The Library of Congress Veterans History Project Home 
Experiencing War: Stories from the Veterans History Project
Home » Robert Russell Hunt

"I felt if I'm good enough and they need me that bad, I'm just gonna go." (Video Interview, 3:51)

   Robert Russell Hunt
Collection image
Robert Hunt [2007]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Navy
Unit: USS Tambor
Service Location: Pacific Theater; Hunter Point, California; Wake Island; Midway
Rank: Chief
View Full Description

Torpedoman Robert Hunt served on the Tambor with Warren Link. His interview, done for the book We Were Pirates, by Robert Schultz and James Shell, reveals that he kept a wartime diary, forbidden by regulations. He even wrote in it once during an attack on a ship they were trying to prevent from taking supplies to the Japanese on Wake Island. Hunt was on 12 consecutive missions on the Tambor; he could have asked for a break but felt as long as he was needed and was doing his job, he would stay on. The Tambor was on patrol when Wake was attacked and was the first submarine to spot the approaching Japanese fleet for the Battle of Midway. His vivid description of San Francisco on V-J Day suggests what an exhilarating and frightening day that was, as he was attacked at one point by rioters.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (6 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (51 min.)
More like this
»Submarines: The Silent Service
 Video (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Going for 12 consecutive war patrols on the same boat under four different captains; many men sailed on different boats and on fewer patrols; system allowed for taking break after four patrols but he never did; you had to request a break in port, not at sea; if someone was having problems at sea, he was reassigned to mess duty until they reached port. (03:51) Wake Island attack; he was standing lookout and could see the fires from his station; damaged by a bomb and returning to Pearl Harbor for repairs; concerned they would actually make it back; stunned to silence by evidence of Dec. 7th attack. (07:43) During Battle of Midway, he was on port lookout; in dark, looking through glasses to horizon line for any irregularities; had to identify ship before shooting at it; seeing four blobs; bringing up equipment for signaling; diving to avoid contact; chasing damaged cruisers but unable to keep up; surfacing to get the word back to HQ. (09:44)
Keeping a diary against regulations; if captured, enemy could use information from it; a rat aboard the boat started gnawing on the glue in the binding; alone in torpedo room once, he actually wrote in it during attack on a supply boat headed for Wake Island; he would mark in the diary each time they fired on the enemy. (06:11) Worst depth charge attack; after they attacked a tanker, a destroyer went after them; diving to the bottom; shutting everything down to wait out the enemy; when they tried to move, the attack resumed; this went on for almost 17 hours; Hunt and his buddy Red were on sound gear, so captain joined them to listen for anything; as destroyer was right overhead, the sound was audible without equipment. (07:14) In San Francisco at Hunter's Point when the war ended; headed into town with buddies one day when they heard on the radio that Japan had surrendered; dancing in the street; lots of kissing and hugging; he jumped out on Market Street onto a cable car up the hill to where his apartment was; had promised his sub buddies that if he were alive and in San Francisco at the end of the war, he would wave a flag on Market Street for the guys who didn't make it; paid a kid $10 for a little flag; when he got back to Market, saw a riot in progress; rioters knocked him down and tried to take his uniform; got back on cable car and up the hill to one of his favorite bars; after a couple of drinks, fell into bed. (07:48)

Home » Robert Russell Hunt
  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
  Legal | External Link Disclaimer Need Help?   
Contact Us