From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division
In 1942, at the Battle of Guadalcanal, the light cruiser USS Juneau met her fate, taking with her the five Sullivan brothers. You’ve heard their story and their memory lives on in a ship named for them and a crew that serves in their honor.
However, had it not been for a serendipitous Navy memo, the sinking of Juneau might have resulted in a devastating loss for another family. The four Rogers brothers also served together onboard Juneau. But only weeks before the ship was lost, Joseph, 24, a tailor, and Jimmy, 18, a captain’s orderly, decided to take the Navy up on its offer to separate brothers serving on ships in harm’s way. The Sullivan brothers did not separate since they wanted to remain together.
So when a supply ship pulled up to Juneau in late October 1942, Joseph Rogers went onboard and noticed the superior boxing facilities. A professional boxer, he chose to jump ship. He persuaded his youngest brother, Jimmy, a semi-pro boxer, to join him.
It was just a few weeks later when Juneau sank beneath the waves, taking with her the five Sullivans and the two remaining Rogers brothers Patrick, 22, and Louie, 20, a barber and laundry steward respectively.
Joseph and Jimmy would go on to survive the war but both would live with survivor’s guilt for the rest of their lives. Both Joseph and Jimmy continued to box after the war but they both hung up their gloves soon afterward.
Joseph was married and had children and grandchildren, and died in 1993. Jimmy Rogers died a few years later in 1999.