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A poignant letter from the heart.


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The following letter was written by George S. Cronk the only surviving officer of the S.S STEPHEN HOPKINS to the sister of Chief Engineer Rudolph A. Rutz who was killed in action when the STEPHEN HOPKINS engaged the German Raider STIER.


"I arrived at my home here in Bessemer a few days ago and found a letter here from you asking about your brother Rudolph Rutz. Yes he was on the same ship as me, I was his Second Engineer and his friend as well. He and I were together all the time the battle was going on, carrying wounded men out of the engine room and off the decks and out of their quarters where they were shell.ed in their beds . When the abandon ship signal was given he was putting life jackets on the wounded men. He told me to go to the boat deck and that was the last anyone saw of him. I helped lower the only boat left, then I saw the Captain throw his code book overboard and walk to the other side of the bridge. I went to that side but could not find him and by that time I was trapped by fire started by incendiary shells and had to jump overboard and swim for it. I made the lifeboat in about twenty minutes and managed to pick up nine men out of the water and off the rafts. I am the only surviving officer. I lost over 40 pounds weight on my twenty two hundred mile, thirty one day trip to the coast of Brazil but am feeling better now and will be on my way to the Pacific Coast to take out another ship soon. I want to tell you that with the type of men your brother was this country can never lose a war and you can be very proud of him for he was a square shooter and one of the merriest men I have ever known and here's hoping for you and the rest of his family the very best of luck.


I remain your friend


George S. Cronk




























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RIP...these letters that still last today really connect us to the personal and tragic events...they add reality.

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