“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.

SECNAV Names Future Destroyer in Honor of US Coast Guard, World War II Navy Cross Recipient

190606-N-DM308-001 Cherbourg, France(June 6, 2019) A graphic illustration of the future Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Quentin Walsh (DDG 132). (U.S. Navy photo illustration by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Paul L. Archer/Released)

The Secretary of Navy Public Affairs has announced the intention to name a Burke Class DDG after a Coast Guard officer, Quentin Walsh, who played an important part in the invasion of Normandy and the subsequent expansion of the beachhead to include the port of Cherbourg. I have quoted the press release below. (Thanks to a former dirt dart for bringing this to my attention.)

Cherbourg, France (NNS) — Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer named a future Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, DDG 132, in honor of Coast Guard Capt. Quentin Walsh, who was awarded the Navy Cross for his service during World War II.

“Capt. Walsh was a hero whose efforts during World War II continue to inspire, and his leadership in securing the French port of Cherbourg had a profound effect on the success of the amphibious operations associated with Operation Overlord,” Spencer said.

“For over two centuries, the Navy and Marine Corps team and the Coast Guard have sailed side by side, in peacetime and war, fair weather or foul. I am honored the future USS Quentin Walsh will carry Capt. Walsh’s legacy of strength and service throughout the world, and I am proud that for decades to come, this ship will remind friends and adversaries alike of the proud history of our services and the skill and professionalism of all those who stand the watch today.”

Spencer made the announcement alongside Adm. Karl Schultz, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, in a ceremony aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle in Cherbourg, France.

“We are grateful to the U.S. Navy and Sec. Spencer for honoring one of our Coast Guard heroes, Capt. Quentin Walsh,” Schultz said. “Naming a future Navy destroyer after Capt. Walsh, the first Arleigh Burke-class ship to be named after a Coast Guard legend, highlights not only his courageous actions but the bravery of all U.S. service members involved in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy.

“The U.S. Navy and Coast Guard legacies are interwoven as reflected in the heroic actions of Capt. Walsh and the Navy Sailors under his command during the liberation of Cherbourg,” the commandant continued. “We will remain always ready to stand with our brothers and sisters in the U.S. Navy.”

During World War II, while serving on the staff of the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces, Europe, then Cmdr. Walsh was given command of a 53-man special task force assigned to capture the vital port of Cherbourg. Despite heavy casualties, his small force seized the port facilities and took control of the harbor the day after they entered the city.

After he discovered that the remaining German garrison at Fort du Homet held 52 U.S. Army paratroopers as prisoners, Walsh, under a flag of truce, exaggerated the strength of the forces under his command and persuaded the commanding officer of the remnants of the German garrison to surrender. These actions earned him the Navy Cross and, all told, he accepted the surrender of over 700 German soldiers. Walsh died May 18, 2000.

Arleigh Burke-class destroyers conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis response to sea control and power projection. The future USS Quentin Walsh (DDG 132) will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a combination of offensive and defensive weapon systems to support maritime warfare, including integrated air and missile defense and vertical launch capabilities.

USS Quentin Walsh will be constructed at Bath Iron Works, a division of General Dynamics in Bath, Maine. The ship will be 509 feet long, have a beam of 59 feet and be capable of operating in excess of 30 knots.

German prisoners march out of surrendered Cherbourg under U.S. Army guard. U.S. Navy photo.

“5 facts you may not know about the Coast Guard at Normandy” –Coast Guard Compass

File:Lci-convoy.jpg

Normandy Invasion, June 1944 A convoy of Landing Craft Infantry (Large) sails across the English Channel toward the Normandy Invasion beaches on “D-Day”, 6 June 1944. Each of these landing craft is towing a barrage balloon for protection against low-flying German aircraft. Photograph from the U.S. Coast Guard Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Photo #: 26-G-2333

On this the 75th anniversary of the Normandy landings, Coast Guard Compass offers  “5 facts you may not know about the Coast Guard at Normandy.”

lci93_omaha_1_300

“SHE FELT THE NAZIS’ WRATH:” A U.S. Coast Guard infantry landing craft still flies its flag, though knocked out of the invasion, ripped and wounded on the beaches of France. Moving in for a landing, the LCI ran afoul of an underwater obstruction, which tore a gaping hole in her bow. Then as its cargo of troops piled ashore, Nazi shells battered her out of further action.”; no date; Photo No. 2395; photographer unknown.

Coast Guard participation in the invasion included three Coast Guard manned attack transports, two more that were partially CG manned, eleven Landing Ship Tanks (LST), 24 Landing Craft Infantry, Large (LCI(L)), and 60 wooden hulled 83 foot patrol boats. In addition the Coast Guard manned numerous smaller landing craft.

Some previously published info:

Coast Guard History Coming Back On-Line

The 83-foot Coast Guard cutter USCG 1 off Omaha Beach on the morning of D-Day, tied up to an LCT and the Samuel Chase

When the Coast Guard switched all of its on-line servers to the DOD system, now many months ago, it was frankly a disaster for those of us who frequently look for Coast Guard history information on line. It resulted in a large number of broken links on my “Heritage” page, and loss of access to many documents. I have not purged the broken links because I hope the titles will reemerge. Of course this information is still out there, but its just no longer available on-line.

It appears they have been working to rebuild the site on the new servers. They seem to have done a lot in preparation for the upcoming 75th D-Day Anniversary. Unfortunately there are still huge holes in the on-line presence. The cutter section is particular thin, including only Active and the Coast Guard manned LCI(L)s that participated in the Normandy invasion, but it does appear they are laying the ground work for more complete information.

While the site is certainly not comprehensive yet, it is at least getting more interesting.

A recent addition is listed as a chronology, but it is really more of a “This Day in Coast Guard History.” Below is a sample.

May 23

1928  CGC Haida and the USLHT Cedar rescued 312 passengers and crew from the sailing vessel Star of Falkland near Unimak Pass, Alaska after Star of Falkland had run aground in the fog the previous evening.  Both the cutter and the tender managed to save all but eight from the sailing vessel.  This rescue was one of the most successful in Coast Guard history and was also one of the few instances where the Coast Guard and one of its future integrated agencies worked together to perform a major rescue.

1930  Lieutenant Commander Elmer F. Stone received a medal from Congress for extraordinary achievement in making the first successful trans-Atlantic flight in 1919.  Stone was the pilot of the Navy’s NC-4.

1946  Commodore Edward M. Webster, USCG, headed the US Delegation to the International Meeting on Radio Aids to Marine Navigation, which was held in London, England.  As a result of this meeting, the principal maritime nations of the world agreed to make an intensive study of the World War II-developed devices of radar, LORAN, radar beacons, and other navigational aids with a view to adapt them to peacetime use.  This was the first time that the wartime technical secrets of radar and LORAN were generally disclosed to the public. [USCG Public Information Division News Release, 7 June 1946.]

1972  President Richard Nixon and the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR, N. V. Podgorny, signed the “Agreement on Cooperation in the Field of Environmental Protection between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.”  Under the agreement, the U.S. Coast Guard was the lead U.S. agency, in association with the EPA and MARAD, for the Task Group on Prevention and Cleanup of Pollution of the Marine Environment from Shipping.

Meanwhile if you are looking for Coast Guard history, there may be more on-line information and certainly a huge number of photographs on the Naval History and Heritage web site. Here is a good example. Also Wikipedia can be a good source.