For most 17-year-olds, the years of graduating high school, attending college or trade school, and beginning the first steps into adulthood are a time of unbridled optimism and possibility. For Wilmington, North Carolina native Floyd Wilvers, now 92, turning age 17 meant a voyage into the unknown laced with fear, but also a sense of patriotism and duty.
Tag: world war II
Joseph Toahty, half Pawnee and half Kiowa Indian, joined the Coast Guard in 1941. He was the first Pawnee Indian to go to sea, the first Native American to participate in a U.S. naval offensive operation and the first to set foot in enemy territory during the World War II.
Like many selfless Coast Guardsmen, Lt. John Pritchard and Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Bottoms, a radioman, went in harm’s way to save lives only to sacrifice their own. During World War II, the Coast Guard ran the Greenland theatre of operations. It was one of the war’s deadliest battlegrounds, where men fought not only the enemy, but the elements as well.
On April 28, 2018, members of the U.S. Coast Guard Activities Europe attended the annual U.S. Memorial Wereth ceremony in Wereth, Belgium, to honor 11 African-American soldiers murdered by Nazi SS troops during the second day of the Battle of the Bulge. Each year members of the U.S. armed forces throughout Europe, including many members of U.S. Coast Guard Activities Europe, gather in the tiny hamlet of Wereth, Belgium, to help honor and pay respect to the 11 G.I.s from the U.S. Army 333rd Field Artillery Battalion and all African-American G.I.s who fought in Europe during WWII.
Members of the Coast Guard, volunteers, and surviving family members attended a memorial ceremony in Greenland in August to commemorate the lives of Lt. John Pritchard, Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Bottoms, and U.S. Army Air Corps Cpl. Loren Howarth. A plaque was permanently installed outside the Kulusuk Airport.
Juan del Castillo was a Coast Guardsman who distinguished himself in the service and in civilian life. From becoming the first Coast Guardsmen of Hispanic heritage to complete Reserve Officer Training, now known as Officer Candidate School, to inventing the formula for Corn Soy Milk, considered one of the most important high protein foods ever developed, del Castillo dedicated his life to helping others.
Capt. Quentin Walsh experienced one of the most colorful careers in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. From chasing rumrunners, to enforcing whale treaties, planning D-Day operations and liberating a port during World War II, Walsh made his mark on our service.
In August 1942, during the initial stages of the World War II’s Guadalcanal campaign, the waters of Iron Bottom Sound concealed numerous Japanese submarines. Coast Guard-manned landing crafts carried out nightly anti-submarine patrols to defend against this silent but deadly menace. Coxswain Robert “Bob” Canavan volunteered to pilot one of the anti-submarine patrol boats along with three other Coast Guardsmen and two U.S. Marines. Only one man would return from the journey.
If any battle marked the turning point of World War II in the Pacific, most experts agree that the six-month land, sea and air battle for Guadalcanal was the one. American naval strategists drew a line in the sand at Guadalcanal because enemy aircraft flying from that island could cut-off Allied supply lines to Australia. During the Guadalcanal offensive, the U.S. Coast Guard served an important role through its specialties in maritime transport, amphibious landing and small boat operations. On ‘the Canal,’ the Coast Guard worked seamlessly with its U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps counterparts and, for the first time in its history, commanded and manned a U.S. Naval Operating Base, or NOB. Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Dwight Hodge Dexter commanded NOB “Cactus,” the code name for Guadalcanal’s naval base.
There are so many Coast Guard men and women whose devotion to duty has put them in harm’s way that it would take a lifetime to write-up each and every story. Like many of these selfless Coast Guardsmen, Lt. John A. Pritchard went in harm’s way to save the lives of others only to sacrifice his own.