Berry, Vernon, MM2c

 Service Photo   Service Details
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Last Rank
Petty Officer Second Class
Last Primary NEC
MM-0000-Machinist's Mate
Last Rating/NEC Group
Machinists Mate
Primary Unit
1942-1943, USS Helena (CL-50)
Service Years
1941 - 1943
Official/Unofficial US Navy Certificates
Order of the Golden Dragon
Neptune Subpoena
MM-Machinists Mate

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

Home State
Year of Birth
Not Specified
This Military Service Page was created/owned by Nicole Summers, MMFN to remember Berry, Vernon, PO2.

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Casualty Info
Home Town
ST. Louis
Last Address
Not Specified

Casualty Date
Jul 06, 1943
Hostile, Died while Missing
Other Explosive Device
Solomon Islands
World War II/Asiatic-Pacific Theater/Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Kula Gulf
Location of Interment
Not Specified
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

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Order of the Shellback Order of the Golden Dragon

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Northern Solomon Islands Campaign (1943-44)/Battle of Kula Gulf
From Month/Year
July / 1943
To Month/Year
July / 1943

The naval Battle of Kula Gulf took place in the early hours of 6 July 1943 during World War II and was between United States and Japanese ships off the coast of Kolombangara in the Solomon Islands.
On 5 July, United States Navy Task Group 36.1 (TG 36.1)—commanded by Rear Admiral Walden L. Ainsworth and consisting of the light cruisers USS Honolulu (CL-48), USS St. Louis (CL-49), and USS Helena (CL-50), plus four destroyers, had received word of another "Tokyo Express" mission down "the Slot" in the Solomon Islands, and the task group proceeded northwest past New Georgia Island.

The Allies were in the process of launching their next offensive in the Solomon Islands, having just landed troops on the island of Rendova as a preliminary step to seizing the major Japanese airstrip at Munda on New Georgia Island. In support of this landing, which was to set up an initial beachhead for moving U.S. troops across Blanche Channel to New Georgia, Admiral Ainsworth had the night before conducted a cruiser bombardment of Vila on Kolombangara Island and Bairoko on New Georgia and, short of fuel and ammunition, was in the process of retiring to the Coral Sea to replenish. A U.S. Marine landing was scheduled on the northern shore of New Georgia on 10 July, that would require further naval support.

At 01:06 off Kolombangara, the task group came into contact with a Japanese reinforcement group commanded by Admiral Teruo Akiyama which consisted of ten destroyers loaded with 2,600 combat troops that were bound for Vila, which they used as a staging point for moving into Munda. The Japanese were divided into two forces, a formation of three escorts trailing the main column first came under attack.

The U.S. ships opened fire at 01:57, firing 612 shells in 21 minutes and six seconds, quickly sinking the destroyer Niizuki and killing Admiral Akiyama. However, Helena had expended all of her flashless powder the previous night, she was forced to use smokeless powder, thus illuminating herself to the Japanese ships with every salvo. Two of the Japanese destroyers launched their Long Lance torpedoes and hit Helena, fatally damaging her. The main Japanese force, which had countermarched away from Vila with the first contact, then broke away, having landed only 850 of the 2,600 troops. The Japanese destroyer Nagatsuki ran aground, while Hatsuyuki was damaged.

Both forces began to withdraw from the area, but one Japanese and two American destroyers remained to rescue survivors. At about 05:00, the destroyers Amagiri and USS Nicholas exchanged torpedoes and gunfire. Amagiri was hit and retired. The beached Nagatsuki was abandoned by her crew in the morning, she was bombed and destroyed by American aircraft.

The destroyers USS Radford and Nicholas both stayed behind to rescue survivors from Helena. While rescuing over 750 men, Radford and Nicholas had to reengage the enemy three times, they were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation for their rescue. Amagiri escaped and later rammed and cut in half the motor torpedo boat USS PT-109, captained by future President of the United States John F. Kennedy (1917-1963), in Blackett Strait southwest of Kolombangara on August 2.
My Participation in This Battle or Operation
From Month/Year
July / 1943
To Month/Year
July / 1943
Last Updated:
Mar 16, 2020
Personal Memories

After overhaul in Sydney, Australia, she was back at Espiritu Santo in March to participate in bombardments of New Georgia, soon to be invaded. The first goal on New Georgia proper was Rice Anchorage. In the force escorting the transports carrying the initial landing parties, Helena moved into Kula Gulf just Before midnight 4 July, and shortly after midnight on the 5th, her big guns opened up in her last shore bombardment.

My Photos From This Battle or Operation
No Available Photos

  77 Also There at This Battle:
  • Brosnan, Ryan
  • Garrett, Earl, PO2, (1941-1953)
  • Green, Richard, PO1, (1933-1945)
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