TORPEDOMAN'S MATE THIRD CLASS ELWOOD KENNETH VAN HORN was born in Camden NJ around 1920 to Elwood and Matilda Van Horn. He lived most of his life in Westmont NJ, and was known to friends and family as Ken.
After volunteering for submarine duty, he was assigned to the USS Swordfish SS-193. The Swordfish was lost with all hands on her thirteenth war patrol, in January of 1945.
USS SWORDFISH (SS-193)
Built before the war, USS SWORDFISH was SARGO class submarine, carrying a crew of 5 officers and 50 enlisted men. Built at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA. she was commisioned on 22 July 19439 with Lt. Chester C. Smith in command. Following shakedown and post-shakedown repairs at Mare Island, USS SWORDFISH (SS-193) operated out of San Diego, CA until early 1941, when she set sail for Pearl Harbor. On 3 November, SWORDFISH, in company with three other U.S. submarines, departed Pearl, and on 22 November, arrived at Manila, Philippine Islands. The submarine remained at Manila until the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. The following day, she set sail on her first war patrol, conducted off the coast of Hainan, China. After damaging several enemy vessels on the 9th, 11th, and 14th, SWORDFISH sank her initial victim of the war on 16 December. Hit amidships by one of three torpedoes, the cargo ship erupted in a cloud of smoke and flames and disappeared beneath the waves. On 27 December, SWORDFISH embarked the organizational staff of the Submarine Asiatic Command Staff at Manila and headed for Soerabaja, Java, arriving on 7 January 1942.
SWORDFISH departed Soerabaja on 16 January for her second war patrol, conducted in the Celebes Sea and in the Philippines. On 24 January, she torpedoed and sank a cargo ship off Kema, Celebes Islands. On 20 February, she submerged in the entrance of Mariveles, Luzon, only to surface after dark to take on board the President of the Philippines and his family. She departed through a minefield and arrived at Jan Jose, Panay, Philippine Islands on the 22nd, where the President and his party were transferred to a motor tender. SWORDFISH then returned to Manila Bay and embarked the High Commissioner of the Philippines, arriving Fremantle, Western Australia, on 9 March.
SWORDFISH got underway from Fremantle on 1 April for her third war patrol, with her primary mission being to deliver 40 tons of provisions tot he besieged island of Corregidor. However, Corregidor fell to the Japanese before the mission could be carried out and the submarine was ordered to patrol in the vicinity of Ambon Island. The only ships sighted were beyond effective range, and the submarine returned to Fremantle on 1 May.
Departing Fremantle for her fourth war patrol on 15 May, SWORDFISH was in the South China Sea on 29 May where she sank a 1,900-ton cargo ship and was in the Gulf of Siam on 12 June where she torpedoed and sank another cargo ship. The submarine returned to Fremantle on 4 July.
Although her fifth war patrol, conducted in the Sulu Sea, and her sixth was patrol, conducted in the Solomon Islands, were unproductive, during her seventh war patrol SWORDFISH sank a 4,122-ton cargo ship on 19 January 1942. Returning to Pearl Harbor on 23 February, the submarine underwent overhaul until 29 July, when she got underway for her eighth war patrol.
On 22 August, she sighted her first target of the patrol, and quickly sent the cargo ship to the bottom, the victim of two torpedo hits. A convoy was intercepted on 5 September, and SWORDFISH damaged a large tanker before sinking a cargo ship. The submarine concluded this patrol at Brisbane, Australia, on 20 September.
SWORDFISH's ninth war patrol lasted only three weeks. Shortly after reaching her assigned patrol area, material defects were discovered, and the submarine had to return to port.
On the day after Christmas 1943, SWORDFISH departed for her tenth war patrol, conducted in Tokyo Bay. On 14 January 1944, she sank a passenger-cargo ship and two days later sank a converted gunboat. On 27 January, she fired two torpedoes at a converted salvage vessel which broke in half and sank. SWORDFISH terminated her tenth patrol at Pearl Harbor on 7 February.
SWORDFISH put to sea on 13 March for her eleventh war patrol, conducted in the Mariana Islands. Although several enemy ships were damaged during this patrol, no sinkings could be confirmed; and the submarine returned to Majure on 29 April.
SWORDFISH's twelfth war patrol was conducted in the area of the Bonin Islands. On 9 June, the submarine found a Japanese destroyer clearly illuminated against the horizon and sank the enemy ship with two torpedoes from her bow tubes. On 15 June, she torpedoed and sank a cargo ship. The remainder of the patrol was unproductive, and the submarine terminated her twelfth patrol at Pearl Harbor on 30 June.
On 22 December, SWORDFISH departed Pearl Harbor to conduct her thirteenth war patrol, in the vicinity of Nansei Shoto. She topped off with fuel at Midway on 26 December and left that day for her area. In addition to her regular patrol, SWORDFISH was to conduct photographic reconnaissance of Okinawa, for preparation of the Okinawa Campaign.
On 2 January, SWORDFISH was ordered to delay carrying out her assigned tasks in order to keep her clear of the Nansei Shoto area until completion of carried based air strikes which were scheduled. She was directed to patrol the general vicinity of 30!N; 132!E until further orders were received. In the last communications received from SWORDFISH, she acknowledged receipt of these orders on 3 January.
On 9 January 1945, SWORDFISH was directed to proceed to the vicinity of Okinawa to carry out her special mission. It was estimated that the task would not take more than seven days after arrival on station, which she should have reached on 11 January. Upon completion of her mission, SWORDFISH was to proceed to Saipan, or to Midway if she was unable to transmit by radio. Since neither place had seen her by 15 February, and repeated attempts to raise her by radio had failed, she was reported as presumed lost, victim of unknown causes.
USS SWORDFISH (SS-193) earned eight battle stars for World War II service.
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