Sunday, May 30, 2010

April 17, 2010 – American Revolution, Old Glory Speaks, Toast of the Flag, SS Gurney E Newlin, Sons of the American Revolution, National Sojourners

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Call To Order

Sick Call
In your prayers, please remember Tom Vitale, Dick Dennig, C.A. Lloyd, Labe Magdule, Bob Bouscher, Gerri Korker and all others that are ailing.

Prayer
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There was no way to know that this would be the final blessing that Walt Steinsiek would give to our group.
Pledge


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Honor Flight Award
Southeast Honor Flight was recently given Governor Charlie Crist’s “Points Of Light” award. Southeast Honor Flight provides free flights to veterans of World War II to visit the World War II Memorial.
To read the story, click here.

In Memorial
ssgurneyenewton
 WW Gurney E. Newlin
The Gurney E Newlin was an American Steam tanker that was put into service on 14 May 1942. It carried a complement of 59 troops, 39 Merchant Mariners and 20 Navy Armed Guard.
In late fall of 1942, the SS Gurney E Newlin was in transit from New York to Manchester as part of convoy HX-212. In the late hours of 27 October 1942, U-436 fired a torpedo at the convoy hitting the Frontenac. Minutes later, three torpedoes were fired sinking the Sourabaya and damaging the Gurney E Newlin. Three troops in the engine room of the Newlin were killed, one officer and two crewmen.
Within minutes, the remainder of the Newlin’s crew, eight officers, 32 crewmen and 19 armed guard, abandoned ship. Twelve of the survivors were picked up by the HMCS Alberni (K103). Thirty one crew members and thirteen armed guard were picked up by the Bic Island, a Canadian ship.
On 29 October 1942, the Bic Island was torpedoed and sunk by U-224. Eighty-one survivors were picked up by the HMCS Alberni.


 William R. Stevenson, Guest Speaker
Wm Stevenson 2
President of the Florida Sons of the American Revolution, William R. Stevenson, was the guest speaker at the breakfast on April 17, 2010. He appeared in the uniform of a Naval Officer. Only officers, not regular Navy, were issued uniforms. An officer’s uniform during the American Revolution depicted the gentleman’s social standing, separating him from the regular navy. A little history on the uniform follows.
The First Uniforms; Revolutionary War to 1798
From The Department of Navy Library
From its inception, the United States Navy utilized as officers men who were generally a product of a higher social order. By becoming a naval officer, a man merely transferred the condition and aspects of his background into a different profession. He would not foresake his code of conduct, educational level, mannerisms, or least of all his dress by adopting a new means of livelihood. Thus the earliest officer uniforms identified the wearer as a gentleman of the maritime profession. His clothes closely paralleled the cut of civilian garments with color and accoutrements representing his nautical affiliation.
The initial attempt at a uniform for naval personnel was addressed by the Continental Congress in 1776 and exclusively dealt with the officer community. The dress prescribed was extremely somber and reflected the attitude of the Congress to eliminate the ornate trappings evidenced in the Royal Navy and move towards a democratic society. The naval officers quickly rebelled and demanded a more ornate uniform with dark blue coat and tricorner hat, colored facings, and cuffs with gold buttons and lace, a uniform which in fact was strikingly similar to that of the Royal Navy. General guidance was provided for distinctive garments which reflected the high position and authority felt necessary for the naval officer.
After the revolution had ended in 1783, the services were disbanded and the ordeals of privation and strife caused a reluctance to keep any standing forces in the fiercely independent colonies. Also, those who had served as officers were mostly happy to depart and return to merchant activities. Trade would be lucrative and few wanted to remain in the service where pay was infrequent and benefits nil. They had fought for a cause and it had been secured, there was no longer any reason for a professional military.
Officers UniformCaptain John Paul Jones, by Cecilia Beaux, US Naval Academy Museum Collection.
Jones is wearing a version of the uniform proposed by the Marine Committee of the Continental Congress in 1776, except he lacks gold lace on the waistcoat that indicated the rank of captain. No epaulettes were authorized. The following year some officers called for a change in uniform to blue cloth with white facings, and gold epaulettes. During the battle, Jones apparently wore the newer, unauthorized uniform. Its similarity to the uniform of the Royal Navy aided in his ruse de guerre in closing with Serapis.
whipple_smallCommodore Abraham Whipple by Edward Savage, US Naval Academy Museum Collection.  Whipple is shown wearing the uniform authorized for captains in the Continental Navy: blue with red facings, yellow buttons, and a red waistcoat with gold lace trim.

From The Department of Navy Library



Although pressed for time, Mr. Stevenson recited with great conviction the “Toast to the Flag” and “Old Glory.” The video was not the best quality, for which I apologize, but I have included the words to each for you to read.

by John Jay Daly
Here's to the red of it -
There's not a thread of it,
No, nor a shred of it
In all the spread of it
From foot to head,
But heroes bled for it,
Faced steel and lead for it,
Precious blood shed for it,
Bathing it red!
Here's to the white of it-
Thrilled by the sight of it,
Who knows the right of it
But feels the might of it
Through day and night?
Womanhood's care for it
Made manhood dare for it,
Purity's prayer for it
Keeps it so white!
Here's to the blue of it -
Beauteous view of it,
Heavenly hue of it,
Star-spangled dew of it
Constant and true;
Diadems gleam for it,
States stand supreme for it,
Liberty's beam for it
Brightens the blue!!
Here's to the whole of it -
Stars, stripes and pole of it,
Body and soul of it,
O, and the roll of it,
Sun shining through;
Hearts in accord for it,
Swear by the sword for it,
Thanking the Lord for it,
Red, White and Blue.
American Flag
I AM THE FLAG OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
I was conceived in the dreams of liberty and in the hopes of freedom. Though I was never an orphan. I was adopted by the Continental Congress in 1777 and proclaimed the national emblem of a nation newly born on this continent, fighting valiantly for survival and destined to bring to all mankind a new concept of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I have been many places and witnessed many events in our American history. I was there when they fired the shot heard 'round the world, and when General George Washington became Commander-In-Chief, I was there in the late twilight at Fort McHenry and inspired Francis Scott Key to write "The Star Spangled Banner".
I saw Molly Pitcher take the cannon swab from the hands of her dead husband and help carry on the fight for freedom: I felt the biting cold at Valley Forge and gave comfort to the tired and hungry Continental Army: I rode with Ethan Allen and the Green Mountain Boys and saw the signal that started the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
I was flown above the decks of old "Ironside", and the masts of the "Yankee" and the "China Clippers"; I blazed the trail west with Daniel Boone and Davey Crocket and stood beside them at the Alamo.
I was carried through the halls of Montezuma and the shores of Tripoli; I fell to the ground at Custer's last stand and there were no friendly hands left to pick me up. I galloped up the slopes of San Juan Hill with Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders: I stayed with the boys until it was over, over there, and was with them on battlefields of the Marne, Chateau-Thierry, St. Mihiel and the Argonne forest. I saw many of the youths and manhood of our nation fall and lie still in death. They had-given their last full measure of devotion. The war was over for them forever, but I have kept my lonely vigil over their graves and have stayed to watch the poppies grow amid the crosses, row on row, in Flanders Field.

I was raised by five brave men during the "hell" of Iwo-Jima. I waved farewell to the four immortal chaplains who went down on their ship to honored glory. I proudly waved over our troops fighting to keep the peace in Korea and the jungles of southeast Asia. I have been carried to the South Pole, the North Pole and the moon.
Their purity is remembered in my white stripes;
Their blood has given me stripes of red;
Their souls are cradled in my stars;
And their courage embedded in my blue.
I am many things to many people, I am an inseparable link in the chain that binds men to God and country. I am the, "Red, White and Blue", "the Star-Spangled Banner", "the Stars and Stripes", but I am most commonly known by a nickname given me by a sea captain, who called me "Old Glory".
At this moment, while I fly at peace in turbulent times, men and women from around the world are still striving to reach my shores, to touch and stand beside me, a symbol of liberty, a light of humanity; an emblem of man's faith:
A beacon shining into the darkness;
And here I will always be, for I am the Stars and Stripes forever...
.......I AM OLD GLORY : :
flag
( From speech by COL. HAROLD SHEAR, copyrighted by National Sojourners Inc.),

Honor Flight – The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization HonorFlight_logowhose purpose is to honor our nation's veteran's for their service and sacrifice. The veterans are flown to  Washington D.C. to visit their monuments and to reflect on their memories. Priority is given to senior veterans from WWII and those veterans that are terminally ill. If you would like more information about the Honor Flight Network, click here.
If you are a south Florida veteran and would like to submit an application for an Honor Flight originating in south Florida, please click here to download the application. 

The Pointer - The U.S.N. Armed Guard World War II Veterans Association adopted The Pointer as the name of its publication. The name itself had its origin in the World War II Armed Guard. If you, or someone you know, is interested in viewing The Pointer, issues are available on this website from 2000 onward. There is no cost to receive The Pointer. It is supported solely by donations. If you are interested in donating to The Pointer, please click here.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Memorial Day 2010

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As we approach the Memorial Day Holiday, please remember that freedom isn't free. Thank a veteran!

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Rochester AG Celebrates 21st Anniversary Lunch, Letter To Senator Trent Lott

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A Chief Photographer

A case of blood poisoning kept Korky Korker from sailing. But it didn’t keep him from seeing WWII, through the lens of a camera. Click here to read about Korky.
Do you or someone you know have a story? Be sure to let us know about it!

Rochester Armed Guard 21st Anniversary Lunch

March 9, 2010

Jay's Diner, 2612 West Henrietta Road, Rochester NY, 14623
Rochester Armed Guard 21st Anniversary Lunch
Seated in front, left to right: Joan Luci, Barbara Garling, Marie Lane, Irene Mace; Stand back row, left to right:Al Garling, Kay Fredrickson, Ted Fredrickson, Forest Lane, John Shevlin, Mike Luci, Rev. Richard Hass, Walter Mace, Paul Graham-Raad, Elmer Bigelow, Frank Hutter.

Permission to use granted by John W. Shevlin Sr

A Salute to the US Navy Armed Guard of WWII

(They have watched our backs in war and in peace)

We savor the peaceful waters and safe harbor we enjoy in the United States. The surviving Merchant Mariners thank God and the United States Navy Armed Guard for their great contribution in winning peace in World War II.

October 20, 1997

Honorable Trent Lott
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senator Lott:

Enclosed is a letter I sent to you 1/12/96. Did you receive it? It concerns giving credit where credit is due to the Merchant Mariners of World War II. They helped us man the guns when needed and brought up the ammunition from the ammo magazines when under attack. Contrary to isolated cases, these men served not only their country, but those countries to which they delivered materials and supplies after the war was over. If it were not for the skills and desire to deliver these goods, many entire families would have died of starvation. Please think about this when you bring Bill-S-61 and HR-1126
up for a vote.

As a schoolmate and Merchant shipmate of WWII said to me one day, “C.A., I wish I was half the Christian today as I was in the engine room when those depth charges were going off almost all the way over and back.” As he told me this, I could see the fright in his eyes, some 50 years later. I don’t show that fright in my face because I was one of the Lucky ones to be topside when the depth charges went off and I could see the destroyer escorts when they threw out the “ASH CANS” and I knew what it was that exploded.

There were five of us brothers in the service of our country. Three of us were in the U.S. Navy Armed Guard on board ships run by the Merchant Seamen. One was a Merchant Mariner carrying supplies to Italy and who also rode out the Typhoon later at Okinawa and was due to be in the invasion of the Japanese mainland. The other was a regular Marine and due to his age and marital status with a child, he was a Sentry Guard at Treasure Island, one of the three shipping and receiving stations for Armed Guard.

Brother WLonnie Whitson Lloydhitson, one of the first Armed Guard, entering Navy Service 12/28/41, and volunteered for that Special Branch of the Navy when it was known as the “SUICIDE SQUADRON.” I remember when he came home from the “MURMANSK RUN” when he told my Mother and Dad, and I quote, “If it was not for the Merchant Crew bringing us our ammunition, I wouldn’t be here today. Mom, they brought us food and water 3 days and nights and there were no nights due to the time of year and we did not sleep. If we did, we would not have made it.” Unquote.

Whitson made it back to England several times; to the North Africa Invasion; was at Bari, Italy: right after the “DISASTER AT BARI” took place: and he sailed through the Pacific to Australia and Bombay, India, on a load of ammunition. The Merchant Mariners were aboard these ships in the engine room, on the bridge, in the “CROW’S NEST” and with the gun crews in practice and under fire from the enemy. That’s why I and the Armed Guard stood up for Merchantmen to get their Veteran’s Status in January of 1988. That’s why I and our crew stand up that they be granted December 31, 1946, as their “CUTOFF DATES”of in-time service.

You see, the eleven merchant seamen who were killed May 5th, 1945, along with my brother, Lonnie Whitson Lloyd, would have gone on to serve until December 31, 1946, if they would have been given a choice. Two of them had just finished up their Maritime training and came aboard the SS Black Point at Newport News, VA, just a few days earlier. Honor these men and those who survived. Let us not forget those who gave their all and those CA Lloyd before and afterwho were willing to, also.

Sincerely,

Charles A. Lloyd, Chairman 1985-98
U.S.N. Armed Guard WW II Veterans
* * * * *

In the first months of WWII, the enemy had sunk more than 300 merchant ships off our eastern coastline. In the Maritime industry, it was called the 2nd Pearl Harbor with approximately 3600 seamen dead. To stop the slaughter, the Navy was asked to procure weapons and train gun crews to be put aboard the merchant vessels and protect these vitally important mariners and the supply service to our troops and Allies. These gun crews were called the US Navy Armed Guard.

Before it was over, the Battle of the North Atlantic took the lives of thousands. Navy gunners and merchant seamen fought and died together determined to get their ships through. The battle stains and blood of those gallant men colored the decks as their bombed, machine-gunned and torpedoed vessels slid below the waves. The Navy Armed Guard fought for us in battle during WWII, again with Congress in 1997 and today, they support us as we seek full veterans’ status with “A Belated thank you to the Merchant Mariners”, Senate Bill S-663.

A.J. Wichita, LT USN (Vet)
USCB Lic.Ch.Engr.
National President

American Merchant Marine Veterans
Permission to reprint was granted by C.A. Lloyd, President of the USN Armed Guard WWII Veterans

Saturday, March 20, 2010

March 20, 2010 - 89 Days Under Water - USS Seahorse

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 Call To Order

Sick Call – Please remember Bob Bouscher, Gerry Korker and Tom Vitale in your prayers.

Prayer – Walt Steinsiek offers a prayer to begin.
video

The Pledge – Every month these proud WWII veterans stand and recite The Pledge of Allegiance. I have taken the liberty of inserting The Pledge of Allegiance done by Red Skelton this month. It holds as true today as when he did this, circa 1960. I hope that you enjoy it.

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In Memorial - The Loss of the SS WILLIAM C. GORGAS – by a survivor

About 2330 hours, the SS WILLIAM C. GORGAS was struck by a torpedo in the engine room killing the watch on duty and completely disabling the ship. The weather was very rough and getting the lifeboats away was very difficult. One of the boats was smashed, spilling all of the men in it into the sea. Thms_harvesterhe boat I was in was picked up about 0500 on March 11th by HMS HARVESTER.

Upon going aboard the destroyer, we found most of the crew as well as members of the Armed Guard already on board. Twelve men were missing including the Chief Mate, 2nd Mate, 3rd Engineer, and the Radio Operator. The Captain and most of the crew had been rescued.

During the attack on the convoy, the HARVESTER had rammed the U-444 and in doing so rode up on the sub and broke a propeller shaft and destroyed the submarine detection system which was located on the bottom of her hull. Due to this she had been assigned the task of picking up survivors. At 0800 on March 11 the other shaft broke thus leaving the destroyer helpless. At 1100 hours, while lying dead in the water, the HARVESTER was struck by a torpedo on her port side, the lee side.

Some of the men had been below attempting to sleep. I had found it so cold that I could not sleep so when the ship was hit, the Chief Engineer and I were on deck. Captain Ellis had been below and now came on deck and he appeared to be in a dazed condition. He was without his shirt and life jacket. One of our men offered him his life jacket but the Captain told him, "That belongs to you, son." Someone gave him a life ring and he put it on. Some of the men had started going overboard by now and the Captain also started to go. I said to him, "Captain, don't go now, we have plenty of time!" He looked at me and then jumped into the sea. He was caught by a large wave and when the sea cleared, the life ring was floating but the Captain was not in sight. Captain Ellis was a good and brave man.

British warships did not carry lifeboats in wartime and as far as I could see the only life saving gear on board was the life belts. The crew and others were busy throwing everything that would float overboard. The Chief and I went to the stern and began to think about how and when to abandon ship. I had some unhappy experiences in the Barents Sea when the SS BELLINGHAM was sunk and I did not want to leave a dry deck until the last possible moment. The Chief decided to go off the stern but I decided to go off the starboard side about 4 feet from the stern. There were two British officers standing on the bridge and one of them shouted through a horn, "Yanks, don't wait too long!" The Chief and I wished each other luck and we stepped off into the sea. While I was sinking in the water another torpedo hit the HARVESTER breaking her in two. The after section of the ship came back with such force that I was struck behind my ear and for a little while I was not in control of my senses. When my vision had cleared, I could see what had happened. The after section of the ship had run over the Chief and now stood in a vertical position on her stern. The forward section was in a vertical position also with her bow in the air. My head at this time was immovable, probably due to the blow and the icy cold water.

The sub now surfaAconit42_netced and waited. It did not molest anyone. In about an hour, the French Corvette ACONIT  came upon the scene and attacked the sub. The fight lasted for about an hour. Finally, the ACONIT got the sub to the surface and landed six direct hits causing the Germans to run up the white flag. Thirty-one men were removed from the disabled sub. The Captain of the sub refused to leave when thrown a line and went below. He went down with the sub (U-432). His First Officer told us his Captain was only 21 years old.

The ACONIT now began to pick up the survivors of the HARVESTER and as the weather had scattered the men over a large area of the water, it was slow going. I was picked up just before dark and the last thing I remember while in the water was an officer shouting at me in French. I woke up in a bunk none the worse for wear. I was told that I passed out and seaman was sent down to tie a rope on me, then I was pulled aboard.

The ACONIT rescued 61 survivors from the HARVESTER including 52 English, 8 Americans, and a German who had been taken off the U-444, the sub she had rammed the night before. We were taken to Gourock, Scotland, without any more trouble.

Yancey N. Hall Ex. First Assistant Engineer

From The Armed Guard and Merchant Marine website
 USAT_General_W__C__Gorgas_(1902)
Public domain!This image is a work of a sailor or employee of the U.S. Navy, taken or made duriUS Navyng the course of the person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

89 Days Under Water

Talking to the group this month was Tony Reese, U.S. Navy Chief Petty Officer, retired. Tony started out by saying that he “didn’t know what I can say about my time in the Navy. You guys (the WWII vets) are the heroes!”

When Tony joined the Navy about 30 years ago, he thought that becoming a submariner might be the thing for him.  He began submarine school and found out that not everyone that started submarine school made it through. Military doctors poked him and prodded him trying to determine if he would be able to handle life on a submarine.

He graduated from submarine school in 1980 and was assigned to the fast attack sub, USS Seahorse, a Sturgeon Class submarine. Tony was awed and excited anticipating life aboard a submarine, and found that submarine life was both comfortable and stressful.

One exercise in which he participated in was taking out a perfectly good boat and sinking it, while they were on board. Then they prayed that it would come up again.

While deployed, there was constant drilling all day long. When “dive, dive” was heard, everyone went into action. Since it was peacetime, the crew of the Seahorse spent a lot of time “playing” with the Russians.

The USS Seahorse was the 5th submarine to navigate around the world. During that time, Tony and his crewmates spent 89 days underwater. Their only contact with the outside world were the occasional “family grams” that they received. These for short three-line messages that their families could send them. The family grams were all screened before they were delivered to the men. No bad news was allowed to get through. The men could only contact their families when they were in port, which was rare.

The 150 men on board would eat, sleep and stand watch. The “coffin rack” was their home. Around the world underwater. Tony had wanted to see the world!

The morale of the crew was kept high by feeding them well. Tony said that he has never eaten so much lobster in his life.

They did participate in some under ice operations, too. The submarine would break through the ice and then the crew could get out. They played softball and they lost a lot of balls on the ice!

In case of any illness or injury, the boat had a chief corpman on board. In emergencies, the corpman would keep the ill or injured man comfortable until the submarine could surface.

How deep a submarine can actually go is “classified”. One thing they did was draw a string tight from one bulkhead to another, then watch it sag as they submerged. The more it sagged, the deeper they were. That showed how pressure can compress a thick steel hull.

Tony now works as a counselor in the Veterans Service Office. He also works with Honor Flight which provides free flights for World War II veterans to Washington to see the World War II Memorial.

Thank you for sharing your submarine stories with us, Tony!

Honor FlightThe Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization HonorFlight_logowhose purpose is to honor our nation's veteran's for their service and sacrifice. The veterans are flown to  Washington D.C. to visit their monuments and to reflect on their memories. Priority is given to senior veterans from WWII and those veterans that are terminally ill. If you would like more information about the Honor Flight Network, click here.
If you are a south Florida veteran and would like to submit an application for an Honor Flight originating in south Florida, please click here to download the application.

The Pointer - The U.S.N. Armed Guard World War II Veterans Association adopted The Pointer as the name of its publication. The name itself had its origin in the World War II Armed Guard. If you, or someone you know, is interested in viewing The Pointer, issues are available on this website from 2000 onward. There is no cost to receive The Pointer. It is supported solely by donations. If you are interested in donating to The Pointer, please click here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

February 20, 2010 - B-17 Flying Fortress and the USAT Dorchester

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Let’s Get Started 

Sick Call – Please remember Bob Bouscher, Gerry Korker and Tom Vitale in your prayers.

Pledge and Invocation




B-17, The Flying Fortress

Guest speaker, James Coker, is a WWII veteran of the U.S. Army Air Corp. StationedHQ 388 out of Knettishall, England, he flew 30 missions over Germany aboard a B-17, aka the Flying Fortress. The B-17 he flew on, named Lady Godiva, was part of the 388th Bomb Group.  Coker was a waist gunner on all missions, except for his last one on which he was the tail gunner.

The 388th mainly hit industrial targets because of their precision bombing capabilities. The crew of the Lady Godiva encountered flak taking flak on every mission that they flew, which explained why they were told that they had only a 1 in 4 chance of surviving 25 missions.

While on one such precision bombing mission to Amiens/Gilsy Airfield in northern France, the group groups encountered barrage flak as well as track and flak. Flying at an altitude of approximately 26,000 feet, the target area was about a 6 – 8 minute run. The Lady Godiva released her bombs but was hit by flak. The #1 engine was on fire and the oxygen had been blown out. They had to peel out of formation to put out the fire in the engine and to get to a lower altitude for oxygen. They made it back to England but not all the way to Knettishall. This photo below shows the “safe” landing that the crew had. Fortunately, no one was injured during the flight or the landing.
lady godiva crash june 12 44

A notable flight was a shuttle mission to Poltava, Russia, on June 21, 1944. It was Coker's next to last flight and they encountered little opposition from the enemy. A force of 114 B-17s which were being escorted by 70 P-51s, bombed an oil plant south of Berlin and then continued on to the Russian bases where the planes would land. The Americans were unaware, however, that a German aircraft had followed the group to the Russian bases and that the German pilot reported that information to his superiors.

Coker said that after landing in Poltava, they were taken to a “tent city”, which would be their quarters for the evening. During the night, acting on the information received earlier that day, the Luftwaffe bombed the airfield at Poltava, damaging every aircraft that was there. Forty-three B-17s and fifteen P-51s were lost that night, including the Lady Godiva.

There were only seven aircraft that were capable of flying after the bombing raid. It was two months before Coker could get out of Russia and during those two months, his family did not hear anything from him.

Coker flew one final mission after the Poltava shuttle run on August 24, 1944. The 388th Bomb Group was inactivated on August 28, 1945.

Additional Photos from the 388th Bomb Group, WWII
More photos! These photos of an open house at Edward’s Air Force Base in Texas were emailed to me by a friend. There are some great photos, including a B-17!


A Memorial – read by Walt Steinsiek
TheSS Dorchester 2 U.S.A.T. Dorchester and the Four Chaplains
The S.S. Dorchester was launched at 2:15 pm on Saturday, March 20, 1926. She  was one of three identical ships built for the Merchants and Miners Transportation Company. She was an extraordinary luxury liner with accommodations that rivaled the finest hotels
.
The Dorchester could carry up to 314 passengers, plus 90 crew. Up and SS Dorchesterdown the eastern seacoast she would carry vacationers, some of them bringing their automobiles, for an  extra fee of course! Rooms were equipped with ceiling fans and telephones, though most homes did not have these luxuries in 1926. There was a freezer on board ship and the passengers could enjoy ice cream, even during the warmest weather!

In 1942, the Dorchester entered the war effort and became the troopship U.S.A.T. (United States Army Transport) Dorchester. Having been converted to a troopship, she now carried 906 troops and crew. She was given four 20mm guns, a 3” 50 caliber gun fore, and a 4” 50 caliber gun aft. She was also giving extra lifeboats and life rafts.

U.S. Navy Armed Guards were provided to man the guns and the messaging lights.

The luxury liner SFour Chaplains.S. Dorchester's master, Capt. Kendrick, stayed on after the conversion of his ship for the first five voyages to Greenland in 1942. He retired after that and was replaced by Capt. Hans Danielsen for his first and final voyage. Also on board where four  Army Chaplains, Rev. George Fox (Methodist), Father John Washington (Catholic), Rabbi Alexander Goode (Jewish) and Rev. Clark Poling (Dutch Reformed). The U.S.A.T Dorchester carried a compliment of 904 Merchant Marines, Armed Guard and passengers.

On January 22, 1943, the Dorchester departed Staten Island, New York, for Greenland. The Dorchester made a stop in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, where she picked up two freighters and three U.S. Coast Guard cutters, the Tampa, the Comanche and the Escanaba, as escorts. It was a ragged convoy that was sailing its way through the U-boat infested waters of the North Atlantic.

The seas were heavy on this voyage and when the winds would kick up the seas would toss the ships around like toys. The sea spray froze to everything that it came into contact with, including the faces of the men. In addition, the Coast Guard's sonar had determined the presence of a German submarine, putting the entire convoy on edge.

The convoy was inching ever closer to its destination in Greenland on February 2, 1943. Erring on the side of caution, that night Capt. Danielsen ordered the crew to sleep with their clothes and lifebelts on. Many of the men chose not to follow this order because of the heat below decks caused by the massive boilers and because the lifebelts were too uncomfortable. The captains fears were soon realized.

On February 3, 1943, at 12:55 am, the German submarine, U-223, fired three torpedoes. The Dorchester was hit on the starboard side, below the water line, and immediately began taking on water rapidly. Realizing that the Dorchester was sinking, Capt. Danielsen gave the order to abandon ship. The Dorchester would slip to its watery grave in less than 20 minutes.

The sonar operator aboard the Coast Guard cutter Comanche, immediately knew what he had heard and the Coast Guard swung into action. All three cutters fired a fusillade of star shells, lighting up the night sky and making themselves sitting ducks for the submarine's periscope.

The Escanaba swung around and began looking for survivors. To help prevent another attack, the Tampa began patrolling for the submarine. The Comanche would continue on as an escort for the freighters.

While the Coast Guard was swinging into action, the scene on board the Dorchester was chaos. Men were racing up from below deck without clothes or lifebelts. Lifeboats and rafts were launched, some with no one on them. Frightened men were jumping into the icy waters to escape the sinking ship.

All accounts of what happened on deck are the same. The Four Chaplains, having located a chest full of lifebelts, stood on deck and handed the belts out to the men thFour Chaplains paintingat didn't have them. When the belts in the chest were all distributed, each Chaplain removed their own  belt and gave it to the next man in line. The Chaplains then locked arms with each other and could be heard praying for the safety of the men in the water. The Chaplains were on deck singing and praying as the Dorchester sank into the icy waters of the North Atlantic. The Chaplains and Capt. Danielsen were lost.

As the Tampa was screening the area, the German submarine quietly sat on the ocean's floor. The men on board the sub were terrified as they heard the “ping, ping, ping” of the Tampa's sonar overhead. The crew of the submarine had no way of knowing that the Coast Guard could not put depth charges in the water. That would have meant certain death for all of the men in the water.

The Comanche returned to screen for the Tampa, as it continued on as escort to the freighters. The Escanaba rescued 133 men that February morning. The Comanche rescued 97 men. Eleven Armed Guard, 102 Merchant Marines and 562 Troops were lost in those early morning hours.

The heroic actions of the Coast Guard and the Four Chaplains, ensured the survival of 230 men. The Four Chaplains were posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart. A one-time only posthumous Special Medal for Heroism was authorized by congress and later was awarded by President D.D. Eisenhower. This special medal was intended to have the same honor and hold the same importance as the Medal of Honor.

Carl Sandburg wrote, “Valor is a gift. Those having it never know for sure whether they have it until the test comes.”

Four months after the Dorchester sinking, another tragedy occurred. The Escanaba that performed so valiantly on February 3, 1943, was struck by a torpedo herself. She sank immediately and all 130 crewmen, that so heroically saved the survivors of the Dorchester, went down with her.

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Items of Interest
Did You Know – Our very own Walt Steinsiek is a newspaper columnist. You can see Walt’s bowling column every Wednesday in the St. Lucie News Tribune. Walt will keep you up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of bowling on the Treasure Coast and around the nation. If your league high game or high series didn’t make it to the column, be sure to let Walt know.

A FeRichard Lowellow Armed Guard Veteran – CA Lloyd recently put me in touch with Dayla Newton from the Atlanta, Georgia, area. Dayla’s father, Richard Lowe, was in the Armed  Guard during WWII and he was one of the few that served on a Murmansk run. Dayla has put together a wonderful website in honor of her father’s service in WWII. Click here to see the website for Richard Lowe. I’m sure that you will enjoy going through the site as much as I did. Dayla, thank you for sharing this valuable with the world!

Honor FlightThe Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization HonorFlight_logowhose purpose is to honor our nation's veteran's for their service and sacrifice. The veterans are flown to  Washington D.C. to visit their monuments and to reflect on their memories. Priority is given to senior veterans from WWII and those veterans that are terminally ill. If you would like more information about the Honor Flight Network, click here.

If you are a south Florida veteran and would like to submit an application for an Honor Flight originating in south Florida, please click here to download the application.


The Pointer - The U.S.N. Armed Guard World War II Veterans Association adopted The Pointer as the name of its publication. The name itself had its origin in the World War II Armed Guard. If you, or someone you know, is interested in viewing The Pointer, issues are available on this website from 2000 onward. There is no cost to receive The Pointer. It is supported solely by donations. If you are interested in donating to The Pointer, please click here.

In The News - On Wednesday, March 3, 2010, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that a joint program between the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will provide a new way for veterans to learn about benefits and services that may be available to them.

According to Alex Sink, the new Florida VetsConnect initiative will make it easier for Florida’s veterans to receive the benefits they may be entitled to through their brave service. This program, which begins in July, will be available anywhere driver’s permits and state identification cards are issued. To begin receiving the information, the veterans will simply have to mark a box on their driver’s license or identification card application or renewal.

TCPalm.com

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Veteran's News


New News

There are items that come along that are worthy of immediate posting. I will post these as separate blog items when they become known to me. You will also find these items by clicking the "Information" tab on the regular blog postings. If you have information that you would like posted here, please contact me with the information by clicking on the "Contact Me" tab above.

Russia's 65th Anniversary May 2010

If you were in Russia during WWII, you may be entitled to the Russian 65th Anniversary Medal. Please direct your requests to the following.

To get your Russian 65th Anniversary Medal, address your request with copy of DD-214 and your ship's names and dates to:

Your Excellency Sergey I. Kislyak
Ambassador of the Russian Federation in the USA
Russian Cultural Centre
1825 Phelps Place NW
Washington, D.C. 2008

Dear Sir:

I'd like to get the 65th Anniversary Russian Medal as I was on the __________________ (ship's name)

on ___________________ (dates) etc.

Veteran's Discounts at Lowe's

According to The Navy Times, home improvement retailer, Lowe's, will extend its 10% veterans discount to all day, every day for active-duty, National Guard and Reserve, retiree and disabled service members, and their families, company officials announced.

Those who want to receive the discount must present a valid military ID card.

All other military veterans will receive the 10 percent discount on the holiday weekends of Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Veterans Day.

For more information, click here.


GI Bill Telephone Hotline

The VA has announced the reopening of the GI Bill telephone hotline. The number is 1-888-GIBILL-1 (1-888-442-4551). Starting February 17 the phone line is open from 7:00 AM to 5:00 PM CST Monday through Friday. The VA says that improvements have been made.

When it first opened up there were tremendous delays and 90% of the calls never went through. Furthermore it was operating only three days a week. As a result numerous veterans neverwere able to speak to an education counselor.


2010 FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship for the Accredited Financial Counselor(r) Program

Applications for the 2010 FINRA Foundation Military Spouse Fellowship for the Accredited Financial Counselor(r) Program are being accepted March 1 - April 15, 2010 for military spouses.

Please pass this information on to any military spouses who may be interested in applying to be a 2010 FINRA Foundation Fellow to earn the AFC(r) certification.

For additional information about the program, click here.

Friday, March 12, 2010

January 16, 2010 – The ENIGMA


The News -

On Wednesday, March 3, 2010, Florida Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink announced that a joint program between the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles will provide a new way for veterans to learn about benefits and services that may be available to them.

According to Alex Sink, the new Florida VetsConnect initiative will make it easier for Florida’s veterans to receive the benefits they may be entitled to through their brave service. This program, which begins in July, will be available anywhere driver’s permits and state identification cards are issued. To begin receiving the information, the veterans will simply have to mark a box on their driver’s license or identification card application or renewal.

TCPalm.com

Sick Call – Please remember Bob Bouscher in your prayers.

Pledge and Innovation

video

A Condensed of History of the Enigma

DeveloEnigmaMachineped by Germany after World War 1, the Enigma machine was a cipher machine that was used by the German military for secure wireless communications. There were several  types of Enigmas, each more complex than the next and increasingly more difficult to decode. Continuing efforts by the Germans to improve the Enigma made it more difficult to crack the code, causing periods of “darkness” during which the codes could not be broken. The longest dark period was for four years from 1937-1941.

The German Navy, using the most secure operating procedures, used the most advanced Enigma machine to communicate with their U-boats.

After WWI, Poland was the first country to realize that Germany was using machine encryption methods. Their efforts to reproduce the Enigma were unsuccessful, until a German traitor provided the needed documentation on the Enigma machine, and some Enigma keys. However, he did not provide the wiring diagrams for the rotors.

The Poles continued their efforts and ultimately came up with a working replica of the Enigma machine. It was a “hit or miss” proposition, however, because the Poles could only guess at the settings for the rotors. In 1939, with the threat of German invasion looming, the Poles shared their secrets with the French and the British. Both were surprised to see a replicated Enigma, and more surprised at a machine that could also break the Enigma settings.

In September of 1939, Alan Turing, a mathematician from Cambridge University, began to think of ways to more quickly decode the German Enigma messages. The Poles had searched by matching indicators. Turing began to think of a machine that would match assumed text, not indicators. Turing, together with Gordon Welchman, another mathematician, set to work: Turing on the cryptanalytic machine and Welchman on the plugboard. It took months to design and build the machine, but in August of 1940, the first machine, called the Bombe, arrived at Bletchley Park.

The German Air Force and the German Army were so sure in the security of the Enigma that they were lax in their communications security measures, making it easier for the British Bombe to find the message settings. The German Navy, however, added three rotors to their Enigma and used strict communication security measures. The Navy had eight rotors from which to select the three used in the Enigma each day and without knowing the wiring of the Navy’s additional rotors, the British could break very few German naval messages.

During this time, the British were heavily dependant on the U.S. supplies that crossed the Atlantic. Although the U.S. was neutral at this point, it sold materials and supplies to Britain and provibletchley_parkded escorts for their convoys. Using their most destructive weapons, the U-Boats, Germany planned to cut off the supply line to Britain and cripple them. While the people at  Bletchley Park were desperately searching for breaks into the German Naval Enigma messages, the U-boats were destroying Allied shipping convoys.

In February 1942, Germany changed the Enigma machines on their U-boats and instituted a new code referred to as the Shark. Bletchley Park had it’s work cut out for it. They had to redesign the Bombe and break the Shark. Until they did, the U-boats could successfully prowl the Atlantic.

During the months that followed, Britain was having little success in the redesign of their Bombe. Despite their assurances to the U.S., the U.S. began work on their own Bombe. The U.S. needed a four rotor Bombe and it was apparent that Britain would not be able to come up with one. In August 1942, the U.S. Navy concluded that their design showed significant progress and started their own Bombe program. In September, there was an official request for funding for the Bombe project.

Just as the U.S. Bombe project was set to begin at the NCR facility in Dayton, Ohio, Britain found a way into the four-rotor machine. On October 30, 1942, two men from the HMS Petard gave their lives retrieving an Enigma and documents from a captured U-boat, U-559. With the new found information, the British and U.S. would soon have a working Bombe.

Eventually, 200 sailors and 600 WAVES worked with the NCR civilians to build the Bombes.

Our Guest this month, Mrs.. Ronnie Hulick, WWII WAVE, Codebreaker

Ronnie Hulick has quite a story to tell and she tells it in an entertaining fashion. Ronnie was one of the 600 WAVES that were charged with building and running the U.S. Bombe. For more than 40 years, it is a story that she could tell to nobody. It was not until the mid 1970’s, when President Carter declassified many WWII documents, that the Bombe, and the people that worked on it, could have any recognition. The story that follows is told in the first person.

“I lived in Wilmington, Delaware, and I was 20 years old in January of 1943 when I decided that Hunter College Bronx NYI was going to join the Navy. I went to the Navy office and joined. I went home and waited. In March of 1943 I was called up. I knew at that time that I would be  sent to Hunter College in the Bronx, NY, and I was excited. I told everyone that I was going to New York City and that if they came to visit me, I would be too busy enjoying New York City! Little did I know.

I was sent to Hunter College for six weeks of boot training and we were not allowed to leave the grounds. We learned to march, and march, and march. We learned about ships. All classifications of ships. Funny things is, I never even saw one ship while I was in the Navy! And I only made it to New York City once, and that was during a visit from my mother.

After boot training, I was sent to Washington, D.C. There were no barracks built at that time and we were billeted in the Fairfax Hotel. Each morning I would take the bus up to the Annex where we were taking tests. One day, they sent me to the Teletype room. I had no idea how to run a Teletype machine. The CO instructed a sailor to “show her this machine.” I remember the sailor telling me that because the WAVES were there that the sailors would now be shipped out. I was feeling bad about that.

We were tested and I learned that they were looking for a contingent of 50 to go to Dayton, OH. A few days later, I went to Dayton.

In Dayton, wsugar campe lived at Sugar Camp and worked at NCR. Every morning we would march down to NCR. We had to show identification to get into thewaves marching from sugar camp building. We went to our table and we were given a graft and a rotor wheel. All summer long, I wired those wheels. They gave us a soldering iron and we would put the wires on the wheels following the graft. Our work was extremely secret and we never talked about it with any of the other girls. There were three eight-hour shifts every day. After about three months, you might get a Saturday and Sunday off, but you were still on duty. I thought that I must have failed all those tests they had given us in Washington, D.C. and that was why I was relegated to such a monotonous task.

But, Dayton was a great town and the people were friendly and nice.

One morning I came to work and on the railroad track beside our building were these huge things on these flatcars.I couldn’t tell what they were because they were covered in a gray shroud.  I went on duty and that’s when I learned that I was going back to Washington, D.C.

On returning to Washington, D.C., we were billeted in a new barracks. There must have been six barracks because 600 WAVES worked on the Bombe and each barracks housed 100 WAVES: 50 downstairs and 50 upstairs.

On the first day, we were taken to the Chapel. We were expecting a little prayer service, but instead, we were told that what we would be working on is Top Secret. ‘You will not discuss it, or talk about it with anyone.’ We couldn’t even talk to one another in the barracks. We were told that we would not receive special privileges because we were women! ‘If you talk about what goes on here, you will face a firing squad in the morning!’ I remember being a bit stunned by that statement, but it got my attention.

Security was much tighter in Washington. We had two things hanging around out necks. One had our name and a number and the other had a number and a letter. The letter indicated which building you were suppose to be in. You had to show these two cards to get onto the Annex property, to enter your building and to get into your room. You were not allowed to go into another room without being able to show that you needed to be there.

It was here that we were taught how to run the Bombes. We were given a chart to showBombe-1943 us how to set the switches and rotors on the bombe. We’d set 36 switches, and then we’d put on these rotor wheels and set them. When all 36 switches were set and the 36 wheels were set, we’d push a button. Then we’d sit there and wait until we had a “strike”.
When we would get a “strike” the machine would print out a piece of paper. And as soon as it stopped printing, you’d tear it off and that's when you’d run to the end of the room and knock on this door and the hand came out and took it away and you never saw it again. And you went back and they gave you another setup and you went through the process again. And we did that for eight-hour shifts.

The work was dull but the efficiency of the machine depended on the accuracy of the person who set it up. Only the most efficient women were chosen, or I like to say we were “the cream of the crop.”
I did that until the end of the war. That was in August. and I didn't get out until November, so we were going across the street on duty in different places but we weren't running the Bombes anymore. That sort of came to a screeching halt.

When I was mustering out, we had to take a physical. When that was all over they gave us our pay and our money to get home, and there was one last thing. I had to go in this room with a Naval Officer and put my hand on the Bible. That was the very last thing before you left the Navy. You walked in this room and he put the Bible out, and you put your hand on it and I had to repeat after him that I swore I would never tell of my activities during World War II. You knew the consequences. If you talk, you'll get shot. We went home and we never talked. Don't you think that's remarkable. That 600 women went home, got on with their lives, and never said a word.

When I left that day after taking the oath, they gave me a form and said present this form to future employers. And it said all that can be told of this woman's activities during World War II are in this, written on this one page herein, and don't ask her any more questions. It said I was with a group and I showed manual dexterity with the work that I did and that I performed it well and I was very well recommended. It impressed the first employers that read it.

So I was home in Wilmington for six months and I got a thing in the mail and it was a ribbon and a letter of commendation. It said, “Your Contribution”, but it didn't say what we did.  And then the last sentence said, "No publicity in receipt of this award.” So we're getting the award, but I couldn't tell anybody I got this award.

Since the declassification of the project, Ronnie has been contacted many times about her roll on the Bombe. The producers of the NOVA show The Codebreakers” interviewed and taped Ronnie for over 2-1/2 hours. She waited for months to see the show only to find out that all she got was three minutes!
Tom Brokaw also interviewed Ronnie for his second book of The Greatest Generation.

It has been said that because of the Bombe and the people that ran it, WWII was most likely shortened by one, probably two, years.

Ronnie now spends her time with family and friends. She has a karaoke machine which she takes to various Senior organizations and regales them with songs from the War years. Enjoy the following clip of Ronnie entertaining us.

video

How important was breaking the Enigma code?
reuben_james sinkingOn October 31, 1941, the USS Reuben James was torpedoed and sunk by German U-boat,  U-552, off the coast of North Carolina while escorting a convoy. 44 sailors were rescued but 115 were lost. It was the first ship lost in WWII.

The U.S. took none of the precautions that were learned by the SS byron d benson off NC on 4 4 42British convoys. They continued to send merchant ships up and down the eastern coast without the benefit of a convoy or any other ships to come to the  rescue from U-boat attacks. From January to March in 1942, Germany sank 216 ships off the eastern coast of the U.S.

In 1942, German U-boats sank more the 1,660 ships in the Atlantic, approximately 32 ships per week. It is estimated that 1 in 5 seamen’s deaths were caused by U-boats.

It was vital to the Allied ships to be able to read the coded messages from the Enigma!

Thank you, Ronnie!

The U.S. Navy Armed Guard was a branch of the United States Navy that defended U.S. and Allied merchant ships from attacks from enemy ships, airplanes and submarines. Mainly gunners, radio operators and signal operators, these men served on merchant tankers, troop carriers and other merchant ships. The Armed Guard was disband after the end of WWII. It has become the forgotten service, but the Armed Guard was critical to the outcome of WWII.

The Merchant Marine are non-military and during WWII, aware of the potential dangers, their ships carried supplies, troops and equipment throughout the world. The merchant mariners were civilian volunteers, but as the ships were bombed or torpedoed, their casualties were equivalent to any other branch of the service during WWII. In 1988, the WWII Merchant Marines were recognized as veterans, and were given veteran status.

In his book, The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw wrote, “It is, I believe, the greatest generation any society has ever produced." He argued that these men and women fought not for fame and recognition, but because it was the right thing to do. When they came back they rebuilt America into a superpower.

Business of the day -

Honor Flight – The Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization whose purpose is to honor our nation's veteran's for their service and sacrifice. The veterans are flown to Washington D.C. to visit their monuments and to reflect on their memories. Priority is given to senior veterans from WWII and those veterans that are terminally ill. If you would like more information about the Honor Flight Network, click here.

If you are a south Florida veteran and would like to submit an application for an Honor Flight originating in south Florida, please click here to download the application.

The Pointer - The U.S.N. Armed Guard World War II Veterans Association adopted The Pointer as the name of its publication. The name itself had its origin in the World War II Armed Guard. If you, or someone you know, is interested in viewing The Pointer, issues are available on this website from 2000 onward. There is no cost to receive The Pointer. It is supported solely by donations. If you are interested in donating to The Pointer, please click here.