Ralph Clark Huston Jr. was born December 27, 1925 to his parents Ralph Sr. and Myrtle in Parkersburg West Virginia. He had four siblings Betty, Mary, Harry and Ora. Ralph graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1943 and enlisted in the Naval Reserve on September 9, 1943 in Huntington, West Virginia. He was at Great Lakes for training from October 2, 1943 to December 8, 1943, thence to training school in Newport, Rhode Island to April 8, 1944 where his grade was raised to S2c. Thereafter he went to sub school in New London until July 24, 1944. He was assigned to the USS Cobia and reported aboard on February 12, 1944. On February 18, Cobia sailed from Fremantle for her fourth war patrol in the Java Sea.
On February 26, at 615PM, Huston was hit by 50 cal. machine gun fire from Japanese ships. He was taken below for treatment , but died at 0554 the next morning. He was prepared for burial that occurred at 6PM when he was taken topside on a door from the head and with full honors buried at sea with Cmdr. Beckler officiating. The pall bearers were Rad3c Hyde, Coxswain Gast, S1c Williams, Fmn1c Day. Guard of Honor was MM3c Boden, EM2c Congleton, TM3c Render, and MMM2c Dwyer.
Seaman Huston was a 20MM Gunner when he was killed by gunfire in a sea battle with Japanese ships while on the surface on her 4th war patrol. Both ships were sunk by Cobia subsequently. The Cobia is now a museum ship based at Manitawoc, Wisconsin. A bronze plaque detailing this action and Hustin’s death is on the deck of the sub. It is pictured below.
The loss of S1C Ralph Huston is described in detail at:
Highlight and right click this link and then search for the site.
This group consists of Huston’s officially engraved Type 2 posthumous Purple Heart and its short titled Purple Heart presentation box plus St. Louis National Archives research, internet research. With the group are original 8 by 10 glossy photos of the Cobia in Wisconsin, and photos of Huston taken during induction, and a copy of the photo of his burial at sea. A Cobia patch as pictured is included. Of particular interest are copies of letters from the officers on Cobia sent to Ralph Huston Sr. describing the action and the events following. Also included with the group are two books written by Cobia Pharmacists Mate Herbert L. Starmer about his experiences on Cobia and his later submarine life. Starmer was the attendant who tried to save Huston’s life. Huston’s injuries were way too severe however.
As of October 9th 2020, the medal group has been donated to the Wisconsin Maritime Museum where the USS Cobia resides. The photo of the certificate was taken at the museum, having been previously donated by the family.