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Dedication

I have been fortunate, as have other Americans, in having had the benefit of our country’s military defenses, which has allowed my having a productive career, much of which is recorded on this website. This dedication is also an expression of my recognition of, and my gratitude for, the sacrifice made by members of our armed forces, and their families, in defense of our nation, from which I -- and all other Americans, and inhabitants of other nations that our forces have helped defend -- have benefited.



Dedication to Lt. Benjamin Ghetzler and others lost on the sinking of the Reuben James:


This website is hereby dedicated to, and in the memory of, beloved Lt. Benjamin Ghetzler, 
U.S. Naval Academy, class of 1931, Executive Officer of the destroyer U.S.S. Reuben James (DD-245), and all the other brave members of the ship's complement, lost on the sinking of the ill-fated destroyer when torpedoed and sunk by U-boat (U-562) south of Iceland, October 31, 1941.

Click here for https://sites.google.com/site/benjaminghetzlerussreubenjames/.

Click here  for the list of the ship's complement. Click here for list of survivors and of men lost.  Click here for more on survivors (bing™ results).  Click here and here, e.g., for information on the USS Reuben James (DD-245), also available at http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/245.htm.  Click hereand here, e.g., for information on U-boat. See also, e.g., U-boat, Encyclopædia Britannica Online, ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA (May 3, 2013),  http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/612159/U-boat or click here See also, Home page on Navigation Bar at "In Memoriam"  for "Lt. Benjamin Ghetzler."

Various links that provide further information are available. See also, e.g., http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/dafs/DD/dd245.htmlClick here for the Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.

See, e.g., Douglas Brinkley & David Rubel, The New York Times Living History: World War II, 1939-1942: The Axis Assault 234 (Oct 1, 2003) (noting the seven officers of Reuben James), available by clicking here.

Personal notes:

(1) The sadness of a loved one's not returning is captured poignantly in Wilbur D. Jones Jr., Remembering the Reuben James and its link to Wilmington, Special to StarNews Media, StarNewsOnline.com (Wilmington, NC), Oct. 31, 2012, http://www.starnewsonline.com/article/20121031/ARTICLES/121039911?p=1&tc=pg (noting, inter alia, that a family member and the Reubem James’ executive officer, Lt. Benjamin Ghetzler, were 1931 U.S. Naval Academy classmates).Cf. Ralph Blumenthal, Images of War That Defined an Era, N.Y. Times, Sept. 5, 2013, at C1 (noting (at C6, col.1) the forthcoming book, Vietnam: The Real War, to be published by Abrams Books, containing images from the Associated Press files, with an Introduction by Pete Hamill).  Id. at C6, col. 4 (showing Associated Press photographer Sal Veder's Pullitzer-Prize winning photo of an American military officer returning from Vietnam and being greeted by his family, after having long been a POW).  For more on book, click here (Abrams) and here (AP).

But see
, Carolyn Kleiner Butler, Coming Home: To a war-weary nation, a U.S. POW's return from captivity in Vietnam in 1973 looked like the happiest of reunions, Smithsonian magazine, Jan. 2005, http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history-archaeology/Coming_Home.html, (noting that a daughter “tore down the runway toward him with open arms, her spirits—and feet—flying.”).  Id. (noting that Veder "instantly titled" the photograph "Burst of Joy" and that “[i]t remains the quintessential homecoming photograph of the time.”).


The story, however, has more than was captured in the photograph, reporting that the "moment was considerably more fraught than we first assumed makes it all the more poignant and reminds us that not all war casualties occur on the battlefield" and  that the daughter says "We have this very nice picture of a very happy moment," but "every time I look at it, I remember the families that weren't reunited" and "I think, I'm one of the lucky ones."  Id. (emphasis added).  I remember vividly seeing the photo when it was published some 40 or  so years' ago as capturing the kind of intense irrepressible joy of a family’s greeting the return of a hero, husband, and father.


Both the Wilbur D. Jones Jr. thoughtful article and the daughter's thoughtful comments poignantly limn the heartrending emotions of losing, and not losing, a loved one.  Reading the article, and seeing the photo again, heightened my continuing sadness over Lt. Ghetzler's never returning to be reunited with his family.


(2)  For a vivid but tragic observation by one of the 44 survivors out of the 159 (160?) complement of the original Reuben James (DD-245), see, e.g., World War II Today, http://ww2today.com/31st-october-1941-uss-reuben-james-torpedoed-in-atlantic. One of the survivors, Chief Petty Officer William Burgstresser, "was later to tell the St. Petersburg Times" that:
     I was on watch in the engine room at 5:30 a.m. when we felt the impact.  There were two explosions — one sounded like the magazine. Altogether there  were eight men in both sections of the engine room.

     The lights went out and the steam flow was interrupted.  There was a sinking motion of the ship as if she were going down by the bow.

     I went topside and found the whole forward part of the ship, including the bridge, completely demolished and carried away.

Reading Chief Petty Officer Burgstresse’s description of the devastation to the forward part of the ship also heightened my realization of Lt. Ghetzler's, and the other lost men's, sacrifice, and fate, that October 31, 1941, morning.


 Some history:

     "Disaster struck in the early morning hours of October 31, 1941. While escorting convoy HX-156, the American destroyer U.S.S. Reuben James was torpedoed and sunk with the loss of 115 of 160 crewmen, including all officers. Although not the first U.S. Navy ship torpedoed before the war, the Reuben James was the first one lost. After the news of the sinking reached America, many concerned people wrote letters to the Navy to find out the fate of friends or loved ones. Sadly, most of the country ignored the sinking. One who did not was folk singer Woody Guthrie, who wrote his now famous song immediately after the incident..."

A People at War, Prelude to War: The U.S.S. Reuben James, National Archives and Records Administration (last visited 10.2.2013), http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/a_people_at_war/prelude_to_war/uss_reuben_james.html (“Tell me, what were their names? Tell me, what were their names? Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?”). Photo and text from the National Archives A People At War. Copyright©The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration.

Click here for information on The U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, here for A People at War, and here for the sinking of the Reuben James as a Prelude to War. Click here and here for information on copyright requirements. Woody Guthrie "joined the Merchant Marine three times during the war, each time his ship was torpedoed. In 1945 he was drafted into the Army for a few months, but never saw action." Presented also "[h]ere are the lyrics he wrote in 1941 after the sinking of DD-245 for his song, Sinking of the Reuben James" (available at http://homepage.mac.com/oldtownman/WW2Timeline/reubenjames.html or by clicking here).  See also, e.g., The Crew of the Good Reuben James (#044), The Tattered Remnant: The Unknown Heroes Who Make Our World, Dec. 31, 2009, http://tatteredremnants.blogspot.com/2009/12/045-lost-vanguard-uss-reuben-james.htm.

Monument installed, in Portland Maine: On November 14, 1998, a monument installed in Portland, Maine, to honor men that died on the USS Reuben James, http://www.upi.com/topic/Reuben_James/"Retired Navy Chief Boatswain Stephen Heald of Georgetown, Maine, right, blows the boatswains call during a ceromony in Portland, Maine Friday afternoon at the just installed monument to honor the men that died on the first United States warship sunk in World War Two, the destroyer USS Reuben James. The Portland, Maine based ship was struck by a German U-Boats torpedo while on convoy duty in the Atlantic only weeks before U.S. entry into WWII and was sunk leaving only forty five survivors. The boatswains call that Heald was using was the call from the Reuben James and will be presented to Reuben James Society. UPI lkm/wy/Lee K. Marriner. Click here for photograph of monument, http://www.upi.com.

The sailor Reuben James -- three ships' namesake:
  Besides the USS Reuben James (DD-245), the subject of the Woody Guthrie song The Sinking Of The Reuben James, two other ships have been named after the heroic sailor Reuben James: click here or here for guided-missile-firing frigate USS Reuben James (FFG-57), http://www.navsource.org and here or here for destroyer escort USS Reuben James (DE-153), http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/r5-list.htm.  Kenny Rogers, Conway Twitty, and others have sung a song with a title Reuben James,but that song refers to a different person named Reuben James and not to the sailor Reuben James for whom the ship USS Reuben James (DD-245) was named.
The sailor

     Reuben James was born in Delaware, Ohio about 1776. He joined the Navy and served on various ships, including the frigate USS Constellation. During the Barbary Wars, the American frigate Philadelphia was captured by the Barbary pirates, when it ran aground in the city of Tripoli, on the southern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, along with a group of volunteers that included Reuben James, entered the harbor of Tripoli under the cover of darkness in an attempt to burn the Philadelphia so that the pirates could not make use of her.

      The American volunteers boarded the Philadelphia on 16 February 1804 and were met by a group of Barbary pirates who were guarding their prize. During the ensuing hand-to-hand combat, Reuben James, with both of his hands already wounded, positioned himself between Lieutenant Decatur and a sword-wielding pirate. Reuben James, willing to give his life in defense of his captain, took the blow from the sword but survived and recovered from his wounds.

     Reuben James continued his career in the U.S. Navy, including many years with Decatur. James was forced to retire in January 1836 because of declining health brought on because of past wounds. He died on 3 December 1838 at the US Naval Hospital in Washington DC.


Paul R. Yarnall, Daniel N. Dunham, Mike Smolinski,USS Reuben James (FFG 57), Navsource Online: Frigate Photo Archive, NavSource Naval History (Aug. 25, 2013),http://www.navsource.org/archives/07/0757.htm

Click here for more information on the sailor named Reuben James, http://compvid101.blogspot.com/2009/01/what-were-their-names-woody-guthries.html. Click here for more on the sailor named Reuben James, Naval Historical Center, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships banner, http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/r5/reuben_james-i.htm.

For more information on the ships named in his honor, click here, e.g., for USS Reuben James (DD-245), 1920-1941, http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/245.htm, here, e.g., for USS Reuben James (DE-143), 1943-1947, http://www.navsource.org/archives/06/153.htm, and here, e.g., for USSReuben James (FFG-57), 1986- , http://www.navsource.org/archives/07/0757.htm.


Information & Links on possible expedition


Query whether an expedition is desirable, and feasible, to recover remnants, if any, of the USS Reuben James (DD-245)? Links to possible sources of help that may be interested in inquiring about launching an exploratory expedition:
Click here for http://www.ocean treasures.org/blog/do/tag/u-s-naval-officer-paul-boyne.  Click here for http://www.history.navy.mil.  Click here for http://wid.waittinstitute.org.

Singers performing the song “The Sinking of the Reuben James”


"The Sinking Of The Reuben James" has been said to be among the 100 songs that changed history.  Click here for the listing of "The Sinking Of The Reuben James" compiled by Time Out, which explores the music that changed the course of world events, http://www.timeout.com/london/feature/1452/100-songs-that-changed-history-the-list/8.  Click here for the position of "The Sinking Of The Reuben James" (29th). Although
"The Sinking Of The Reuben James" was not listed in the list compiled in The Blog, Songs That Changed the World (April 11, 2012), http://www.davidgilmourblog.com/2012/04/songs-that-changed-the-world.html, the blog suggests that "Who is to say how influential Woody Guthrie was, through ‘The Sinking of the Reuben James’, in galvanizing the natural pacifists within the American public into supporting military intervention in the Second World War?").  In any event,  although not among those songs in other of the top ranked listings, whether popular, greatest, country, war, folk, or other genres or classifications, "The Sinking Of The Reuben James" has had, and seems to continue to have, a special appeal to many of our greatest artists/performers and presumably to those listeners who like their works.

The song captured, and has continued to capture, the hearts, and will, and philosophy of a large swath the American people, and even at times a few souls beyond our borders. That is not to say that, indisputably, all the others who have lost their lives in World War II, 
and other wars, both afterward and those before extending down to antiquity, these Americans and those lost from the other wars from other countries, through the ages, deserve and may have had, comparable symbols erected in their honor.  Still "The Sinking Of The Reuben James" gets its due recognition as a wonderful tribute to the USS Reuben James (DD-245) and its complement.

The last verse, written by Fred Hellerman, "Many years have passed and still I wonder why -- The worst of men must fight and the best of men must die" is both philosophical and quixotic, which adds to the appeal of the song's theme as separating the good from the evil. Click here for information on the last verse. "The Sinking Of The Reuben James" occupies, without presupposition or presumption, a unique position in, say, a pantheon-like structure of music history, honoring in efect the good (and bad) common man -- rich to poor and to poor to rich -- everywhere. Cf., e.g., "Everyman" -- the play available at, e.g., here for http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/basis/everyman.asp. And the line in the second verse -- "Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James" -- appears to be spiritually figurative as well as factual.


For Woody Guthrie's rendition of the song "The Sinking Of The Reuben James," click here (Google® ) or here (bing).  For more information on the song and artists that have performed the song, click here

W
oody Guthrie


The Sinking Of The Reuben James
Words and Music by Woody Guthrie

Have you heard of a ship called the good Reuben James
Manned by hard fighting men both of honor and fame?
She flew the Stars and Stripes of the land of the free
But tonight she's in her grave at the bottom of the sea.
Tell me what were their names, tell me what were their names,
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James?
What were their names, tell me, what were their names?
Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James

Well, a hundred men went down in that dark watery grave
When that good ship went down only forty-four were saved.
'Twas the last day of October we saved the forty-four
From the cold ocean waters and the cold icy shore.

It was there in the dark of that uncertain night
That we watched for the U-boats and waited for a fight.
Then a whine and a rock and a great explosion roared
And they laid the Reuben James on that cold ocean floor.

Now tonight there are lights in our country so bright
In the farms and in the cities they're telling of the fight.
And now our mighty battleships will steam the bounding main
And remember the name of that good Reuben James.

© Copyright 1942 (renewed) by MCA Music Publishing, Inc.

"What were their names, tell me, what were their names? Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James[?]" For their names, click here.

Click here for http://www.woodyguthrie.org/Lyrics/Sinking Of The Reuben James.htm.

Click here, e.g., for Woody Guthrie singing song http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICy5P1pKy5A

Click here for a list of songs written by Woody Guthrie. The song "The Sinking Of The Reuben James" on the Woody Guthrie list is a different song (lyrics and music) from the song "Reuben James" (lyrics and music) sung by Kenny Rogers. Click here, here, and here, e.g., for more information.

The sinking of the ship has been the subject of a number of recording artists who have sung
, and recorded, the song "The Sinking of the Reuben James" in due recognition of the ship’s sinking as an important event in America’s history.  A list of singers performing the song includes, e.g., Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, The Weavers, Johnny Cash [on his album (Johnny Horton singing)], The Highwaymen
[Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson], The Kingston Trio, Johnny Horton, Cisco Houston, Martin Dardis, Country Joe McDonald, Almanac Singers, The Chilly Winds, Chad Mitchell Trio, The Folk Group In-Folk-Us, Alonso Garbanzo, Raymond Crooke, BobHolderbaum, Yahoo® GeoCities branch of La Lilandejo (the website of Leland Bryant Ross). For more information, click here (Google™) or here (bing™).  See also, e.g., Smithsonian Folkways, Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Smithsonian Institution (2013), http://www.folkways.si.edu/TrackDetails.aspx?itemid=34609  (at track listing 125).   

See also, e.g., Bill Doughty, Did You Have a Friend on the Good Reuben James?, Navy Reads (July 20, 2013), http://navyreads.blogspot.com/2013/07/did-you-have-friend-on-good-reuben-james.html (noting that the original “USS Reuben James has captured the imagination of artists and the public” in various forms (e.g., songs, films, books)). Id.  (noting also that the “recently decommissioned guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57)” is the “latest of three ships to bear the proud name of the boatswain of two centuries ago, the frigate Reuben James made its own mark in the history books.”  Id. (noting further that the "USS Reuben James has been featured in novels (and movies) including Tom Clancy’s 'Red Storm Rising' and 'Hunt for Red October.' Nonfiction and fiction writers have included references to the original Reuben James destroyer and now decommissioned frigate in their works.  These include, 'Blood on the Sea' by Robert Sinclair Parkin, 'Chosin File' by Dale Dye, “The Malacca Conspiracy' by Don Brown, 'Battle for the North Atlantic' by John R. Bruning, 'The USS Reuben James,' by Harold Charles, 'Shepherds of the Sea' by Robert F. Cross, 'Ghosts of the USS Yorktown,' by Bruce Orr, 'Turning the Tide' by Ed Offley, and 'Linebakers of the Sea' by Ray Lubeski.”).  

For the treatment in the country’s archives of the
original Reuben James (DD-245), see, e.g., http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/a_people_at_war/prelude_to_war/uss_reuben_james.html. For more information on the recently decommissioned guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57),  http://www.hookelenews.com/uss-reuben-james-career-comes-to-a-close/.       

Here is a sample listing (with links) of various renditions of the song:



Films and books: 

See, e.g., Bill Doughty, Did You Have a Friend on the Good Reuben James?, Navy Reads (July 20, 2013), http://navyreads.blogspot.com/2013/07/did-you-have-friend-on-good-reuben-james.html (noting that the original “USS Reuben James has captured the imagination of artists and the public” in various forms (e.g., songs, films, books)). Id.  (noting also that the “recently decommissioned guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57)” is the “latest of three ships to bear the proud name of the boatswain of two centuries ago, the frigate Reuben James made its own mark in the history books.”  Id. (noting further that the "USS Reuben James has been featured in novels (and movies) including Tom Clancy’s 'Red Storm Rising' and 'Hunt for Red October.' Nonfiction and fiction writers have included references to the original Reuben James destroyer and now decommissioned frigate in their works.  These include, 'Blood on the Sea' by Robert Sinclair Parkin, 'Chosin File' by Dale Dye, “The Malacca Conspiracy' by Don Brown, 'Battle for the North Atlantic' by John R. Bruning, 'The USS Reuben James,' by Harold Charles, 'Shepherds of the Sea' by Robert F. Cross, 'Ghosts of the USS Yorktown,' by Bruce Orr, 'Turning the Tide' by Ed Offley, and 'Linebakers [sic]of the Sea' by Ray Lubeski.”).  See, e.g.http://www.amazon.com/Linebackers-The-Sea-Ray-Lubeski/dp/1452004226.

For the treatment in the country’s archives of the original Reuben James (DD-245), see, e.g., http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/a_people_at_war/prelude_to_war/uss_reuben_james.html. For more information on the recently decommissioned guided-missile frigate USS Reuben James (FFG 57),  http://www.hookelenews.com/uss-reuben-james-career-comes-to-a-close/.       


Photographs of USS Reuben James (DD-245):  

The USS Reuben James (DD-245) underway and well 


Official photograph, U.S Navy. Source:  http://www.hazegray.org.      


The USS Reuben James' (DD-245) sinking    

For photograph of ship's sinking,  click here.

Sources: Official photograph
,U.S Navy; National Archives hoto, htttp://www.archives.gov. 

For more materials on the USS Reuben James (DD-245):      

Click here for ship photos and information from 
http://www.ibiblio.org.  
Click herefor videos, commentary, and ship photos from 
http://compvid101.blogspot.com.   
Click herefor ship photo and history from 
http://www.uboat.net.   
Click here
for various ship photos and information from http://www.navsource.org/archives/05/245
Click herefor a photo
 from  htp://www.navydata/ships/destroyers/dd245-reubenjames (
shown in Hudson River, NY, April 29, 1939; photo from Ted Stone Collection, Mariner's Museum, Newport News, VA. USN photo NH 66333).
Click herefor various photos (Google® results).