"I originally wanted to join the United States Marine Corps, but when I went for my physical, my blood pressure was too high and they wouldn't accept me.
I applied next with the United States Coast Guard, and they wouldn't accept me for the same reason.
Not too long after, I received a letter from the Coast Guard asking me if I would like to enlist afterall. They had reconsidered my application as they needed all the men they could get.
I enlisted in the Coast Guard as an Apprentice Seaman on 22 January, 1941 in Baltimore, Maryland. I was too young to sign the enlistment papers so my father signed them for me.
My first stop in my Coast Guard career took me to the Coast Guard Training Center at Curtis Bay, in northern Anne Arundel County, Maryland, just south of the Baltimore city limits. The coast guard's war-time training station or boot camp. I was there for about thirteen weeks and attained the rank of Seaman Second Class.
Then on to Norfolk, Virginia to District Coast Guard Office (DCGO), Fifth Naval District (5N). The coast guard's war-time training station or boot camp. I was there for about thirteen weeks and attained the rank of Seaman Second Class.
My first assignment was aboard the WAGL-254, the WISTARIA (Call Sign: NRWU). She was a Linden Class Lighthouse Tender. She was 121'4" in length and had a top speed of 8 knots. Our job was to cruise up and down the Potomac River and the Chesapeake Bay to make certain all the buoys were in good working order and freshly painted. In those days the buoys were battery powered so they had to be checked frequently. We were also responsible for manning the Life Saving Stations of the Norfolk District. North Beach Station, Wallops Island, and Chincoteague Station. We took turns patrolling the shore at night watching for German submarines. Back then there were sixty foot towers that we manned, also looking for the U-boats. I was a Seaman First Class by now. I stayed in this assignment for about one year.
Shortly after I reported to the New York Receiving Station, on Ellis Island for Quartermaster training.
I clearly remember 07 December, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked. I was in the middle of a poker game! We all wanted to go immediately to Pearl to help defend our country, but we didn't have enough training to be of any assistance at this point. We continued our training the next day. At the completion of training, I earned the rating of Quartermaster Third Class.
After training on Ellis Island I was assigned to the USS WAKEFIELD, District Coast Guard Office (DCGO), 11th Naval District (11ND) in Long Beach, California She was a troop carrier. My stay was quite brief as I had picked up the diphtheria germ in my tonsils. I was transferred to a hospital in Baltimore, Maryland for teatment. The treatment consisted of a doctor having me take a chair into the hallway (for better lighting), and having me hold a metal pan while he removed my tonsils. I had a local anesthetic, but that was it. I'll never forget sitting there holding that pan with my tonsils in it! I was placed in isolation for six weeks. No phone, no television. No visitors. Nothing to do but read. I never made it to Long Beach.
My next duty station was aboard the WPC-107 USS DIONE (Call Sign: NRGV). She was an Argo Class Patrol Cutter. Originally designed for the enforcement of Prohibition. In June 1945 she was assigned to Air-Sea rescue duty in the 5th District. Her length was 165', her beam 25', her draft 10', and her top speed was 16 knots. Her armament included 2 3'/50 DP, 2 20mm AA, 2 depth charge tracks, 2 depth charge projectors, and 2 rocket launchers, and 2 mousetraps. She was used as a subchaser and was stationed out of Little Creek, Virginia.
The worst part of WWII was just beginning for me.
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest sustained campaign of the War. The first Destroyer Escorts had been ordered shortly before Pearl Harbor, but material shortages held up delivery until 1943. By this time, the submarine menace was critical.
German U-boats had the potential of totally crippling United States and Allied efforts to supply the European theatre.
In January 1942, Admiral Karl Doenitz, commander of the German U-boat fleet opened the offensive against the United States by sending five long range U-boats to American waters. The five, along with the "wolf packs" that followed, were capable of the same destruction that had taken place at Pearl Harbor.
What the U-boats found was a killing ground. U. S. merchant ships plodded along the East Coast unarmed; their lights blazing, unaccompanied by U. S. escort warships or planes. U-boats had only to find them and torpedo them.
The U-boats favorite hunting spot was just off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, where ships squeezed between the Gulf Stream and the treacherous Diamond Shoals. Merchantmen began calling this area "Torpedo Junction."
[From conversations with my father during 1998.]