Depoe Bay Memorial Wall…Honoring Lt. Ralph W. Elden, US Navy WWII who died at sea while serving on the USS Hammann (DD412)…

by | Jan 19, 2013

IUSS Hammann (DD-412)
USS Hammann (DD412) – Was sunk by enemy torpedo fire while preparing to assist in salvaging the damaged USS Yorktown during the Battle of Midway…  Many US Navy heroes were lost on that day in June of 1942, including Lt. Ralph W. Elden.

Lieutenant Ralph W. Elden, US Navy, presented the Navy Cross posthumously and is memorialized on the Depoe Bay Memorial Wall.


“For extraordinary heroism and extreme disregard of personal safety as Executive Officer of the U.S.S. Hammann during action against enemy Japanese forces near Midway Island on June 6, 1942.  When the Commanding Officer was temporarily disabled, Lieutenant Elden immediately took charge and, with cool courage and unfailing presence of mind, continued to direct abandon ship operations aboard the rapidly sinking vessel until the decks were completely awash and he went down into the sea.  A few seconds thereafter he was killed by an underwater explosion.  While faithfully and efficiently performing his duties he gallantly gave up his life in the service of his country.”

For the President

Frank Knox
Secretary of the Navy
Photo # NH 63494-KN:  Frank Knox, Secretary of the Navy 1940-1944. Portrait by John Johansen

There are heroes all around us.  Sometimes they are memorialized in small towns like Depoe Bay, Oregon.  Lt. Ralph W. Elden is such a hero.  Lt. Elden died at sea while serving on the USS Hammann (DD-412) while participating in the Battle of Midway in June of 1942.  Many of my fellow neighbors and tourists walk by the Memorial Wall each day and are reminded of the sacrifices of so many Americans over many generations and wars. 

I decided to stop at the Memorial Wall for awhile yesterday with my wife Judy to enjoy the beautiful sunny warm weather and ocean breeze.  While looking at the names I noted “Lt. Ralph W. Elden, US Navy WWII” and decided to learn more.  I was especially curious because Lt. Elden died in 1942, which one can easily assume he perished at sea during WWII.  I was completely blown away with discovering all the historical facts about Lt. Elden’s heroism during the Battle of Midway.  I hope his family survivors see this and contact me.  I would like to do a follow-up story and provide even more history regarding one of our treasured heroes of WWII, Lt. Ralph W. Elden, US Navy…

We can honor generations of American heroes by taking just a little extra time out of our day to stop for a moment and read the names of so many engraved on the Depoe Bay Memorial Wall.  There are memorials all over America in small rural towns where heroes like Lt. Elden should not be forgotten…  See the full account of the USS Hammann in the “Report of Action” on the following website…

Steve Sparks
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story

About the author

Steve Sparks is a retired information technology sales and marketing executive with over 35 years of industry experience, including a Bachelors’ in Management from St. Mary’s College. His creative outlet is as a non-fiction author, writing about his roots as a post-WWII US Navy military child growing up in the 1950s-1960s.
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