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.
The fourth and final ship of the Colorado Class Battleship, USS West Virginia (BB-48) was laid down at Newport News Shipbuilding on April 12, 1920. Construction moved forward and on November 19, 1921, it slid down the ways with Alice W. Mann, daughter of West Virginia coal magnate Isaac T. Mann, serving as sponsor. After another two years of work, West Virginia was completed and entered commission on December 1, 1923, with Captain Thomas J. Senn in command.
: Displacement 32,600 Tons, Dimensions, 624' (oa) x 97' 4" x 31' 4" (Max). Armament 8 x 16"/45 14 x 5"/51, 4 x 3"/50AA 2 x 21" tt.Armor, 13 1/2" Belt, 18" Turrets, 3 1/2" + 1 1/2" Decks, 16" Conning Tower. Machinery, 28,900 SHP; Turbines with Electric Drive, 4 screws. Speed, 21 Knots, Crew 1080. Operational and Building Data: Laid down by Newport News Shipbuilding, Newport News, VA, April 12, 1920.
Launched November 19, 1921. Commissioned December 1, 1923. Decommissioned January 9, 1947. Stricken March 1, 1959. Fate: Sold August 2, 1959 and broken up for scrap.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) - Pearl Harbor:
On the morning of December 7, 1941, West Virginia was moored along Pearl Harbor's Battleship Row, outboard of USS Tennessee (BB-43), when the Japanese attacked and pulled the United States into World War II. In a vulnerable position with its port side exposed, West Virginia sustained seven torpedo hits (six exploded) from Japanese aircraft. Only rapid counter-flooding by the battleship's crew prevented it from capsizing. The damage from the torpedoes was exacerbated by two armor-piercing bomb hits as well as a massive oil fire started following the explosion of USS Arizona(BB-39) which was moored aft. Severely damaged, West Virginia sank upright with little more than its superstructure above the water. In the course of that attack, the battleship's commander, Captain Mervyn S. Bennion, was mortally wounded. He posthumously received the Medal of Honor for his defense of the ship.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) - Rebirth:
In the weeks after the attack, efforts to salvage West Virginia commenced. After patching the massive holes in the hull, the battleship was refloated on May 17, 1942 and later moved to Drydock Number One. As work commenced 66 bodies were found trapped in the hull. Three located in a storeroom appear to have survived until at least December 23.
After extensive repairs to the hull, West Virginia departed for Puget Sound Navy Yard on May 7, 1943. Arriving, it underwent a modernization program that dramatically altered the battleship's appearance. This saw the construction of a new superstructure which included trunking the two funnels into one, a greatly enhanced anti-aircraft armament, and elimination of the old cage masts. In addition, the hull was widened to 114 feet which precluded it from passing through the Panama Canal. When complete, West Virginia looked more similar to the modernized Tennessee-class battleships than those from its own Colorado-class.
Chain of Command Service years National Naval Volunteers 1907-1917, USN 1917-1945
Other Memories 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.