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Home Town Elberton
Last Address Not Specified
Casualty Date Feb 01, 1944
Cause Hostile, Died while Missing
Reason Lost At Sea-Unrecovered
Location South China Sea
Conflict USS Scorpion (SS-278)
Location of Interment Manila American Cemetery - Taguig City, Philippines
Wall/Plot Coordinates Tablets of the Missing (cenotaph)
Last Known Activity On 5 April Scorpion departed Pearl Harbor for her first war patrol, a hunting and mining mission off the east coast of Honsh. On 19 April, she reached the mining area near Nakaminato. During the afternoon she reconnoitered the coast and in the evening she laid her naval mines, then retired to deep water. On 20 April she sank her first enemy ship, a 1934-ton converted gunboat. On 21 April, prior to 01:00, she fired on and destroyed her first sampan in surface action, then moved up the coast to observe the fishing grounds, shipping lanes, and coastline of the Shioya Saki area. On the night of 22 April she destroyed three more sampans with gunfire and continued north, toward Kinkasan To.
With the absence of shipping along the coastal lanes she moved seaward and on 27 April sighted a convoy of four freighters escorted by a destroyer. At 04:59, she launched four torpedoes at the first and largest merchantman; two at the second; then dived and rigged for depth charging. At 05:05, the destroyer dropped her first depth charges. A half-hour later, the Japanese warship broke off her search for Scorpion to aid the stricken passenger-cargo ship. While Scorpion escaped with slight damage, the 6380-ton merchant vessel sank.
On 28 April, Scorpion received orders home. En route on 29 April, she sighted and engaged a 100-ton patrol vessel, which she left burning to the waterline. On the morning of 30 April, she stalked, fired on, and finally torpedoed and sank a 600-ton patrol ship. During the hour and three-quarters fight, however, Scorpion received her first casualty. Lieutenant Commander R.M. Raymond, on board as prospective commanding officer, was hit and killed by gunfire.
Soon after the patrol vessel went down, an enemy plane appeared. Scorpion submerged; survived the plane's depth charges and continued toward Midway Island and Pearl Harbor, arriving on 8 May.
Departing Pearl Harbor on 29 December 1943, Scorpion stopped at Midway Island to top off with fuel, and left that place on 3 January 1944, to conduct her fourth war patrol. Her assigned area was in the northern East China Sea and Yellow Sea.
On the morning of 5 January, Scorpion reported that one of her crew had sustained a fracture of the upper arm and requested a rendezvous with Herring(SS-233) which was returning from patrol and was near her. The rendezvous was accomplished on that afternoon but heavy seas prevented the transfer. "Scorpion reports case under control." Scorpion was never seen or heard from again after her departure from that rendezvous. On 16 February 1944, Steelhead(SS-280) and Scorpion were warned that they were close together, and that an enemy submarine was in the vicinity.
No Japanese information indicates that the loss of the Scorpion was the result of enemy anti-submarine tactics. There were, however, several naval mine lines across the entrance to the Yellow Sea. The presence of these mine lines and the "restricted area" bounding them was discovered from captured Japanese Notices to Mariners at a much later date. In the meantime several submarines had made patrols in this area, crossing and recrossing the mine lines without incident, and coming safely home. It is probable that these mine lines were very thin, offering only about a 10 percent threat to submarines at maximum, and steadily decreasing in effectiveness with the passage of time. Scorpion was lost soon after these mines were laid, at a time when they were the greatest threat. She could have been an operational casualty, but her area consisted of water shallow enough so that it might be expected that some men would have survived. Since there are no known survivors, the most reasonable assumption is that she hit a mine.