JAMES ROY HAZELWOOD (SEAL)(MDV)
The Blast 3d Quarter 2003
I would like to provide additional
information on LCDR JAMES ROY HAZELWOOD. Previously, I had submitted a Wake
Island Detachment Photo and Called Chief Hazelwood ‘ROY". That was what
be was referred to in UDT-1 1 UNLESS IT WAS CHIEF. I had the pleasure of having
Master Chief Hazelwood as my Platoon Chief and as Jim Barnes said "he was a
When Chief Hazelwood first came to Team 11,
his reputation preceded him. He was known; for going shark hunting with
"power heads", and was fearless. Another story was that he was diving
in the Caribbean and found a Rolex watch that was encrusted with coral. He
corresponded with Rolex, thinking they would really jump on the promotion of
their product, since it started running as soon as he shook it. Rolex - in a
nonchalant way said that "all of our products will perform like that"
or something to that effect. As previously stated Chief Hazelwood was in my
Platoon and he went with me to do Cable repairs at Wake Island (Photo previously
Upon our return, the Navy came out with a
program for Chiefs with 18 years or more, could apply for a commission. I
encouraged "Roy" to apply and also gave him an outstanding
endorsement. We submitted the application and then departed for Kwajalein for
another Cable Job. While there many incidents happened that I believe you will
enjoy. Chief Hazelwood was a Master Diver and a physical Horse—he always ran
wherever he went and prided himself in his abilities both mental and physical.
While at Kwajalein Island proper, we worked
long hours blowing channels and laying the cable. We also conducted Aqua Lung
classes for some of the people with the installation. We had a couple of
engineers who were always trying to trip up the Chief (who was our senior
Instructor). One evening the Chief was going thru some Diving Physics and
equations. These engineers immediately hopped on the Chief about the math
portion. "Roy", paused like he was baffled and them slowly and
diligently went thru a long formulation and made their jaws pop—Roy was
self-educated and was a Whiz at Math, Geometry and Calculus.
Needless to say-from that point on the
Class paid close attention and were very grateful for his expertise. There also
were a couple more incidents that were memorable—LT ANDERSON (OINC) and LTJG
Harry Mackenzie lived in quarters some distance from the men’s barracks and we
had a 4X4 for transportation. One morning we went out and all four tires were
Flat. Lt Sorenson (cousin to PRESIDENT KENNEDY’S SPEECH WRITER) asked if we
would like a ride to the UDT Barracks—We said sure— We rode up and all at
once everybody was after SN Gerald Berg and SN Ted Matheson to pay up. It seems
that Matheson and Berg had been taking bets that we would walk to work. It was
obvious who had let the air out of the tires. I turned to the Chief and said,
" I’ll let you handle those energetic Seamen". Chief Hazelwood,
found a hand-Tire pump and made them pump up the four tires to 35 lbs. That was
quite a chore and a valuable lesson.
The other incident was off the Island of
Aniwetoc (not the Atom Bomb Island), and we were laying explosive. The Chief was
always a perfectionist and ready to go, his diving partner was James Pahia.
Pahia was slower in getting ready and The Chief was already in the water- He
submerged and was down just a short duration when he popped to the surface and
"Stepped on the Bow of the LCM", He was speechless and looked at Pahia-who
was still standing on the ramp. He walked over and punched him in the Arm. After
a few minute he compose himself- he explained that he was under the LCM and
something bumped him hard on the arm, he thought it was Pahia. It happened again
and he turned and saw about a 20 foot Great White Shark.
The Chief received his orders for Knife and Fork school,
and had to depart before the job was completed, but he was always impeccable and
dedicated to his duties. He received orders to a ship and then to the East
We were going thin Parachute Training at Fort Benning and
Ens. Hazelwood was going thru at the same time—He had to get a waiver because
of his age. However, he out performed many of the younger men. James Roy
Hazelwood’s brother was going through Jump Training at the same time (Army)
and he was going to quit. Roy told him that isn’t the Hazelwood tradition and
really chewed him out. They both graduated.
This was during the time that President Kennedy was
assassinated. They bunched up three classes to make up the delay in the schedule
– They had jump with over 20 knots of wind and jumpers scattered all over the
place. However, all the Frogs completed the jump without incident. UDT-11 Robbie
Robinson was Honor Man of the Class and "Roy Hazelwood received special
recognition for being one of the Oldest in the Class.
song: Eye of the Tiger
CV2 (Originally CC-1), 1927-1942
USS Lexington, a 33,000-ton aircraft carrier, was converted
while under construction from the battle cruiser of the same name. Built at
Quincy, Massachusetts, and commissioned in December 1927, Lexington was one of
the U.S. Navy's first two aircraft carriers that were large and fast enough to
be capable of serious fleet operations. During the late 1920s, through the 1930s
and into the early 1940s,
she took an active part in the development of carrier techniques, fleet doctrine
and in the operational training of a generation of Naval Aviators.
displacement: 41,000 tons
length: 888 feet
beam: 105½ feet
draft: 32 feet
speed: 34¼ knots
complement: 2,122 crew
armament: 8 eight-inch and 12 five-inch guns
My friend and shipmate, Jim Hazelwood was an
enlisted man in the U.S. Navy during WWII. He was ship’s company on the USS
Lexington when it came under attack attack by several Japanese torpedo bombers
as described in the book, "Queen of the Flat-Tops." Jim’s battle
station was atop the ship’s island about 60 feet above the flight deck. Around
the upper rim of the island was a catwalk with a platforms for machine gun
mounts. At 1121 hours the Lex was under attack by torpedo and dive bombers. All
of the ship’s batteries were in action and the the blast of the second torpedo
that struck Lex on her port side was almost inaudible because of the extreme
noise of her weapons.
Jim was manning his 50 cal machine gun when
a light bomb hit the Lex’s funnel. It exploded and kills and wounds several
men on the catwalk. Moments later, the Zero dive bombers machine guns wounds and
kills many more of the men around the catwalk. Jim told me about the sudden
moaning eerie wail of the Lex’s steam siren. It seems that a jap bomb struck
and kinked the metal tube in which the lanyard, operating the whistle from the
bridge was housed. When the tube bent it pulled the lanyard tight causing the
whistle to continue to hoot and moan until somebody turned off the steam to it.
The Japanese did not sink the Lex. They
damaged her to a degree that secondary internal fires created an inferno that
cooked off airplane fuel and some 20,000 pounds of torpedo war-head guncotton.
The ship was abandoned because all resources to fight the fires and continue
damage control were 100% out of commission. She became an internal infrerno.
One of our Destroyers sank her with two torpedoes.
Jim Hazelwood, also told me that he had to
swim away from the Lex which was drifting towards some of the men in the water.
She drifted away and floated down wind leaving a stream of swimmers and loaded
rafts strung out for nearly 1,000 yards. It is speculated that shark attacks
were not reported probably because of the the repeated heavy explosions that may
have scared the sharks away and also perhaps of the abundance of fish that were
killed great distances from the Lex.
Jim Hazelwood found himself , by the grace of God, alive
and swimming among his shipmates whose thoughts were, "we are only a 400
mile swim from Australia." The survivors were rescued by the Carrier and
Destroyers that were part of that Task Force and from Australia were shipped
back to the States. Jim had met the "White Elephant!" in the Battle of
the Coral Sea, 7-8 May 1942.
In early May 1942, Lexington returned to the
South Pacific in time to join USS Yorktown (CV-5) in successfully countering the
Japanese offensive in the Coral Sea. On 7 and 8 May 1942 her planes helped sink
the small Japanese aircraft carrier Shoho and participated in attacks on the
large carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku. In turn, however, she was the target of
Japanese carrier planes and received two torpedo and three bomb hits. Though
initial damage control efforts appeared to be successful, she was racked by
gasoline explosions in the early afternoon of 8 May. When the fires raged out of
control, Lexington was abandoned by her crew and scuttled, the first U.S.
aircraft carrier to be lost in World War II.
Lexington's task force sortie from Pearl Harbor 15 April,
rejoiningTF 17 on 1 May 1942. As Japanese fleet concentrations threatening the
Coral Sea were observed, Lexington and Yorktown moved into the sea to search for
the enemy's force covering a projected troop movement the Japanese must now he
blocked in their southward expansion, or sea communication with Australia and
New Zealand would be cut, and the dominions threatened with invasion.
On 7 May search planes reported contact with an enemy
carrier task force, and Lexington's air group flew an eminently successful
mission against it, sinking light carrier Shoho. Later that day, 12 bombers and
15 torpedo planes from still unlocated heavy carriers Shokaku and Zuikoku were
intercepted by fighter groups from Lexington and Yorktown, who splashed nine
On the morning of the 8th, a Lexington plane located
Shoksku group; a strike was immediately launched from the American carriers, and
the Japanese ship heavily damaged.
The enemy penetrated to the American carriers at 1100 and
20 minutes later a torpedo to port struck Lexington. Seconds later, a second
torpedo hit to port directly abreast the bridge. At the same
time, she took three bomb hits from enemy dive-bombers, producing a 7° list to
port and several raging fires. By 1300 her skilled damage control parties had
brought the fires under control and returned the ship to even keel; making25
knots, she was ready to recover her air group. Then suddenly Lexington was
shaken by a tremendous explosion, caused by the ignition of gasoline vapors
below, and again fire raged out of control. At 1508 Capt. Frederick C. Sherman,
fearing for the safety of men working below, secured salvage operations, and
ordered all hands to the flight deck. At 1707, he ordered,"abandon
ship!" and the orderly disembarkation began, men going over the side into
the warm water, almost immediately to be picked up by nearby cruisers and
destroyers. Admiral Fitch and his staff transferred to cruiser Minneapolis,
Captain Sherman and his executive officer, CDR. M. T. Seligman insured all their
men were safe, then were the last to leave their ship.
Lexington blazed on, flames shooting hundreds of feet into
the air. A destroyer closed to 1500 yards and fired two torpedoes into her hull,
with one last heavy explosion, the gallant Lexington sank at 1956, in 15°20'S.
1oo°30' E. She was part of the price that was paid to halt the Japanese oversee
empire and safeguard Australia and New Zealand, but perhaps an equally great
contribution had been her pioneer role in developing the naval aviatorsand the
techniques which played so vital a role in ultimate victory in thePacific.
Lexington received two battle stars for World War II
'didn't want a lot of hoopla'
By Ron Brown / Lynchburg News &
Hazelwood believed that service to his country was a duty. Fanfare was a matter
So it seems fitting that he will be buried
today in a quiet ceremony at the Carwile Family Cemetery in Gladys.
The 85-year-old veteran of three American
wars died earlier this week from complications from a stroke.
"He didn’t want a lot of
hoopla," said his son, Tom. "He just felt like he was one person among
many who have served their country. If there was going to be a fuss over him, he
felt that there should be a fuss made over all vets."
That type of humility, coupled with quiet
strength, is what endeared him to his family, friends and fellow veterans.
"He was a warrior," his son said.
Hazelwood’s military record reads like a
chronicle of distinguished service awards.
He was a survivor of Pearl Harbor and was
wounded during the sinking of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in World War II
during the Battle of the Coral Sea.
As a Navy diver, he was wounded while
placing two markers on the beach before the Marine landing at Iwo Jima.
He fought again in Korea and Vietnam.
He also served on diving teams that provided
splashdown rescue for astronauts on NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space
He won the Silver Star and
was awarded two Purple Hearts as
a result of his combat experiences.
In his own understated way, he once summed
up his military record like this:
"My greatest accomplishment is being a
survivor of 32 years of hard Navy service."
Terry L. Jamerson, who met him about a
decade ago at the Lynchburg Area Detachment Marine Corps League, viewed his
record much more generously.
"As part of our ‘Greatest
Generation,’ he was a leader among men and a true American hero that may never
receive the recognition he deserves from all of us," Jamerson said.
Those who knew him believe Hazelwood
wouldn’t have had it any other way.
"He didn’t brag," said Ben
Brenneman, who met Hazelwood in the late 1980s as they both rode with the
Lynchburg Bicycle Club when Hazelwood was well into his 70s.
Some said Hazelwood was going on 25-mile
bicycle rides as he approached the age of 80.
Jamerson said that persona fits with the
aura of a Navy Seal, which Jamerson said is among America’s fighting elite.
"Most Marines look up to Navy Seals as
being tougher than we are," Jamerson said.
But it was on the home front where
Hazelwood’s toughness shone through as he helped his wife of 59 years, Della,
fight the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease.
It was in that battle that Hazelwood
consummated his reputation as a warrior and the embodiment of the Marine’s
"Semper Fi," Jamerson said.
» Contact Ron Brown at email@example.com or
Doc Riojas NOTE: I spoke with my
Friend, Tom Hazelwood, Jim's son about obtaining a picture of Jim in USNAvy
Dress uniform. I never got it, but that's OK.
Tom said that Jim had a stroke, was taken to
the hospital and the next day he died. Della, Jim's wife suffers
from the advanced stages of Alzheimer's Disease and he was her primary care
giver. I understand their daughter will continue taking care of her mother
I last sat and chatted with Jim at the UWSS
reunion at Little Creek Va. May 2002. He looked great. He said he was
still doing a little P.T. every morning.