Discovery of USS Juneau stirs memory of Attica man killed during naval battle


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Marion Emma Straub left her home at 12 Laurel Drive in Attica on Jan. 8, 1943 for a trip to San Francisco.

She expected to spend two weeks with her husband Eugene Straub, who would be on furlough from the U.S. Navy.

She left their 6-month-old daughter, Marjorie Jean, with relatives. a daughter that Eugene had never seen.

On Jan. 11, a telegram came to 12 Laurel Drive.

“The Navy Department deeply regrets to inform you that your husband, Eugene Neter Straub, Gunners Mate Second Class, U.S. Navy, is missing following action in the performance of his duties and in the service of his country,” the letter read. “The Department appreciates your great anxiety but details not now available and delay in receipt thereof must necessarily be expected. To prevent possible aid to our enemies please do not divulge the name of his ship or station. The letter was signed “Rear Admiral Randall Jacobs, Chief of Navy Personnel.”

Marion Straub, formerly Marion Trick of Albion, had no idea the letter arrived while she was en route to San Francisco.

“Attempts are being made to relay the message to Mrs. Straub, enroute,” an article in the Attica News said.

“The News joins with relatives and friends in hoping that the “Missing in Action” may be only that, and that sometime soon, word will come of his location.”

Eventually, word did come and it was tragic.

Eugene Straub was born March 29, 1919, a son of Mr. and Mrs. Fred Straub of Darien Center. He enlisted in the Navy, finished his first cruise in May 1941 and re-enlisted in December of that year, not long after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

“Before the war, he was the black sheep of the family,” said Straub’s nephew, Andrew Straub, 71, of Warsaw. “The only picture we have of him is him sitting on a Harley, which makes sense.”

Andrew Straub, like little Marjorie Jean, never met Eugene.

On Nov. 13, 1942, two months before the telegram arrived at 12 Laurel Drive, Straub was serving as a gunner’s mate second class aboard the U.S.S. Juneau, a light cruiser engaged in the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

The battle happened in near pitch darkness and the Juneau was struck by a Japanese torpedo and the ship withdrew. Just before noon, the Juneau and two other damaged cruisers headed to Espiritu Santo for repairs.

Moments later two torpedoes from a submarine — intended for another cruiser — struck the Juneau, which exploded, broke in two and sunk in less than 30 seconds.

Months later the stark truth was revealed: A total of 687 men were killed. Ten, all found in the water, survived. An estimated 115 men survived the initial explosion and sinking but all but 10 perished before help arrived eight days later.

Among those killed was Straub.

“It went down so fast,” Andrew Straub said. “Eugene was a gunner so I’m sure he went right down. Unfortunately, he wasn’t among the men who survived.”

Also killed were five brothers from Waterloo, Iowa: The Sullivan brothers, who enlisted Jan. 3, 1942 with the stipulation that they serve together.

The Sullivans are often called “the greatest sacrifice of the greatest generation.”

The final resting place of the Sullivans, Straub and the 681 other men, was never found, with the Juneau sinking 2.6 miles below the Pacific Ocean near the Solomon Islands.

Last week it was announced that the ship had finally been found.

A team funded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen discovered the wreckage on March 17.

Allen said the ship was identified using sonar and that a day later a remote-controlled underwater vehicle confirmed that it was the Juneau. Allen’s teams also have discovered the USS Lexington and USS Indianapolis.

For many, the discovery brought back many memories of the men who served aboard the Juneau, gone for more than 75 years. None of the 10 survivors are alive.

“I wasn’t aware they were searching for it until I saw a little blurb on the internet,” Andrew Straub said.

He has done some family history and delved into the history of the Juneau.

Eugene Straub left behind not only his wife and daughter, but his parents, uncles, siblings and slew of other relatives.

Andrew’s father, Eugene’s brother, also served in the military. Another uncle served and Andrew joined the Army and served during the Vietnam War, stationed in the DMZ in Korea, where he saw some action and was exposed to Agent Orange.

As for Marion and Marjorie Jean?

“After he died the family had no contact with them,” Straub said. “I think she was from Albion and they just disappeared. I’ve tried to find them and this July we are having a family reunion of what’s left of us and I would love to find her. She was my cousin.”

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About Craig Ballantyne 12998 Articles
I love anything to do with Harley Davidson and have two beautiful children and a beautiful partner. In my spare time i like building websites and love anything to do with the internet.

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