A Hero to Remember

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An American Hero

My father served in the US Navy and was involved in both the Vietnam and Korean Wars.  My father was my hero growing up (most of the time!), raised me as a conservative, and taught me the difference between right and wrong.  He also shared a story with me of his hero, Slade Deville Cutter.  I would like to share his story with you.

My father was a Recruit Chief Petty Officer of Company 497 and completed his US Navy training in San Diego (my father is on the front right). The training was brutal – it involved “gunnery” training (doesn’t sound that bad to me!) and practice run-throughs of the “gas chamber” (that sounds brutal!).

Photo of my dad taken by Captain Slade Cutter on 27 May 1960

My father then went on to serve on the USS Neosho . It was there he met his hero, Captain Slade Cutter.

Slade Cutter was ‘da man. He was a career US Naval Officer and was awarded four Navy Crosses and tied for 2nd place for Japanese ships sunk during World War II. My dad shared the following with me:

“I spent about 2 1/2 years on The USS Neosho, some with Slade Cutter as Captain and some with Reuben Whitaker as Captain. Both were famous and excellent World War II submarine captains.  The only bad feature about the Neosho was no air conditioning! The air search radar was obsolete, but our radar repeaters and communications equipment were good. Most importantly, we respected and admired our Captain Cutter.  He was a man of courage.”

“Cutter was really concerned about the welfare of his crew.  (Dad presumed it came from the fact that he survived so many attacks.)  His crew always came first.  The better the performance of the people on the ship, the better chance they had of surviving.

Cutter’s four war patrols as Commanding Officer of the USS Seahorse netted 19 sinkings and more than 70,000 tons of shipping in the postwar accounting. Cutter succeeded in sinking 9 vessels in enemy Japanese-controlled waters during a Second Water Patrol.  He also succeeded in delivering damaging torpedo attacks against heavily escorted enemy convoys. On one occasion, it was necessary to pursue an enemy convoy over a period of 80 hours and only by exceptional determination and skill was Cutter able to penetrate the escort screen and sink two freighters.

Captain Cutter once stated, “The Seahorse sank 19 enemy ships during the four war patrols I was the skipper. The crew got the job done. I was merely the coordinator. They were brave and talented, and I never had to be reckless.  I thought of the lives of those fine men, and frankly, I was aboard too.

Spoken like a true hero.


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16 responses to “A Hero to Remember

  1. DCG-thankyou for sharing this. And most of all thankyou to your father for his service!!

  2. FOUR Navy crosses!!!!

    I salute you, Captain Cutter and Debbie’s dad, Officer G.!

  3. Thank you, DCG, for sharing a little of your dad and Captain Cutter, much needed inspiration, especially after all the examples of how low a person may sink. God bless those who stand where they are called to stand. And thanks to all those who serve with honor.

  4. Cool! 🙂

  5. Thanks all for comments. My dad served with pride and did so because of the greatness that was Captain Cutter, very inspirational!

  6. DCG,

    That is a terrific story.

    You should be very proud of your father’s service, as both of those conflicts were very trying to most who served in them, and particularly Viet Nam.

    My dad was a Marine who was in for five years (the 5th year was due to Korea) and spent the bulk of his service on CV-47.

    Sadly, he doesn’t remember much about it anymore.


  7. DCG –
    In looking at the picture of your dad I believe that is me standing next to him. I was in company 497 also.

    • awesome! My dad’s training commenced in December 1957 and was completed in March 1958. That sound like the time you were there?

      • John E. Lewis

        DCG: Yes. My training was during the same time period. December 1957 to March 1958, Company #497. Thank you for responding. It is really amazing to see someone I served with during boot camp training. It was so long ago. I hope your dad is doing well. Thanks again for your response. John Lewis

        • Your welcome. I’ll be sure to let my dad know we “corresponded” 🙂

          Dad’s good, enjoying retired life on 25 acres in eastern Washington.

          So cool that you found this post!

          • DCG:
            Yes. You are right. It was really thrilling to find your post. I am retired living in central Oregon. Not far from your dad. Wish him well for me. And I wish you well also. Thanks for your posting. You sound like a very sweet and gentle person. If your dad still has his Navy Anchor year book he can see my picture listed under John Lewis.

            • Hope you are enjoying retired life as well! Thanks for your kind words.

              I have his Navy Anchor yearbook and looked you up last night! You were listed as J.E. Lewis, Jr., correct? Told dad about this last night. He’s visiting me next month and I plan to show him this post (he’s oldschool, doesn’t do Internet).

              • John E. Lewis Jr.

                DCG: Yes, I am listed in the Navy Anchor yearbook as J.E.Lewis Jr. I am not sure if your dad will remember me. There were 65 men in our company. Hard to remember them all. I am really glad I ran into you though. It really points out how small our world can be. After boot camp I never ran into your dad again. I remained in San Diego for one year serving with the seventh fleet navy color guard. Then served in Alaska as part of the early warning system. Then back to San Diego at the
                U.S Fleet Anti-Submarine Warfare School attached to Information and Education. I remember you dad as a great person. If I remember correctly he also served in the Marine Corps for some time before transferring to the Navy. I wish you and your dad well. Thanks for responding.

                • Dad didn’t remember you…will show him the pic – maybe it’ll refresh his memory 🙂

                  After Neosho, dad was stationed on the USS Constellation. He was in the Korean was on that carrier. He worked in communications in the air traffic control tower. While working in the tower he heard the call when McCain was shot down 🙁 Later dad went on to get his private pilot’s license.

                  So glad you found this John! Take care as well!

                  • John E. Lewis Jr.

                    DCG – Thank you. It does not surprise me that your dad does not remember. It is most understandable. He was easier to remember because he was more of a focus within the company. Thanks again for your time.


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