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The Houston Volunteers 1942 video


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I grew up with the story of the loss of the USS Houston during World War II and the men who volunteered to replace the lost sailors. Somehow seeing this short clip in front of the Metropolitan and Loew's makes the event much more real for me than just a story I heard.


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Thanks for posting that powerful piece of video Devon.  What happened to the USS Houston and its crew is one of the most tragic stories of WWII. After sinking in the Battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942, of the original crew of 1,061 men, 368 survived, including 24 of the 74-man USMC detachment, only to be captured by the Japanese and interned in prison camps. Many were put to work building the Burma-Thai railroad and the infamous bridge over the River Kwai. Many of them died there.


Houston's fate was not fully known by the world for almost nine months, and the full story of her last fight was not told until after the war and her survivors were liberated from the prison camps. Before then, on 30 May 1942, 1,000 new recruits for the Navy, known as the Houston Volunteers, were sworn in at a dedication ceremony in downtown Houston, to replace those believed lost on USS Houston.


On 12 October 1942 the light cruiser Vicksburgthen under construction was renamed Houston in honor of the old ship. President Roosevelt declared: "Our enemies have given us the chance to prove that there will be another USS Houston, and yet another USS Houston if that becomes necessary, and still another USS Houston as long as American ideals are in jeopardy."


Incidentally, a piece of the USS Houston is on display in downtown Houston. The ship's bell was recovered some years back and placed on a stone monument in Sam Houston Park. 




Edited by FilioScotia
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As a teenager living in Thailand in the early 60's I visited a WWII cemetery near the bridge over the River Kwai and I'm sure I saw the crosses of sailors from the USS Houston without knowing it.

My most vivid memory from the cemetery was seeing many graves of soldiers that were only 19 and 20 years old...so close to my age of 16!

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  • 3 months later...

Thanks for the recommendation. Picked up a copy and just finished it. Incredible account of the USS Houston survivors and the Japanese prison camps. The Jap soldiers were ruthless savages. Heck they make ISIS look like saints. Hard to believe any POW survived. I could not have more respect for our soldiers that endured such treatment, some for years. Anyway, great book and I highly recommend it to everyone. Can't believe I wasn't aware of it before Ross mentioned it. Going to try to get over to U of H and see what artifacts they have now that my interest is sparked. 


I can highly recommend the book Ship of Ghosts, which is the story of the USS Houston and its surviving crew.


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