After graduating from high school in June 1944, Samuel Russell Dempster enlisted in the Navy. He was assigned to the auxiliary oiler USS Gazelle, which served as a mobile fueling station for naval ships in the Pacific. Due to the tankers’ large sources of fuel, Japanese submarines frequently attempted to sink them.
On Nov. 20, 1944, several Japanese submarines entered Ulithi Atholl in the Caroline Islands where the USS Gazelle was stationed and sunk its sister ship, the USS Mississinewa. The USS Gazelle escaped without damage and its crew arrived in the Philippines in February 1945.
From March until the end of the war in August 1945, Dempster worked refueling over 100 allied ships prior to and after naval battles. After the war’s end, the USS Gazelle joined the Seventh Fleet in Jinsen, South Korea. Dempster remained there until October, returning to the United States in February 1946. For its services in battle, the USS Gazelle received a service star.
Dempster earned the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the WWII Victory Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, and the Philippine Liberation Medal for his work aboard the USS Gazelle.
The Navy discharged Dempster as a fireman first class in May 1946. He then attended California Polytechnic College in San Luis Obispo, California, where he studied technical engineering. After graduating, Dempster worked constructing water, atomic and nuclear power stations in California, Idaho, Pennsylvania, Belgium, and Italy. He retired in 1991.
Dempster passed away at the age of 84 in January 2010.
We honor his service.
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Editor: Kailey Miller