Jacob C. Golba Survives Sinking of destroyer.
Jacob C. Golba of Kenmore, who survived the sinking of the destroyer USS Underhill during World War II, died Thursday in Veterans Hospital after a long illness. He was 81.
Born in Buffalo, Mr. Golba graduated from Riverside High School and was a member of the first graduating class of what is now Erie Community College, where he received an associate's degree in electrical technology.
Mr. Golba, who served in the Navy as an electrician's mate second class, was firing a 20mm gun at incoming Japanese planes and subs about 200 miles north of Luzon in the Philippine Islands on July 24, 1945, when two shipmates suggested that he remove the belts holding him to the weapon.
Moments later, two 35-foot-long Japanese suicide submarines appeared, one on each side of the ship. Two explosions rang out as the minisubs rammed the destroyer, cutting it in half. The bow sank in minutes.
Mr. Golba never saw his two shipmates again. They were among the 112 men killed. He, too, would have been dead had he not followed their advice to unbuckle.
"The next thing I knew," Mr. Golba told relatives, "I was in the water. I had been blown off my 20mm gun mount into the water." He suffered burns over 90 percent of his body.
After his rescue, he spent six months in military hospitals. He remembered that he was "wrapped like a mummy."
After the war, he returned to Buffalo and worked for the American Ship Building Company. He repaired electrical systems on the ships sailing the Great Lakes.
He became an electrician for Sisters Hospital in 1974, retiring in 1986.
Mr. Golba received 10 medals and citations for his combat service in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. His ship was awarded a presidential citation for meritorious service as lead convoy ship from Okinawa to the Philippines.
He was a member of the Purple Heart Society and Niagara Frontier Post 1041, American Legion. He belonged to the Delaware Golf Club.
Survivors include a daughter, Karen Syracuse of the Town of Tonawanda; two sons, Richard of Getzville and William of Kenmore; four sisters, Estelle Robinson of the Town of Tonawanda, Florence Toth of Amherst, Alfreda Chapin of Grand Island and Emily Rzepa of Buffalo; a brother, Frank of Buffalo; nine grandchildren; and a great-grandchild.
A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered 9 a.m. Monday in St. Timothy Catholic Church, 565 East Park Drive, Town of Tonawanda.
Entombment will be in the Resurrection Mausoleum in Mount Olivet Cemetery, Town of Tonawanda