Clear Lake VFW Post 4868 has been presented with a very special treasure.
Dorothy Dudgeon, widow of Shirley Dudgeon who passed away in 2008, presented the VFW with an American Flag that was flown at Pearl Harbor. Shirley Dudgeon and his brother, Floyd, were Pearl
Harbor survivors both assigned in 1941 to the USS Helena.
Shirley and his brother graduated from Britt High School in 1939 and shortly after enlisted in the US Navy. Shirley was in the USS Helena engine room when General Quarters were sounded on Dec. 7, 1941. He said the first thing he saw when he opened the hatch on the deck of the Helena was the Rising Sun decal on the side of a Japanese plane.
He was honorably discharged in October of 1945 as a Chief Motor Mechanic. Returning home, he married Dorothy in March of 1946. The couple farmed south of Clear Lake for many years until retiring and then moved into Clear Lake.
Shirley and his brother, Floyd, also had two other brothers, Wayne and Dale, who served in World War II. Ellis Dudgeon, the boys’ father served in World War I and was extremely proud of his boys.
Shirley and Dorothy attended the 50th Anniversary Reunion in Hawaii in 1991. In recalling his service, Floyd said he had been thankful to be assigned to the newly commissioned U.S.S. Helena, a light cruiser 608-feet long and 78-feet wide, docked in New York, but not bound for the dangerous Atlantic and German torpedoes. After training missions, speed runs and gunnery practice off the shore of Maine, they sailed to South America on goodwill missions. The Helena steamed back to New York, down to Cuba and through the Panama Canal on way to its new assignment, hunt down enemy submarines in the Pacific. The Helena and her crew returned from two weeks patrolling the Pacific for Japanese on the morning of Dec. 6.
The explosion from a torpedo launched at the Helena Dec. 7 tore a hole large enough to hold a house, Dudgeon recalled. It knocked him from his locker, across a room and into a bench. While running to his battle station in the engine room Dudgeon witnessed the destruction of the torpedo. It had created a fire ball that roared through corridors and open compartments, incinerating everything in its path. - Read More Via e-Edition