Chief Commissary Steward Helmut Otto Dietrich

Need Photograph

World War II

US Navy
U.S.S. Kete (SS 369) Pacific Fleet Submarine
Service Number: 02998994
Born: About 1915, Missouri
Inducted: Prior to August 1938
Missing in action April 16, 1945 (USS Kete overdue and presumed lost)
Status changed to presumed dead April 1, 1946
Memorial tablet Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii

Purple Heart

Son of Rev. and Mrs. Paul Fred Dietrich of Idalia.

Photo donated by Phoenix Lundstrom, Honolulu

Punch Bowl, Honolulu

Service Notes:

Helmut Dietrich is known to have been assigned to the battleship USS California (BB-44) prior to August 1938 and was still with her when the California was sunk December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. He was later assigned to the submarine USS Wahoo (SS-238) and was transferred to other duties in early September 1943 before the Wahoo sailed on her 7th, and last, war patrol. The Wahoo was sunk in October 1943.

The USS Kete (SS-369) started construction in late October 1943 in Manitowoc, Wisconson. Launched on April 9, 1944 she was commissioned July 31, 1944. I don't have the date Chief Detrich was assigned to the USS Kete but he was aboard when she departed Pearl Harbor on her first war patrol October 31, 1944 to the East China Sea, Okinawa and the Ryukyus, which she completed at Guam January 30, 1945.

On March 1, 1945, the USS Kete sailed from Guam on her second and last war patrol to the vicinity of Nansei Shoto to perform weather observation and aircrew rescue duties. On March 10th she reported sinking three medium sized freighters. Her last patrol report, a routine weather report, was sent March 20, 1945 the day she was scheduled to leave the patrol area and return to Pearl Harbor for refit. When she failed to arrive at Midway Island to refuel she was listed as missing and presumed lost on April 16, 1945. The crew status was changed to "Presumed dead - Remains not recovered" on April 1, 1946.

Two possible explanations for Kete's disappearance exist, neither definitive:
(1) She strikes a mine about 20 March 1945 in a field laid by minelayer Tokiwa and auxiliary minelayer Koei Maru less than a month before (27 February 1945) or
(2) Is sunk by one of four Japanese submarines (Ro 41, Ro 49, Ro 56 or I 8--all lost soon thereafter-- believed to be in the vicinity sometime between 20 and 23 March, east of Okinawa. The most likely candidate of the four is Ro 41.
US Kete is officially listed as lost on March 20, 1945 the day of her last report.

Crew of USS Kete
USS Kete plank-owners a month before she was commissioned.
Chief Dietrich may be in this photo.

More Information:

The USS Kete (SS-369) page at the Commander Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet website includes a crew list of those on board at the time she was lost.

Construction, launch, commissioning and other historical information about the USS Kete was obtained from the Naval War College's U.S. Navy Ship - 20th Century Historical Database.

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