San Antonio — The Progressive Retailers Organization was at the Westin La Cantera Hill Coun
Jules Steinberg’s contribution to America was considerably greater than what he did for CE retailing.
Like many men of his generation, Jules served in the military during World War II, in his case the Navy. In TWICE’s obituary of Jules it noted that he had sailed on the U.S.S. Heermann, a destroyer that saw action from November 1943 to the end of the war.
Although I do not know exactly when Jules joined the Heermann’s crew, there is a very good chance that he participated in one of the greatest naval surface actions to take place during the war. For a complete rundown on the Heermann’s war exploits, please visit this site.
In brief, Heermann was part of the escort for several small escort aircraft carriers during General Douglas MacArthur’s famous return to the Philipines in October 1944. She was accompanied by a couple of other destroyers and several even smaller warships called destroyer escorts.
In a last-ditch attempt to thwart the invasion, the Japanese Navy launched an all-out attack with its remaining battleships and cruisers in what became known as the Battle of Leyte Gulf — the largest naval action in history.
This fleet, which was just one part of the Japanese attack, consisted of four battleships, six heavy cruisers and numerous destroyers. It managed to stumble across the Heermann and her charges while searching for the amphibious force that was handling the invasion of the Philippines.
This mismatch of U.S. destroyers vs. Japanese battleships and cruisers should have quickly ended in defeat for the heavily outgunned Americans. However, the Heermann and her cohorts bravely charged the massive Japanese ships, causing such a ruckus and so severely damaging the larger ships that the Japanese commander was convinced he was facing a superior force and he retired his fleet.
The Americans suffered grievous losses, and the Heermannn was heavily damaged by a Japanese cruiser that she was attacking. The other American ships were all sunk or heavily damaged as well.
The Heermann’s action, and that of the other warships and warplanes in the area, saved the American transport ships that were anchored nearby and packed with soldiers headed toward the Philippines.
After being repaired, Heermann was also involved in one of the very last actions of the war. After the Japanese agreed to a cease fire following the nuclear attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the ship was attacked by a lone Japanese kamikaze while patrolling 200 miles off Tokyo. The plane was downed by the Heermann’s gunners.
I would have been very interested to hear Jules’ memories of these events, but I bring all this up to as a reminder. Memorial Day is only a week away, and we should all remember those not only for what they did in their professional career, but as young men or women fighting for their country on the other side of the world.