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BM1c Edward M. Kronberger
WWII • KOREA
Pearl Harbor Survivor
USS West Virginia • December 7th, 1941
Edward, his brother Robert and their father Sam
were all aboard the West Virginia at the time of the attack
and are all listed as the Co-Founders of PHSA
It was the Japanese and a mistake that made Ed Kronberger a crew member of the USS SALT LAKE CITY. When the bugle sounded for general quarters, Ed headed for his turret. The sailors found the magazine locked. Ed climbed up through the escape hatch to the well deck and escaped. His father and a brother, who were also stationed on the WEST VIRGINIA, also escaped.
On Dec. 7th, Ed was sleeping on deck of the WEST VIRGINIA because he pulled a night watch and was tired. The first torpedo woke him up, however, nobody knew at first that it was a torpedo. Some guys yelled that they had run aground.
Later that week Ed was sent to the USS SAN FRANCISCO, but the seaman handling the boat made a mistake and delivered Ed to the Salt Lake City where he stayed the remainder of the war.
He knew the USS SALT LAKE CITY because his father and another brother had served aboard her in earlier years. He was aboard for four and a half years until the ship went to Japan immediately after the war.
World War II
After the West Virginia sunk at Pearl Harbor, Edward Kronberger was transfered to the USS Salt Lake City, CA-25.
On 7 December 1941, when the United States was brought into World War II by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Salt Lake City, under the command of Captain Ellis M. Zacharias, was with the Enterprise task group, returning from Wake Island, 200 nautical miles (370 km) west of Pearl Harbor when they received word of the attack. The group immediately launched scouting planes in hopes of catching possible stragglers from the enemy force, but the search proved fruitless. The ships entered Pearl Harbor toward sundown on the 8th.
After a tedious night refueling, they sortied before dawn to hunt submarines north of the islands. Submarines were encountered on the 10th-11th. The first, I-70, was sunk by dive bombers from Enterprise; the second, sighted ahead of the group on the surface, was engaged with gunfire by Salt Lake City as the ships maneuvered to avoid torpedoes. Screening destroyers made numerous depth charge runs, but no kill was confirmed. Operations against a third contact brought similar results. The group returned to Pearl Harbor on 15 December to refuel.
Salt Lake City operated with Task Force 8 (TF 8) until 23 December, covering Oahu and supporting the task force strike that was planned to relieve beleaguered Wake Island. After Wake fell, Salt Lake City's group carried out air strikes in the eastern Marshalls at Wotje, Maloelap, and Kwajalein to reduce enemy seaplane bases. While conducting shore bombardment during those strikes, Salt Lake City came under air attack and assisted in downing two Japanese bombers. In March, she supported air strikes at Marcus Island.
In April, she escorted TF 16, which launched the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo and other Japanese cities, and returned to Pearl Harbor on 25 April. Orders awaited the ships to sail as soon as possible to join the Yorktown and Lexington forces in the Coral Sea. Although the task force moved fast, it had only reached a point some 450 miles (830 km) east of Tulagi by 8 May, the day of the Battle of the Coral Sea. What followed was essentially a retirement, and Salt Lake City operated as cover with her group; on the 11th off the New Hebrides, and from the 12th-16th eastward from Efate and Santa Cruz. On 16 May, she was ordered back to Pearl Harbor and arrived there 10 days later.
The carrier groups began intensive preparations to meet the expected Japanese thrust at Midway Atoll. During the battle, early in June, Salt Lake City provided rear guard protection for the islands.
From August-October 1942, Salt Lake City was in the south Pacific to support the campaign to seize and hold Guadalcanal. She escorted Wasp during the landings of 7–8 August and subsequent operations.
Salt Lake City protected Wasp as she shuttled planes for Saratoga and Enterprise, and provided CAP and scouting patrols during the landings. Salt Lake City was with Wasp, on 15 September, when that carrier was torpedoed by Japanese submarines and sunk. She assisted in rescue operations for survivors, and took on board others who had been picked up by Lardner.
Ed was regular Navy and served until retiring in 1960.
"Gardena Valley News, December 11, 1941"
"Gardena's foremost naval family comprising of a father and four sons face the possibility today that the father and two of the sons may have lost their lives or been seriously injured on the Hawaiian Islands Sunday. The father, Sam Kronberger and two of the sons were stationed on the USS West Virginia reported sunk by the Japanese in Pearl Harbor. The two sons on the same ship were Edward and Robert Kronberger. Up to a late hour last night no word had been received by Mrs. Sam Kronberger or their daughter Dorothy concerning the fate of the three..."
It would be another two to three weeks before the stateside Kronbergers would find out that Sam, Robert & Edward did survive the events of Dec. 7. Nearly six decades later, Robert and Edward recall the surprise attack with such accuracy that Robert was consulted by Disney Studios as the script was prepared for the big budget movie "Pearl Harbor," which opens Memorial Day weekend (2001). Along with their father, Robert and Edward helped found the Pearl Harbor Survivors Association (PHSA) in 1958.