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First Name: Richard

Last Name: Meyers

Birthplace: Columbia City, Whitley, IN, US

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: IN
Middle Name: William

Date of Birth: 12 March 1914

Date of Death: 25 November 1945 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 01 March 1942

Rank or Rate: Lieutenant

Years Served: 1936-1945

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1936

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Richard William or Dick as he was known by his family and friends, was the son of Edward John and Eloise Laura Patterson Meyers who married 06 May 1913 in Columbia City, Whitley, IN. His siblings were Marjorie Eleanor, Edward John Jr., an unnamed son who died at birth, and Sallie Marie Meyers. The four living children and their mother, Eloise, graduated at various times from Columbia City High School. While a student at Columbia City HS, Dick was the President of his class (2), Class Treasurer, football player, and actor. Richard graduated in 1932 then attended the Werntz Preparatory school after which he received an Indiana congressional appointment to the Navy Academy at Annapolis.

Dick entered the Naval Academy on 24 Jun 1932. While at Annapolis, Midshipman Meyers was a participant in track, crew, inter-class football and the art club. In the regimental organization he held the rank of midshipman Ensign. On Thursday morning, 04 Jun 1936 at commencement exercises Dick received his Bachelor of Science Degree, and he accepted his commission as an Ensign of the Line in the United States Navy. He graduated 159 in a class of 262 who were awarded degrees and 244 that received commissions. His class mates had this to say about him in the Lucky Bag yearbook of 1932:

"Pull your knees together" is the cry that goes up when Dick walks in to join the gang for he is the sole possessor of a pair of legs typical of an ambling grizzly. For that matter, no grizzly could be more gruff than Dick is when he sits down to study—his first remark invariably is "Now where in the hell do they get that dope?" Immediately following this we hear muttering about Einstein and three hours to get this. We smile to ourselves for this mask fails completely to hide the true cheerfulness and comradeship that really befits him. Dick likes all sports but his greatest love considering inanimate things only is music. To his other great interest in life, we pay tribute—Miss Columbia City, we heartily approve of your choice.”

After several weeks of leave to visit family and friends, Ensign Meyers followed the requirements of all new Ensigns for their first tour of duty; report to a ship. Richard reported for duty on board the battleship, USS New York (BB-34) on 28 June 1936. In early 1937, Ensign Meyers detached from the New York and transferred to the heavy cruiser, USS Houston (CA-30). While on board Houston, Ensign Meyers met and married Miss Adrienne Catherine Potter on 11 Dec 1938. She was a native of Vallejo, CA and graduate of St Vincent’s High School and the St. Mary’s Hospital School of Nursing in San Francisco. She was a member of the staff of the Mare Island naval hospital.

Several weeks after their wedding, Ensign Meyers detached from the Houston with orders to report to the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, FL to begin aviation training with Officer Flight Class # 123. Ensign and Mrs Meyers settled in to their new quarters in Pensacola in early February 1939. Although the couple enjoyed the many social activities in Pensacola, Ensign Meyers was not pilot material. He detached from NAS Pensacola in late summer with orders to report to the Commandant, 16th Naval District at Cavite Naval Base in the Philippines for duty with the Asiatic Fleet as the engineering officer for the old four-stack destroyer, USS Edsall (DD-219). He arrived in Cavite after a trans-continental and trans-Pacific journey to his new duty station. He reported on board the USS Edsall for duty on 16 Oct 1939. His wife, Adrienne, arrived a short time later and set up housekeeping in military housing near Cavite. During 1940, Japan became more aggressive toward China. To avoid an “accidental” incident, the blue-water ships of the Asiatic-Fleet were withdrawn to the Philippines for good.

The threat of hostilities between the United States and Japan grew closer to the boiling point as the year 1941 began. Asiatic Fleet CINC, Admiral Thomas C. Hart, determined then it was time to send all of the families of his sailors home. There was push-back from the resentful spouses who initially declined to leave their husbands. It was only a threat to indefinitely restrict their spouses to their ships without leave that finally convinced the families; it was time to comply with orders and return to the continental United States (CONUS). Admiral Hart's directive probably saved many family members from internment by the Japanese or worse. For many of the married sailors, including Lt Meyers, it was the last time they would ever see their families.

Then, in July 1941, as Japanese aggression intensified with their move south into lower Indo-China, Admiral Hart warned his officers that he had no doubt that war would come although he didn’t know how of when it would start. Hart trained his destroyer crews hard keeping them on a war-footing for extended periods and away from Cavite naval base as much as possible exercising his “defensive deployment.” Ordered to comply with the Adm. Hart’s “defensive deployment” well south of Manila, units of the Asiatic Fleet including destroyer tender USS Blackhawk (AD-9), USS Edsall (DD-219) and other ships of Destroyer Division (DesDiv) 57, got underway on 25 Nov 1941, and arrived on the morning of 29 Nov 1941 in Balikpapan, a major oil port on the eastern coast of Borneo.

Upon commencement of hostilities between Japan and the United States on 08 Dec 1941 in the Far East Time Zone, Edsall was at sea with other units of DESDIV 57 enroute to Batavia (Djakarta) when they received the war notice. They were rerouted to Singapore to provide anti-submarine (ASW) protection for the new British battleship, HMS Prince of Wales and the older battle cruiser HMS Repulse, known collectively as Force Z. Both ships were sunk by Japanese bombers on 10 Dec 1941 before DesDiv 57 units could rendezvous with Force Z. The US destroyers conducted search and rescue operations for the crew of the two British War ships, but none were found. It was learned later that several British ships have already retrieved the survivors of the sinking. DesDiv 57 remained in Singapore until 14 Dec when they were ordered to Surabaja, Java.

Over the next month, Edsall helped provide convoy escort and ASW protection to various allied shipping. As Edsall and her sister ship, USS Alden (DD-211), were escorting the oiler Trinity to Darwin, Australia on Tuesday, 20 Jan 1942 Alden detected an enemy submarine. The destroyers promptly began an aggressive, yet unsuccessful initial search. The ships broke off the search and proceeded to Darwin arriving later that morning. Later that afternoon the two destroyers were ordered back to sea to attack enemy submarines off Port Darwin. Edsall and Alden joined three Australian navy corvettes who had located a submarine.

The HMAS Deloraine began attacking the contact and was joined by Edsall. It was soon evident from an emerging oil slick that the two ships had sunk the IJN submarine I-124 in late afternoon on the 20th. Several days later navy divers from USS Holland (AS-3) confirmed the sinking of I-124. Edsall had participated in the first detection, attack, and destruction of a full-sized IJN submarine sunk (at least in part) by U.S. surface forces in WWII. Contrary to the belief of some no code books or any important written information was recovered from the wreck of I-124. No divers ever penetrated the hull of the submarine in 1942. Several days later on 23 Jan, Edsall sustained damage during another attack on a suspected submarine. One of her depth charges exploded prematurely in shallow water damaging one of two propeller shafts. This damage would play an important role in her eventual sinking about five weeks later.

On 3 February, Edsall and other American units of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Force (ABDA) moved up to Tjilatjap, Java in order to be closer to the combat theater and refueling facilities. She continued her service as a patrol vessel off southern Java. On 26 February, she steamed from Tjilatjap with her sister ship USS Whipple (DD-217) to rendezvous with the converted seaplane tender USS Langley (AV-3) carrying P-40E pursuit planes and crews for the defense of Java. On 27 February, the Langley, along with Edsall and Whipple, came under attack by sixteen (16) Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers of the Japanese 21st and 23rd Naval Air Flotillas and escorted by fifteen (15) A6M Reisen fighters. The attack fatally damaged Langley. She had to be abandoned and later scuttled by Whipple. Edsall rescued 177 survivors; Whipple, 308.

On 28 February, the two destroyers rendezvoused with the fuel replenishment ship USS Pecos (AO-6) off Flying Fish Cove, Christmas Island some 250 miles southwest of Tjilatjap. A sudden attack by land based Japanese bombers forced Edsall and the other ships to head for the open sea. They headed directly south into the Indian Ocean for the rest of 28 February in high winds and heavy seas. Early in the pre-dawn hours of 1 March, Whipple and Edsall transferred all the Langley survivors to Pecos less 31 Army Air Force pilots. There were now close to 700 personnel on board the ship. Whipple then set off for Cocos Islands as protection for the tanker Belita sent to meet her there. The Pecos, carrying a large number of survivors was ordered to Australia. Edsall had retained 31 USAAF pilots from Langley needed to assemble and fly an additional 27 P-40E fighters shipped to Tjilatjap aboard the transport Sea Witch. Edsall was instructed to return these "fighter crews" to Tjilatjap. At 0830, she reversed course and headed back to the northeast for Java.

At noon that day, planes from Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu attacked Pecos and struck again an hour later. Finally, in mid-afternoon, third and fourth strikes from aircraft carriers Hiryu and Akagi fatally wounded the Pecos. While under attack, Pecos radioed for help. After Pecos sank, Whipple returned to the scene intentionally arriving after dark. She eventually rescued 232 survivors. Many other survivors, although visible to crewmembers on board Whipple, had to be abandoned at sea because Whipple made sonar contact with what was believed to be several Japanese submarines. It was just too dangerous for her to remain in the area.

Edsall may have heard Pecos’s call for help or she may have been complying with orders to reverse course and steam toward Australia. For whatever the reason, Edsall reversed course and was never heard from again. The US Navy Department simply said Edsall was lost due to enemy action.

Lt Meyers was listed as missing in action on 01 Mar 1942. The US Navy Department declared all Edsall crewmembers “presumed dead” on 25 Nov 1945. This finding of presumptive death date was fixed in order to take care of settlements and claims. At that point, no one suspected that survivors from Edsall were among many victims of war crimes on Celebes.

After WWII ended, an Allied War Crimes Tribunal was convened in Java. During the course of the Tribunal's investigations, an eyewitness to Japanese executions was discovered and interviewed. He testified that he witnessed the execution by the Japanese of a number of POWs in 1942. He led investigators to the Japanese Execution Grounds mass grave, Kendari II, Celebes, N.E.I. **Five sets of remains in a group of about 10 were later identified from ID tags as USS Edsall crewmen. The other five were unknown but were possibly US Army Air force personnel on board Edsall from the Langley. A sixth set of remains were found in another burying ground on Celebes. They were identified by an ID tag as those of Fireman Second Class (F2) Loren Stanford Myers, a crewman from the Edsall.

All of these remains were disinterred and reburied in the US Military Cemetery, Barrackpore, India on 12 Nov 1946. After three years, their remains were disinterred again and reburied in a mass grave at the National cemetery at Jefferson Barracks, St. Louis, MO on 20 Dec 1949. The remains of F2 Myers were reinterred according to immediate family wishes in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, HI on 31 Mar 1950. With the discovery of these remains, their presumed date of death was amended to 02 Mar 1942.

Because no known survivors lived to tell the story, the details surrounding the sinking of Edsall remained largely a mystery for more than a half century. Finally, after historians compiled bits and pieces of information from various allied sources over the years, Japanese records and eyewitnesses on the Chikuma recently became available. The new information points to a short but epic battle involving the aging Edsall and one of the world's strongest naval forces of its day.

After Edsall reversed her course on 01 Mar 1942 and steamed away from Java, she stumbled upon Admiral Nagumo's battle force, Kido Butai that had been prowling the Indian Ocean in search of enemy shipping. Unfortunately, Edsall was spotted first. She was misidentified as a light cruiser of the Marblehead class. IJN battleships Hiei and Kirishima and heavy cruisers Tone and Chikuma were detached from the battle force to attack Edsall with surface gunfire.

The old four-stacker began evasive maneuvers frustrating the Japanese for the next hour and half. However, because of the damage done previously to one of her propeller shafts, Edsall was unable to make top speed or maneuver fully. At one point, Edsall turned and launched her torpedoes narrowly missing Chikuma. The Japanese fired some 1400 rounds resulting in only one or two direct hits. The frustrated Admiral Nagumo called upon his carriers to finish off the Edsall. She was attacked by dive-bombers from two Japanese carriers (Kaga, Soryu,) and possibly a third (Hiryu) before succumbing to this devastating attack. The Edsall went down at 1900 hours, 01 Mar 1942, 430 miles south of Java.

Japanese eyewitnesses confirm that at least eight Edsall crewman from a large number of survivors were fished out of the water and brought on board the Chikuma. The rest of the survivors were left to their fate in the water. Chikuma and the rest of the battle force arrived at Staring Bay anchorage, Celebes on 11 Mar 1942. Three dozen POWs, 8 or more from the Edsall and the remainder from a Dutch ship, were turned over to the Japanese Special Naval Landing Forces based at Kendari where they were executed on 24 Mar 1942 near Kendari II airfield.

Lt Meyers was (posthumously) awarded the Purple Heart, American Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal with fleet clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 2 battle stars, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Philippine Defense Medal with clasp. He is likely eligible for the Combat Action Ribbon (retroactively).


A commemoration in honor of Lt. Meyers' service from President Harry S. Truman reads: In Grateful Memory of Richard William Meyers, Who Died In The Service Of His Country At Sea, Asiatic Area, attached U.S.S. Edsall, 25 November 1945 (presumed). He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live, and grow, and increase its blessings. Freedom lives, and through it, he lives – in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.


Harry Truman

President of the United States of America


*U.S. National Cemetery Interment Control Forms, 1928-1962 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2012, F1c Donald F. Watters, USN, died 2 Mar 1942 overseas. Remains returned from overseas WWII. Group burial with MM1 Horace W. Andrus, MM2 J.R. Cameron, F1c Sydney Griffith Amory, and MM3c Larry Vandiver at Jefferson Barracks. MO on 20 Dec 1949. MHOH: 317477


Bio #282 composed by Gerry Lawton (GML470)

Find A Grave Memorial page #56762173


Honoree ID: 151814   Created by: MHOH




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