The following Letter was copied from the USS Helena Newsletter dated June 2002.

Deforest Ary
EM3. E Division. USS Helena CL-50. November 1939 - 1943

My name is Deforest Ary, U. S. Navy. I joined in September 1939 and served till September 1943. I received an honorable medical discharge. I received basic training at Great Lakes Naval Training Center. After training I was assigned to the USS Helena at the Brooklyn Navy Yard where the Helena was under construction. My brother, T. L. Ary, was a Chief Electrician's Mate and we were both plank owners of the Helena. After the shakedown cruise, we took a good will tour to South America. On our return, we went through the Panama Canal to San Diego and Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Then we proceeded to Hawaii and operated out of there for some months.

I was wounded December 7, 1941 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor by a torpedo explosion. Then we went back to Mare Island where the ship was refitted with the latest guns and equipment. Then we returned to Pearl Harbor then on to Esporiti Santos in the New Hebrides Islands and operated with two task forces. The first task force (USS Wasp) was sunk and we took some survivors aboard the Helena. The second task force (USS Hornet) was damaged and had to leave for repairs. Upon returning to Esporito Santos, the converted carrier (USS Long Beach) reported into the harbor. The USS Helena and two destroyers were assigned to guard the carrier. We then left the harbor not knowing our destination, so we were cruising, being used as bait to attract the Japanese fleet for days.

We found out later that there was an Admiral onboard the Long Island and it was loaded with aircraft that later attacked Guadacanal. One morning, a fleet was all across the horizon. The Admiral challenged the fleet. Luckily it turned out to be our own fleet and the Admiral was disciplined. When the 5 Sullivan Brothers lost their lives on the USS Juneau, all brothers were separated. My brother, Tom, was transferred to a new assignment. I was later assigned to the USS Hammil (destroyer tender) located in Mobile Alabama Naval Shipyard. When we left Mobile, headed for the East Coast (Portland, ME), our ship was damaged by ice that split the ship in the 40 degree below zero temperature so we went into New York for repairs.

While in New York, I had a physical and the doctors put me in the National Naval Hospital in Bethesda, MD. . I was discharged with a medical discharge there. Once home, I was hired as a Navy Electrical Inspector at the Missouri Valley Iron and Shipbuilding which produced most of the LSTs.

To see a recent picture of Deforest, click Here.

Deforest Ary Military Awards

Navy Unit Commendation

Purple Heart Medal

Good Conduct Medal

American Defense Medal
with Fleet Clasp

American Campaign Medal

Asiatic Pacific Medal
with one Bronze Star

World War II Victory Medal

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