Glen Clifford Rogers, QM1c, USS Atlanta

By Gwen Rogers Blough



Glen Clifford Rogers, QM1c, USS Atlanta

By Gwen Rogers Blough



My dad, Glen Clifford Rogers, was born in Story County, Iowa, on Sept. 21, 1911. He was the son of B.H. Rogers and Rilla Belle Graham Rogers. He had two sisters, Ferne and Thelma. The Rogers family is listed in the US Census for 1920, living in Indian Creek, Story County, Iowa. Included are Bee Rodgers, age 34, Rilla, age 33, Thelma, age 11, Glen C, age 8, Ferne, age 3, and William T. Rogers, Bee’s brother, age 27. (William was known as “Bid”).

It is not known when the family moved from Iowa to Indiana, but on April 18, 1929, both Glen and his sister Thelma graduated from Rock Creek Center High School, in Bluffton, Wells County, Indiana.

In 1930, crop prices dropped drastically, forcing the family to leave the Indiana farm and move to Reedley, California, where they began farming with Glen’s Great-Uncle, Jay H. Rogers.  

During the depression times were hard and there were no jobs available, so Dad decided to join the Navy and see the world. On April 10th, 1935, he enlisted as an Apprentice Seaman at the U.S.N.R.S. in San Francisco, California. He was 23 years old.

After Boot Camp in San Diego, Dad served aboard The USS Avocet, a navy seaplane tender. On the Avocet he crossed the equator for the first time. His service on the Avocet was interrupted by illness. From June 5, 1936, until July 10, 1936 he was treated at the Naval Hospital in Pearl Harbor for Catarrha Fever, an inflammation of the air passages.

Back on the Avocet Dad was privileged to be a part of the U.S. Navy National Geographic Eclipse Expedition. On June 8th, 1937, he observed a total eclipse of the sun from Canton Island in the Mid-Pacific. This experience stayed with him for the rest of his life. He often spoke of it and showed visitors his scrapbook pictures of the expedition. He also valued his copy of National Geographic, Sept. 1937, which featured the story of the eclipse and the Avocet’s contribution to the expedition











Following his service on the Avocet, Dad served on the USS Chester as a quartermaster in charge of signaling and small boat operations. He was on the Chester from August 19, 1937 to April 7, 1939. On Feb 5th, 1938, Dad married Miss Tina Dick of Maywood, California. They were married in Long Beach, California, in the home of Chaplain Herrmann of the USS Chester. This union lasted for almost 60 years and produced four children.

David McCoy Rogers, Mar 6, 1939

Gwendolyn Kay Rogers, June 12, 1940

Stephen Dean Rogers, March 12, 1945

Glen Clifford Rogers, Nov. 25, 1948





On April 7th, 1939, Glen Clifford Rogers, Quartermaster Third Class, was honorably discharged from the US Navy. His monthly rate of pay at that time was $60.00. He was given a travel allowance of 5 cents per mile to travel from Long Beach to Fresno, California.

However, Dad must have found the civilian job situation to be equally as tough as it was in 1935, because he re-enlisted in the navy on Feb. 23rd, 1940.[1]

In March of 1940 he was transferred from San Francisco to New York, where on April 24th, 1940 he was transferred to the USS Wasp. In December of that year our family enjoyed a Christmas Party aboard the Wasp.

On February 6th of 1941 Dad was transferred to the USS Omaha, and in April of 1941 he was transferred again, this time to Washington, DC  and the USS Potomac, President Roosevelt’s Presidential Yacht, which was considered an elite assignment. Dad later told his family that FDR always addressed Dad by his first name. Dad would take mail in to the president, who would look up and say, “Yes, Glen, what is it?” However, Dad had no love for the President’s dog Fala, because Fala would do his business on the ship’s lines, and Dad often had to clean up after him.


[1] Mom remembered Dad’s re-enlistment well. Grandma Rogers thought Mom had pressured Dad to reenlist, and she berated Mom for it. But as we know Dad made his own decisions. Buck Bursey told me that he tried to persuade Dad not to re-enlist, but Dad had made up his mind, and that was that.

Dad must have been stationed aboard the Potomac when Pearl Harbor was bombed. Mom told me that he was on leave visiting relatives in Indiana on that fateful day. Dad told his granddaughter Lisa in 1979 that he was on leave, driving home with a buddy, when he heard the infamous news on the radio. Dad’s records show that he was transferred to the USS Atlanta on December 24th, 1941, the day that the Atlanta was christened by Margaret Mitchell, author of Gone With the Wind. He must have been present at the commissioning ceremony, because he saved a copy of the program in his scrapbook. The commissioning was some two weeks after the Pearl Harbor disaster, and three months after the Atlanta was launched.

[1] Mom remembered Dad’s re-enlistment well. Grandma Rogers thought Mom had pressured Dad to reenlist, and she berated Mom for it. But as we know Dad made his own decisions. Buck Bursey told me that he tried to persuade Dad not to re-enlist, but Dad had made up his mind, and that was that.


The fated Atlanta, with Dad on board, set sail from New York for Panama. After passing through the Panama Canal the ship was bound for Pearl Harbor, where it arrived in April of 1942, four months after the Japanese bombing. There Atlanta officers and crew saw first-hand the damage that was done to Pearl Harbor on Dec.7, 1941. (Dad had previously been in Pearl Harbor in 1936, when he was aboard the Avocet).

The Atlanta was in Pearl Harbor for two weeks, sighting guns and doing target practice. It was there that someone in the crew smuggled a small black and white mongrel dog aboard. They named him Lucky A, and gave him the rank of coxswain. Lucky had his own ID tag, life jacket, and battle station.


Dad’s records show that he participated in the following while on the Atlanta:

May 14, 1942 – crossed the Equator

June 4-6, 1942 – Battle of Midway

Aug. 7-Sept. 2, 1942 – Solomon Island Campaign

Aug. 24, 1942 – in action with enemy

Nov. 12-13, 1942 – 3rd Battle of Savo Island as a unit of Task              Force 67 (Guadalcanal)

Dad’s records also include:


For services as set forth in the following:


            “For outstanding performance during action against enemy Japanese forces off Guadalcanal Island, November 12-13, 1942. Struck by one torpedo and no less that 49 shells, the ATLANTA, after sinking an enemy destroyer and repeatedly hitting a cruiser which later went down, gallantly remained in battle under auxiliary power with one-third of her crew killed or missing, her engine room flooded and her topside a shambles. Eventually succumbing to her wounds after the enemy had fled in defeat, she left behind her a heroic example of invincible fighting spirit.”

            For the President, FRANK KNOX, Secretary of the Navy


On the Atlanta Dad was rated Quartermaster Second Class, and he was in charge of the mailroom. His battle station on the Atlanta was on the bridge, in the chart house. When the torpedo hit that fateful night of November 13th, 1942, he was thrown forward, and lost consciousness. He didn’t know how he managed to survive, when so many were killed or maimed.

The ship had been so badly damaged by the torpedo that she could no longer be steered from the bridge. Dad maintained that no one wanted to go to steering aft, which was under the water line, to try to steer the ship from that location, so he volunteered to go. He tried to help steer the ship out of the way of the Japanese after the bridge had been destroyed. He was ordered to abandon ship, he later told his granddaughter, but he ignored that order.

When Dad finally went up on deck, he was met with a grisly sight. He told my mother Tina that everybody was busy fighting fires, burying the dead at sea and lighting cigarettes for the wounded. The deck was a sea of blood and body parts. He also told my mother that a bomb had exploded in the sick bay, destroying it.

Later, Dad was on one of the top decks of the ship with a few surviving officers. The Atlanta was so badly damaged in the barroom brawl that she had to be scuttled. Charges had been set for the scuttling when Dad asked permission to go below and retrieve the mailbags from the mailroom. When he reached the dark, smoky mailroom he grabbed a mail sack and shoved the records of the money orders, some stamps, and all of the cash that was in the safe into it. He then climbed back topside and rode ashore with some officers on one of the last boats to leave the ship.

On January 12th, 1943, the following letter was sent to Captain E.H. Dodd, at the Fleet Post Office in San Francisco, from F.T. Frawley, Post Office Inspector.


Dear Captain:

There is assigned to your activity GLEN C. ROGERS, formerly Navy Mail Clerk on the USS ATLANTA, now “inactive”. As a result of your cooperation it was possible for me to interview Mr. Rogers today in connection with a loss of a portion of the fixed credit assigned to the USS ATLANTA, and the interview developed information that it is believed you will wish to have called to your attention.

The fixed credit of the USS ATLANTA was in the sum of One Thousand Dollars ($1,000.00), and of this $500.00 was locked in the Disbursing Officer’s safe and the Navy Mail Clerk had only $500.00 in his custody. Damage to the USS ATLANTA on November 13, 1942, extinguished the lights and when the Navy Mail Clerk approached the Commanding Officer and requested permission to go below where the postal unit was located, the Commanding Officer advised that it was dangerous but that if the Navy Mail Clerk wished to take a chance he could do so. The Navy Mail Clerk made a hurried trip to the postal unit, gathered such stamps and cash as he could locate in the dark and placed them in a mail pouch which he took with him when he left the boat as it was sinking. He saved $410.22 in stamps and $25.63 in cash, a total of $435.85. On advice of his Commanding Officer the stamps and cash were turned over to the postal officer at Guadalcanal, and Treasury Checks obtained therefore, and which have been remitted by me to the postmaster at New York, N.Y., today. Mr. Glen C Rogers displayed a sense of duty that is highly commendable, and since he proved his worth as a Navy Mail Clerk, he no doubt is equally efficient as a member of your force, and the incident is called to your attention, knowing that if he possesses merit that you will endeavor to have it recognized.


Very sincerely,


Post Office Inspector

           Dad once told his nephew Ron Holly that when he arrived ashore on Guadalcanal, he dug a hole and buried the mailbag. He must have marked the spot well, for later he was able to retrieve the bag and turn it over to the postal officer on shore.

Dad must have remained on Guadalcanal for about 23 days, from Nov. 13, 1942, the day of the battle, until Dec. 6, when he was transported to New Caledonia. He was there long enough to come down with a severe case of malaria. Dad’s records show that he was at the US Naval Air Base, Noumea, New Caledonia, from Dec. 6 to Dec. 12, 1942. By Jan. 8 of 1943 he was back in San Francisco.

On Guadalcanal the Marines had tents to sleep in, which they shared with the sailors. The whole island was wet, muddy, and infested with mosquitoes. The Japanese were all over the island. When the sailors heard anything, they sprinted for the foxholes.  They were especially careful when they approached caves on the island, for caves were often hiding places for the Japanese.

One day while Dad was still on Guadalcanal, he stumbled across a dead Japanese soldier who had some papers falling from one of his pockets. Dad picked up a small book with Japanese writing in it, stuffed it into his pocket, and eventually took it home with him. Many years later he showed the book to a Japanese-American fellow in Madera, California. This gentleman was able to translate the writing, and they discovered that it was a diary, and that it had the name and address of the Japanese soldier in it. So with the help of the Japanese-American friend, Dad sent the diary to the soldier’s family in Japan. A few weeks later he received a letter from the family thanking him profusely for sending them the diary. They also sent Dad a small Kabuki doll in appreciation for his thoughtfulness. The doll is still in the possession of our family, but the letter has been lost.

When he arrived back in San Francisco, Dad visited his sister Ferne, who was living there at the time, and she later said that he couldn’t quit talking about the battle. Mom, who was living in Reedley, Ca. knew nothing about the fighting or Dad’s close brush with death, because everything in those days was top-secret. But when she heard that he was in San Francisco she met him there, and was shocked by his physical condition, because he had lost so much weight. Eventually he became seriously ill with malaria, and was hospitalized at Treasure Island for several weeks. He ran a high fever and broke out with fever blisters all around his mouth.

From January 8, 1943 until February 22, 1944 Dad was stationed at District Staff Headquarters, 12th Naval District, San Francisco. Mom told me that he was in charge of all Atlanta mail. He had to see that it got sent to the proper destinations.

In 2001, while doing research on Dad’s story I received emails from three of his Atlanta shipmates. Alvin A. Cayou said, “The next morning (after the battle) the Marines picked us up in Higgens boats and we wound up in Guadalcanal and were placed with the Marine Division for 30 days, then we were shipped to New Caledonia. I spent 13 months there before going to the states for reassignment. I came down with malaria and wound up in the hospital at New Caledonia. I don’t know if your dad followed in that order or not. I can’t say I knew your dad but probably had seen him many times. Possibly he was in the mail room because I knew the Chief and first class Quartermasters. I remember them saying that someone saved our pay records and that must have been your dad.”

Shipmate James Bartlett wrote, “We had divisions on the ship and we didn’t stray too far. You have to remember all we had as crew members was this little island. We knew we had to protect it, if we wanted to get home. This of course was just a part of the job we had to do. In staying within our division, we were quick to our battle stations. I was in turret 8. With over seven hundred men in the crew, I think as a rule we didn’t know many. I of course now wish I could have known them all. I was one of the lucky ones and was not wounded. I do wish I knew your father and he was here so we could share some memories. After all we did do some really good things together.”

Alex Goldstein wrote, “Sorry, after all these years I don’t remember your dad, I only remember what happened that night of November the 13th 1942!! I wish I was able to say I knew him, but just don’t remember. I enlisted in the Navy when I was just 17 and we commissioned the Atlanta at the Brooklyn Navy Yard at the same time our sister ship (USS Juneau) that was carrying the five Sullivan boys. We were together in all the engagements in the Pacific and when their ship blew up I was in the water after we were told to abandon ship until we had to scuttle it. I remained on Guadalcanal for quite a while until I was sent back to serve again on a heavy cruiser commissioned in Pa., the Wilkes Barre. I was discharged on Jan. 26, 1946. Sorry everyone didn’t make it. Just think of your father as a hero serving his country and be proud of him and what he has done.”

His records show that Dad’s enlistment was up on Feb. 22, 1944, but because the war was not yet over he had to reenlist for the duration of the war. From March 31, 1944 to March 27, 1945 he served on the USS West Virginia. He had been promoted to QM1c. The West Virginia was at the Puget Sound Navy Yard at Bremerton, Washington while it was being refurbished after having been sunk at Pearl Harbor. Mom, David, and I lived with Dad in Oak Harbor, Washington while Dad was stationed there.

The West Virginia left Bremerton in July of 1944, bound for the Philippines, where Dad participated in the Philippine Campaign. One of the “remarks” in his records is the Philippine Liberation Medal. I have read that during this tour of duty the West Virginia was often subjected to attacks by kamakazi pilots, which was nerve-racking and left many servicemen unable to function normally.

Dad told his granddaughter Lisa that when he was mail clerk on the West Virginia he was sorting the mail one day when he found a letter with a stamp on it that looked like someone had scribbled on it. Holding it up to the light, he could see writing on the stamp. He discovered that a spy was sending US war information back to his government.

Dad’s records show that he left the West Virginia on Feb. 16, 1945. He was on the USAT Sea Fiddler from Feb. 23, 1945 until March 22, 1945. I haven’t found much information about the Sea Fiddler, but believe that it must have been a transport ship that took Dad back to San Francisco. After Dad left the ship, the West Virginia sailed on to Tokyo and was present when the peace treaty was signed aboard the USS Missouri.

Dad was in the US Naval Hospital in Oakland, California from August 31, 1945 to Dec. 22, 1945. His medical records show he suffered from catarrha fever, malaria, operational fatigue, and psychoneurosis (anxiety). Though he wasn’t injured in the war, he suffered great personal distress along with the malaria. His health records were terminated in 1945 by reason of “physical disability.”

Dad was honorably discharged from the Navy for the third time on December 22, 1945. His rating at that time was Quartermaster First Class. In total, Dad had served nine years, nine months, and twenty-nine days in the U.S. Navy. His “mustering out” pay was $100.00. He was given an allowance of 30 cents a mile to travel home. His records show the following “remarks”:

American Defense Medal

American Theatre Medal

World War II Victory Medal

Presidential Unit Citation

Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Medal

Philippine Liberation Medal.


As he aged, Dad became hard of hearing. He always maintained that his hearing problem was caused by his proximity to gunfire during the naval battles in which he participated.  After the war he farmed, owned service stations, and worked as an office manager until his retirement. He passed away in 1997 at the Veterans Hospital in Fresno, California. He will live forever in our memories.