Teague, Semon Leroy

Semon Leroy Teague
Born: October 23, 1920
Hometown: Toone, TN
Class: 1943
Service: USNR
Position / Rank: Engineering Officer / Lt. (j.g.)
Date / Place of death: July 5, 1997 / Snohomish, WA
Date / Place of burial: Snohomish, WA
Age: 76

Although Semon Leroy Teague’s name is inscribed on the War Memorial at Kings
Point, he did not, in fact die during World War II. Apparently letters sent to Semon
Teague by the Academy and U.S. Maritime Commission after the war did not reach
him. The lack of response to these letters was apparently deemed sufficient evidence
of his demise to justify placing his name on the War Memorial. Nothing is known about
his post-war activities.
Semon L. Teague signed on as Engine Cadet aboard the tanker/bulk carrier SS Dixiano
at New Orleans, LA on June 23, 1942. After several voyages between Cuba and New
Orleans, Semon Teague signed on as Engine Cadet aboard SS Samuel Griffin on
September 11, 1942 shortly after it was delivered from its builder. He returned to Kings
Point in December 1942 to complete his education and prepare for license
examinations.
On December 10, 1943 Semon L. Teague was commissioned an Ensign, USNR. After
initial training he reported and reported aboard USS Terror (CM 5) on February 6, 1944
as Assistant Engineering Officer and “MA” Division Officer. For the first year he was
aboard the USS Terror, the ship was mostly employed in carrying ammunition cargoes
between island bases in the Pacific. This duty changed when the Terror was reequipped
as a flagship for mine warfare forces. In February 1945 the Terror
participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima. A few months later the ship was off of
Okinawa, taking part in the invasion of that island. Despite fighting off several attacks
by Japanese kamikaze suicide aircraft, on May 1 the USS Terror’s luck ran out. In an
early morning attack it was hit by a kamikaze at 0358 while the ship was anchored off
Kerama Retto near Okinawa. Thirty-five men were killed and sixty more, including
Lieutenant (junior grade) Semon Teague, were wounded. However, Lt. (j.g.) Teague’s
wounds were not severe enough to require evacuation, so he remained the Terror. He
subsequently returned to duty as Assistant Engineering Officer for the ship’s repairs at
No Photograph
Available
San Francisco. Within days of the USS Terror’s return to Okinawa a request went out
for volunteers for extraordinary hazardous duty involving the operation of merchant
ships to sweep mines from Japanese ports. Lt. (j.g.) Teague volunteered and was
transferred to “temporary duty” with Commander Mine Division EIGHT shortly after
noon on September 22, 1945. Although he was carried on the USS Terror’s list of
officers, the November 1, 1945 list indicates that Teague’s “temporary duty” is expected
to terminate on January 1, 1946, but that he is not expected to return on board USS
Terror.
Teague’s temporary duty assignment was as the Engineering Officer of the SS Pratt
Victory, a damaged Victory ship taken over by the Navy to sweep for pressure activated
mines laid in Japanese ports. For this duty Lt. (j.g.) Teague was awarded both the
Navy and Marine Corps Medal and the Bronze Star. His citation for the Bronze Star
states in part,
“Volunteering for the hazardous assignment of steaming through
suspected pressure mined waters, Lieutenant, Junior Grade, Teague
courageously made check sweep runs over entrance channels and
anchorages known to have been mined by our forces and contributed
materially to the safe entry of United States occupational forces to the
Empire of Japan.”
His citation for the Navy and Marine Corps Medal indicates that although the ship’s
engineering plant was modified so that it could be operated from the main deck, he
personally made the necessary physical checks of the engineering plant aboard the
Pratt Victory while it was making its sweeping runs through mined waters. After
completing his assignment to what became known as the “Guinea Pig Squadron”
Lieutenant (j.g.) Teague was assigned to USS Pollux (AK 54) and USS Rockwall (APA
230). He was discharged from the U.S. Navy on October 1, 1946.
In addition to the awards noted above, Lieutenant (j.g.) Semon L. Teague was also
awarded the Purple Heart, American Theater Service Medal and Asiatic Pacific Service
Medal with four (4) bronze service stars. For his Merchant Marine service Semon
Teague earned the Atlantic War Zone Bar, the Victory Medal and Presidential
Testimonial Letter.
Semon L. Teague was the oldest of Roy Miller Teague and Germaine Damin Teague’s
two sons. Semon’s little brother, Roger, was just one year younger. According to the
1930 U.S. Census, Roy Teague was a conductor on the Detroit Electric Railroad, while
his French-born mother worked as a seamstress. However, by 1935 the family had
moved to the grounds of the Western State Mental Hospital, near Bolivar, TN where
Roy Teague was employed as an engineer. In 1932 Germaine Teague took her two
sons to France. They returned to the U.S. on May 30 aboard the SS Westernland.
The list of officers for the USS Terror indicates that he was married to D’Alis Ann Lilley
by the time he reported aboard in February 1944.

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