February 26, 1944 -- 80 Men Lost
A beautiful 1.75-inch brass coin honoring the men of World War II who gave their lives fighting for our country...
The front of the coin honors the USS Grayback SS 208. The back has the following quote:
"To the 374 officers and 3131 men of the Submarine Force who gave their lives in the winning of this war, I can assure you that they went down fighting and that their brothers who survived them took a grim toll of our savage enemy to avenge their deaths."
-Vice Admiral C.A. Lockwood, Jr.
Commander Submarine Force, 1943 - 1946
About the USS Grayback...
The late Adm. "Skip" Lockwood (COMSUBPAC 1943-1946) once described Cmdr. Johnny Moore as "an aggressive leader who guided his charges into battle at full speed." As commanding officer of the USS Grayback (SS-208) during World War II, Cmdr. Moore used this dynamic approach in directing his vessel to sink nine enemy ships totaling 44,000 tons.
Overall, the ship is credited with sinking 22 enemy ships totaling 83,900 tons and damaging nine enemy ships totaling 49,300 tons during her ten war patrols. It was during the tenth and final patrol that the great ship met its ultimate fate.
At the beginning of the war, Grayback was under the command of Cmdr. Willard A. Saunders. Prior to Moore assuming command, the ship already had a deadly reputation. In 1942 alone Grayback, along with four other U.S. Submarines (Gudgeon, Tautog, Triton, and Seadragon) acting independently, combined to sink 81 enemy ships from Pearl Harbor to the East China Sea. It was a lethal group.
In 1943 Cmdr. Moore assumed command of Grayback and joined two other subs (USS Shad and USS Cero) to form the first rendition of Capt. Charles "Swede" Momsen's "wolf-pack" of Submarine Squadron Two. Generally, submarine skippers objected to "wolf-packing." They felt operating independently was more efficient and they all lived in dread that someday this method would sooner or later result in the sinking of one friendly submarine by another. Fear of friendly fire notwithstanding, "wolf-packing" was here to stay and Momsen's first group was just as deadly as the 1942 subs operating alone.
Cmdr. Johnny Moore lacked experience in fleet boats, but because of his excellent record of service in "R" and "S" boats, senior leaders believed he was headed for greatness. Moore was an athlete at the Naval Academy (boxing and soccer) and was considered one of his class leaders. "Professionally, Johnny was tops, and we placed him second to no one in the class," said Cmdr. Hank Munson, a former Academy classmate of Moore's. Cmdr. John MacGregor, commanding officer of "wolf-pack" partner USS Shad, labeled Moore as a "go-getter" with a "vivacious personality."
Following her success as a "wolf-pack" member in 1943 Grayback was tasked to operate independently the following year. The ship left Pearl Harbor on January 28, 1944, to begin her tenth and final patrol. The area of what was to be her last mission was located in the East China Sea east of the coast of Chekiang Province, China. After fueling up at Midway on February 3rd, the boat received orders to patrol the area running east and west between Luzon in the Philippine Islands and Formosa until sunset February 20th, and then to proceed to her original area of responsibility.
Grayback's first report came on February 24th, stating that she had sunk or damaged 44,000 tons of shipping thus far on patrol. The boat had expended the majority of her torpedoes and had only five aft and one forward remaining. The next day, February 25th, Moore reported to Lockwood at Submarine Headquarters in Pearl Harbor that he had fired four of his six remaining torpedoes and had damaged two more ships. Lockwood ordered Moore to return to Pearl Harbor immediately. The boat was never heard from again.
Grayback had been expected to arrive at Midway Island on or about March 7th. Had Moore failed to receive or understand Lockwood's order to come home immediately and remained on station the full time she would have reached Midway on or about March 23rd. On March 10th, in an effort to establish Grayback's position, Lockwood requested information from Moore regarding the best "hunting grounds" to locate and destroy enemy shipping. No reply was received, and on March 30th the Grayback was officially declared "Lost at Sea."
Japanese records state that on February 26th a carrier plane near Okinawa discovered a submarine on the surface about 300 miles east of Grayback's last reported position. According to the Japanese report, the aircraft landed a "direct hit at the sub which exploded and sank immediately." Surface craft continued the attack where the sub went down until bubbles, and a massive oil slick appeared. Had Moore received the message from Lockwood and headed home right away, Grayback would have been in the approximate position reported in the Japanese attack.
Moore and his crew of 80 officers and men are on eternal patrol and were posthumously awarded the Navy Unit Commendation.
UPDATE: The long-lost submarine, USS Grayback SS 208, was located on June 5, 2019, in about 1,427 feet underwater off Okinawa, Japan.
Would make an excellent addition to your collection or for your favorite sailor! Collect the entire series!
OPTIONAL: Our Air-Tite acrylic cases provide the ultimate long-term protection for your coin. They are made of crystal clear, hard Acrylic and will never yellow over time; the foam rings are made of Volara and both are free of PVC that could damage your coin.