Fathers’ Day Remembrance

This Sunday is Fathers’ Day. For many it seems, the military is a family affair. Many of today’s coasties came from military families. For my generation, many of our parents went through World War II in uniform.

Capt. Bob Gravino, USCG (ret.) is the scribe for my Academy class Alumni Bulletin class notes. He had been told the stories of fathers and other family members who had military experience in WWII and was concerned that those stories would be lost, so he has tried to recover them. I suggested we post them here.

It seems men of that generation seldom talked about their experiences. My father-in-law was an aircraft mechanic and tail gunner on B-25s as part of General Kenney’s Fifth Air Force in the SW Pacific. Of French Canadian parents, he spoke fluent French, so of course the Army did not send him to Europe. He had been shot down and spent a day in a raft in the Pacific before being rescued, but my wife had never heard that until I drew him out.

Here are some of my classmates’ stories. If you would like to add your own remembrances, please put them in the comments.

From George D. Bond, II

My father was Army and Gayle’s Navy (his wife-Chuck).  Both in the Pacific Theater.

My father, George D Bond, was I the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) until they disbanded it in 1942.  Like many he joined the Army as a 2nd LT, CWO1.  Don’t ask me!  CWO was permanent rank and 2nd LT reserve one.  He was in training somewhere and then was in the Alaska Aleutian operations.  He told me nothing other than there was a woman behind every tree and not a tree in sight and of crawling over the tips of hills as the wind was so bad.  I learned more reading “The 1000 Mile War”.  He was involved (he was infantry) when they kicked the Japanese out of the tip of the Aleutian Islands.  In the book they say the US fought Japan and the weather.  Japan fought the US and the weather.  The weather won.  He got home earlier than most as I was born May 1946.
Gayle’s father, Clyde William Solt, was an oiler on a Navy refueling vessel all around the Pacific.  Gayle says he also said little other than they wrapped their tools in cloth so no potential spark could occur and set them off. (Sounds like a gasoline tanker–Chuck)
My grandfather tried to serve but they said no as he was a minister.  One of Gayle’s grandfathers was in the Navy and after his enlistment was up signed up for the Coast Guard and help set up the Ocean Stations we did.  He ended up XO of the CG training station Groton at Avery Point.
From James T. Doherty, Jr.:

WOJG James T. Doherty (Sr.), 1946

My father, James T. Doherty (Sr.), was a Warrant Officer Junior Grade in the US Army during World War II. He voluntarily enlisted in US Army in February 1941, ten months before Pearl Harbor, and served until his final discharge in January 1946. He was trained as a combat medic. He served in the European theater from May 1943 through October 1945, including operations in North Africa, Italy, and France. He never spoke of his wartime experiences, but my aunts (his younger sisters) told me that his pre-war carefree attitude had been changed significantly after he treated men injured in horrific combat operations, particularly during the Italian Campaign. He was in Italy from October 1943 through October 1944. Regarding the rest of my family, four uncles served, two Navy in Pacific, one Army and one Army Air Corps in Europe. Additionally, one aunt was a Navy WAVE in Pacific, and a much older uncle had served in Army in Europe during World War I. My wife’s father, Harold J. Doebler, was a Navy radioman in an LST in the Pacific, and two of her uncles were Army and Army Air Corps in Europe. Like my relatives, my father-in-law and Patti’s uncles also voluntarily enlisted. All are gone now, my personal Greatest Generation.
From David Frydenlund:
This is a tale of three brothers from the plains of eastern North Dakota who, after having to quit school early because of the Great Depression and the loss of the family farm, were swept up in the events of WWII.   These are my recollections based on stories told at family gatherings. The fundamental arc is right but the dates and details are a little sketchy and I have no way to research them. Interestingly, like many veterans, none of them talked a lot about their experiences and they usually only shared after some alcoholic release of inhibitions or when, after I entered the military, they thought some experience that they had had would provide a useful lesson to me.
The oldest, my father, Marvin Frydenlund, entered the Navy in the summer of 1941. He had tried to enlist earlier but was under weight. His recruiter gave him a special “fattening” diet and, after a couple of weeks and with the aid of pockets full of rocks he passed the threshold. He then went straight to Great Lakes Naval Receiving Center. On graduating from Boot Camp he was ordered to the USS Maryland (BB-46), a Colorado Class battleship, as a fireman. He arrived at Pearl Harbor in early November. On December 7 Maryland was moored inboard of USS Oklahoma on Battleship Row. When GQ sounded he went to the engine room, but after the first (of two) bombs hit Maryland he was sent up on deck with a fire ax to cut away the mooring lines to Oklahoma as she had taken 7 to 9 torpedoes, was listing badly, and it was feared she would drag Maryland under as she rolled. As soon as the lines were cut, Oklahoma rolled. After the attack was over he spent the rest of the day, and most of the next two, as part of a boat crew collecting bodies, mostly from Oklahoma and Arizona, and stacking them on the beach for Graves Registration.
After temporary repairs were done to Maryland she sailed to Puget Sound for permanent repairs. She then deployed for picket duty along the West Coast and then to North Australia (Christmas Islands) to block Japanese ship movements. In late May she went back to Pearl just in time to deploy as part of the south wall for the Battle of Midway, but saw no direct action. Some where in here he became an Electricians Mate.
After Midway it was back to San Francisco where, by freak chance, he got to spend the only day during the war where he saw his brother Roy. After a brief refit in San Francisco, Maryland went to Fiji and then to the New Hebrides as a blocking action to stop the Japanese from attacking Australia. He then received orders to the pre-commissioning crew of the USS Hornet (CV-12), Essex Class, in Newport News. Lacking transport, he was assigned to a Free Dutch tramp steamer as the loader on a newly installed 3” 50 gun. They fired it twice to make sure it worked and had an uneventful steam from West Pac to San Francisco. He reported in to Hornet and was assigned to schools to become an interior communications electrician (synchros, gyros, telephones, alarm systems). Hornet deployed west in February of 1944. Somewhere in here Marvin made “clean sleeve” Chief Electricians Mate. Unlike the relatively peaceful time he spent on Maryland (after Pearl…), Hornet was nearly continuously in action, but being a “lucky ship” she was rarely seriously damaged by enemy action, though she frequently suffered damage from her own planes accidents on landing.
She went an extended period without making any port calls doing a combination of UNREP and short refits at Ulithi Atoll. Just listing major actions I can remember, she participated in strikes on Japanese installations in New Guinea, Palau, and Truk and then took part in the Mariana and Palau Islands Campaign followed by the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June (nicknamed the “Great Marianas Turkey Shoot”). Then the liberation of the Philippines in late 1944, and the Volcano and Ryuku Islands Campaign in the first half of 1945. Then there were attacks on Formosa and Indo China. My dad’s GQ  station during much of this time was to a Damage Control team fighting flight deck fires and repairing deck damage caused by crashes of returning aircraft. He got to see way too much carnage.
Hornet’s luck ran out in a typhoon in June of 1945. Her flight deck was warped down at the bow by wind and wave. After steaming backwards at high speed into the wind to launch her aircraft off the stern she headed for San Francisco for repairs. My dad frequently said he did not regret missing the final preparations for the invasion of Japan.

The war ended abruptly with a couple of bombs. Hornet was assigned “Magic Carpet” duty and crossed the Pacific several times returning men and material from forward deployment. My dad claimed this was the most important thing he did during the war. Magic Carpet ended in February of 1946. Shortly thereafter my father was advised that his enlistment, which had been extended “For the Duration” was ended and he had to reenlist or be demobilized. Under the influence of my mother, he elected not to reenlist and left the Navy.

The next brother, Roy, has a much shorter story. He was also rejected by the Navy for being under weight and so enlisted in the Army in late January 1942. He was assigned to Basic Training (even he did not remember where) but did not go because his Basic Battery showed him to be a candidate for a special program. He was assigned directly to Signals Intelligence Schools where he learned first radio electronics, and then wire recorders, and then Morse code (to 60 wpm) and finally rudimentary Japanese. As he described it, an excellent shot his whole life, he never officially touched a gun in the Army. On finishing school he was ordered, with the highest priority, to Oahu via San Francisco. He was put on an express train to SF and, on arrival, was given priority transport to Angel Island for transport to Hawaii. And then, in a way only the military can really do, they lost track of him, and despite the fact that he appeared every Monday at the transport desk with his orders, and the fact that at least two ships left for Hawaii each week, he spent 4 months on Angel Island with no duties. It was during this time that he got to spend a day with Marvin in SF so it was a mixed bag. He then went to Oahu and spent the rest of the war listening in on Japanese communications and recording them both by hand and on wire recorders. Interestingly, he claimed that when his number came up for Magic Carpet he missed the cutoff for being assigned to Hornet to ride home (with his brother) by less than 100.

The last brother, Earl, was too young to enlist at the beginning of the war. He finally enlisted in the Marines after VE day. By the time he had finished his training the war was over. Except his war was not over. At some point (he was pretty vague and mumbled about still “Secret”) his company was deployed to China as part of an advisory team to the Nationalist Government Army which was engaged in a losing fight against the Peoples Liberation Army. He was also pretty vague about what he did in China or even when he left. He was not vague about some bits. His company suffered heavy casualties. He counted himself as lucky to not be one of them. It was the ugliest thing he had ever done and beyond the ugliest thing he could have imagined. He liked the Chinese peasants in the ranks (farm boys a lot like himself he would say), but had no use for their ruling class (officers and politicians). They had a reckless disregard for human life, except their own. The only thing he had a lower regard for was the Chinese Communist Party who shared the reckless disregard for life but added, in his view, a casual cruelty to what they did. Noting that promotion was almost non-existent, that a wider war was probably coming, and that he had seen all the war he needed in his lifetime, he left the Corps just in time to avoid the Korean Police Action.

I don’t know why, but these stories in no way deterred my brother and I from seeking commissions in the sea services of the United States.

Bob Gravino:

My father was in the US Army during WWll and served in the invasions of North Africa and Sicily, and then fought up the Italian peninsula to Rome.  He died at age 64, and never spoke about his time in the service.  My mother would talk about him waking up in the middle of the night screaming, which went on for five or more years after they were married in 1945.

Robert Henry: 

1st Lt. Harold F. Henry, lower left.

Dad flew out of North Africa and Italy in 1944 with the 15th  AAF. He participated in numerous missions including Ploesti, Budapest,, Bucharest and Vienna, and earned two Distinguish Flying Crosses. He never talked about his war time experiences and we only found out about his achievements after he passed away. I can only imagine what he went thru along with the rest of his generation to give us the freedom we now take for granted.

Mike Moore: 

When Thomas T. Moore Jr. passed away 14 years ago, our family and the nation lost a wonderful gentleman and patriot. He loved his creator, his family, and his country with all his heart and soul. My sisters and I think of him every day and miss his warm demeanor and endless optimism. Dad served in the Army Air Force during World War II as a radio operator in B-29s and in the Air Force during the Korean War as a radio operator in C-119s. He remained in the Air Force Reserve for a number of years after Korea. Dad never spoke about the missions he flew during either war, only saying that the flights were very long. When asked about his service experiences, he talked about the places he had been stationed, his crew, life on Guam during WW Ii, and life in Ashiya, Japan the Korean War. I only learned about the missions he flew after his passing by reading some of his service personnel papers in order to put together an obituary. That was the first time I found that he was in the 6th Bombardment Squadron (very heavy), 29th Bombardment Group, 314th Bombardment Wing, 20th Air Force. Dad played baseball (catcher) and football (line) on squadron teams. He was a St. Louis Browns fan and, after the Browns moved to Baltimore, an Orioles fan. He was a huge Tennessee Volunteers fan. Among my fondest memories was listening to play-by-play radio broadcasts on fall Saturdays. Dad was a virtual handbook on how to be a good father. He instilled in us a desire to do our best, do the right thing, and a strong sense of persistence to never give up. We miss him greatly and know there is a special place in heaven for him.
I know that the purpose was to honor our fathers. There are other fathers in our lives who are important to us. My father in law enlisted in the Navy prior to WW II, served destroyers, destroyer escorts, and transports in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. He ended his service as a Chief Watertender (forerunner of the BT rating). He later earned an education degree and taught school for 20 years. He was a wonderful father for Alice, her sister, and her brothers.
Gary Pavlik:

Photo: William Pavlik, gun captain of this twin 40mm. As a GM2 he would go AWOL to marry Aldia, Gary’s mother. For that he was busted to GM3.

My dad was on a completely CG crewed USN DE, the USS Lowe (DE-325), that did convoy escorts between NYC and ports in the Med. Had one confirmed sub kill and two probables.

USS Lowe (DE-325) in its later guise as USCGC Lowe (WDE-425). Maybe we could name an Offshore Patrol Cutter after her to commemorate the 351 Coast Guard manned Navy vessels and craft of World War II.–Chuck

When I was young what I heard about WWII from Dad was during conversations with his brothers, my uncles. One who served on subs in the Pacific theatre.

Dad’s youngest sister’s husband, my uncle Jack, was an 18 year old crew member of the USS Belleau Wood, an Independence-class light aircraft carrier, that took a Kamikaze hit and lost 92 crew members. At the end of the war he came home on leave and told everyone he was on an extended leave. He had gone AWOL. Eventually the shore patrol came and got him. He was discharged with a 100% disability and sent home. He did not talk about his war experiences until the last few years of is life.
A recollection burned into my memory is from mid-late 50s with my Dad at the barbershop in our small blue collar Western PA mill town. I am reasonably sure of the time frame because much after that I would have gone to the barber by myself. Keep in mind this was only about 10 years after WWII.
The barbershop was pretty full. As I recall a 3 or 4 chair business. Biggest in our blue collar town. A guy in a suit (rare to work in one where I was raised) came in and sat down and started talking about burning a hole in his suit(!!??). I was only vaguely paying attention and didn’t get alert until the barbershop owner, who I knew well from our church, said something to the “suit” like “say you weren’t in the service right?” He replied in a nervous fashion that he had a bad hip or leg or something, was in bad shape, and couldn’t pass the physical. Even as a kid I could recognize embarrassment. And that Pete the barber asked the question in a purposeful manner.
It was only when I got older that I realized the guy was embarrassed about not serving. And the other grown men in the room, who like my Dad certainly did serve, spoke with their silence.
In retrospect I recall almost no regular casual conversations about WWII in the barbershop or anywhere else. Only very occasionally among my Dad and his brothers. And then about high jinks on liberty. Not about the action they saw. And as I found out in later years, they saw a lot.
From Stuart (Stu) White: 

LTjg Daniel H. White: Dan had attended two years at Yale University before enlisting in the Coast Guard. He was stationed in Seattle where he met Mom. Dan went through Coast Guard OCS at the Academy’s Splinter Village (wooden barracks and buildings where Munro Hall and parking lots are now) and recalled the old Cadet Auditorium, Cadet Recreation Hall and the old Field House (Alumni Center area) on our Fourth Class Parent’s Weekend. He attended diesel power school at Penn State before picking up LST-763 in New Orleans and trans packing to the Pacific Theater. His LST saw action during the D-Day landings on Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The story I’ve been told is that a roommate he had for the D-Day landing on Iwo Jima was photo-journalist Joe Rosenthal. An uncle was a navy officer who served in Europe and another uncle who survived the attack on Pearl Harbor serving on one of the battleships.

USCGC Ingham (WPG/WAGC/WHEC-35), Bit of Coast Guard History

Ran across the photo above at the “327 Sailors” Facebook page, part of a 65 photo tour of museum ship the former USCGC Ingham now in Key West, posted by Douglas Meier.

Two “Fletcher” class destroyers (left) and a “Cleveland” class light cruiser (right) standing off Corregidor Island as it is bombarded by ships and aircraft, prior to landings there, 16 February 1945. Other ship present (2nd from right) is force flagship USCGC INGHAM (WAGC-35). National Archives #80-G-273318

USCGC INGHAM (WAGC-35)

 

 

Leslie B. Tollaksen, USCGC Chelan, USS Moberly, and the Last Battle in the Atlantic, May 5/6, 1945

Caption: Biggest and costliest yet. This is the radio room on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Chelan, the newest cutter of the service now anchored at the Navy Yard, Washington D.C. This radio room houses three transmitters and three receiving sets. On the maiden trip, she picked up an SOS and towed schooner 1,500 miles, a record tow. Ensign Leslie B. Tollaksen, is shown in the photograph. Harris & Ewing, photographer. 1928 November 26. LOC LC-H2- B-3101 [P&P]

While looking into the sinking of U-853, the next to last U-boat sunk during World War II, I learned about the career of a largely unrecognized Coast Guard Officer, Leslie Bliss (Tolley) Tollaksen (1903-1973), Cdr., USCG. The story also links the next to last US warship sunk in the Battle of the Atlantic, USS Eagle 56, the last US merchant ship sunk in the Battle of the Atlantic, SS Black Point, and a cutter, USCGC Chelan, turned Royal Navy sloop that sank an Italian submarine in the Atlantic.

It also brought to mind a couple of possible names for future Offshore Patrol Cutters.

Commander Leslie B. Tollaksen:

We see Tollacksen in the photo above as a fresh caught ensign aboard USCGC Chelan. From a genealogy page:

Tollaksen “attended the University of Washington for two years before going and graduating from the US Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. He graduated from The USCG Academy in the Class of 1927, a year early to man the ships chasing down rum runners.

As a young Lieutenant, he was assigned to the US Coast Guard HQ in Washington, DC. He helped establish “Radio Washington” the telegraph station on Telegraph Road in Washington, DC, and also served as Aid to the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry Morgenthau, Jr. (At that time, his sister worked in the typing pool for President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s White House).

Leslie, about 1937 was the first US Coast Guard Officer selected for Post Graduate School at MIT.

Leslie, during WWII, and in command of the USS Moberly, sank the LAST German U-Boat U-853. U-8533 was a Type IXC/40 U-Boat, and lays on the bottom off Block Island…”

USCGC Chelan

USCGC Chelan was one of ten Lake Class cutters loaned to the British as part of the Lend Lease program.

USCGC Chelan as she looked in WWII in service with the Royal Navy as HMS Lulworth (Y60)

From Wikipedia:

On 14 July 1942, Lulworth was escorting Convoy SL 115 when she depth charged the Italian submarine Pietro Calvi and forced her to surface. She then open gunnery fire on Pietro Calvi, further damaging her, and Pietro Calvi’s crew scuttled her and abandoned ship; 35 members of Pietro Calvi’s crew survived.

The Italian submarine, Pietro Calvi, had previously sunk six Allied vessels, totaling 34,193 gross tons, including two American tankers.

U-853 

U-853 was a Type IXC/40 long range U-boat commissioned 25 June 1943. In July 1944 it had been fitted with a new device, a Dutch invention, a snorkel that allowed it to run its diesels and recharge its batteries while submerged, with only a small mast protruding above the water. U-853 had not been particularly successful. It had been attacked twice by Allied aircraft on 25 March 1944 and 17 June 1944. It had had two fruitless war patrol of 67 and 49 days, before the new commanding officer took over, 1 Sept. 1944.

Oberleutnant zur See Helmut Frömsdorf

It may be an indicator of the state of the German Navy that the new U-boat commander, Helmut Frömsdorf, was only 23 when he departed for his first and final patrol as CO on 23 Feb. 1945. He had served on U-853 for four years prior to being selected for command. From the time he had assumed command, including ten days moving from ports in Germany to Stavanger, Norway, the U-boat had been underway a total of only 83 days when U-853 and the crew of 55 was lost with all hands.

Hitler committed suicide on 30 April 1945. His successor was Admiral Donitz.

On 4 May, he issued orders that all Germans forces would surrender and, as part of the surrender process, U-Boat Headquarters sent the following message that same evening:

ALL U-BOATS. ATTENTION ALL U-BOATS. CEASE-FIRE AT ONCE. STOP ALL HOSTILE ACTION AGAINST ALLIED SHIPPING. DÖNITZ.

The order was to become effective at 0800 the following morning.  However, of the 49 boats then at sea, several were submerged and would not receive the message.  Among them was the U-853.

She is now a dive site:

This boat lies in 130 feet (42m) deep waters roughly 6 miles north east of Block Island and south of Newport, USA. The boat still contains remains of most of the 55 men who perished when she was sunk on May 6, 1945, in the last U-boat action as such in WWII.

USS Eagle 56 (PE-56), 430 tons, Commissioned 26 Oct. 1919. Sunk 23 Apr. 1945.  Automaker Henry Ford built 60 Eagle Boats for World War I, but none arrived before the Armistice and the Navy had discarded all but eight of them by WWII. (Navy)

Eagle 56:

Eagle 56 was nominally a subchaser, but an old and obsolete one. It was being used to tow targets when U-853 attacked and sank it.

At noon on 23 April 1945, Eagle 56 exploded amidships, and broke into two pieces 3 mi (4.8 km) off Cape Elizabeth, Maine. The destroyer Selfridge was operating near Eagle 56 and arrived 30 minutes after the explosion to rescue 13 survivors from the crew of 62. Selfridge obtained a sharp, well-defined sonar contact during the rescue and dropped nine Mark IX Mod 2 depth charges without obvious result.  According to a classified Navy report, U-853 had been operating in the waters off Maine.  At a Naval Board of Inquiry in Portland the following week, five of the 13 survivors claimed to have seen a submarine. Several spotted a red and yellow emblem on the submarine’s sail.

The Board of inquiry, however, concluded that the sinking had been the result of a boiler explosion. The record was not corrected until 2001.

In June 2001, Purple Heart medals were awarded to three survivors and the next of kin of those killed.

The wreck was located in June 2018, five miles (8.0 km) off the coast of Maine.

A commemorative plaque was erected on the grounds of Fort Williams Park near Portland Head Light.

“Seen from an airship from ZP-11, SS Black Point steams off the east coast of the U.S., some 10 miles east of the entrance to the North River on 22 September 1944. A sailor on her foc’sle is probably watching the K-ship from which the picture was taken. The SS Silver Star Park steams in the background, both ships’ hulls reflecting hard service
National Archives photo 80-G-208086″

SS Black Point:

The SS Black Point was a 5,353 ton collier (coal carrying ship). She was 395′ (112.35 meters) long, with a beam of 66′ (16.82 meters) and a draft of 27′ (9.3 meters). She was the last US Flag vessel sunk during World War II. She was torpedoed 1740 May 5, 1945. She capsized and sank 25 minutes later, with the loss of 12 of her crew of 46. The torpedoing was observed by the crew of Judith Point Lighthouse and reported immediately.

“”COAST GUARD DEPTH CHARGES SCORE IN LAST U-BOAT KILLING: Off Point Judith, Rhode Island, crewmen of the Coast Guard-manned frigate watch the surface boil as a pattern of depth charges scores the final kill in the long, uphill battle against Nazi U-boats in the Atlantic. Working in teamwork with three Navy vessels, the Coast Guard ship destroyed the submarine on Sunday, May 6, 1945. The Moberly operates as a unit of the Atlantic Fleet.” Moberly has just fired a hedgehog pattern as the charges drop in a circular pattern ahead of the frigate.
U.S. Coast Guard photo 4557″

USS Moberly (PF-63) Off San Francisco, CA in early 1946.
Naval Historical Center photo NH 79077

USS Moberly was one of 75 Tacoma class patrol frigates manned by Coast Guard crews.

The only anti-submarine unit in the immediate vicinity was the remnants of a task group, TG 60.7 that had left New York at 1200 hours that day. It had arrived earlier after safely escorting the remaining vessels of GUS-8446, an 80-ship convoy that had originated in Oran and Casablanca. Several of the task group members were bound for the Charlestown Naval Base where the ships were scheduled to undergo extensive overhaul: destroyer Ericcson (DD-440), destroyer-escorts Amick (DE-168) and Atherton (DE-169), and the patrol frigate Moberly (PF-63). Accordingly, Eastern Sea Frontier headquarters issued dispatch 052223 diverting TG 60.7 to the sinking site and ordering various support activities to assist in discovering the intruder as needed.

Destroyer Ericcson, with the task group commander, Cdr. Francis C.B. McCune, aboard, was then under the control of a Coast Guard pilot in preparation for entering the Cape Cod Ship Canal and could not reach the scene for some time. Thus, Coast Guardsman Tollaksen found himself the Senior Officer Present and de facto commander of TG60.7.

A blow by blow of the search for, and attacks on, U-853 can be found here.

USS Moberly and USS Atherton share credit for the sinking.

For Consideration:

The Offshore Patrol Cutters are to be named after famous cutters. We have eleven names so far, but there are at least 14 to go. Perhaps we might name one for Moberly as representative of the 75 ships manned by Coast Guard crews.

We might also consider naming one for the Lowe (DE-325/WDE-425) to represent the 30 destroyer escorts the Coast Guard manned during WWII. 18 March 1945: Lowe, in company with Coast Guard manned destroyer escorts Menges (DE 320), Mosley (DE 321), and Pride (DE 323) sank the German submarine U-866, south of Nova Scotia. Lowe was primarily responsible for the sinking. Not only was she Coast Guard manned during WWII, but she also served as a Coast Guard cutter for almost three years, 20 July 1951 to 1 June 1954.

 

“The Long Blue Line: Jim Evans–veteran of the World War II’s Greenland Patrol and Cutter Northland”

Colorized black and white photo from 1942, showing newly enlisted recruit Jim Evans in his dress whites. (Courtesy of the Evans Family)

Don’t overlook this story from the Coast Guard Compass.

“The Long Blue Line: Jim Evans–veteran of the World War II’s Greenland Patrol and Cutter Northland”

Yes, its the story of just one of thousands of young men who left home to serve their country in the Coast Guard, but it is also the story of current service members who honor those who went before. My compliments to the author, Dennis Branson, and the captain and crew of Northland.

“The Long Blue Line: 100 years ago–Coast Guard opens Air Station #1 at Morehead City”

Aerial photo of an HS-2l airborne with crew member occupying forward cockpit. (Navy History & Heritage Command)

There is an interesting bit of Coast Guard history over at the Coast Guard Compass web site concerning the Coast Guard’s rocky start in aviation. “The Long Blue Line: 100 years ago–Coast Guard opens Air Station #1 at Morehead City

I have added a link to this on my “Heritage” page.

What Has Happened to Coast Guard Online History?

USCGC Spencer (WPG-36) in 1942 or 1943. Spencer sank U-175 with assistance of USCGC Duane, on April 17, 1943.

Several months ago the Coast Guard moved their on line presence to new servers. When they did this, a great deal of the Coast Guard history that had been available on line disappeared. Apparently there was no plan to migrate the once extensive files to the new system.

I had planned to talk about this when it happened, but other priorities kept pushing it into the future until it seemed to late, but recently I reopened a post I had included in the heritage page, “The Battle for Convoy 166, 25 February 1943” and I was struck by how much had been lost.

“For more information on the Coast Guard’s battles against the U-boats, there are a series of extensively captioned photos of 327s here, an accounting of “U.S. Coast Guard Combat Victories of World War II” which also lists significant losses is here, and a twenty page pdf on the Battle of the North Atlantic is here.”

None of the referenced resources appear to be available on line anymore. It is just one example. Go to the Coast Historian’s page and try to look something up.

If you go to the Coast Guard Historian’s link for cutters, their are four pages of listings. The first page is a listing of ten: Aaron V. Brown, 1861, AB Class, 1913-1938, Absecon, 1949 (WHEC-374), Acacia, 1927 (WAGL-200), Active, 1816, Massachusetts, 1791, Point Class Cutter (82′), USCGC 95003 (ex-Aberdeen), USCGC Bayberry (WLI-65400), USCGC Point Harris (WPB-82376). The remaining three pages are devoted to LCIs of WWII. That is it. Why only these particular ships and not some of the more famous cutters? It has been this way for months.

It should be an embarrassment that the Navy’s Naval History and Heritage web site has more Coast Guard history than the Coast Guard Historians web page.

I have not purged my Heritage page of links that have been broken because, presumably these documents still exist somewhere in the Coast Guards files. Hopefully some day they will reemerge.

“The Long Blue Line: Warren Gill—Oregon’s forgotten Navy Cross hero” –Coast Guard Compass

LT Warren Gill’s official portrait in dress uniform photographed by the U.S. Coast Guard. (The Gill Family)

Coast Guard Compass has a short article about a World War II Coast Guard Reserve Navy Cross, Legion of Merit, and Purple Heart recipient that I had not been aware of. This is all the more remarkable because he got the Legion of Merit for actions while an Ensign and the Navy Cross for actions as a Lt (jg). After leaving the Coast Guard, he went on to lead an exemplary life of public service including leadership in the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

This is another hero we might want to name a ship after.

Bringing Jimmy Crotty Home

Lt. Crotty

Press Release, I have mentioned this earlier in comments, but this is a bit more detailed than earlier presss releases. 

united states coast guard

R 290809 OCT 19
FM COMDT COGARD WASHINGTON DC//CCG//
TO ALCOAST
UNCLAS //N05360//
ALCOAST 335/19
COMDTNOTE 5360
SUBJ:  THE RETURN HOME OF LT THOMAS JAMES EUGENE CROTTY, USCG
1. It is my honor to report that we will bring LT Thomas James Eugene “Jimmy”
Crotty, a Coast Guard and American hero, home.
2. LT Crotty was born on 18 March 1912, in Buffalo, New York. He graduated from the
United States Coast Guard Academy in 1934 after serving as Company Commander, class
president and captain of the Academy’s football team. He served his first seven years
after graduation on board cutters in New York City, Seattle, Sault Ste. Marie and San Diego.
3. In the days leading up to the attack on Pearl Harbor, he served with the U.S. Navy as
Executive Officer onboard USS QUAIL, part of the 16th Naval District-in-Shore Patrol
Headquarters, Cavite Navy Yard, Philippines. He aided in the defense of Corregidor during
the Japanese invasion in the early days of WWII, supervising the destruction of ammunition
and facilities at the Navy Yard and scuttling the fleet submarine USS SEA LION to prevent
its use by the Japanese. As the Japanese advanced on Corregidor, LT Crotty eagerly took
charge of cannibalized deck guns from the ship and led a team of brave enlisted Marines
and Army personnel fighting for an additional 30 days until the Japanese bombardment finally
silenced the defense of the island fortress.
4. Following the fall of Corregidor, LT Crotty was taken prisoner by the Japanese and
interned at the Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp. After his death on 19 July 1942 from
diphtheria, he was buried in a common grave along with all those who died that day. 
5. After World War II, the U.S. government moved remains from the common graves to the
Manila American Cemetery and Memorial in the Republic of the Philippines. On 10 September
2019, as part of an exhaustive effort by DoD to bring every service member home, LT Crotty
was positively identified from the remains exhumed from the cemetery in early 2018.
6. LT Crotty is the only known Coast Guardsman to serve in defense of the Philippines;
his service authorizes the Coast Guard to display the Philippine Defense Battle Streamer
on our Coast Guard Ensign. He was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart,
and many other decorations. A full accounting of his service can be found in the blog at:
https://compass.coastguard.blog/2019/09/18/the-long-blue-line-lt-crotty-and-the-battle
-for-corregidor/.
7. On Friday, 01 November 2019, arrival honors will be held at Joint Reserve Base, Niagara
NY at 1000. Funeral services will be held on Saturday, 02 November 2019 at 1200 at St.
Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church, Buffalo, NY followed by interment with full military
honors at Holy Cross Cemetery in Lackawanna, NY.
8. LT Crotty embodied our core values of Honor, Respect, and most especially Devotion
to Duty. As we celebrate his life and legacy, we also celebrate the lives of the more
than 600 Coast Guard members we were not able to bring home from WWII. He represents
the proud legacy of the Long Blue Line of Coast Guard men and women who place themselves
in harm’s way every day in the service to their country and fellow man. He is one of many
who made the ultimate sacrifice; we should never forget his efforts and the sacrifices of
the thousands of Coast Guard men and women who served so bravely in our service over the
last 229 years.
9. To honor LT Crotty, I ask every Coast Guard unit and member to observe a moment of silence
as he begins his journey home on Thursday, 31 October 2019 at 1900Z (1500 EDT/1200 PDT/0900 HST).
10. The Half-masting of the national ensign for all Coast Guard units will take place when
LT Crotty is honored at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in the spring of 2020. Information will
be sent SEPCOR.
11. Admiral Karl L. Schultz, Commandant, sends.
12. Internet release is authorized.

What Really Happened to the Serpens?

Jan. 29, 2020 will be the 75th anniversary of the largest loss of life in Coast Guard history, the explosion of USS Serpens (AK-97). We have already discussed this incident, but now there is a effort to look again at the cause of this loss.

Foxtrotalpha reports there may be reason to believe that the ship was torpedoed rather than having been destroyed by an ammunition loading accident.

I considered that it might have been an attack carried out by Kaiten, submarine launched manned suicide torpedoes. They were being used at that time to attack shipping in forward bases. Kaiten might have made an attack on a protected harbor easier, but the link in this paragraph provides a listing of operations that seems to preclude that possibility. That in spite of the fact that there were about 20 Kaiten capable Japanese submarines operational at the time of the sinking.