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First Name: Loys

Last Name: Parsons

Birthplace: Elvins, St. Francis, MO, US

Gender: Male



Branch: Navy (present)

Rating:

Home of Record: MO
Middle Name: Aloysius



Date of Birth: 24 July 1921

Date of Death: 25 November 1945 (Presumed)

MIA Date: 01 March 1942

Rank or Rate: Seaman Apprentice

Years Served: 1939-1945
LOYS ALOYSIUS PARSONS
'BLACKIE'

   
Engagements:
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)

Biography:

Loys was the seventh of ten children born to Virgil Lee and Maggie Gertrude Alexander Parsons. They were married on 20 Nov 1907. Their other children were Helen Taft, Henry Theodore "Ted," John Carl, Elsie Minta, Charles Earl "Charlie," June H., Virgil Lee Jr., Mary Louise and Robert Parsons.

Loys or "Blackie" as he was sometimes known, enlisted in the US Navy (NSN: 337-26-61) on 19 Dec 1939 in St. Louis, MO as an Apprentice Seaman (AS). He was sent to the Naval Training Station (NTS), Great Lakes, IL for basic training. Upon completion of basic training and possible follow-on instruction at the Torpedoman trade school, and then a short leave, Loys received orders to report to Asiatic Station in the Philippines for duty. On 28 Jun 1940, Parsons reported to the battleship USS Maryland (BB-46) as a passenger enroute from San Pedro, CA to Pearl Harbor for further transfer to the heavy cruiser, USS Houston (CA-30) in Manila.

He reported on board the Houston for duty on 10 July 1940. For about two months in 1940, Loys and his brother Charlies served together on the Houston until Loys was transferred. On 28 Nov 1940, S2c Parsons was detached from USS Houston and transferred to Commander Destroyer Squadron (COMDESRON) 29 for assignment. S2c Parsons reported on board the USS Blackhawk (AD-9) for duty on 28 Nov 1940. With personnel shortages acute for many of the Asiatic fleet ships, Blackie was detached from Blackhawk on 18 Dec 1941, and he transferred to the destroyer USS Edsall (DD-219) in Surabaja, Java, N.E.I on 19 Dec 1941.

Ordered to comply with the Asiatic Fleet CINC Adm. Thomas C. 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. On 8 Dec 1941, Edsall, an element of Destroyer Division 57 (DESDIV), was enroute to Batavia (Djakarta) when word of the attacks on Pearl Harbor was received. The division altered course to Singapore to act as ASW screen for Force Z. From Singapore, Edsall was sent to search for survivors of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse, sunk off Malaya on 10 Dec. No survivors were found. It was learned later that other ships had retrieved the survivors.

For the next month, Edsall and other units of DESDIV 57 were used to escort shipping to and from Australia. It was on one of these escort trips that Edsall participated in the sinking of IJN submarine (I-124) off Darwin. Several days later, Edsall was damaged during another attack on a suspected submarine. One of Edsall's depth charges exploded prematurely in shallow water damaging one of Edsall’s propeller shafts. This damage would play an important role in her eventual sinking.

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 fighters 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. 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 32 USAAF personnel 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 the crew 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. S2c Hartpence was listed as missing in action on 01 Mar 1942.

The US Navy Department declared all Edsall crew “presumed dead” on 25 Nov 1945. Hartpence's remains were unrecoverable. 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.

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.

Loys was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, American Campaign Medal, American Defense Service Medal with Fleet Clasp, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with two battle stars, Philippine Defense Ribbon, and World War II Victory Medal. He may also be eligible for the Combat Action Ribbon (Est. 1969 and retroactive 07 Dec 1941).

In his book, A Blue Sea of Blood, Kehn states on page 59 that Loys' first name was really Edgar and that he (Kehn) had been in touch with the Parsons family.

Loys Parsons' brother Charles is also recorded in MHOH#155827.

[Bio#16 compiled by Gerry Lawton (GML470)]



Honoree ID: 155834   Created by: MHOH

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