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Rear Admiral William Post Jr

USS Gudgeon (SS-211)

USS Spot (SS-413)

Peering into his periscope, Commander William Post Jr. strains his eyes as he locks the Japanese oil tanker Tōhō Maru in his sights. Beads of sweat roll down his forehead as he stands in the cramped control room. "Battle stations, torpedoes," Post orders. Then the claxon blares as men rush across the boat to man battle stations. Torpedomen groan as they maneuver torpedoes into their firing tubes, electrician mates ready the engines, and sonarmen listening to the chatter churned up by the submarine's quarry. 

"Fire one," Post orders, receiving confirmation of his order just seconds later. "Fire two!" In the water, a small wave slinks through the inky water of the Makassar Strait as a torpedo maneuvers on a collision course with the Japanese oil tanker.

Rear Admiral William Schuyler Post Jr. was born on August 6th, 1908 in Los Angeles, California. Seeing the end of World War One as a young boy, Post saw the horrific marvels of modern war: machine guns, zeppelins, chemical warfare, and submarines. Perhaps it was the last one that drove him to the US Naval Academy, where he graduated in 1930. He was a handsome young man, with dark brown hair and a stocky frame. Following graduation from the Naval Academy, he was assigned to the West Coast, where in 1935 he departed San Pedro, California to attend the US Navy Submarine School in New London, Connecticut. Being accepted to the school was no small feet, with only one in five applicants being accepted into the program following intensive screenings. Post spent six weeks at New London in the officer's course sometime between December 1935 and early 1936, being drilled in engineering, communications, weapons training, damage control, physics, and more.  Outside of the classroom, hands on training and swimming lessons were conducted ,preparing Post to be one of the most elite sailors in the United States Navy.  In 1938, he earned a promotion to Lieutenant.

Click on a photo in this slideshow for a closer look or click on the arrows at the edges of the slideshow to look through the photos.

USS Gudgeon (SS-211)

Post, now a lieutenant commander, walks along the pier where Gudgeon is tied up. A Tambor-class submarine, she is one of the workhorses of the Pacific Fleet, being sent to hostile waters to sever shipping routes utilized by the Imperial Japanese Navy and Merchant Marine, akin to North African corsairs during the early days of the American Republic and it's own commerce in the Mediterranean. Commander Post assumed command of USS Gudgeon in 1943, leading her on her seventh war patrol when she sailed out of Fremantle, Australia on March 13th, 1943. 307 feet wide and 27 feet wide, the Gudgeon was a lean fighting machine, equipped with 24 torpedoes and 10 torpedo tubes, a 3-inch deck gun, and both 20mm and 40mm anti-aircraft cannons. It would not take her long before she found the first Japanese vessel of the patrol, spotting the Japanese transport ship Meigen Maru on March 22nd in the Java Sea. The Meigen Maru was a 5,434-ton troop transport in a convoy steaming for the Netherlands East Indies escorted by two unidentified vessels. Port fired two torpedoes at the Meigen Maru, with one hitting the ship. She sunk just after 7 PM 30 miles from the Indies, eight of her crewmen killed. A few days later, she claimed her second victory at sea, sinking the 9987-ton oil tanker Tōhō Maru on the 27th. The Gudgeon heaves itself out of the warm Pacific waters under a star-filled night. Stalking the tanker and the convoy she was in, Commander Post led his men in the assault, firing six torpedos, which Post claimed four hit the Tōhō Maru. It was an ironic end for the tanker. When Pearl Harbor was attacked on December 7th, 1941, the Tōhō Maru was escorting the Japanese fleet that bombed Hawaii, refueling them on their journey. USS Gudgeon was at Pearl Harbor during the attack and in a way, had settled a bit of the score with the Japanese Navy, attacking one of the Pearl Harbor assailants in the same secrecy and silence as they had two years before. During the same attack, Post also damaged another vessel, the Kyoei Maru. Ending her seventh war patrol, the Gudgeon sailed back to Australia, arriving in Fremantle on April 6th, 1943. 

After a brief stint of resupply and R&R, Post and his men returned to sea for the Gudgeon's eighth war patrol on April 15th.  She was to sail from Fremantle to Pearl Harbor, sailing past Jakarta and along the north coast of Borneo, clearing the Philippines before entering open waters. On April 28th, Gudgeon sank her first ship of the patrol and also earned an impressive accomplishment. Just a day before, the IJN Kamakura Maru, Japan's largest troop transport, departed the Philippines with 2,500 passengers onboard, sailing across the Pacific unescorted. The passengers comprised a thousand civilian oil specialists, over a hundred nurses, and countless Japanese soldiers. At 10:35 PM, the Gudgeon spotted the Kamakura Maru sailing in a 'zig-zag' pattern, sailing in 45-degree turns to make it harder for a torpedo to hit. Commander Post stalked the vessel until at 1:00 AM, April 28th, he ordered battle stations and began his attack. At 1:04 AM, he had the Gudgeon fire from all four of her forward torpedo tubes from 3,200 yards away. Two minutes later, two of them hit the Kamakura Maru's starboard side. A fire springed from the now damaged auxiliary machine room and the ship's hold, raging through the steel behemoth. Twelve minutes later, she slips beneath the waves with her bow pointing to the sky, taking a final look at the world before sinking to the bottom. Less than 600 crew and passengers survived the sinking.

To end the month of April, Post made an interesting pit stop in the Philippines. Sailing silently up to the coast of Panay Island, she opened her hatches for six commandos and three tons of equipment, most likely in support of the Filipino guerilla movement. Two more vessels fell to the Gudgeon as she sailed away from the Philippines and made her way to Pearl Harbor, arriving on May 25th, 1943. After refueling, she sailed for a California dry dock for overhaul. For his valor and service during the Gudgeon's seventh and eighth war patrols, Commander Post received two Navy Crosses, America's second highest award for valor.  The months went by as the sailors of the USS Gudgeon enjoyed their time on shore, taking time to rest and get their beloved boat ready for another war patrol. On September 1st, with repairs completed and a complete overhaul of the boat, the Gudgeon set sail, returning to Pearl Harbor to begin her ninth war patrol. 

Cruising the Western Pacific, Commander Post kept a steady eye through both binoculars and periscope. It had been almost an entire month since he had engaged the Japanese. However, near the infamous island of Saipan, lookouts spotted a Japanese vessel.  On September 28th, Gudgeon sank the Taian Maru, a Japanese merchantman. After firing torpedoes at the vessel, a Japanese minelayer moved in to engage the Gudgeon but failed to damage the submarine in any way. The next day, Gudgeon engaged a small Japanese gunboat but failed to sink it. With another vessel sent to the depths, Gudgeon ended her ninth war patrol, sailing for Midway Island for recuperation and resupply. She would not take to the sea again until the end of October, 1943 when she sailed for eastern China to disrupt Japanese shipping lines between their colonial possessions in occupied China and the Japanese home islands.

Like her ninth war patrol, the tenth saw a lot of empty seas and cold torpedo tubes for the Gudgeon. However, as November edged ever closer to December, Commander Post would be engaged in his most intense battle of the war. On November 23rd, 1943, lookouts spotted a Japanese convoy departing from China: three transports and a frigate. Battle stations were called and quickly the boat was 'buttoned up.' Commander Post ordered torpedoes fired at one of the transports in the convoy but they miss their intended target, instead hitting the Japanese frigate Wakamiya. A huge fiery explosion erupts from the Wakamiya, breaking her in two and sending her to the ocean floor almost immediately. Of her crew of 135, only four survived. During the same engagement, she also sunk one Japanese transport (the Nekka Maru) and damaged two more. For Commander Post's valor, he was awarded the Silver Star Medal. Sailing back for Midway, Commander Post and his crew were able to enjoy a Christmas dinner on land, not sailing again until the new year.

Departing from Midway on January 18th, 1944, The Gudgeon sailed on her eleventh war patrol, now sailing in the South China Sea. On February 11th, she torpedoed the already damaged Japanese merchantman Satsuma Maru and a week later sank a Japanese sampan with her deck gun. By March, Gudgeon was in Pearl Harbor, resupplying and welcoming their new skipper, Lieutenant Commander Robert Bonin. He and the rest of the men aboard Gudgeon were presumed lost at sea on Gudgeon's twelfth war patrol when she was sunk by Japanese aircraft conducting antisubmarine warfare near Iwo Jima, although there is conjecture on if she sank at Iwo Jima or in the Marianna Islands. 

Click on a photo in this slideshow for a closer look or click on the arrows at the edges of the slideshow to look through the photos.

USS Spot (SS-413)


Things had changed during Port's nearly year-long absence from the high seas. He was promoted to a full commander, and with that, a new submarine to command. He was given command of the USS Spot (SS-413), commissioned August 6th, 1944. Commander Post had completed fitting Spot in September 1944 at Mare Island  Naval Yard in Vallejo, California and sailed down to San Diego for her shakedown. By mid-November 1944, she was ready to relieve her baptism in fire. Leaving Pearl Harbor on December 4th, 1944, she sailed for the East and South China Seas.

Post had spent most of  his time at sea operating as a single sub, stalking his prey as a lone hunter. Now, however, he sailed with two other submarines, the USS Balao (SS-285) and USS Icefish (SS-367).

The hunter-killer group sailed into the Yellow Sea in early 1945, sinking three Japanese trawlers by January 7th and on the 12th she sank a small frieghter off of Shanghai, China with her deck gun. Then on the 19th, Spot sank another Japanese vessel, firing three torpedoes. For the rest of the war, Spot and the rest of its hunter-killer group remained off the coast of Japan, Korea, and China. On her third war patrol, she fired on a Japanese radio station near Kokuzan To with her deck gun, blowing up an oil tank, destroying a number of barracks, and setting the radio station on fire. Spot, after her third and fourth war patrols, docked at Pearl Harbor on July 29th, 1945, being there when the war ended.

RADM Post Post-World War II


Following World War II, Post served as the Pacific Fleet's chief intelligence officer, serving in the intelligence community in the Pacific as well as at the Pentagon. In the 1950s, he commanded a submarine squadron as well as the heavy cruiser Newport News and the attack transport Cavalier. He was promoted to rear admiral in 1958, and served as deputy director of intelligence for the Joint Chiefs of Staff and then as deputy commander of the military sea transport service before retiring in 1965. RADM Post passed away on December 17th, 2001 from heart failure.



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