SPARS Alice “Jo” Lawson

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As World War II was coming to a close, Lawson enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard SPARS, a women’s reservist unit. Lawson said, “I thought that was an adventure and it was.”

She would spend two years with the Coast Guard, working at a Navy Air Station Operations Office. Following that time, she’d continue living a life of adventure. “Some people go out and play golf or play tennis or whatever, and I went out to the little airport and learn how to fly,” said Lawson. It would be a few years later before returning to her hometown of Aledo.

Eventually she got married and had a family, but she had the most significant impact in her seventh-grade social studies classroom, going on to help shape other women who serve. “A remarkably positive energy,” Col. Ryan. “Whatever life throws at her, she hits it head on and does it with a smile on her face.”

And while short in stature, her influence looms large. “I wasn’t just there to teach the capitals of every state and what was in the book.” Lawson said, “I was there to teach them to be good citizens and all that jazz.” Lawson has also been involved with the Mercer County Mental Health Board and an organizer for the food shelf.

Aledo surprised her with a special recognition at their Veteran’s Day ceremony this year. They built a statue in their Armed Forces Memorial Park to recognize the service of women, and they chose Lawson as their surprise guest of honor. Aledo Police Department Lt. Nick Seefeld said, “I don’t think the women have gotten the recognition or the honor that they deserve for being in the armed forces, and this is a real daily reminder that not only are there men serving but there’s women out there putting their life on the line for our freedom too.”

We honor you, Alice Lawson.

(Submission by: Ninzel Rasmuson. #Repost @OurQuadCities.com)

ADM Edwin John Roland

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Edwin John Roland was born on 11 February 19O5, at Buffalo, NY. where he graduated from Canisius High School and attended Canisius College. Appointed a Cadet in 1926, he graduated from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, CT with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Engineering and with a commission of Ensign on 15 May 1929.

He served his earliest assignments as Gunnery Officer on board the destroyers USCGC SHAW (1929-30), and the USCGC WILKES (1930-31), which were part of the old Destroyer Force operated by the Coast Guard between l924 and 1934 in an all-out attempt to suppress smuggling. He won a commendation for being instrumental in capturing the gunnery trophy for both vessels.

In 1932 he was in charge of target observation and repair for the Destroyer Force Target Practice in the Gulf of Mexico and for Cutter Target Practice off Norfolk, VA. In September he was assigned as Navigator and Gunnery Officer on board the USCGC ESCANABA, based at Grand Haven, MI. Detached in l934, he spent the next four years at the Coast Guard Academy as an Instructor in Physics and Mathematics and an Assistant Coach for football, basketball, and baseball. During the summer cadet practice cruise of 1936 on board the USCGC CAYUGA, he participated in the evacuation of Spanish Civil War refugees.

During World War II he served as Chief, Enlisted Personnel Division at Coast Guard Headquarters, Washington, DC from May 1942 to October 1943. He next served as Commander, Escort Division a unit of Task Force 60, which escorted convoys from the United States to Mediterranean ports. His, flagship was the Coast Guard-manned destroyer escort, USS VANCE (DE-387). For meritorious performance of that duty he was awarded the Navy Commendation Ribbon.

In December 1944 he became the first Commanding Officer of USCGC MACKINAW (WAGB-83), the first heavy duty U. S. icebreaker ever built. Especially designed for work in the Great Lakes, her homeport was at Cheboygan, MI. For meritorious service while commanding that ship, he received a Coast Guard Commendation Letter. The letter cited him for icebreaking on an unprecedented scale in the Great Lakes. This permitted tidewater Navy and Army vessels and merchant vessels to pass through the ice and deliver urgently needed supplies essential to the war effort.

After completing one year of student work at the National War College in June l955, he returned to Coast Guard Headquarters to serve in the Office of the Chief of Staff. On March 16, 1956, he was assigned as Deputy Chief of Staff of the Coast Guard. With his nomination by the President and with the approval of the Senate, he was advanced to the rank of Rear Admiral effective 1 July 1956. He was subsequently assigned as Commander, First Coast Guard District, Boston. On 1 July 1960 he assumed the dual post of Commander, Eastern Area and Commander, 3d Coast Guard District, New York. With the approval of the President and the Senate, he was appointed Assistant Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard with rank of Vice Admiral effective from 12 February 1962. He assumed the duties of that office at Headquarters on 1 February.

On 23 April 1962 he was appointed Commandant of the U. S. Coast Guard with rank of Admiral. He succeeded the retiring Admiral Alfred C. Richmond on 1 June 1962. He was relieved by Admiral Willard J. Smith and retired from the USCG on 1 June 1966 with various awards.

On July 9, 1963, ADM Roland received the Legion of Merit from the Secretary of the Treasury C. Douglas Dillon in recognition of his outstanding record in maintaining a military readiness posture “unparalleled in the peacetime history of the Coast Guard.” On 21 January 1966 ADM Roland received the Distinguished Service Medal for the service’s swift response to the Navy’s request for patrol craft to assist in coastal surveillance in South Vietnam. His also skillfully guided the handling of the Cuban Exodus operations in the Straits of Florida in 1965. ADM Roland also went to Saigon during the summer of 1965 to confer with the Naval Coastal Surveillance Forces shortly after the arrival of the 82-foot cutters in South Vietnam. Based at Danang these 82-footers constituted Coast Guard Squadron One.

It was during ADM Roland’s administration that the Coast Guard’s long sought program for modernization of its fleet with medium and high endurance cutters got underway with the launching and christening of the first major cutter built since World War II. Mrs. Roland sponsored this first vessel, the 210-ft. Medium Endurance Cutter RELIANCE (WMEC-615) at Todd Shipyards, Houston, Texas, on May 11, 1963.

ADM Roland received The American Legion Distinguished Service Medal from the Robert L. Hague Merchant Marine Industries Post No. 12142, Department of New York, on 6 November 1965. He was cited for outstanding contributions to the American Merchant Marine and Safety of Life at Sea while chairing the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Subcommittee of the Shipping Coordinating Committee. He also received recognition for being the U. S. Delegate to the Maritime Safety Committee of the Inter-Governmental Maritime Consultative Organization (IMCO) and for encouraging the inauguration and expansion of the Automated Merchant Vessel Report (ANVER ) System to both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

We honor you, Edwin Roland.

(#Repost @The Patriot Files)

 

MM Vern Peters, Jr.

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Vern Peters chose to enlist in the Coast Guard because of an especially persuasive recruiting poster depicting a bare-chested seaman loading a shell into the breech. Peters completed basic training at Government Island, Alameda, California, where many of his fellow recruits were movie stars. As a Machinist’s Mate Third Class aboard the USS Tacoma, Peters tended to one of the ship’s engines and manned the 20mm gun as his ship sailed in convoys over the Atlantic and Pacific, delivering supplies and escorting other ships.

We honor you, Vern Peters Jr.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

 

RDML John Delmond McCubbin

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John McCubbin graduated from the U.S. Coast Guard Academy, New London, Connecticut, Class of 1939. He retired as a U.S. Coast Guard Rear Admiral in 1973.

John was awarded with the Air Medal for meritorious achievement as Patrol Plane Commander in Patrol Squadron SIX, operating out of BW-1, Greenland, and Argentia, Naval Air Field, on extensive anti-submarine and convoy coverage flights under hazardous weather conditions in the North Atlantic regions off Labrador and Greenland, from December 1943 to April 1944.

We honor you, John McCubbin.

(#Repost @Hall of Valor)

LT John A. Pritchard

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John A. Pritchard, Jr., was born on 12 January 1914 at Redfield, South Dakota.  He graduated from Beverly Hills High School, California, in 1931 and continued with a postgraduate course the following term.  Meanwhile he was employed as a district collector for the Los Angeles Times newspaper. 

Searching for a career, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy from 1 March 1932 until 17 August 1934.  While attending the Naval Academy Prep School, he was honorably discharged in order for him to accept an appointment to the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on 20 August 1934.  He graduated from the Academy on 2 June 1938. 

In February 1942 he was temporarily assigned as the aviation officer aboard CGC Northland on the war-time Greenland Patrol.  After returning to Air Station Miami for a brief period, rejoined the Northland.  He was promoted to Lieutenant on 15 June 1942.  While with Northland only a short time, Pritchard performed his first heroic rescue on 23 November 1942, only a few days before another daring rescue was to take his life.  This first rescue involved saving three members of the Royal Canadian Air Force who had been stranded on the Greenland ice cap for 13 days.  He was posthumously awarded the Navy & Marine Corps Medal for this rescue.  Five days later he volunteered to attempt the rescue of the crew of a B-17 that had crashed on the treacherous ice cap on the west side of Greenland, about 40 miles from Comanche Bay, using Northland’s J2F-4 Grumman amphibian.  Accompanied by Radioman First Class Benjamin A. Bottoms, they landed near the crash site without mishap, the first successful landing on the 2,000 foot ice cap.  After recovering two injured survivors, Pritchard and Bottoms took off safely and returned to Northland.  They volunteered to fly out to the crash site again the following day, 29 November.  After again landing safely and recovering another survivor, they took off but were never heard from again.  The wreckage of their amphibian was later spotted from the air but a rescue party could get no closer than 6 miles.  LT Pritchard was declared as missing in action as of 29 November 1942 and was declared dead as of 30 November 1943.  For his heroism on this last rescue he was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In addition to the Navy & Marine Corps Medal and the Distinguished Flying Cross, LT Pritchard had earned the American Defense Service Medal with Sea Clasp, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the World War II Victory Medal.

LT Pritchard’s classmate, VADM Thomas R. Sargent, III, USCG (Ret.), remembered Pritchard as:

 . . .not only my Classmate but he was my room mate for our last year at the Academy. . .John was unique–he was the happiest man I have ever known.  At reveille, he would practically jump out of his bunk and, in spite of rain, snow or darkness, he would say “Good morning Tom, what a great day” and break out in song.  He had a good singing voice and his favorite rendition was “The Grandfather’s Clock”-he knew all the verses.  At first, starting the day like this was a little wearing but, his enthusiasm for life was so infectious, I actually looked forward to reveille!!!  John was an outstanding seaman and a Coast Guardsman of the highest order.  During that last year at the Academy, we became as close as brothers but, unfortunately, after graduation, I never saw him again.  I received word of his death while I was Commanding Officer of the USS PC-469 based in Trinidad–[his death] was a real shock to me.  The man with the incredible zest for life was gone.  He was our only war casualty [Class of 1938].  At Coast Guard Air Station Mobile there is a barracks and BOQ called the Pritchard-Bottoms Hall and I had the great privilege of presiding at the dedication in 1971.  John and RM1c Benjamin Bottoms were kindred spirits so the building, housing both enlisted men and officers, is very aptly named.  John’s mother attended and unveiled the dedication plaque.  The last words of the chorus of John’s song are “and the clock stopped, never to run again when the old man died.”  John, the clock stopped too soon for you.

We honor you, John Pritchard Jr.

(#Repost @USCG)

PO3 Clarence W Dabney

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Ship’s Cook First Class Dabney (right) was wounded when Japanese aircraft bombed the LST on which he was stationed in the Southwest Pacific. Two of his shipmates were killed when [Japanese] bombers dropped their ‘eggs.’

We honor you, Clarence Dabney.

(#Repost @National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and @CGPurpleheart)

LCDR Maurice David Jester

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Maurice Jester enlisted in the Coast Guard as a Surfman in 1917, working his way up to Chief Boatswain’s Mate by 1935 while serving on five cutters. Commissioned as a Lieutenant and promoted to Lieutenant Commander, he was the first Coast Guardsman to earn the Navy Cross in World War II, and the first Coast Guard Officer to receive the award for a combat action in direct confrontation with enemy forces.

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Lieutenant Commander Maurice David Jester, United States Coast Guard, for extraordinary heroism and distinguished service in the line of his profession as Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. ICARUS (WPC-110) during a successful action on 9 May 1942, with an enemy German submarine. The conduct of Lieutenant Commander Jester throughout this action reflects great credit upon himself, and was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

We honor you, Maurice Jester.

(#Repost @Hall of Valor)