On that tragic and infamous day when the Japanese attacked pearl harbor, destroying the battleships of the Pacific fleet, The USS Detroit was also moored next to her sister ship the Raleigh in the harbor that day.
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Detroit was able to get underway safely and set up an anti-aircraft fire. Only one of Detroit’s crew members was injured during the Japanese attack, Lester Silva, who received a Purple Heart. Once clear of Pearl Harbor she was ordered to sail at once to join up with the light cruisers Phoenix and St. Louis and two destroyers to investigate the west coast of Oahu for any indications of a landing by the Japanese, then to join the search for the retiring Japanese force.
The 555 foot long and 55 foot wide Omaha Class Light Cruser was launched in June 1922 by the Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp. in Quincy, Mass., and sponsored by Detroit Mayor James Couzens’ daughter. The ship spent her first eight years as part of the Scouting Fleet either in the Atlantic or Mediterranean. Her first duty was to assist in the USAAS’s first aerial circumnavigation of the world in 1924 and transported the United States Secretary of State Frank B. Kellogg, in 1927, from Ireland to France for the negotiations that led to the signing of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.
During WWII she was sent to Alaska to aid in fighting the Japanese that had invaded the Aleutian Islands. After retaking the island, she remained in the Alaskan waters to defend the chain of islands and the Alaskan coastline.
The USS Detroit was decommissioned in 1946 and sold for scrap.
Thank you to all the men and women who served then and continue to serve now.
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