Belated Recognition for a Coast Guard Hero. 

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Representative Patrick L. Meehan of the 7th Congressional District entered a statement into the Congressional Record in recognition of Emlin Tunnell.

He had a proud Coast Guard history.

On April 27, 1944, the Coast Guard-manned cargo ship USS Etamin was unloading 6000 tons of explosives and gasoline while at anchor at Aitape Harbor, Papua New Guinea. Without warning, Etamin was attacked by Japanese aircraft and a torpedo blew a hole 27 feet by 27 feet in the ship’s starboard side.

With the shell plating and shaft alley of Etamin ruptured, gasoline sprayed over the after part of the ship, creating a dangerous situation for all aboard. It was Coast Guard Steward’s Mate Emlen Lewis Tunnel who came to the aid of Machinist’s Mate First Class Fred Shaver, who was on fire, pulling him to safety and severely burning his own hands in the process.

Two years later,

On March 17, 1946, Tunnell was nominated for the Silver Lifesaving Medal for once again saving the life of a fellow shipmate.

His shipmate, Alfred Givens, fell off the dock of the Coast Guard Cutter Tampa. Without regard to his own safety, Tunnell jumped into the 32-degree seas and rescued Givens. Tunnell saved his drowning shipmate, and despite being in the water for only fifteen minutes, suffered exposure and shock.

Unfortunately, probably because to the bias against African Americans, the award was not approved until 2011, after Tunnell’s death.

Tunnell had a very successful career in the NFL, but died at age 50.

Perhaps he is a candidate to be a a namesake for a Webber class.

Thanks to Terry A. for bringing this to my attention. 

7 thoughts on “Belated Recognition for a Coast Guard Hero. 

      • @Thad Allen, The statue had already been completed and erected. Sometimes disused addresses are bought by other users to take advantage of continued interest. I deleted the web site address. Thanks for the notice.

  1. Pingback: Emlen Tunnell’s Statue Dedication | Chuck Hill's CG Blog

  2. U.S. Coast Guard to commission USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145)

    Media Advisory
    U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area

    U.S. Coast Guard to commission 45th Sentinel-class cutter

    WHO: Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, and team
    WHAT: Commissioning of USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145)
    WHEN: 10 a.m. Friday, Oct. 15, 2021
    WHERE: Penn’s Landing, 101 South Columbus Blvd. Philadelphia, PA, 19106

    Media interested in attending must RSVP no later than 4 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12, with the Coast Guard Atlantic Area Public Affairs office at Access to the event will only be granted to credentialed media.

    Security: Be prepared to show government-issued photo identification, such as a driver’s license or passport, and media credentials at the security checkpoint. We ask participating media to arrive no later than 9:15 a.m. for check-in. All guests are requested to double mask as a COVID mitigation.

    PORTSMOUTH, Va. — The U.S. Coast Guard will commission the USCGC Emlen Tunnell (WPC 1145), Patrol Forces Southwest Asia’s fourth Sentinel-class cutter, into service at Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia at 10 a.m. ET.

    Due to COVID mitigation, in-person attendance is limited, and the event is not open to the public.

    Adm. Karl Schultz, commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, will preside over the ceremony. Ms. Yvonne Gilmore Jordan, the eldest first cousin to Tunnell, is the ship’s sponsor.

    The cutter’s namesake is Steward’s Mate 1st Class Emlen Tunnell, a native of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, who served in the U.S. Coast Guard from 1943 to 1946. During this time, he rescued two shipmates. The first was aboard the USS Etamin at anchor in Papua New Guinea in 1944. When a crewman became engulfed in flame following a Japanese torpedo attack, he beat out the fire, sustaining burns, and carried him to safety. The second rescue came aboard the USCGC Tampa in 1946 when a shipmate fell overboard off Newfoundland. Tunnell risked the 32-degree Fahrenheit water suffering shock and exposure to save him. The U.S. Coast Guard awarded the Silver Lifesaving Medal to Tunnell posthumously for his heroism.

    Tunnell was also a lauded athlete beginning in high school and then college before he joined the Service. While in the Coast Guard, he played football and basketball, and upon his departure, he resumed college. Tunnell went on to play professional football for the New York Giants and the Green Bay Packers. He also served as an assistant coach for the Giants. Notably, Tunnell is the first African American to play for the NY Giants, African American talent scout, and African American full-time assistant coach. He is also the first African American inducted into the Pro-Football Hall of Fame.

    The Emlen Tunnell was officially delivered to the U.S. Coast Guard on July 1 in Key West, Florida. It is the 45th Sentinel-class fast response cutter. Each of these cutters carries the name of a U.S. Coast Guard enlisted hero. While the ship is commissioning in Philadelphia, it will homeport in Manama, Bahrain, part of U.S. Coast Guard Patrol Forces Southwest Asia.

    Established in 2002 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, PATFORSWA played a crucial role in maritime security and maritime infrastructure protection operations. PATFORSWA is a maritime humanitarian presence on the seas, providing U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet with combat-ready assets. Utilizing the U.S. Coast Guard’s unique access to foreign territorial seas and ports, our crews formulate strong and independent relationships throughout the Arabian Gulf and leverage the full spectrum of flexible vessel boarding capabilities at sea and maritime country engagements onshore.

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