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15th Jul 2021


McClelland, Charles

Posted on 14 September, 2021 by in ,

April 6th 2019


Charles McClelland born 1923,  I interviewed Charles Dec. 2012 at his home in Zephyrhills Florida.  This is being updated from information that I just received from Charles today April 6th 2019.

Charles enlisted in the  U.S. Navy in 1940 before the start of WW II.  He went through boot camp in Great Lakes Ill.  About one half of his recruit class in 1940 (about 40 men) was sent to the USS Arizona of which only two of the men survived the attack on Dec. 7th 1941.   McClelland went aboard the USS Arizona about one month before the surprise attack to have dinner with the men from his recruit company.

Charles was aboard the USS Helena when she was attacked at Pearl Harbor on December 7th 1941.  Charles was thrown into the air and landed on the steel deck which severely  broke his leg.  He did not see much of the attack since he was laying on the deck looking up at the sky.  He was involved in much of the Naval battles around the Solomon Islands by Guadalcanal.  He was in the fighting called the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on Nov. 12 and 13 1942  in which the USS Juneau that carried the five Sullivan brothers to their deaths.  The Helena was helping the USS Juneau limp back away from the battle when the Juneau was struck by a torpedo and (just disappeared in about 12 seconds)  Charles said he could have “threw a potato to the Juneau”The Captain of the Helena was in charge (Capt. Hoover)  of the ships guarding the Juneau when she was sunk.  Capt. Hoover who faced a courts-martial for not picking up survivors from the sinking of the Juneau.  Aboard the USS Juneau were about 750 men when she was hit by the torpedo.  About 100 men survived the sinking.  Only 10 men survived when they were rescued many days later.   Admiral Halsey who approved of  the courts martial later regretted his  action very much.  Stating that Capt. Hoover did the right thing at the time by not stopping since there were several ships in the convoy and they could have been attacked by the submarine and also sunk.    In the book “Escape from the Sea” on page 147B there is a picture of Charles setting next to a sailor named R. A. Powell who was aboard the USS Santa Fe   when the Franklin was hit.  According to Charles, Powell never got over what he witnessed that day 19 March 1945 at Okinawa.  The Franklin loss over 800 men to fires or being blown overboard.

January 2020 Charles McClelland’s daughter Phillis and son Chuck put together a video that I have on my computer in the folder column of there lives.  It is great if you like history of the 1910 thru 1960s.  Old cars, clothing styles and so on.




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