This is a continuation of the Mid-Watch in Verse series. A Deck Log from a US Navy vessel chronicles exacting administrative detail regarding the status of the ship, it’s location, speed, etc. However, for a four hour period at the beginning of each year, the Officer of the Deck (OOD) is allowed to be creative by writing the Mid-Watch report (0000 – 0400) in verse if they choose to do so. This series highlights examples of this tradition and the officers who posted them. I focus on WWII era deck logs. For a more thorough history of the practice check out this article from the Naval History and Heritage Command.
The USS Radford (DD-446) was a Fletcher-class destroyer that was commissioned 22 July 1942. She was the second of this very successful class to be commissioned. Many of the Fletcher-class ships continued their service into the 1960s and 1970s in the US Navy and other navies around the world. A website dedicated to the Radford can be found here.
The Radford is best known for participating in more campaigns than most ships during her time of service. During WWII, she received the Presidential Unit Citation for her action during the Battle of Kula Gulf, in which she rescued 440 crewmen from a sinking USS Helena (CL-50), all the while dodging enemy torpedoes and gunfire. Additionally, the Radford teamed up with another destroyer to sink a Japanese cruiser and a destroyer and to damage another destroyer (see part of the action report here). This action earned the Radford‘s commander, William K. Romoser, the Navy Cross (see this link for the citation).
Just a few days before the Helena‘s sinking, the Radford caught a Japanese submarine on the surface and attacked it. The operational report indicated that the sub’s conning tower was blown away by the initial attack. Radford also recorded many hits with her guns on other parts of the sub. The sub disappeared below the surface, and a huge sub-surface explosion was felt in the ship after dropping depth charges. This marked the end of the Japanese sub I-19 (see action report here). Commander Romoser received the Legion of Merit for this action (see citation here). In an interview later that year, Romoser said of the sub, “He was caught with his pants down.”
The Radford went on to earn five battle stars during the Korean War and four during the Vietnam War to add to the 12 earned during WWII.
The poem in this post is coincidentally written by the aforementioned William K. Romoser. When posted to the Radford‘s log on 1 January 1943, Romoser was the skipper of the ship. In all of the New Year’s deck logs I’ve seen, this is the only one that was posted by ship’s captain. Junior officers, or the occasional Chief, usually post the mid-watch deck log. Here is a link to the copy of the original log containing the poem.
U.S.S. RADFORD (DD 446)
W. K. ROMOSER, Commander, U.S.N., Commanding
00 – 04
Yesterday was December’s last
Today’s the second, time goes fast!
For us no New Year’s has there been
As we steam on with Force Eighteen.
The reason is that just in nine
The Good Ship RADFORD crossed the line.
So now all hands can boast quite true
They’re Shellbacks and Golden Dragons too!
GIFFEN, Admiral is our Pa
And is riding in the WICHITA
In cruising pattern one we’re seen
We’re number two in five George screen
We’re steaming on at speed sixteen
All’s clear ahead, so says our screen
Fifteen knots is standard speed
One four four turns is all we need.
We’re using boilers one and four,
Steaming on just one, no more
For now we’re where the sea may be
Infested with the Japanese!
Most nights at sea are quite alike
Baker’s set, as is two Mike
The ship is darkened so that we
Won’t for a sub a target be.
And so the RADFORD steams ahead
No running lights of green and red
Prepared to fight with any foe
And strike for Freedom one more blow.
William Kilian Romoser was born on 21 July 1903 to William H. Romoser and Elizabeth W. Kilian in Baltimore, MD. He attended Lehigh University for a year before accepting an appointment to Annapolis on 11 July 1922. After graduating from the Naval Academy in 1926, Romoser embarked on a remarkably successful career (Here is a link to his Lucky Bag yearbook graduation entry). From 1926 through 1937, he served aboard five different ships (three destroyers, a light cruiser, and a battleship). He also attended Naval Flight School at Pensacola, FL. Nineteen thirty seven began his career of commanding a wide variety of posts and ships.
Romoser served as commander of six vessels:
- USS GREER (DD-145) – 4 March 1940 – 10 Jun 1940
- USS UPSHUR (DD-144) – 15 June 1940 – 31 May 1942
- USS Radford (DD-446) – 22 July1942 – 10 October 1943
- Submarine Chaser SC-1278 – 1945
- Reliance (AFDL-47) – 1950 – October 1951
- USS Salem (CA-139) – 9 November 1951 – 9 October 1952
A complete listing of his posts can be found at the Together We Served website. Here is a graphic of that list.
Among a variety of other awards and medals, Romoser earned a Navy Cross, a Silver Star, and three Legions of Merit. Follow this link to see the actual citations. He retired from the Navy at the rank of Rear Admiral.
William Kilian Romoser died on 1 November 1986 in Virginia Beach, VA. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
Romoser’s son, William K. Romoser, Jr. also attended the Naval Academy and eventually attained the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He died in 2018. I was able to provide the deck log poem above to his son, Scot, who provided me with some material for this post.