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PART 2 (The Crew) Memories . Sea Stories . History . Special Notes

ROOKS, ALBERT HAROLD Medal of Honor Citation:

Rank and organization: Captain, U.S. Navy. Born: 29 December 1891, Colton, Wash. Appointed from: Washington. Citation: for extraordinary heroism, outstanding courage, gallantry in action and distinguished service in the line of his profession, as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Houston during the period 4 to 27 February 1942, while in action with superior Japanese enemy aerial and surface forces. While proceeding to attack an enemy amphibious expedition, as a unit in a mixed force, Houston was heavily attacked by bombers; after evading 4 attacks, she was heavily hit in a fifth attack, lost 60 killed and had 1 turret wholly disabled. Capt. Rooks made his ship again seaworthy and sailed within 3 days to escort an important reinforcing convoy from Darwin to Koepang, Timor, Netherlands East Indies. While so engaged, another powerful air attack developed which by Houston's marked efficiency was fought off without much damage to the convoy. The commanding general of all forces in the area thereupon canceled the movement and Capt. Rooks escorted the convoy back to Darwin. Later, while in a considerable American-British-Dutch force engaged with an overwhelming force of Japanese surface ships, Houston with H.M.S. Exeter carried the brunt of the battle, and her fire alone heavily damaged 1 and possibly 2 heavy cruisers. Although heavily damaged in the actions, Capt. Rooks succeeded in disengaging his ship when the flag officer commanding broke off the action and got her safely away from the vicinity, whereas one-half of the cruisers were lost.

*Footnote(from webmaster): The rest were lost the following day in the Battle of Sunda Strait as Capt Waller of the HMAS Perth and Capt Rooks of USS Houston took their ships into the heart of a second Japanese Battle Fleet and battled to their deaths.  Several other ships involved in the evacuation of Java  were lost South of Java by March 4.  Some were lost without a trace and with no survivors.


Captain Waller of the Australian Navy was the senior officer remaining after the Battle of the Java Sea. He commanded HMAS Perth (a light cruiser). Capt. Rooks commanded the heavy cruiser USS Houston. All the other cruisers had been lost, including the Dutch Cruisers Java and DeReuter and the British Cruiser Exeter, not to mention numerous Allied destroyers and one US Submarine(USS Perch). On rounding the West end of Java, Perth and Houston ran into a second, fresh Japanese Battle Fleet. They were both nearly out of ammunition and with barely the fuel to make it back to Australia.  Waller ordered an attack.  It was too late to try to outrun or outmaneuver the enemy fleet.  The Battle of Sunda Strait was their last . HMAS Perth survivors and USS Houston Survivors are bonded for life from thier final battle and POW experience. Check out the HMAS Perth sites you will find linked in our Houston site. 




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