1945, which I have framed with a photo of the U.S.S. California, and framed photos of my father in his U.S. Navy Uniform, including in the frame, all my father's Pacific Theater Battle Ribbons. I would very much like to have my father receive the U.S. Navy Cross Posthumously for his heroic actions taking charge after the Kamikasi attack on the U.S.S. California. If you can do anything to expedite the U.S. Navy Cross posthumously for my father, (and send it to me) I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you.

Best regards,
Dr. Scott A. Ogburn, Ph.D.
Pennsburg, PA

Aug. 16, 2018

My father was an 18 year old gunner's mate on the USS California. He was one of the men pulled from the Kamikaze attack on that dreadful day. He appeared to be dead with extensive shrapnel and burn wounds, and regained awareness in that "morgue". I think he said he was covered with netting.

Thank you to those who helped this young man, Jesus R. Perez, probably called "Jess", from Long Beach, California. He went through a difficult and lengthy recovery, and carried shrapnel pieces and extensive burn scars the rest of his life. He spent his working years as a civilian naval employee. He was a loving father to three daughters and two sons, encouraging us to be responsible people.

He never said much about his horrific experience. Since his children grew up seeing his scars, we never saw him as disfigured, although I think he was always conscious of his scaring. After he was gone, I discovered he had shared much of his story with my son, his oldest grandson. We were proud that he was given a military accompaniment when he died. It mattered to him and it mattered to his family.

Thank you,
Rebecca Derby

Feb. 5, 2018

I've been trying to chase down information on my Grandpa who passed away in 2015.  His name was Hugh Roderick Timmel 7835804. I've found two muster rolls for him, one belonging to AO-86 Ponaganset, and another showing he was on the USS California in 1945. He never did open up about his time in the war when I was growing up, and I would love to know if there is any information about him anywhere.

Thank you very much,
Chad Stacy

Reply 1
Feb. 5, 2018

He was in California from Mar. 28, 1945 until Oct. 13, 1945 when he was transferred to Ponaganset, he stayed in her until Apr. 15, 1946 when he was sent to the U.S. Navy Receiving Station at Brooklyn, New York, I assume to be released from service.

Michael W. Pocock

Reply 2
Feb. 5, 2018

Thank you so much for this information. I realised too late that this would mean so much to me, and with his passing it was too late to ask directly.

Chad Stacy

Sept. 15, 2015

I helping a friend of mine try to get info about his father. His dad is who is now 89 is hospitalized and can not talk. The only info he has is that his dad served on the U.S. California during WWII. His dad never talked about his service in the Navy. The veteran I am referring to Vernon Dill. Any info will help with getting va benefits. Thank you in advance.

Cynthia Clifford

Reply 1
Sept. 18, 2015

Here is what I found.

Vernon Oren Dill
Seaman 2nd Class USNR
Service Number: 940 26 45
Enlisted Apr. 27, 1944 at Jackson (no state noted)
No training info available.

First received onboard USS California BB-44 on Sept. 10, 1944 at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, Vanuatu.
(I don't know how he got there as I could not find his name on a passenger list for any of the transports.)

Remained in USS California BB-44 until Apr. 28, 1945 when he was transferred to Receiving Station Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington.

Probably discharged soon after that, but I have no date.

Michael W. Pocock

May 25, 2015

Wanted to pass along the news of one of your shipmates passing. Eugene M. Stanger, passed away at the age of 91 on May 12th, 2015. My father was wounded in the Leyte Gulf battle when a suicide plane hit the California. Believe he was a gunners mate on a 20mm. He was a good and honorable man.

Chester R. Stanger

Jan. 28, 2015

My grandfather, S1C John Montgomery, served aboard BB44 1944-45. He was assigned to the E Division. At 89 years old he remains proud of his service and celebrated with his family the recent anniversary of the Leyte Gulf campaign. Response from any shipmates would be great.

John W. Young, Maj (Ret), MSC, USAF

Dec. 31, 2014

My Father, Manuel Miller Freitas #375-32-34 served on the California twice I believe. Once in the late 1920's (28-29?) and then again in 1944-45. He might have also served aboard her after her rebuild and then rejoined in 1944. I am actually try to piece together his naval record and know now even though he only talked about the California, he probably also served on the USS Ludlow dd-112 (though I suspect she was DM-112 or DM-10 by then) He also served on the USS Tanager (AM-5) Any direction or insight would be appreciated.

Bob Freitas

Aug. 24, 2014

My father, was Sgt. Paul "Pud" Ransom, USMC. He served aboard the USS California BB-44 from 1942 to 1945 as part of the USMC contingent. My dad was also on the team that produced the USMC newsletter during that time. He told me a lot about shipboard life on the California. Including the incident when a Kamikaze smashed into the ship right above his 50 cal. gun mount. If there is anyone out there who remembers my dad, or might have photos of the Marine Contingent from the time, I would like very much to correspond with them. My dad's memories were a huge influence on me, so much that I joined the Navy and served six years during Vietnam.

Marc E. Ransom

Aug. 17, 2014

I am a Navy veteran Vietnam Era. I am presently doing a cleanup of personal and household items as I get ready to retire. I started with the garage and while sorting come camping gear I noticed my tent poles were stored in a Navy seabag. This is a thick white canvas bag, not the green canvas used during my time. There was name on it... "Melvin Johnson". I did a search on "Melvin Johnson WWII". It didn't take long to find a Navy seaman who served and died on the USS California.

This is a old Navy seabag and I believe it's his. There's no other identification, but from the construction, its from that period. This is not an official issue seabag. From its construction it looks possibly handmade or maybe on the ship. Was it usual for a sailor to possibly have a second seabag?

Now the search to find family members. I would love to see the bag get back to family. I've narrowed the search to this website and also discovered he is buried in Hawaii  Veterans Memorial Cemetery. I am reaching out for any of the remaining crew that would have been on board around 1942 to see if they knew of him. I think he was a radioman. If anyone has any knowledge of him or where he hailed from, please reply to me via this website Label outside the bag, ID blocked out, bag is inside out Heavy duty grommets.

Phil Fimiani
USN, ETR2, 1968-1973
USS W. R. Rush DD-714


June 2, 2014

My father was a gunner on the USS California from 6-2-1943 to December 1945. I have a book on the wartime cruising of the California. Do you know what "division" that he may have been in.  Have looked thru all the pictures, but touch to identify him at 18 years old. Thanks for your help

Jo Cobb

May 5, 2014

The photo below is labeled "Fred Murray U.S.S. California San Pedro" There is no date on the photo, but it is probably a WWII vintage photo. My father moved the family to Lompoc briefly where he worked on a military base. He ended up enlisting in the Navy in March 1944, and the rest of the family returned to their home in Salt Lake City. I would like to offer this photo to a Fred Murray family member if possible.

Thank you,

MaritimeQuest is now in possession of this photo. If you are a relative of Mr. Murray and would like the photo, please contact me directly. (

Fred Murray in San Pedro, California. Note the boy in the background who seems to be having a good time.

Apr. 7, 2014

My family and I were in Hawaii just over a year ago, 3/13 and I managed to get a picture of the marker where the California was located. As I posted earlier, my uncle Harlan J. (Hi) Haynes, was on the ship 12/7/41. The closest I could get was the fantail of the USS Missouri, and I was able to explain to my grandson what transpired on that day as I had heard it from my uncle and other members of his family. It was an emotional experience standing that close to where he was on that day. I was "in the hanger" so to speak, and was born a few months later to Uncle Hi's older sister.

Carl Grimm
Hutchinson, Kansas


Jan. 20, 2014

My grandfather served on the California, but I am not sure of the time period. He didn't talk a lot about the time he served but he did tell me some stories about the bombardment of Saipan in 1944. His name was Raymond Orville Mills and he probably went by Ray. He was from Marseilles, Il. I would appreciate any information from anyone who knew him or if anyone has information on how I find more information on crew members.

David Cheatham

Reply 1
Jan. 31, 2014

According to the crew list his name was Raymond Orvel Mills, service number 726 74 91.
Enlisted July 14, 1943, came aboard USS California Nov. 1, 1943 as a Seaman 2nd Class.
Still on California as of Jan. 1946 as Seaman 1st Class.

Michael W. Pocock

Jan. 19, 2014

I am the son of Laverne Sorrells, a crew-member of the USS California. My Father used to have a map of his ship's travels in our front room. It showed King Neptune of the top of it, and a line representing his travels. He left the Puget Sound area in 1944 and was involved in several battles from that point till it returned to the U.S. I do know that he always told about being a 'golden shell-back ' having sailed around the Cape of Good Hope.

Anyway, because of strife in our family, after my Father passed (May 1, 1990) the map disappeared before I could get to it. One of my siblings no doubt got it. I am a U.S. Army Vietnam Veteran, having served with the 18th Military Police Brigade in Vietnam. Of his five sons, I am the only one to have served in combat. My oldest brother did serve in the Air Force, but never left the States.

I am trying to find anyone that might have a map of the California's cruise so that I might include it in the shadow boxes on this wall of honor that I am making of myself, my dad, and my father-in-law who served with the Corp of Engineers in the European Theater during WWII. If anyone knows where or how I could get a copy, I would certainly appreciate it.

Very Respectfully,
Terry G. Sorrells
(Disabled Vietnam Veteran)
Bedford, Indiana

Jan. 4, 2013

I am looking for any information or photos related to my father. Dwight Stanley Church served aboard the USS California from 1943 thru 1945. He never spoke much about his service but mentioned being in the crow's nest and the only thing higher than him were the antennae. I'm not sure if he was a gunners mate (something he once mentioned) but he spoke one time of another man named Church who died close to him in action. My father passed away in 1994 and I've been trying to find anything information regarding his service as I work on our family history.

Thank you,
Duane Church
Seattle, Washington

Jan. 4, 2014
Reply 1

I don't have any photos of him, but I have found his name on the Muster Roll for California BB-44. He enlisted on Aug. 18, 1943 and in March of 1944 he was a Seaman 2nd Class. By July of 1945 he was a Seaman 1st Class. Service number 892 26 98. First reported aboard California on Dec. 7, 1943 and was still on California in July of 1945. I have no other information on his service. I hope this helps.

Michael W. Pocock

Dec. 7, 2013

My father (William E. Santo) is remembering Pearl harbor 72 years ago today. He is a Pearl Harbor survivor that was on the USS California BB-44. He is 89 years old and healthy, living in northern California. I am looking for any other Pearl Harbor survivor from the USS California. He was also a crew member on the USS Tracy. I am looking for any crew member pictures from either ship.

Thank you,
Scott Santo

Aug. 19, 2013

First of all I would like to let you know that I appreciate the work you do to keeping history alive, so people can reminisce.

I am emailing you because my grandfather served in the USMC on the USS California after it was repaired in 1942 until the end of its duties in the South Pacific in WWII. Cleaning out my grandparents house this last week, (because they both have passed now) I came across a book of sea stories, talking about the marine life on board the USS California while it cruised the South Pacific. In the book, it lists the names of the marines, along with rank, where they are from, and classification.

The "Classifications" I am having a hard time figuring out, because I think they are in USMC lingo. My grandpa's (Thomas W. Verbrick) classification is "Halfback". Would you by chance know what this classification means, or know where I can go to research more on this? 

Also, I would be more than happy to scan and send you this book of sea stories. It is only 16 pages long, so it would not be hard or time consuming to do, and I think relatives of the marines that served on the California would greatly appreciate it.

Nick Verbrick

June 26, 2013

I am looking for any information or photos of the USS California during the years 1944-1946. My grandfather, Edward Miller served on the California and I am trying to get any information that I can for my father. My grandfather lived in Terra Haute, Indiana (I think) he may have already moved to Michigan at the time of his service. Any info, pics would be Awesome! Thanks to all for your service.

Heather Barnier
Milan, Michigan

Apr. 9, 2013

My father served on the USS California during WW II.  He talked about being in the crow's nest when the Kamikaze plane hit the ship.  His name was Willie D Lowery.  His birthday was Aug. 14, 1924.  He died on March 5, 1980 in Mobile, AL. I would love to hear from anyone that remembers serving with him.  I appreciate anything you can tell me. 

Mary Jacobs
Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

Mar. 23, 2013

I saw several posts from Mr. Phil Hollandsworth an electrician's mate on the California. My father was also an electrician's mate on the California after Pearl. His name was Chester Nelson Todd. I would love to know if Mr. Hollandsworth knew my father. He has been deceased now since 1980 and like almost all of the WWII veterans - he spoke very little about his time at war. I do recall hearing about the Kamakazi attack however. That and Leyte Gulf.

Thank you very much,
David Todd

Feb. 18, 2013

I am the niece of an officer killed aboard the USS California on Jan 6, 1945. His GQ station was in a gun director.  His name was Lt. Francis Edward "Bud"Thornton Jr. from Newport RI. I was 7 at the time of his death and remember him fondly. I am organizing a family history. I have his Purple Heart and some press clippings and pictures.  I would appreciate hearing from anyone who knew him or could provide information on his final hours.

Betty Whittleton

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Page published Feb. 20, 2013