--Joshua Howard, Curatorial Volunteer
|1. LCDR J.H. Wellings aboard USS Strong, 7 Aug 1942|
Among the many personal items donated to the museum by the men and women who served in the United States Navy is a broken wrist watch with an amazing story to tell. It's owner, Rear Admiral Joseph H. Wellings (1903-1988) had a close tie to the region during his career. Born into a naval family in Massachusetts, he was a student and staff member at the Naval War College (1946-48), served as commander of the Newport Naval Base (1953-55) and twice served as commandant of the First Naval District (1954-55, 1962-63).
|2. USS Strong under way|
|3. A crew member on USS Helena photographs|
USS Strong exploding after the torpedo attack.
The two men did not have long to reflect as a 300 pound depth charge from the sunken vessel exploded and briefly knocked Wellings unconscious. The men climbed on one of Strong's floater nets and attempted to make their way toward land when finally rescued by USS Gwin (DD-433) at 0510. By Wellings's recollection, 46 of his men were lost during the attack.
|4. The Wellings Wrist Watch|
|5. CDR Wellings points to a map indicating where USS Strong sunk|
1, 3, 5. Naval Historical Collection (NWC Archives)
2. Naval History and Heritage Command
4. Naval War College Museum