A widow’s story : WWII sailor cheats death after surviving a Japanese torpedo blast and bloody shark attacks leaving 370 men dead.

Posted October 14, 2016

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eaman First Class Kenneth Guyatt was serving in the United States Navy aboard the USS Quincy, a New Orleans – class cruiser armed to the teeth, in July 1942 as she set sail for the South Pacific to provide support in what would be the invasion of Guadalcanal. Prior to the Marines invading Guadalcanal, the Quincy destroyed several Japanese installations and oil depots during the bombardment of Lunga Point, which is where 11,000 Marines would later land in order to control the Japanese airfield on the northern point of the island.

Attack on the USS Quincy

Seaman Guyatt, 20, was sleeping on August 9, 1942 during a night patrol when a large Japanese naval force attacked. At 2:16 in the morning a torpedo from the Japanese sub, Aoba, hit the Quincy, sinking her bow first, at 2:38 leaving 370 men dead and 167 men wounded. According to Margaret Guyatt, Ken’s widow, “He always told me the water was red from all the blood, all of the death. Every year on the anniversary of that night he was always very quiet and not his normal self.” Ken survived the shark attacks during the night and managed not to drown before the USS Ellet rescued 493 men out of the water and transported them back to Pearl Harbor where they received medical care. Regarding the sharks that night Mr. Guyatt would later recall that,

“The big ones (sharks) would swim right by you, brush against you but wouldn’t bite. We knew they were already full.”

Back home in Pennsylvania

All while this is happening in the South Pacific, back home in Pennsylvania, Ken’s mother Gladys woke up during the night to find Ken’s framed picture had fallen off of her dresser and shattered on the floor. According to Margaret, Gladys looked at her husband Christopher and said frantically, “Something is wrong with Kenny, something has happened.” Of course something did happen but Kenny would make it home safely.

Ken later married Margaret and they lived happily together for 27 years. This hero would pass away on October 28, 2015 in Clearwater, Florida with Margaret by his side. She found it appropriate that her husband’s remains were scattered in the Atlantic by the United States Navy aboard the USS Cole in July of 2016. At the end of our interview Margaret said with a grin,

“He gave up so much of himself that night in the water, it is only fitting that he be returned to the water only this time there is no blood.”

Thank you Mrs. Guyatt for sharing your husbands story with us.

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Memorial Service for Kenneth Guyatt aboard the USS Cole. Photo courtesy of Margaret Guyatt.