Chief Warrant Officer (Gunner)
Samuel "Sam" Kronberger WWI • WWII Pearl Harbor Survivor USS West Virginia • December 7th, 1941
Sam and two of his four sons, Robert and Edward,
were all aboard the West Virginia at the time of the attack
and are all listed as the Co-Founders of PHSA.
Service years National Naval Volunteers 1907-1917, USN 1917-1947
On December 7th, 1941, Sam Kronberger and two of his sons, Robert and Edward were serving aboard the battleship USS West Virginia. During the attack Sam was blown off the ship by a bomb explosion.
Sam enlisted in the National Naval Volunteers at Boston Massachusetts January, 7th, 1907, and was assigned to the gunboat USS Gloucester and later the USS Kearage. He was released from active duty in 1917 and immediately reported for duty aboard the battle ship USS Nebraska. He was a member of the boarding party that seized the German liner Crown Princess Cecilia and later served on the destroyer USS McCook.
All of Sam’s four sons, Richard, William, Robert and Edward followed in his footsteps by becoming navy men and making it their career. His daughter Dorothy also married a career navy man, Howard Kamler.
Richard was in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard December 7th, 1941. He retired after 30 years of naval service.
William was in the process of re-enlisting back in the States when Pearl Harbor was attacked. He retired after 30 years of naval service.
Robert was aboard the USS West Virginia and survived the Pearl Harbor attack. He retired with 37 years of naval service.
Edward Kronberger retired after 30 years of naval service and also survived the attack on Pearl Harbor aboard the USS West Virginia.
Dorothy’s husband, Howard Kamler, retired after 24 years of naval service.
"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.
Virginia Class Battleship: Displacement 14,948 Tons, Dimensions, 441' 3" (oa) x 76' 3" x 26' (Max) Armament 4 x 12"/40 8 x 8"/40, 12 x 6"/50 12 x 3"/50, 4 21" tt. Armor, 11" Belt, 12" Turrets, 3" Decks, 9" Conning Tower. Machinery, 19,000 IHP; 2 vertical, inverted, triple expansion engines, 2 screws. Speed, 19 Knots, Crew 812.
The following analysis is by historian Chuck Haberlein, formerly of the Naval Historical Center:
According to "Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1990" (by Stephen S. Roberts & K. Jack Bauer), three of the BB-13 class had their names changed on 7 March 1901 (before any of them were laid down). Battleship # 13 was originally named New Jersey. Battleship # 14 was originally to be Pennsylvania, and Battleship # 16 was to be Virginia. After the renaming, Virginia and New Jersey had swapped places, Nebraska (originally intended for Armored Cruiser # 4) swapped ships with Pennsylvania. Again, according to that book: "The construction of the first two ships (ie BBs 13 & 14) was delayed because of Congressional limitations on the price that could be paid for armor plate and because of lengthy debates within the navy on the arrangement of the guns" (presumably the superposed 8"/12" turrets). (my comments are in parentheses). Same book's Armored Cruiser # 4 class entry states: "The refusal of manufacturers to sell armor within the price limits set by Congress delayed the ships' construction." Both classes (BB-13 & ACR-4) were originally authorized in Fiscal Year 1900, but the first of them were not laid down until 7 August 1901 (Pennsylvania, as Armored Cruiser # 4) and 31 August 1901 (Georgia, as Battleship # 15). It looks to me like there may have been some political log rolling involved in the renaming. PERHAPS (this is purely a guess) some Pennsylvania politicos wanted "their" name on a ship ASAP, so it was given to the first available keel. Then again, maybe builder location had something to do with it. Cramp built Armored Cruiser # 4, while none of the Virginia class battleships were built in Pennsylvania.
Operational and Building Data: Laid down by Moran Brothers, Shipbuilding, Seattle WA., July 4 1902. Launched October 7 1904. Commissioned July 1 1907. Decommissioned July 2 1920. Stricken July 12 1922.
Fate: Sold November 30 1923 and broken up for scrap.
Other Memories Sam enlisted in the National Naval Volunteers at Boston Massachusetts January, 7th, 1907, and was assigned to the gunboat USS Gloucester and later the USS Kearage. He was released from active duty in 1917 and immediately reported for duty aboard the battle ship USS Nebraska. He was a member of the boarding party that seized the German liner Crown Princess Cecilia and later served on the destroyer USS McCook.