Observance honors USS Nevada
Famed battleship fought on two fronts during World War II
By Steve Ranson, Nevada News Group
This Sunday morning in Hawaii began like the previous ones at Pearl Harbor, built as a strategic location for the USS Navy as ships began to crisscross the Pacific Ocean in the early 1900s between the United States mainland and territories in Guam and the Philippines.
First, under the presidencies of Theodore Roosevelt and then William Howard Taft, Congress approved millions of dollars to complete a port where U.S. warships could dock and refuel as they crisscrossed the Pacific and also provide a window on The Far East … or primarily on the eastern Asian countries of China, Japan, Korea and the Philippines.
Japan considered Pearl Harbor’s strategic location and the military port as a deterrence to their expansion, and because of this thinking, Japan launched an early morning attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 — 82 years ago — to destroy the American fleet, ships and planes alike.
Instead, the attack and declaration of war against Japan only awakened a slumbering giant.
Remembering the Nevada
Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day on Thursday was remembered at a number of locations with a small ceremony and the rising of a flag to remember the USS Nevada.
In Northern Nevada, John Galloway, director of the Battleship USS Nevada Remembrance Project, said the locations were behind the state capitol in Carson City at the USS Nevada memorial; Naval Air Station Fallon; the Northern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Fernley; and the Northern Nevada State Veterans Home in Sparks. The flag was also raised at Pearl Harbor and the Southern Nevada Veterans Memorial Cemetery at Boulder City.
As seven warships on Battleship Row billowed black smoke, and their leaking oil and fuel gushed into the harbor, only the pride of the 36th state — the USS Nevada — responded to an order to fire up its engines and move away from its mooring as the other battleships lay in ruin.
Knowing more about the USS Nevada and the gallantry she and her crew displayed during World War II has been a labor of love for Galloway. Over the years, Galloway has nurtured a love for the battleship and those who served on the ship either in the western Pacific or Aleutian Islands, at Normandy during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944, or back in the western Pacific by providing fire for the United States and its allies who were beginning to island hop to defeat the Japanese army in the latter stages of the war in 1944-45 until Japan surrendered.
The USS Nevada earned seven battle stars during the war: Pearl Harbor in 1941; Attu in the Aleutian Islands, May 11-30, 1943; Utah Beach, Normandy on June 6, 1945; Cote d’Azur France, Operation Dragoon, Aug. 15, 1944; and two stars in capturing of Iwo Jima and Okinawa in 1945.
In David C. Henley’s Dec. 8, 2021 column, the retired publisher and owner of the Lahontan Valley News in Fallon, remembers a conversation he had with Ensign Joseph W. Taussig Jr., the ship’s officer of the deck.
“We of the old Battleship Nevada manned the best ship in the fleet. No ship, before or since, was awarded more Congressional Medals of Honor and Navy Crosses. One Navy Cross went to a lieutenant commander. All the other awards went to ensigns or below. The average age of our crew was 19.5!”
Taussig, one of the Navy Cross awardees, died in 1999 at the age of 79, seven days after the 58th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.
Most eyes on Arizona
Galloway, a pilot who moved to Nevada more than 20 years ago, said most of the attention at Pearl Harbor is directed toward the battleship USS Arizona, where 1,177 sailors and Marines died including three sailors from Nevada —Richard Eugene Gill, seaman first class Richard Walter Weaver and Lt. Eric Young — and their bodies were never recovered from the USS Arizona.
Gill attended schools in Wells and Reno and earned his diploma from Montello High School. When Gill enlisted in the Navy in 1940, his family lived in the small Eureka County ranching community of Beowawe where he worked as a grocery clerk.
Weaver, who grew up in Fallon, enlisted in the Navy on Nov. 27, 1940, and the 18-year-old stood watch and served as a gunner while on the ship.
Young graduated from Reno High School in 1934 and then attended the University of Nevada for two years. He left Nevada after receiving an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated in 1940, commissioned as an ensign.
Despite being hit by the Japanese torpedo bombs, the USS Nevada cruised down the channel, according to one of the sailors onboard the ship, and intentionally ran aground between the No. 4 buoy at Waipo Point and a floating dry dock. Charles Sehe, a young 18-year-old sailor on the Nevada, said tugboats eventually grounded the Nevada to clear the channel to allow other warships to exit.
Military historian and journalist Ken Beaton said Nevada Gov. E.P. Carville asked residents in 1944 to contribute 2,368 silver dollars so each member of that heroic crew could be given a souvenir dollar. Beaton said the silver dollars were presented to every enlisted man and officer aboard at a ceremony November 19, 1944.
“I still have the silver dollar,” Sehe told a gathering at the USS Nevada memorial behind the Capitol in 2015.
Sehe served on the Nevada for more than four years in the Aleutian Islands, off Normandy Beach on D-Day. The Nevada provided cover for the invasion of southern France on nine convoy runs between Boston and Belfast and supporting the U.S. invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
More than 2,400 military and civilian personnel died in the Pearl Harbor attack including 60 on the USS Nevada. Another 109 were wounded. At a ceremony at the state capitol in 2015, Beaton said Sehe was presented a USS Nevada cap and an American flag that was flown over the Capitol.
“He (Sehe) urged those attending to think of all those who were lost in battle as he rang the bell five times,” Beaton remembers.
Galloway said USS Nevada sailors like Sehe and 100-year-old Dick Ramsey, who visited Reno and Carson in early November, epitomize the strength the personnel and ship mustered on that fateful day.
“It’s a great ship, always willing to do its share,” Galloway said. “We know it’s a strong ship, like strong armies. They save lives because they end wars. They don’t prolong it. That’s what the Nevada did.”
During its four years of war, the Nevada downed eight attacking Japanese airplanes at Pearl Harbor and destroyed 71 German tanks during the D-Day attack on Normandy.
USS Nevada projects
To coincide with the USS Nevada’s launching as a seaworthy warship 110 years ago, Galloway has been working on a project for the State of Nevada to being issuing a USS Nevada license plate. Galloway said it’s taken years for the state to produce the plate, and he has studied other states’ designs undertaken for their historic warships.
“The design in eight years morphed a little bit, and I brought in Daniel Cosgrave who designed the USS Missouri postage stamp,” Galloway said. ”He helped me with the preliminary design.”
Cosgrave’s stamp depicting the 75th anniversary of the “Big Mo” first appeared in 1979.
Galloway said proceeds will assist the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
Galloway said it’s important to recognize the sailors and Marines who served on the battleship as well as the ship’s place in naval history as part of his Battleship Nevada Remembrance Project. He also written about the project.
To further the battleship’s history, Galloway unveiled a trident at the Naval Air Warfighting Development Center in Fallon in late August 2022. The symbolic prop was used to show the Wolf Pack’s take always of recovering fumbles, intercepting passes and nailing their opponent in the end zone for a safety. Galloway then presented the idea to the university, and President Brian Sandoval, Athletic Director Stephanie Remke, former football coach Ken Wilson and a half dozen players attended the presentation at NAWDC.
Fallon Eagle, Fallon Standard, Reno Gazette, 1940 Naval Academy yearbook, “Battleship Nevada, The Epic Story of the Ship that Wouldn’t Sink.”
This year’s reflection on the attack on Pearl Harbor may also be found in “Legacies of the Silver State: Nevada Goes to War” written by authors Steve Ranson, Ken Beaton and David C. Henley. They tell of the war’s events and of the men and women who fought during World War II. To learn more or to purchase a copy, visit https://nevadaveteransjournal. Book sales have generated $26,000 for Honor Flight Nevada.