November Resident Spotlight: Glenn Huffman

73 years ago on Wednesday, October 25, Glenn Huffman was in the water! Glenn was 18 when he received his draft notice. When he went for the draft they said they needed men in all three branches. When he was standing in line at the draft, there was a guy behind him that said, “I’m going to the Navy if I can, because I would rather ride than walk” & Glenn said “Buddy, I’m with you!” The two of them went into the Navy. But Glenn never saw that guy again, “I went one way, he went another.” Glenn was shipped to Galveston to pick up a brand new ship built in Houston by the Brown Shipbuilding Co. The first piece of metal laid down on that ship was on his birthday, December 6, 1943. “It & I had the same birthday as far as I was concerned.” It was called USS Samuel B. Roberts. Following a shakedown cruise off Bermuda from May 21 to June 19 and availability at Boston Navy Yard, Samuel B. Roberts, departed from Norfolk on July 22, 1944 and transited the Panama Canal on July 27th to join the Pacific Fleet. After arriving at Pearl Harbor on August 10, they conducted training exercises and escorted several convoys to Eniwetok. They proceeded to Manus Island where they joined another Task Unit, then steamed for the Leyte Gulf area and commenced operations with the Northern Air Support Group off Samar. Shortly after dawn on October 25th, they were protecting American escort carriers off Samar, when a Japanese task force suddenly appeared on the horizon and opened fire. After joining in a daring torpedo attack on the Japanese cruisers and scoring a torpedo hit on one and at least 40 gunfire hits on a second the Samuel B Roberts was hit by a salvo of 14” shells which tore a hole-40-feet long and 10 feet wide in the port side of the number 2 engine room. The ship was abandoned and soon sank. Glenn was training to be a radar officer. From where he had stood, he had told himself, if I ever have to jump ship he was going over the railing. On that October 25th day he was told to abandon ship, the others went lower, Glenn jumped over the railing and swam away from the ship as they had been instructed to. Once in the water, he met up with other men with a life raft. The injured men were put in the raft and the rest of the men hung on. Three days later, Glenn and the rest of the men were rescued. Glenn said “during battle I wasn’t nearly as scared as I was when I was in the water.” The 120 survivors clung to 3 life rafts for 50 hours before being rescued. 90 of the crew were killed or lost in action. In 1950 Glenn got married. They had one son. He didn’t talk about the war for 50 years. It just so happened when he and his wife were on vacation in Texas, they went to a war museum. There was a picture he recognized and said something to a women he mistakenly thought was his wife. As it turns out the lady worked for the museum. She asked him if he was a veteran and would he please sign in downstairs. This simple error opened up a whole new world for Glenn. Since that experience he has been receiving correspondence from other war veterans that he knew on the USS Samuel B. Roberts. They started a reunion in 1982. “It’s surprising how much you forget.” Today … there are only 2 of us left. What a wonderful piece of history Glenn has for us and is willing to share. We are so grateful to have Glenn and his wonderful wife JoAnn as part of our CCWH family.

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