The Coast Guard Compass was proud to unveil the first 14 heroes the service’s new fast response cutters would be named for and we are even prouder to share the next 10 names with you in a continuation of our Coast Guard Heroes series. Over the next two weeks we’ll be sharing profiles of the namesakes of the Coast Guard’s fast response cutters, from legends of the U.S. Life-Saving Service to courageous men who served during the Vietnam War. Today, we share with you the story of Donald Horsley.
Written by Christopher Havern.
Master Chief Petty Officer Donald H. Horsley served the Coast Guard though 44 years of continuous service from age 17 to 62, enlisting Aug. 4, 1942. He served on active duty for 44 years, four months and 27 days. His career spanned three wars and saw service aboard 34 vessels.
During World War II Horsley served aboard Coast Guard Cutter Cepheus as a coxswain on landing craft and participated in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of southern France, and Operation Iceberg, the invasion of Okinawa. Following the war, Horsley had successive tours aboard six cutters. After a tour of duty ashore at Loran Station Ulithi, he served at sea aboard five more cutters, and had a return tour aboard the sea-going tender Planetree.
During the Vietnam War, Horsley served 41 months as the senior enlisted person assigned to Division 13, Coast Guard Squadron One out of Cat Lo, Republic of Vietnam. This Division of 82-foot patrol boats was tasked with the maritime interdiction of the reinforcement and re-supply of Communist forces fighting in South Vietnam. During this assignment, Horsley was awarded the Bronze Star with a Combat “V.”
After Vietnam, Horsley served throughout the Pacific, including assignments aboard the sea-going tender Basswood and as the officer-in-charge of the Coast Guard Buoy Depot on Guam. In 1976, he was assigned as the officer-in-charge aboard the river tender Wyaconda, out of Dubuque, Iowa. He returned to sea aboard the cutter Sherman and was transferred to Morgenthau when Sherman was decommissioned in early 1986. At his retirement ceremony in January 1987, Horsley was awarded the Meritorious Service Medal.