The Broad Pacific
We passed through the Panama Canal on 2 January 1943 and departed for the southwestern Pacific on 6 January. The screen was now made up of Cony, Warrington and Strong with Concord out ahead. The main body of the convoy was made up of AKs and APs—Thomas Jefferson, Arcturus, Biddle, Hermitage, Oberon and Dickman.

We crossed the equator on 10 January at 0630.

On 19 January, we spent a few hours refueling at Bora Bora. Do you remember the bright blue of the water in the little harbor, the bright green of the water around the coral reefs, and the palm trees that came right down to the broad white beaches? There were only a few traces of civilization on the island then—only a few army troops that had no movies, no beer, not even radios.

We arrived with the convoy in Nouméa, New Caledonia on 27 January, having been joined by Mahan along the way. On 28 January, we departed Nouméa on course toward Australia. Strong and Cony were screening Thomas Jefferson, Dickman, Hermitage and Arcturus. On 30 January, Cony and Strong were relieved of convoy escort duty by Selfridge and Henley. Strong and Cony then went back to Nouméa to convoy Biddle and Oberon to Espiritu Santo. We arrived in Espiritu Santo on 3 February.

We left Espiritu Santo for Guadalcanal on 5 February with a convoy that included American Legion, Hunter Liggett, George Clymer and Patuxent. The screen was made up of Strong, Conyngham, Breese, Humphreys and Sheldrake. Captain Wellings was convoy commander.

On 7 February, all ships were put in column and proceeded through Sealark Channel into “Iron Bottom Bay” for the first time. We finally had arrived at Guadalcanal.

Can you recall how quickly the Marines started off-loading American Legion after she arrived? The Marine squadrons at Henderson Field on Guadalcanal had been out of bomb fuzes. American Legion had the resupply loaded in the fantail. The bomb fuzes were unloaded within 20 minutes and, within an hour, we stood on Strong and watched as the bombing was resumed in the jungle just a few thousand yards away. It didn’t seem real. The afternoon sky was clear and blue. The water was calm and even bluer. Flying fish burst from the water just head of the moving bow of the ship. The islands (from the ship) were a beautiful tropical green—like a movie. It was hard to grasp that a real war was being fought right over there.

We soon learned that a real war was being fought right over here, too. We got word that the “Tokyo Express” consisting of 20 destroyers was headed down the slot for Cape Esperance (the northeastern tip of Guadalcanal). The naval ships that had arrived with our convoy were the only US naval forces in the immediate area and we were badly outnumbered.

At 0902 on 7 February (the same day we arrived), the Commander South Pacific ordered our task group to clear the area and head eastward. Captain Wellings got the task group underway and proceeded out of Iron Bottom Bay through Lengo Channel. We stayed clear of the area until the next day, when we were ordered to return the task group to Guadalcanal.

The Japanese evacuated all of their remaining organized forces from Guadalcanal with the Tokyo Express on the night of 7–8 February.

On 10 February, just after the Strong moored in Tulagi Harbor (in the Florida Islands, which formed the eastern side of Iron Bottom Bay just 20 miles east of Guadalcanal), it was announced that all of Guadalcanal was in US hands.


It has been noted that Strong was commissioned in Boston on 7 August 1942, the day that US forces landed on Guadalcanal, and the the Japanese finally evacuated the island on 7 February, the day Strong arrived—exactly six months later.