Sunday, March 28, 2010

The birth of the U.S. Navy and the United States Marine Corps
By 1775, the snake symbol wasn't just being printed in newspapers. It was appearing all over the colonies ... on uniform buttons ... on paper money ... and of course, on banners and flags.

The snake symbol morphed quite a bit during its rapid, widespread adoption. It wasn't cut up into pieces anymore. And it was usually shown as an American timber rattlesnake, not a generic serpent.

We don't know for certain where, when, or by whom the familiar coiled rattlesnake was first used with the warning "Don't Tread on Me."

We do know when it first entered the history books

In the fall of 1775, the British were occupying Boston and the young Continental Army was holed up in Cambridge, woefully short on arms and ammunition. At the Battle of Bunker Hill, Washington's troops had been so low on gunpowder that they were ordered "not to fire until you see the whites of their eyes."

In October, a merchant ship called The Black Prince returned to Philadelphia from a voyage to England. On board were private letters to the Second Continental Congress that informed them that the British government was sending two ships to America loaded with arms and gunpowder for the British troops.

Congress decided that General Washington needed those arms more than General Howe. A plan was hatched to capture the British cargo ships. They authorized the creation of a Continental Navy, starting with four ships. The frigate that carried the information from England, the Black Prince, was one of the four. It was purchased, converted to a man-of-war, and renamed the Alfred.

To accompany the Navy on their first mission, Congress also authorized the mustering of five companies of Marines. The Alfred and its sailors and marines went on to achieve some of the most notable victories of the American Revolution. But that's not the story we're interested in here.

What's particularly interesting for us is that some of the Marines that enlisted that month in Philadelphia were carrying drums painted yellow, emblazoned with a fierce rattlesnake, coiled and ready to strike, with thirteen rattles, and sporting the motto "Don't Tread on Me."

Benjamin Franklin diverts an idle hour

In December 1775, "An American Guesser" anonymously wrote to the Pennsylvania Journal:

"I observed on one of the drums belonging to the marines now raising, there was painted a Rattle-Snake, with this modest motto under it, 'Don't tread on me.' As I know it is the custom to have some device on the arms of every country, I supposed this may have been intended for the arms of America."

This anonymous writer, having "nothing to do with public affairs" and "in order to divert an idle hour," speculated on why a snake might be chosen as a symbol for America.

First, it occurred to him that "the Rattle-Snake is found in no other quarter of the world besides America."

The rattlesnake also has sharp eyes, and "may therefore be esteemed an emblem of vigilance." Furthermore,

"She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage. ... she never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her."

"I confess I was wholly at a loss what to make of the rattles, 'till I went back and counted them and found them just thirteen, exactly the number of the Colonies united in America; and I recollected too that this was the only part of the Snake which increased in numbers. ...

"'Tis curious and amazing to observe how distinct and independent of each other the rattles of this animal are, and yet how firmly they are united together, so as never to be separated but by breaking them to pieces. One of those rattles singly, is incapable of producing sound, but the ringing of thirteen together, is sufficient to alarm the boldest man living."

Many scholars now agree that this "American Guesser" was Benjamin Franklin.

Franklin, of course, is also known for opposing the use of an eagle -- "a bird of bad moral character" -- as a national symbol.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Mary Edwards Walker
Civil War Doctor
Mary Edwards Walker, one of the nation's 1.8 million women veterans, was the only one to earn the Congressional Medal of Honor, for her service during the Civil War. She, along with thousands of other women, were honored in the newly-dedicated Women in Military Service for America Memorial in October 1997.

Controversy surrounded Mary Edwards Walker throughout her life. She was born on November 26, 1832 in the Town of Oswego, New York, into an abolitionist family. Her birthplace on the Bunker Hill Road is marked with a historical marker. Her father, a country doctor, was a free thinking participant in many of the reform movements that thrived in upstate New York in the mid 1800s. He believed strongly in education and equality for his five daughters Mary, Aurora, Luna, Vesta, and Cynthia (there was one son, Alvah). He also believed they were hampered by the tight-fitting women's clothing of the day.

His daughter, Mary, became an early enthusiast for Women's Rights, and passionately espoused the issue of dress reform. The most famous proponent of dress reform was Amelia Bloomer, a native of Homer, New York, whose defended a colleague's right to wear "Turkish pantaloons" in her Ladies' Temperance Newspaper, the Lily.
"Bloomers," as they became known, did achieve some popular acceptance towards the end of the 19th century as women took up the new sport of bicycling. Mary Edwards Walker discarded the unusual restrictive women's clothing of the day. Later in her life she donned full men's evening dress to lecture on Women's Rights.
In June 1855 Mary, the only woman in her class, joined the tiny number of women doctors in the nation when she graduated from the eclectic Syracuse Medical College, the nation's first medical school and one which accepted women and men on an equal basis. She gratuated at age 21 after three 13-week semesters of medical training which she paid $55 each for.
In 1856 she married another physician, Albert Miller, wearing trousers and a man's coat and kept her own name. Together they set up a medical practice in Rome, NY, but the public was not ready to accept a woman physician, and their practice floundered. They were divorced 13 years later.
When war broke out, she came to Washington and tried to join the Union Army. Denied a commission as a medical officer, she volunteered anyway, serving as an acting assistant surgeon -- the first female surgeon in the US Army. As an unpaid volunteer, she worked in the US Patent Office Hospital in Washington. Later, she worked as a field surgeon near the Union front lines for almost two years (including Fredericksburg and in Chattanooga after the Battle of Chickamauga).
In September 1863, Walker was finally appointed assistant surgeon in the Army of the Cumberland for which she made herself a slightly modified officer's uniform to wear, in response to the demands of traveling with the soldiers and working in field hospitals. She was then appointed assistant surgeon of the 52nd Ohio Infantry. During this assignment it is generally accepted that she also served as a spy. She continually crossed Confederate lines to treat civilians. She was taken prisoner in 1864 by Confederate troops and imprisoned in Richmond for four months until she was exchanged, with two dozen other Union doctors, for 17 Confederate surgeons.
She was released back to the 52nd Ohio as a contract surgeon, but spent the rest of the war practicing at a Louisville female prison and an orphan's asylum in Tennessee. She was paid $766.16 for her wartime service. Afterward, she got a monthly pension of $8.50, later raised to $20, but still less than some widows' pensions.
On November 11, 1865, President Andrew Johnson signed a bill to present Dr. Mary Edwards Walker with the Congressional Medal of Honor for Meritorious Service, in order to recognize her contributions to the war effort without awarding her an army commission. She was the only woman ever to receive the Medal of Honor, her country's highest military award.
In 1917 her Congressional Medal, along with the medals of 910 others was taken away when Congress revised the Medal of Honor standards to include only “actual combat with an enemy” She refused to give back her Medal of Honor, wearing it every day until her death in 1919. A relative told the New York Times: "Dr. Mary lost the medal simply because she was a hundred years ahead of her time and no one could stomach it." An Army board reinstated Walker's medal posthumously in 1977, citing her "distinguished gallantry, self-sacrifice, patriotism, dedication and unflinching loyalty to her country, despite the apparent discrimination because of her sex."
After the war, Mary Edwards Walker became a writer and lecturer, touring here and abroad on women's rights, dress reform, health and temperance issues. Tobacco, she said, resulted in paralysis and insanity. Women's clothing, she said, was immodest and inconvenient. She was elected president of the National Dress Reform Association in 1866. Walker prided herself by being arrested numerous times for wearing full male dress, including wing collar, bow tie, and top hat. She was also something of an inventor, coming up with the idea of using a return postcard for registered mail. She wrote extensively, including a combination biography and commentary called Hit and a second book, Unmasked, or the Science of Immortality. She died in the Town of Oswego on February 21, 1919 and is buried in the Rural Cemetery on the Cemetery Road.
A 20ў stamp honoring Dr. Mary Walker was issued in Oswego, NY on June 10, 1982. The stamp commemorates the first woman to have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor and the second woman to graduate from a medical school in the United States.
The full text of her entry at the U.S. Army Center of Military History of
Medal of Honor Citations follows:

Rank and organization: Contract Acting Assistant Surgeon (civilian), U. S. Army. Places and dates: Battle of Bull Run, July 21, 1861; Patent Office Hospital, Washington, D.C., October 1861; Chattanooga, Tenn., following Battle of Chickomauga, September 1863; Prisoner of War, April 10, 1864-August 12, 1864, Richmond, Va.; Battle of Atlanta, September 1864. Entered service at: Louisville, Ky. Born: 26 November 1832, Oswego County, N.Y.

Citation: Whereas it appears from official reports that Dr. Mary E. Walker, a graduate of medicine, "has rendered valuable service to the Government. and her efforts have been earnest and llntirin~ in a variety of ways," and that she was assigned to duty and served as an assistant surgeon in charge of female prisoners at Louisville, Ky., upon the recommendation of Major_Generals Sherman and Thomas, and faithfully served as contract surgeon in the service of the United States, and has devoted herself with much patriotic zeal to the sick and wounded soliders, both in the field and hospitals, to the detriment of her own health, and has also endured hardships as a prisoner of war four months in a Southern prison while acting as contract surgeon; and

Whereas by reason of her not being a commissioned officer in the military service, a brevet or honorary rank cannot, under existing laws, be conferred upon her; and

Whereas in the opinion of the President an honorable recognition of her services and sufferings should be made:

It is ordered, That a testimonial thereof shall be hereby made and given to the said Dr. Mary E. Walker, and that the usual medal of honor for meritorious services be given her.

Given under my hand in the city of Washington, D.C., this 11th day of November, A.D. 1865.

(Medal rescinded 1917 along with 910 others, restored by President Jimmy Carter on 10 June 1977.)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks
While living in Oxnard, Calif. in 1966, it was an honor for me to be accepted as a member into the Elks Lodge. After moving to different states, I transferred my membership to support the local Elks Lodge. At the present time, it is estimated that more than 2,000 Elks Lodges are across the country and an Elk member is welcome to enter any of them.

The Elks are the largest and most active fraternal organizations in the world. A few years ago, I decided to permanently establish membership in the place of my birth, Elks Lodge 2206, Lawrenceburg, Tennessee. I now live in the Northwest Panhandle of Florida, and my closest lodge is located at Pensacola Beach, Florida overlooking the sugar white beaches and beautiful blue/green water of the Gulf of Mexico. On Feb. 27, Pensacola Beach Elks Lodge presented a fundraiser dinner (barbecue) and auction and raised $9,100 for the American Cancer Society Relay for Life.

For those of you that are not familiar with the Elks, please read on.

The Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks (BPOE; also often known as the Elks Lodge or simply The Elks) is an American fraternal order and social club founded in 1868. It is one of the leading fraternal orders in the U.S., claiming nearly one million members.

The Elks had modest beginnings in 1868 as a social club (then called the "Jolly Corks") established as a private club to elude New York City laws governing the opening hours of public taverns. After the death of a member left his wife and children without income, the club took up additional service roles, rituals and a new name. Desiring to adopt "a readily identifiable creature of stature, indigenous to America", fifteen members voted 8-7 to favor the elk above the buffalo. Early members were mostly from theatrical performing troupes in New York City. It has since evolved into a major American fraternal, charitable, and service order with more than a million members, both men and women, throughout the United States.

Membership was opened to African Americans in the 1970s and women in the mid-1990s, and currently excludes atheists. The opening of membership to women was mandated by the Oregon Public Accommodations Act, which was found by an appeals court to apply to the BPOE, and it has been speculated that the religious restriction might be litigated on the same basis. A year after the national organization changed its policy to allow women to join, the Vermont Supreme Court ordered punitive damages of $5,000 for each of seven women whom a local chapter had rejected citing other reasons. Current members are required to be U.S. citizens over the age of 21 and believe in God.

The Hour of Recollection
Deceased and otherwise absent lodge members are recalled each evening at 11 p.m. when the lodge esquire intones, "It is the Hour of Recollection." The exalted ruler or a member designated by him gives the 11 o'clock toast, of which this version is the most common:

"You have heard the tolling of eleven strokes. This is to remind you that with Elks, the hour of eleven has a tender significance. Wherever Elks may roam, whatever their lot in life may be, when this hour tolls upon the dial of night, the great heart of Elkdom swells and throbs. It is the golden hour of recollection, the homecoming of those who wander, the mystic roll call of those who will come no more. Living or dead, Elks are never forgotten, never forsaken. Morning and noon may pass them by, the light of day sink heedlessly into the west. But ere the shadows of midnight shall fall, the chimes of memory shall be pealing forth the friendly message: To our absent members."

Elks National Foundation
Established in 1928, the Elks National Foundation is the charitable arm of the BPOE. The foundation, with an endowment valued at more than $400 million, has contributed $253.5 million toward Elks' charitable projects nationwide.

An interesting physical artifact of the order is the number of communal cemetery plots once favored by the group. Often these are marked with impressive statuary.

Due to the willingness of most Elk Lodges to respond to community needs and events, it is common to turn the BPOE abbreviation into a backronym for "Best People on Earth."

Structure and organization
The national headquarters, known as the Grand Lodge, is located in the Lincoln Park neighborhood of Chicago at the southwest corner of Diversey Pkwy, Sheridan Rd, Lakeview Ave, and Cannon Dr. Local Elks Lodges, known as subordinate lodges, are located in about 2,100 cities and towns across the United States and its territories (as of 2006). There is one Elks lodge overseas, in Metro Manila, the Philippines, a former US territory; only American citizens can be members.

The local Elks lodges are known by their lodge number and the name of the city in which they are located. For example, the first Lodge, located in New York City, is Lodge 1, while the Lodge in Nashville, TN is Lodge 72. When a Lodge is closed, its number is retired, but if re-instituted at a later time, the city name and lodge number can be reinstated by the Grand Lodge.

A Grand Lodge Convention is held each year in a principal city in the United States. It is at this meeting that delegates from the subordinate lodges vote on the next new Grand Exalted Ruler and conduct other items of business.

Elks Magazine is published 10 times a year and goes to all members.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Saint Patrick's Day
Saint Patrick's Day or simply Paddy's Day, is an annual feast day that celebrates Saint Patrick Day for the Irish and for those who would like to be Irish. The most commonly recognised of the patron saints of Ireland, and is generally celebrated on 17 March.

The day is a national holiday of Ireland: it is a bank holiday in Northern Ireland and a public holiday in the Republic of Ireland. It is also a public holiday in Montserrat. In Poland, Canada, United Kingdom (excluding Northern Ireland), Australia, the United States and New Zealand, it is widely celebrated but is not an official holiday.

St. Patrick's feast day was placed on the universal liturgcal calendar in the Catholic Church due to the influence of the Waterford-born Franciscan scholar Luke Wadding.

In the early part of the 17th century, although the feast day was celebrated in the local Irish church from a much earlier date. St. Patrick's Day is a holy day of obligation for Roman Catholics in Ireland. The feast day usually falls during Lent. The church calendar avoids the observance of saints' feasts during certain solemnities, moving the saint's day to a time outside those periods. St. Patricks Day is very occasionally affected by this requirement. Thus when 17th of March falls during Holy Week, as in 1940 when St. Patrick's Day was observed on 3 April in order to avoid it coinciding with Palm Sunday, and again in 2008, having been observed on 15 March. St. Patrick's Day will not fall within Holy Week again until 2160 - when it will fall on the Monday before Easter.

In the United States

Early celebrations
Irish Society of Boston organized what was the first Saint Patrick's Day Parade in the colonies on 17 March 1737. The first celebration of Saint Patrick's Day in New York City was held at the Crown and Thistle Tavern in 1766, the parades were held as political and social statements because the Irish immigrants were being treated unfairly. New York's first Saint Patrick's Day Parade was held on 17 March 1762 by Irish soldiers in the British Army. In 1780, General George Washington, who commanded soldiers of Irish descent in the Continental Army, allowed his troops a holiday on 17 March - as an act of solidarity with the Irish in their fight for independence." This event became known as The St. Patrick's Day Encampment of 1780.

Customs today
Today, Saint Patrick's Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike. Many people, regardless of ethnic background, wear green-coloured clothing and items. Traditionally, those who are caught not wearing green are pinched, usually affectionately.

Seattle and other cities paint the traffic stripe of their parade routes green. Chicago dyes its river green and has done so since 1961 when sewer workers used green dye to check for sewer discharges and got the idea to turn the river green for St. Patrick's Day but it only lasts a few hours. Indianapolis also dyes its main canal green. Savannah dyes its downtown city fountains green. Missouri University of Science and Technology - St Pat's Board Alumni paint 12 city blocks kelly green with mops before the annual parade. In Jamestown, New York, the Chadakoin River (a small tributary that connects Conewango Creek with its source at Chautauqua Lake) is dyed green each year.

Students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign like to celebrate the holiday twice. The first, more popular celebration happens earlier in March and is known as Unofficial St. Patrick's Day, or more commonly "Unofficial."

Many parades are held to celebrate the holiday. The longest-running of these are:

Savannah, Georgia
The parade organizers have claimed an expected attendance of around 400,000. In 2006, the T?naiste was featured in the parade. The parade travels through Savannah's Historic District. One tradition that has developed has been the official "dyeing of the fountains" which happens several days before the parade.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
Perhaps the smallest notable parade World's Shortest St. Patrick's Day Parade, is said to take place in Hot Springs, Arkansas in the United States annually held on historic Bridge Street which became famous in the 1940s when Ripley's Believe It or Not designated it "The Shortest Street in the World."

Syracuse, New York
In the city of Syracuse, NY, Saint Patrick's celebrations are traditionally begun with the delivery of green beer to Coleman's Irish Pub on the first Sunday of March. Coleman's is located in the Tipperary Hill section of the city. Tipperary Hill is home to the World famous "Green-on-Top" Traffic Light and is historically the Irish section in Syracuse. Saint Patrick's Day is rung in at midnight with the painting of a Shamrock under the Green-Over-Red traffic light. Syracuse boasts the largest St. Patrick's day celebration per-capita in the United States with their annual Syracuse St. Patrick's Parade, founded by Nancy Duffy, an honored journalist in the Central New York area and an active community leader. "The parade remains a major annual event, typically drawing an estimated crowd of more than 100,000 visitors to downtown Syracuse, as well as 5,000 to 6,000 marchers."

New York City
The New York parade has become the largest Saint Patrick's Day parade in the world. In a typical year, 150,000 marchers participate in it, including bands, firefighters, military and police groups, county associations, emigrant societies, and social and cultural clubs, and 2 million spectators line the streets. The parade marches up 5th Avenue in Manhattan and is always led by the U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment. The Commissioner of the parade always asks the Commanding Officer if the 69th is ready, to which the response is, "The 69th is always ready." New York politicians - or those running for office - are always found prominently marching in the parade. Former New York City Mayor Ed Koch once proclaimed himself "Ed O'Koch" for the day, and he continued to don an Irish sweater and march every year up until 2003, even though he was no longer in office.

The parade is organized and run by the Ancient Order of Hibernians. For many years, the St. Patrick's Day Parade was the primary public function of the organization. On occasion the order has appointed controversial Irish republican figures (some of whom were barred from the U.S.) to be its Grand Marshal. The parade has also drawn controversy for many years for its exclusion of openly gay organizations

The New York parade is moved to the previous Saturday (March 16) in years where March 17th is a Sunday. The event also has been moved on the rare occasions when, due to Easter falling on a very early date, March 17th would land in Holy Week. This same scenario arose again in 2008, when Easter fell on March 23rd, but the festivities went ahead on their normal date and had record viewers. In many other American cities (such as San Francisco), the parade is always held on the Sunday before March 17th, regardless of the liturgical calendar.

Holyoke, Massachusetts
This Western Mass factory town was the site of massive Irish immigration in the 19th Century, and hosts a Parade its organizers claim is the second largest in the United States. It is scheduled on the Sunday following St. Patrick's Day each year. Attendance exceeds 300,000, with over 25,000 marchers, through a 2.3 mile route in this city of 40,000. A 10K road Race and many events create a remarkable festival weekend. Each year an Irish-American who has distinguished himself or herself in their chosen profession is awarded the John F. Kennedy National Award. JFK was a National Award Winner in the 1958 Holyoke Parade. Other winners include author Tom Clancy, Homeland Security Director Tom Ridge, and actor Pat O'Brien.

Scranton, Pennsylvania
Due to the rich history of Scranton participation in St. Patrick's Day festivities it is one of the oldest and most populated parades in the United States. It has been going on annually since 1862 by the St. Patrick's Day Parade Association of Lackawanna County and the parade has gotten attention nationally as being one of the better St. Patrick's Day parades. The parade route begins on Wyoming Ave. and loops up to Penn Ave. and then Lackawanna Ave. before going back down over Jefferson Ave. to get to Washington Ave. Scranton hosts the third largest St. Patrick's Day Parade in the United States. In 2008, up to 150,000 people attended the parade.

Seattle, Washington
Seattle's St. Patrick's Day Parade, recognized by CNN in 2009 as one of the "Five places to get your green on" in America, travels along a 1-mile route through the Emerald City's downtown financial and retail core the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day. Seattle's St. Patrick's Day Celebration is the largest and oldest in the Northwestern United States. In 2009, some 20,000 spectators and groups from throughout the Northwest turned out for the city's Irish shenanigans. Along with the annual "Laying 'O the Green" where Irish revelers mark the path of the next morning's procession with a mile-long green stripe, the Seattle parade marks the high-point of Seattle's Irish Week festivities. The week-long civic celebration organized by the city's Irish Heritage Club includes the annual Society of the Friends of St. Patrick Dinner where a century-old Irish Shillelagh has been passed to the group's new president for 70 years, an Irish Soda Bread Baking Contest, a Mass for Peace that brings together Catholics and others in a Protestant church, and the annual Irish Week Festival, which takes place around St. Patrick's day is enormous, including step dancing, food, historical and modern exhibitions, and Irish lessons. Many celebrities of Irish descent visit Seattle during it's St. Patrick's Day Celebration. In 2010 The Right Honourable Desmond Guinness, a direct descendant of Guinness Brewery founder Arthur Guinness, will serve as the parade's grand marshal. In 2009, The Tonight Show's Conan O'Brien made a guest appearance at the annual Mayor's Proclamation Luncheon at local Irish haunt F.X. McCrory's. And in 2008, European Union Ambassador to the U.S. and former Irish Prime Minister John Bruton served as the parade's grand marshal and marched alongside Tom Costello, the mayor of Galway, Seattle's Irish sister city.

Las Vegas, Nevada
The Southern Nevada, (formerly Las Vegas) Sons of Erin have put on a parade since 1966. It was formerly held on Fremont Street in downtown Las Vegas, later moved to 4th street. Since 2005, the parade has been held in downtown Henderson. It is one of the biggest parades in the state of Nevada. It also consists of a three day festival, carnival and classic car show in Old Town Henderson.

Rolla, Missouri
Rolla is home to the Missouri University of Science & Technology (formerly known as University of Missouri-Rolla, and Missouri School of Mines), an engineering college. St. Patrick is the patron saint of engineers, the school and town's celebrations start ten days before St. Patrick's Day, with a downtown parade held the Saturday before St. Patrick's. A royal court is crowned, and the streets in the city's downtown area are painted solid green. Each year's celebrations are said to be "The Best Ever." In 2008, Rolla celebrated its "100th Annual Best Ever St. Patrick's Day 2008" celebration.

In previous years, a pit of green liquid was made by students as part of the festivities, and named 'Alice' -- stepping into Alice was a rite of bravery. In recent years, however, the university faculty has banned the practice out of health concerns.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Cliff Beasley, Coast Guard OCS Grad
My friend, retired US Coast Guard, Captain Walt Viglienzone, Pensacola, Fla., sent me this United States Coast Guard story and I consider it an honor to post it so others can enjoy this World War II story as told by the hero himself. Cliff Beasley, now lives in Pensacola, Florida.

by Cliff Beasley
I joined the Coast Guard in March of 1942 in Fort Worth, Texas and was given the high rate of Apprentice Seaman. When I told the Chief, I was due for graduation from college in June, he put me in the C.R.C. Program to attend the Academy. If I qualified after the 4 months school, I would be commissioned Ensign in the Coast Guard Reserve. Thirteen of us left Fort Worth by train, November 16, 1942, destination, New London. Arriving there, we were sent by truck to Groton to begin our training, and this is where the story begins.

I was in Platoon No.1, 33 men, and in this platoon were men from all over America, mostly college grads. Some of these guys had Ph.Ds’ in math, science, etc. and then there was the rest of us. The first month was set up for us to receive shots, learn to march, attend basic communication classes, row boats and try to get more military in our bearing and thinking. Marching for the most part was not too difficult, but we had one man who was a disaster. To the right, march, he would go left. About face, march, total collision. Right shoulder, arms, Yeh, you know!!! He was such a nice guy and we felt sorry for him so tried to help him the best we could, but to no avail. The next thing really caused concern about the man’s everyday problems. After taking our shots, we were sent to the docks to go out and row. This was to help our arms and help move the vaccines. At the end of the towing exercise, our Chief gathered us around to explain the nomenclature of the Double Ended Self Righting Monomoy. At the end of the lecture, he showed us the air tight tanks at each end of the Monomoy, explaining that because of their elevated positions, if the boat turned over, they would right the boat again. Also, since they were air tight, they were used to store items to keep them from getting wet. He then unscrewed the cover, to show us the insides of the compartment. At this point, our non marching friend said to the Chief, “Now that you have let the air out of the compartment, how do you put it back????” The Chief was at a loss for words except to say “Fall In” and off we went.

At the end of the month, our friend was called in and told he did not qualify to go on and was dismissed from the Coast Guard. We were all sorry to see him go. He was such a nice guy. A little over two years later, I was walking down a street in Kyoto, Japan, (after winning the war practically single-handed) and ran face to face with this same guy. He was in civilian clothes, which I thought was unusual. We stopped and talked and I asked him why was he in Japan? He answered “When I left the Coast Guard, I went immediately to Oak Ridge, Tennessee and was one of the scientists sent there to develop the Atomic Bomb.” He had been sent to Japan to observe the effects of the two bombs dropped.

Now that I think about it. Was he really that bad and dumb, or was he intentionally hidden until he could be sent to Oak Ridge?

A Coast Guard OCS connection with the Atomic Bombs...
What do you think?? Could be??? Maybe??
Damn the Torpedoes -- Japanese Corrosion Saved a Ship
Damn The Torpedoes – Full Speed Ahead

On May 17,1944, I reported aboard the U.S. Army FS-174 (Freight-Supply) at Higgins Shipyard, New Orleans, Louisiana. From there we went down the Mississippi, thru the Panama Canal and on to Hawaii, Funa Futi, Guadalcanal and then to Dutch New Guinea: entering Milne Bay the 28th of September. Our job was to move troops and supplies from one base to another, as directed by the Army. This included bases in Milne Bay, Oro Bay, Finchhaven, Hollandia, Biak, Morotai and the Admiralty Islands.

On the 27th of November, we were assigned to the U.S. Army, 4th - Engineer, Shore and Boat Regiment (4th ES&BR). This Regiment (or Brigade) was in charge of directing traffic during an invasion, such as troops and supplies landing on Blue Beach, Orange Beach, etc. We were to take in the necessary equipment, such as airstrip matting, 55-gallon drums of high octane gasoline, dozers, jeeps, trucks, etc. We would get as close to the beach as possible and unload in LCTs, LCVPs, etc. This we did at the invasion of Leyte and Linguyan Gulf.

With the surrender of the Philippines, we were ordered back to Hollandia DNG, to bring the last of the equipment and 50 troops to Manila. Now here is where the fun begins. On the 9th of March at 1505 hours, we departed Hollandia for Manila. Our station was midway back in the port column of the convoy and in the middle column, along side of us, was a big oil tanker. At approximately 11:00 a.m., on the 17th, the convoy commander ran up flags indicating -- "Submarine Port side– alter course 45 degrees to starboard." This we all did, and I ran to the port wing of the bridge to see if I could see the sub.

About this time, I saw a stream of bubbles coming straight at us. It is funny how you might read an article and how it comes back to you as if you practiced what you read. The article, written by a Merchant Marine read “If you see that your ship is going to be struck by a torpedo, grab a stanchion, bend your knees and open your mouth”. All of these things, I did. At 11:10, the torpedo struck the ship, shook the rigging, and noisily passed under us. I am sure the torpedo was meant for the tanker and not us. Chief Scarborogh, our Chief Motor Mach, came out on deck from the engine room looked up at me and shouted, “What the hell did we run over?”

Well, it didn’t explode or I probably wouldn’t be writing this. Fortunately, our ship was constructed with a double chine and then a flat bottom. The torpedo struck the 2nd chine (doubling in the metal) and then went on under. I later talked to two submariners and they said they had studied some Japanese torpedoes and that the firing mechanism probably saved us. A ball sits on a pedestal and when dislodged, activates the firing procedure. They found these balls were corroded to the posts, preventing the firing.

Anyway, I went off watch at 12:00 noon, went down to my quarters and changed my skivvies. What fun we had in the Service!!!!