In the early 2000s, I attended a KT concert on LI. I happened to sit in front of a work colleague and his wife. The Trio ended the first half with the Reuben James and I could hear that his wife was very upset. At intermission I asked him why and he said that her stepfather was one of the 44 and she never heard the song before. They left before the second half. I mentioned this to George at the end of the concert and he was very anxious to meet her but I told him that they left
Also, I attended another concert when Bill Zorn introduced the song and said that he met the U boat captain, Erich Topp, and asked him why he didnít torpedo one of the rescue ships. Zorn said that the Captain did not want to expend another torpedo since the Fuher did not want to draw the US into he war at that point.
Below is a Wiki article on Topp and the Reuben James.
It was by sheer coincidence that, during Black History Month, I started reading a new book about the hostilities and discrimination that Black service men and women faced during World War 2 [ Half American by Matthew Delmont]. In the years leading up to the war, Black sailors assigned to ship duty had only 1 job: messmen for the ship's officers. While Mess Attendant Doris Miller, assigned to the USS West Virginia , has been justifiably recognized for his actions on Dec. 7 at Pearl Harbor, three other Black sailors share a piece of WW2 history. Raymond Cook, Nebraska Dunston, and Joseph Johnson were serving aboard the USS Reuben James when it was torpedoed and sunk, Oct. 31, 1941. They were among the first Americans killed during the war.
Jim Moran's Comparative Video 101 has an extensive discussion of the song The Sinking Of The Reuben James . It includes one of the verses Woody Gutherie had originally planned for the song i.e. to include the names of all the crew who lost their lives in the action.
Dennis Howard Daniel, Glen Jones and Howard Vore
Hartwell Byrd and Raymond Cook , Ed Musselwhite and more
Remember Leonard Keever, Gene Evans and Donald Kapp
Who gave their all to fight about this famous fighting ship