“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.