The Scorpion (SS-278)

In 1999, Fred Gahimer wrote:

“One of my wife’s brothers, Stanley Matthews, was a radioman aboard the Scorpion submarine (SS-278) in January 1944 when it disappeared and was presumed lost with a crew of 77 in the South China Sea. We have, over time, located other families of crewmen. In our conversations the common thread was that they did not feel closure. There was no body to bury. A cemetery marker gave us a place to visit and mourn, but we seemed cheated because we were unable to share our crewmen’s experiences because of the wartime censorship of correspondence.

I finally decided that what we needed was a history of the sub, and a brief history of each of the crewmen to record for succeeding generations that their crewman didn’t just join the Navy and die, but had a life, albeit short, crammed with rigorous training, exciting and perilous patrols against the Japanese, and festive shore leaves in Hawaii between patrols. I have compiled such a history which I have titled, “Scorpion Diary,” because it is virtually a day-by-day record of the activities on the sub. It consists mostly of the detailed Patrol Reports, the Deck Logs, and some background information.”

This section of the website is dedicated to the 77 crewmen of the USS Scorpion and their loved ones.

For the complete Scorpion Diary, see the following:

USS Scorpion Diary

2 Samuel 22:4-20

   I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and have been saved from my enemies. The waves of death swirled about me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me. The cords of the grave coiled around me; the snares of death confronted me.
   In my distress I called to the Lord; I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came to his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked, the foundations of the heavens shook; they trembled because he was angry. Smoke rose from his nostrils; consuming fire came from his mouth, burning coals blazed out of it.
   He parted the heavens and came down; dark clouds were under his feet. He mounted the cherubim and flew; he soared on the wings of the wind. He made darkness his canopy around him— the dark rain clouds of the sky. Out of the brightness of his presence bolts of lightning blazed forth.
   The Lord thundered from heaven; the voice of the Most High resounded. He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy, with great bolts of lightning he routed them. The valleys of the sea were exposed and the foundations of the earth laid bare at the rebuke of the Lord, at the blast of breath from his nostrils. He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.
   He rescued me from my powerful enemy, from my foes, who were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a spacious place; he rescued me because he delighted in me.
Launch of the Scorpion (SS-278), 20 July 1942.
Maximilian Gmelich Schmidt, Commander (Commanding Officer) of the Scorpion (SS-278) at the time of her loss.
Google Earth satellite photo of the East China & Yellow Seas, where the Scorpion’s (SS-278) last approximate position based during post-war debriefings. This position is thought to be the final resting place of the Scorpion and her crew.
The Daily Chronicle (De Kalb, IL), Wed., March 22, 1944
The News (Frederick Maryland) Wed., March 22, 1944
The Daily Chronicle (De Kalb, IL), Fri., Jan 25, 1946


Listing of Scorpion radiomen by patrol:

Radiomen by Patrol

US Navy rates and pay:

US Navy Rates and Pay

Example Scorpion casualty card:

Bill Saunders casualty card