Welcome to USSMarblehead.com

This site is dedicated to preserving the history of the U.S.S. Marblehead, its most defining moment - The Battle of Makassar Strait, and her defiant and improbable 90-day, 20,589-mile journey home, across the Indian and Atlantic Oceans in crippled condition, while the Japanese Imperial Command reported her sunk on several occasions and her sailors’ families, believed their sons were dead or in captivity. This site also includes the story of Corydon Wassell, M.D., and the wounded men from the USS Marblehead and USS Houston who were entrusted to his care.  It describes their perilous journey across Java, then down to the safety of Australia, and back home to America.

Finally, the site adds greater detail to the lives of the 761 sailors who were on the ship when she was bombed off the north coast of Java on 4 Feb 1942.  Who were they before and after World War II?  Their bravery, ingenuity, and dedication to saving the ship they affectionately referred to as Marby inspired millions of Americans who were badly in need of morale-boosting news in the early days of World War II.  Our purpose here is to preserve the memory of what they did for many generations to come.

Quick Link to Bios
Biographies of Crew (Work In Progress)

Did you know?
March 1 is Asiatic Fleet Day?

Please click the link below to expand a list of various documents that are available. This list may be periodically updated/changed.

If you run across any broken links, please report them to the Webmaster.
Thank you.

A special dedication...

To Raymond (Ray) Delos Kester (1920-2018) who passed away in October 2018. Ray served on the USS Marblehead and helped fine-tune details from this period and assisted in answering many questions from friends, relatives, and others interested in Marby’s inspiring story. Ray later served as President of the Reunion committees of the Marblehead, the Leedstown, and other ships, and eventually for the entire Asiatic Fleet. He was instrumental along with others in gaining recognition of the heroic efforts of the sailors of the Asiatic Fleet to halt slow the Japanese advance across Southeast Asia, efforts which eventually culminated in the dedication of 1 March as Asiatic Fleet Day. Ray rarely bid goodbye to anyone without adding the words “Be Happy!”

“The world is a dangerous place to live, not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it.”

Albert Einstein

U.S. Asiatic Fleet

Recognized by many awards for Valor, Meritorious Service, and Achievement — relegated to history, remembered by those who served — forgotten in contemporary history.

    In 1995 a committee was formed to organize a once-in-a-lifetime reunion of all former Asiatic Fleet sailors, and to obtain a Presidential proclamation for a Memorial Day on March 1st to give long overdue recognition to the Asiatic Fleet. It consisted of LT Walter Ashe, USN (Ret), USS ASHEVILLE; CAPT John "Jack”S laughter, USN (Ret), USS JOHN D. FORD; Clarence Wills, USS TRINITY; Charles Ankerberg, USS JOHN PAUL JONES; and Bernie Ibex, 4th Marines.

    They embarked on a tremendous letter writing and telephoning campaign.

    In 1997, U.S. Navy Asiatic Fleet Combined Forces reunion was celebrated at Arlington, Va.

    Senator John Warner (Va.) and Senator Jesse Helms (N.C.) took up the torch and introduced in the Senate provisions in a Bill commemorating the Navy and Marine Corps personnel serving in the Asiatic Fleet and honor those who gave their lives. Senator Strom Thurmond (S.C.) introduced the bill in the Senate. Congressmen Walter Jones (N.C.), Charles Taylor (N.C.), and Sherrod Brown (Ohio) were co-sponsors from the House.

    The Congress, by Public Law 105-261, on October 17, 1998, authorized and requested the President to issue a Proclamation in commemoration of the United States Navy Asiatic Fleet.

    In February 2000, with knowledge of a draft prepared in the Department of Defense, a special Combined Forces reunion was arranged in San Diego, Calif. The Navy Liaison Office advised they did not feel that the "Asiatic Fleet was deserving of a proclamation.” Accordingly, in lieu of a Proclamation, the White House chose to issue a "Greeting" for the planned commemoration day of March 1, 2000.

    A renewed extensive writing and telephone campaign to the newly elected administration resulted in Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, Congressman (III.), Senator Jesse Helms (N.C.), and others imploring the new President to issue the authorized proclamation. The pleas were acknowledged.

    On June 7, 2001, President George W. Bush signed the Proclamation that designated March l, 2002 as the Asiatic Fleet Memorial Day and called upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs. The U.S. Navy Asiatic Fleet Combined Forces reunion was celebrated February 26 to March 3, 2002, at Houston, Tex.

    Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert, represented the President at the memorial service aboard USS TEXAS (BB-35), a National Historic Landmark.

    The original signed Proclamation was presented to the United States Navy Memorial by CAPT John S. Slaughter, USN (Ret.), president U.S. Navy Asiatic Fleet Combined Forces reunion, and CWO-4 Ray D. Kester, USN (Ret.), president South China, Yangtze Patrols reunion. It is displayed in the Asiatic Fleet Room in the Navy Memorial's Naval Heritage Center. The Asiatic Fleet Room, funded by CAPT John P. Bracken, USNR (Ret.)(Signal Officer, Assistant Communications Officer and Ships Secretary aboard USS MARBLEHEAD 1941-1942), was dedicated as part of the 1997 U.S. Navy Asiatic Fleet Combined Forces reunion.

Comments and Information

This website was originally created by Craig Chariton, nephew of Donald Ellsworth Chariton (Machinist Mate 2c aboard Marby who was wounded at the time of her bombing). His father was Robert "Phil" Chariton who also served during WWII. The site is currently maintained by the sons of Ray Delos Kester (Radioman 2c) and Frank Verne Wade (Boatswain Mate 2c).  The site is undergoing constant updating, particularly with respect to sailor biographies, and your patience is much appreciated.  If you have any comments, corrections, and contributions concerning this Web site or if you have any information regarding the events, ships, aircraft or sailors, please feel free to share this with the Webmaster

Latest Updates

03/15/2019 - Site refresh begins
02/18/2019 - Added National Asiatic Fleet Day notice.
03/09/2016 - Corrected Harry Clifford Clephane link.

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