In Memory of
Navy Seaman Second Class
Robert Ellsworth Chester
De Smet, South Dakota
Kingsbury County
January 19, 1923 -- August 6, 1943
Killed in Action off the Coast of Virginia aboard the USS Plymouth

Robert Ellsworth Chester

Robert Ellsworth Chester was born January 19, 1923, in Arlington, South Dakota,   to C.T. and Petra Chester.  Robert “Bob” Chester was baptized in the Lutheran faith.  When he was 14, Bob and his family moved to De Smet, SD.  In May of 1941, Bob graduated from De Smet High School, where he had been senior class president. After graduation Bob was employed as a clerk at the local J.C. Penney.

Bob enlisted in the U.S. Navy on November 11, 1942, and then was trained at Great Lakes Naval Training School.  He attended radio schooling at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.  Graduating in June, Navy Seaman Chester was sent to the Navy Yards in Philadelphia and a few days later assigned to the cruiser U.S.S. Plymouth, formerly President Roosevelt’s private yacht, which he had donated to the Navy so that it could be converted into a cruiser.  The duty of the U.S.S Plymouth and her crew was to patrol the coastline from New York to Florida to watch for German U-boats, about which the American public knew little.

On August 6, 1943, off the coast of Virginia, the U.S.S. Plymouth was torpedoed and sunk by a German U-boat, killing Navy Seaman Robert Ellsworth Chester. At the time it was unknown by most people that the U-boats were that close to the United States.

Seaman Chester’s body was sent by train to De Smet, SD, where his funeral was held August 11, 1943; he is buried at Arlington, SD.  His parents received the Purple Heart Medal, which had been awarded posthumously to their son, Bob. 

Navy Seaman Robert “Bob” Ellsworth Chester is survived by his sister, Audrey, and several nieces and nephews.  I will remember the service and sacrifice of Seaman Robert Chester.

This entry was respectfully submitted by Ryan E. Oler, 8th Grade West, Spearfish Middle School, Spearfish, South Dakota, November 13, 2000. Information was provided by Audrey Chester Meyer, De Smet, South Dakota, sister of Robert Chester.