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Harley Kent Nauman

Harley Nauman
Harley Nauman

At left Commander Harley Kent Nauman at "rest camp" on Hawaii in 1943.

Nauman had been an officer aboard the USS S-43 at the outbreak of WW-II. On August 12 of 1942 he was given command of the USS S-42 which he held until October 22, 1943. While in command of the S-42 they patrolled in the already bloodied and iron-filled waters of the Savo Island–Cape Esperance area.

On August 23, 1942 an engine room hatch, improperly latched, began to leak — 15 gallons per hour at 90 feet. Wooden wedges were driven into the coaming, reducing the flow to a drip. S-42 continued on to the Solomons. She arrived on station five days later and remained into September; but — without modern electronics, quick maneuverability, and speed — she was unable to close the night convoys from Rabaul.

Upkeep at Brisbane occupied the period between September 19, 1942 and October 19, 1942. On October 20th she headed for the Solomons to intercept traffic on the Rabaul-Faisi-Buin line, as well as lay mines. Assigned to Bougainville Strait, she again made many contacts, but was unable to score. On November 2, 1942 she fired four torpedoes at a destroyer steaming in company with three others. An explosion was heard, but depth charge attacks precluded determining the results.

On November 5th she departed the area and made for the Fiji Islands. On November 16th she moored in Suva Harbor, where she was joined by others of her division and, on December 1st she got underway to return to the United States.

Transiting the Panama Canal in early January 1943, she proceeded to Cuba in February; provided antisubmarine warfare training services for newly commissioned destroyers through March, then continued on to Philadelphia, where she underwent overhaul and acquired air conditioning and radar. In late June, she departed Hampton Roads for San Diego, whence she sailed for the Aleutian Islands in mid-August. On September 2, 1943 she departed Dutch Harbor for the Kuril Islands and her only North Pacific war patrol.

Stopping en route at Attu, the forty-day patrol was spent primarily in the Paramushiro-Onekotan area, and contributed no sinkings or damage. She returned to Dutch Harbor on October 12. 1943. Commander Nauman turned over command to Lt. Charles F. Leigh and on October 31, 1943.

Commander Nauman too command of the USS Salmon SS 182 on February 26, 1944. On On 1 April, Salmon departed from Pearl Harbor on here tenth war patrol en-route to Johnston Island in company with submarine Seadragon (SS-194). She was assigned a special photo reconnaissance mission for her tenth patrol which would assist in preparing plans for gaining control of the Caroline Islands. She conducted a reconnaissance of Ulithi from 15 to 20 April; Yap from 22 to 26 April; and Woleai between 28 April and 9 May. She returned to Pearl Harbor on 21 May with much valuable information that was utilized in last-minute changes to the assault plans.

Salmon's eleventh and last war patrol was conducted in company with submarines Trigger (SS-237) and Sterlet (SS-392) as a coordinated attack group in the Ryukyu Islands. This patrol began on September 24th. On October 30th, Salmon, in a night attack, attacked a large tanker that had been previously damaged by Trigger. This tanker was protected by four antisubmarine patrol vessels which were cruising back and forth around the stricken ship. Salmon fired four torpedoes and made two good hits, but was forced to dive deep under a severe depth charge attack by escort CD-29. She leveled off at 300 feet (91 m) but was soon forced to nearly 500 feet due to damage and additional pounding of the depth charges. Unable to control leaking and maintain depth level, she battle surfaced to fight for survival on the surface.

Escorts CD-22 (the killer of USS Harder) and CD-33 (who would later help sink the USS Trigger on March 28, 1945) saw her surface and began to close. Salmon turned away to give her crew a few precious minutes to correct a bad list and to repair some of the damage. The vessels began to close, but Salmon showed an aggressive stance, turned on the attackers and passing within 50 yards down the side of CD-22, raked her with 20 mm gunfire and her deck gun. CD-22 suffered 4 killed and 24 wounded and was unable to reply because of the closeness of Salmon and her higher freeboard. Salmon began sending out plain language directions for all other subs in the vicinity to attack, giving the position of the action. This probably further discouraged the enemy who, fearing other submarines in the area, began milling around pinging on sound gear. Salmon took advantage of the dark and a rain squall and slipped away.

Other than the damage caused by depth charges, Salmon suffered only a few small caliber hits from the enemy vessels. Escorted by Sterlet, Trigger, and Silversides (SS-236), she made it to Saipan. She was given one-third credit for the 10,500-ton tanker, Jinei Maru which was eventually sunk by a torpedo from Sterlet. On 3 November, she moored alongside submarine tender Fulton (AS-11), in Tanapag Harbor, Saipan.

On November 10, 1944 Salmon stood out from Saipan, in company with Holland, and sailed via Eniwetok and Pearl Harbor to San Francisco. On January 26, 1945, she departed from San Francisco with submarine Redfish (SS-395) and proceeded via the Panama Canal to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, where she arrived on 17 February. Oral history says she never dove again. Salmon was the most heavily damaged submarine to return to port in all of WW II. No one with such damage had ever returned!

Once reaching Portsmouth the crew was transferred to the new USS Stickleback SS 415 and Nauman took command from Commander Lawrence G. Bernard the same day she was commissioned and made one partial war patrol before the war ended. She aided 19 survivors on rafts and took them with in a short distance of the Japanese shore and sent them on their way.

Harley Kent Nauman was born on December 6, 1910 in Frankfort, Kansas that was his home of record all his life. He died June 14, 1973 and is buried with his wife, Margaret, in Frankfort Cemetery, Frankfort, Kansas. He earned the Navy Cross for his actions on Salmon's 11th War Patrol.

Original Snapshot in the private collection of Ric Hedman.

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