Diemer, Lester E

Lester Emery Diemer was born on November 26, 1900 and lived in Spring City, Pennsylvania. He was the husband of  Kathryn (Trexler) Diemer of Norfolk, Virginia.  

Chief Petty Officer Diemer served 23 years in the U. S. Navy, and was the first Spring City man reported missing in WWII. Lester was initially reported missing in a telegram to his wife, Kathryn, and then relayed to his father.  As reported in a local newspaper on Sept. 21, 1942, it was not known whether he was a prisoner of the Japanese or a casualty. His last letter home was from somewhere in the Pacific, on July 31, 1942 and he last visited his father in June, 1941. His letter stated that he was in good health and that nothing else mattered until the end of the war.

The War Department declared Chief Petty Officer Diemer officially dead as of August 10, 1942. He was the Chief Fire Control Officer aboard the cruiser Vincennes CA44, which was sunk by the Japanese during the battle of Savo Island in the Solomons, on August 10, 1942. Lester is remembered on the Tablets of the Missing in Action at the Manila American Cemetery.
This is the same battle in which heroes John Horshock and Leff Yale perished on board the USS Quincy CA-39, and hero George Johnson died a few miles away on Tulagi, saving his patrol.

The Final Battle


Description of the final battle of the Vincennes CA44, courtesty of Wikepedia

The first Japanese searchlight beams picked out Vincennes' splotchy camouflage shortly after 01:55, and the American cruiser opened fire with her main battery turrets to shoot out the troublesome light. Within a minute, however, Japanese shells bracketed the ship and Vincennes shuddered under the impact of the hail of steel screaming in from the ebony sky. Bridge, carpenter shop, "battle II," and radio antenna trunks all were hit in the first salvo.
Altering course to port, Riefkohl - who had leapt to the bridge at the alarm - rang down for increased speed; but, in the deafening din of battle, and with his ship and internal communications disrupted, it is doubtful that the order was received. Still moving at 19.5 knots, the heavy cruiser reeled under the impact of another group of direct hits.
Some of the shells in this group set afire the volatile planes in Vincennes' hangar space, and the resultant flames defied all attempts to put them out. A direct hit knocked the after antiaircraft director overboard. At 02:00, Vincennes heeled to starboard in an attempt to evade the accurate enemy fire, but the probing Japanese gunners were not about to let the already sorely wounded ship escape. One or two "Long Lance" torpedoes then ripped into the ship's number 1 fire room and put it out of action.
Losing steering control five minutes later, Vincennes was dead in the water within minutes. Rapidly hitting shells quickly reduced the ship's gun power to a fraction of its original strength and before long, snuffed it out entirely. Like a pummeled and reeling challenger in the boxing ring, Vincennes wallowed to a halt. Hit at least 57 times by 8- and 5-inch shells, the ship gradually assumed a more alarming list.
As if mercifully, at 02:10, the Japanese ceased fire and retired, leaving Savo Island and the burning hulks of the three American cruisers of the northern force in their wakes. As Vincennes' list increased to port, Riefkohl circulated the command to abandon ship at 02:30. Serviceable life jackets and rafts were broken out, and the crew began abandoning ship. At 02:40, the captain went down to the main deck and joined the last men to leave the sinking cruiser and jumped into the tepid waters of what would come to be known as Ironbottom Sound.
Riefkohl subsequently wrote a fitting epitaph: "The magnificent Vincennes, which we were all so proud of, and which I had the honor to command since 23 April 1941, rolled over and then sank at about 02:50, 9 August 1942, about 2½ miles east of Savo Island ... Solomons Group, in some 500 fathoms [910 m] of water."
Struck from the Navy List on 2 November 1942, Vincennes was awarded two battle stars for her participation in the Battle of Midway and the invasion of Guadalcanal.


Research by Vince Lukach, WCMSC