“After the bombardment, Ainsworth divided his force into two groups to sweep the Slot on alternate nights. TG-18.6, which he led, consisted of Honolulu, Strong, Chevalier, Taylor and O'Bannon, while TG-18.7, under command of Tisdale, was composed of St. Louis, Nicholas, USS Jenkins (DD447), Radford and Fletcher. One or other group combed the Slot on six successive nights, but each time they failed to find an enemy force.
In the early hours of the fifth, however, Strong made a radar contact on a surfaced submarine and O'Bannon, closer to the contact, was ordered to attack.”
O'Bannon did manage to sink the sub. Later on April 7th, Strong also sank a Japanese sub and later received commendation for their assistance with the O'Bannon incident and their own actions on the 7th.
Just for fun, one of Wellings' letters with mention of Gelzer Sims:
“18 March, 1943
This is your little boy reporting “all’s well” from somewhere in the Pacific. As usual I am feeling grand and as happy as possible without my sweetheart being with me, which is another way of saying that I miss you terribly.
Guess what?? The other day I noticed as we steamed into port (I assume he means Espiritu Santo) that Gelzer Sims' destroyer (USS Maury) was at anchor. I immediately sent a message (1000) and asked Gelzer over for lunch. He arrived at 1030 and talked until 1500 when I had to go to a conference – this included all during meal time. He is the same old Gelzer and his old and new stories are gems. He kept all my wardroom officers spellbound all during lunch. He has been out here from the beginning – as he said he arrived here in the Mayflower – it has seemed that long since he has been home. He reports all well with Sue and the family. He really looks fine – but says he would not turn down an offer for a few days rest. Notice the improved ink – my yeoman just cleaned and refilled my pen.
Well Sweet, I am still getting a thrill over the letters from my darling received a few days (4) ago. Somehow when the mail comes aboard and I read your letters, life takes on a new outlook, everything seems much clearer and happier. You don't even seem to be so far away. Gosh, what do the people do who don't have someone to think and dream about – someone who is also thinking of them. I guess if they don't know any better, they don't miss this pleasure. I know you make my life worth living and worth fighting for, the knowledge that after this is all over we will be together again is by itself incentive enough to work hard, keep fit and get this job over with as quickly as possible.
Enough of being serious – you know I love you and you alone always – but I wanted to tell you again.
Forever yours alone,
I love how he uses endearments in his letters, he loved his wife very much and it's evident.
The reunion is in a couple of weeks, and I'm working to get ready to meet with these men and their families. I plan on being overwhelmed by information and resources, and look forward to talking about them here.
If any of you have a story to tell about your loved one, something from their time in the Navy or in particular about their time on Strong, and would care to share it, I'd love to post it here. Just let me know.