Samuel B Roberts Jr was stationed on board the USS BELLATRIX, which was part of the Guadalcanal Assault Force. As a coxswain for the Bellatrix's assault boats, Roberts helped ferry supplies from the transport ships to a tenuous beachhead.
After the ships withdrew in the face of Japanese attacks that began 7 August 1942, Roberts volunteered for duty on the island of Guadalcanal, where he was attached to a beachmaster unit at Lunga Point. The unit, which included Navy and US Coast Guard sailors, transported Marines and their supplies to beaches along the island's northern coast, and also evacuated wounded Marines.
Early on the morning of 27 September 1942, Roberts volunteered for a rescue mission to save a company-size unit of Marines that had been surrounded by a larger Japanese force. The rescue group of several Higgins boats was taken under heavy fire and was perilously close to failure. Roberts volunteered to distract Japanese forces by guiding his boat directly in front of their lines, drawing their fire. This decoy act was performed effectively until all Marines had been evacuated. However, as he was about to withdraw from the range of the Japanese guns, Roberts’ boat was hit and he was mortally wounded. His boat mates brought him back to base and he was flown out on a medical evacuation flight, but died the next day.
The first ship named for Samuel B Roberts Jr was DE-413, commissioned on April 28, 1944.
Samuel B. Roberts participated in the Battle off Samar, an unlikely victory in which a relatively small force of U.S. warships prevented a vastly superior Japanese force from attacking the amphibious invasion fleet off the large Philippine island of Leyte. This destroyer escort, along with the handful of destroyers, destroyer escorts, and escort carriers of the unit called "Taffy 3", was inadvertently left alone to fend off a fleet of heavily armed Japanese battleships, cruisers, and destroyers in this crucial action off the Island of Samar, during the Battle of Leyte Gulf of October 1944. Steaming aggressively through a gauntlet of incoming shells, Samuel B. Roberts scored one torpedo hit and numerous gunfire hits as she slugged it out with larger enemy warships before finally being sunk. After the battle, Samuel B. Roberts received the appellation "the destroyer escort that fought like a battleship."
The second ship named for Samuel B Roberts Jr was DD-823, commissioned on December 22, 1946.
DD-823 had such a busy schedule, her nickname was the "Steaming Sammy B".
Here are a few key dates:
1954 - 1955: Sailed around the world.
October 1956 – February 1957 – Persian Gulf
August/September 1958: Stationed off coast of Lebanon for gunfire support.
Summer 1959: Opening of the St Lawrence Seaway attended by Queen Elizabeth & President Eisenhower. One of the first ships to traverse all 5 Great Lakes.
Summer 1963: Participated in search for the submarine USS THRESHER that sunk 220 miles east of Boston, MA.
Fall 1963: Participated in the blockade of Cuba during Cuban Missile Crisis.
Fall 1965 – Spring 1966: Vietnam/Phillippine waters. Several skirmishes where she fired her guns in anger for the first time. Earned 2 battle stars.
The third ship name for Samuel B Roberts Jr was FFG-58, commissioned on April 12, 1986.
On her first deployment to the Persian Gulf in 1988, she struck an Iranian mine. If not for the heroic efforts of her crew, she would have sunk to the bottom of the Persian Gulf. She was repaired and returned to serve the United States valiantly until she was decommissioned on May 22, 2015.
Here are a few interesting facts about the Samuel B Roberts legacy.....
Only 2 people in the 20th century have had 3 or more ships named after them. Samuel B Roberts Jr and ADM Kidd, who was on the bridge of the ARIZONA when it was sunk at Pearl Harbor.
All 4 aspects of the Samuel B Roberts Jr legacy are combat veterans:
Samuel B Roberts Jr at Guadalcanal.
DE-413 in Leyte Gulf.
DD-823 off Lebanon & Vietnam.
FFG-58 in the Persian Gulf.