MEMORANDUM FOR:  The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. NICHOLAS (DD449)

      I recommend that the following named men to be commended for their distinguished service above and beyond the call of duty which was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service. Well knowing that they might fall into the hands of the enemy, these men during the battle of Kula Gulf on the night of July 5 and 6 manned the number two motor whale boat of the U.S.S. NICHOLAS and rescued survivors while our forces were still engaging a Japanese Task Force.
MOLL, Joseph Meyer, Jr., Signalman Second Class, U.S. Navy
PIPES, Ralph Hallis, Seaman First Class, U.S. Navy
CLASPILLE, William Franklin, Seaman First Class, U.S. Navy
SCHUCHARDT, Lowell Lee, Seaman First Class, U.S. Naval Reserve
ROCK, Earl William, Fireman Second Class, U.S. Naval Reserve
BALLARD, William Gerald, Fireman Second Class, U.S. Navy
                 J.C. FITCH.
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 Care of Fleet Post Office,
San Francisco, California,
July 7, 1943
From:  The Boat Officer, Number TWO Motor Whale Boat,
To  :  The Commanding Officer, U.S.S. NICHOLAS.

Subject:  Rescue of Survivors.
    1.   In the early morning hours of July 6th, during the battle of Kula Gulf, the Number 2 motor whale boat of the U.S.S. NICHOLAS aided and rescued survivors of the U.S.S. HELENA.
    2.   The waters around the location of the sinking were thoroughly covered by this boat, and the following observations were made.
(a) The vast majority of survivors were in groups of from 50 to 200 men, on or in the vicinity of life rafts.

(b) Only a very few did not have the standard “Kapok” life jacket.  (All of the boat’s crew gave up their own jackets to these survivors.)

(c) A small number of men floating in the water were observed to be either dead or unconscious.

(d) There was little or no panic among the survivors in the water.

(e) The majority of survivors were rescued by NICHOLAS and RADFORD before these ships were forced to leave the area.
3.   Number 2 whale boat endeavored to:
(a) Pick up the more seriously wounded for transfer to the rescue ships for treatment.

(b) Rescue the single survivors that were scattered over a large area.

(c) Tow rafts together into large groups to facilitate rescue by destroyers.

(d) Keep destroyers informed of the location of survivors.
    4.  While rescuing survivors enemy surface contacts were reported, and NICHOLAS and RADFORD immediately left area to engage the enemy. During the engagement that followed the crew of this boat felt two torpedo detonations and observed numerous shell hits on two enemy ships followed by heavy black smoke.
    5.   Number 2 motor whale boat was recalled to the NICHOLAS at daylight when enemy aircraft and submarine contact reports were received.  The boat was left in the area for the remaining survivors with one-half (½) tank of fuel, four (4) beakers of water, and four (4) cans of provisions.
    6.  The boat’s crew performed their duty in keeping with the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
                 J.C. FITCH.
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