USS Houston Survivors Dedicate New Model Case

Houston Survivors and Painting

USS HOUSTON (CA 30) veterans pose before a new painting, "They Sold Their Lives Dearly," by Tom Freeman. The veterans are (left to right): Raymond Kester, David Flynn, Howard Brooks, Bill Ingram.

On Thursday 17 November the National Museum of the United States Navy hosted a remarkable event to honor those who were lost and those who survived the sinking of USS Houston (CA 30) on 1 March 1942 off Java.  Over the past 17 months, the Curator of Ship Models with Navy Sea Systens Command, Dana Wegner and his staff, have spent hundreds of hours refurbishing a 1929 vintage model of the Northampton-class cruiser USS Houston.  In the meantime, the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors and Next Generations Association paid for the construction of a beautiful wooden/glass case to host the 1/48 scale model.  From 1100 through noon there was an official Model unveiling ceremony that included remarks by Director of Naval History, Rear Admiral Jay A. DeLoach, Lieutenant Commander Carl Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy, and John Schwarz who is the president of the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors and Next Generations Association.

Following a luncheon underwritten by the Surface Navy Association and the Naval Historical Foundation, Dr. Dave Winkler of the Naval Historical Foundation had the opportunity to do an 80 minute roundtable with 3 of the Houston veterans: Raymond Kester, Howard Brooks, and David Flynn.  In the case of Kester, he had transferred to the cruiser Marblehead before the battles of February 1942.  He recounted how Japanese bombers heavily damaged Marblehead during air attacks on 4 February.  Marblehead would make it back to New York for repairs in May.  During the air attack of 4 February, a bomb hit turret #3 on Houston.  Brooks was part of the aft damage control party stationed aft of the barbet and was sent away to repair an ammunition hoist.  When he returned he found that the bomb had killed or wounded all of the other Sailors who had been part of the repair team.

Both David Flynn and Brooks discussed the battle that led to the loss of Houston and their escapes.  Flynn, wounded with shrapnel, considered himself lucky in retrospect because his injuries deemed him of little use to the Japanese and he spent the rest of the war on Java.  Brooks, on the other hand, found himself mixed in with thousands of British, Australian, Dutch, and other prisoners working on a rail line to link Thailand and Burma.  Brooks gave a twenty minute narrative of his experience that was illustrated in the movie “The Bridge On the River Kwai.” The roundtable ended with an upbeat note as Brooks and Flynn discussed their liberations. Those wanting to learn more about the experience of these brave men should read James Hornfischer’s “Ship of Ghosts.”

USS Houston Model 1

USS HOUSTON (CA 30) model on display at the National Museum of the United States Navy, in a new case donated by the USS HOUSTON (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations. The model has been meticulously restored to its original 1920's configuration.

USS Houston Model 2

USS HOUSTON (CA 30) on display at the National Museum of the United States Navy, in a new case donated by the USS HOUSTON (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations. The model has been meticulously restored to its original 1920's configuration.

USS Houston Presenters

Chaplain LT Jonathan Craig reads the benediction closing the dedication ceremony for the USS HOUSTON (CA 30) model case at the National Museum of the United States Navy. At the far left podium is Dr. Ed Furgul of the Museum. Behind LT Craig (left to right) are RDML Jay DeLoach, USN (Ret), Director, Naval History and Heritage Command, LCDR Carl Holmes, Royal Australian Naval attache, and Dana Wegner, Curator of Ship Models, Naval Sea Systems Command.

USS Houston Applause

The gathered crowd gives the four veterans of USS HOUSTON (CA 30) a rousing standing ovation.

USS Houston Model Crowd

A crowd gathers around the model of the cruiser USS HOUSTON (CA 30) in anticipation of the internal lighting system in the new model case being turned on. The case was donated by the USS HOUSTON (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations.

USS Houston Panel

USS HOUSTON (CA 30) shipmates Raymond Kester, Howard Brooks, and David Flynn shared their memories in a panel after the model dedication ceremony. The panel was chaired by the Naval Historical Foundation's Dr. Dave Winkler (at right).

 

 

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7 Responses to USS Houston Survivors Dedicate New Model Case

  1. Margaret Kovacs says:

    What a remarkable tribute to all who served on the USS Houston!

  2. Don Kehn, Jr. says:

    A great day, and long overdue! What a wonderful tribute to the beautiful old ship and her valiant crew who gave all for their country. Kudos to everyone involved, and I KNOW the spirit of Otto C. Schwarz looks down with pride on his family’s efforts, and ALL of the crew & their proud descendants on this fine accomplishment.

  3. Johan VanLeer says:

    Read also: “THE GHOST THAT DIED AT SUNDA STRAIT” by Walter G.Winslow.

  4. johan VanLeer says:

    Please read also: “THE GHOST THAT DIED AT SUNDA STRAIT”, author Walter G. Winslow.

  5. jim warwick says:

    My uncle Jim watt died on the Houston, great tribute to all the men who served on her Jim Warwick

  6. Linda Goetz Holmes says:

    All I can think of is how Otto Schwarz would be so pleased with this event!

  7. Vic Campbell says:

    This is a wonderful thing. This tribute to the ship and crew will extend the glory to many more generations. I hope it inspires more reading, such as Winslow’s book and Hornfischer’s and others. Several DVD’s are now available (some at Buzzcreek.com) and there is talk of a dramatic big screen movie in the works. If ever a story deserved greater exposure – THIS is certainly one of them.

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