Many spotlights tell great tales of bravery and service, but for William Richard Henry and the other men aboard the USS Gudgeon all we can say is they were never heard from again.
The USS Gudgeon was commissioned in April 1941 and on December 11, 1941, four days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, she served the first submarine war patrol of World War II for the United States. From December 1941 to April 1944, the Gudgeon completed eleven war patrols, sinking twenty-six ships and damaging eight others.
William Richard Henry was twenty-one when he joined the crew of the Gudgeon. He worked as a fireman during the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth war patrols (on a ship, a fireman is any rank and file member of engineering). Neither he, nor any crew member of the Gudgeon, was seen again.
The Gudgeon left for her twelfth war patrol April 4, 1944. She refueled three days later, and that is the last contact she made with the Navy. Gudgeon was presumed lost at sea when she failed to report back to the fleet that summer.
Japanese records from the war report the USS Gudgeon sank on April 18, 1944.