Posthumous group to USN Academy graduate
Ensign LEWIS EDWARD PENNELL of Columbia, SC was a member of Annapolis class of 1943. This class was graduated in June 1942 with the advent of WWII. Ensign Lewis was lost when USS Monssen (DD 436) was sunk on November 13, 1942 in the Battle of Guadalcanal.
Included are his Navy officers sword, fitting engraved to Pennell and in gilt initialed case, his posthumously awarded boxed and officially engraved Purple Heart, his original WWII service medals his Purple Heart certificate and forwarding letter as well as a portrait photo.
USS Monssen (DD-436), a Gleaves-class destroyer, saw service during World War II in the Atlantic and then in the Pacific, earning 4 battle stars.
In March 1942 she joined TF-16 serving in the antisubmarine screen for the USS Hornet with Lt. Col. Doolittle's B?25's on her flight deck.
Returning to Pearl Harbor, she sortied 30 April to aid Yorktown and Lexington in the Battle of the Coral Sea. She departed for Midway to repulse an expected assault on that advanced base. By 2 June, TF-16 had rendezvoused with TF-17 and was in position 350 miles northeast of Midway. On the 4th the Battle of Midway commenced as Japanese carrier planes flew against installations on the island. By the 7th, the American forces had won one of the decisive battles of history. The Task Force headed for the Japanese?held Solomons. By 7 August they were 40 miles from Guadalcanal and Tulagi. On the 7th and 8th, Monssen, with Buchanan (DD?484) stood off Gavutu and Tanambago, circling those islands and providing fire support to the 2d Marine Regiment.
Covering the offloading of transports, Admiral Callaghan's force, heavily outnumbered, steamed out to engage the enemy in the initial action of what would later be called the Naval Battle for Guadalcanal.
Shortly, after 0140, 13 November, they sighted the enemy fleet, under Vice Admiral Abe, 3 miles north of Kukum. Battle was given at 0150. At about 0220 Monssen, was spotlighted, hit by some 37 shells, and reduced to a burning hulk. Twenty minutes later, completely immobilized in all departments; the ship was ordered abandoned. After daybreak Monssen was still a floating incinerator. C. C. Storey, BM2c, L. F. Sturgeon, GM2c, and J. G. Hughes, F1c, climbed back into the inferno and rescued eight men still aboard and alive, five of whom lived after reaching land. The survivors, 40 percent of the crew, were picked up at about 0800 and taken to Guadalcanal. The ship itself continued to blaze until early afternoon, when the waters of Ironbottom Sound closed over her.
In 1992, an expedition headed by oceanographer Robert Ballard found the wreck of the Monssen. She lies upright on the bottom of the sound, with the gun turrets still trained out to the starboard side as they had been in combat.