Last Update: November 20, 2020

A Tribute Honoring

Arizona World War II Submarine Veteran

Robert Ray Mills, EM3


Show Low, Arizona

    Robert Ray Mills was born on 2 February 1923 in Show Low, Arizona to Henry and Reah Merrell Mills.  Henry was earning a living as a cowboy for the Flying G. Cattle Company about the time Robert was born.  Later in life supporting his family, Henry became a lumberman and reportedly a service station attendant.  Robert Ray was the couple's second born of five children (4 sons, 1 daughter). 

     Robert attended grade school in Show Low, Arizona followed by his attendance at Snow Flake High School, Snow Flake, Arizona at least through 1939. He left Arizona and headed to California and a news article reported he had worked in the shipyards at Richmond, California.




     Navy Muster Reports state Robert Ray Mills enlisted on 4 February 1943 in Phoenix, Arizona. Robert Ray was 20 years of age at the time he received his basic training and perhaps received Electrician's Mate training also at San Diego, California. His next known Navy assignment was as part of the Submarine Division 121 Relief Crew.  On 17 May 1944, Electrician's Mate Third Class Petty Officer reported aboard the Gato class diesel electric submarine, USS Harder (SS-257) which at the time was based in Fremantle, Australia.

     By the time Mills reported aboard on 17 May 1944, the Harder it had completed four combat war patrols under the command of Commander Samuel "Sam" Dealey, USN.  The Harder under Dealey's command and with Robert Ray Mills now on board serving as an Electrician's Mate, departed Fremantle on 26 May 1944 for its 5th combat war patrol.  Harder returned from that successful patrol on 3 July 1944.  On 5 August 1944, Harder and its crew of 79 men under the command of Dealey departed Fremantle for its 6th and last combat war patrol.  On 24 August 1944, the Harder and its crew were lost due to sinking by Japanese depth charge attacks near Bataan, Philippines.  

     Of particular note is that Commander Dealey was awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions while serving as Harder's Commanding Officer. 


Harder's Ship's Patch USS Harder (SS-257) Harder Loss Location
Harder Crew Dealey and Australian Officer  


  More information about and the names of its crewmembers, go to the following link:

    Electrician's Mate Robert Ray Mills earned the following military awards during his service from 1943-1944:  Purple Heart, Navy Presidential Unit Citation, Navy Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Submarine Warfare Pin, and Combat War Patrol Pin.

     Of further note, the Mills family contributed greatly to the service of our Country to include:  Robert Ray's older brother, Henry Eugene (1921-1988) also served in the Navy as a Quartermaster Second Class, and Ronald Lonzo (1924-2004) served in the Navy as a Seaman First Class. A cousin, Sargent Waldo Willis, was killed in Germany on 26 December 1944. 


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Website developed and maintained by Ray Olszewski USS TUNNY (SSG-282) 1958-1962 Boat Yeoman YN1(SS) and IS1(SS) USSVI Life Member and Author of USS TUNNY: A History, Tribute and Memoir.