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Intermission Story (9) – A Special Woman

Last December the world lost a very special person, Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, (101).

Florence Ebersole Smith Finch, USCGR 

Coast Guard SPAR decorated for combat operations during World War II

By William H. Thiesen, Ph.D.
U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area Historian


Of the thousands of women who have served with honor in the United States Coast Guard, one stands out for her bravery and devotion to duty. Florence Smith Finch, the daughter of a U.S. Army veteran and Filipino mother, was born on the island of Luzon, north of Manila, in Santiago City. She married navy PT boat crewman Charles E. Smith while working for an army intelligence unit located in Manila. In 1942, after the Japanese invaded the Philippines, her young husband died trying to re-supply American and Filipino troops trapped by the enemy on Corregidor Island and the Bataan Peninsula.

After the Japanese occupied Manila, Finch avoided internment by claiming her Philippine citizenship. She received a note from her imprisoned army intelligence boss regarding shortages of food and medicine in the POW camps. Finch began assisting with locating and providing smuggled supplies to American POWs and helping provide fuel to Filipino guerrillas. In October 1944, the Japanese arrested Finch, beating, torturing and interrogating her during her initial confinement. Through it all, she never revealed information regarding her underground operations or fellow resisters.

When American forces liberated her prison camp in February 1945, Finch weighed only eighty pounds. She boarded a Coast Guard-manned transport returning to the United States and moved to her late father’s hometown of Buffalo, New York. In July 1945, she enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard, eager to continue the struggle against an enemy that had killed her husband. Finch served through the end of the war and was among the first Pacific-Island American women to don a Coast Guard uniform.

After the war, she met U.S. Army veteran Robert Finch. They married and moved to Ithaca, New York, where she lived the remainder of her life. Of the thousands of SPARs serving in World War II, she was the first to be honored with the Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Ribbon. In November 1947, she received the U.S. Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian medal awarded to Americans who aided in the war effort. In 1995, the Coast Guard honored her service by naming a facility for her at Coast Guard Base Honolulu.

Ms. Finch crossed the bar on 8 December 2016.

  • Read her written answers to questions submitted to her regarding her remarkable life and career, first as a resistance fighter in the Philippines and then as a SPAR
  • Ms. Finch (c) with her extended family.

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Peter Aczel – brn: HUN/ Quakertown, NY; US Army Air Corps

Alfred Biegert Jr. – San Antonio, TX; US Army Air Corps, WWII, Photo Lab technician

Arthur Gosselin Jr. – Springfield, MA; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Douglas Hardy – New Plymouth, NZ; RNZ Army # 64450, Sgt.

Stanley Krumholz – Far Rockaway, NY; US Navy, WWII, PTO, PT-190 Jack’O’Diamonds

Gerald Larson – Red Oak, AR; US Army Air Corps, WWII

Robert Murray Jr. – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, PTO, Sgt., 11th Airborne Division

Donald Perdue – Vancouver, CAN; RC Army, Korea, Queen’s Own Rifles

Hank von der Heyde Jr. – Jacksonville, FL; USMC, WWII (Ret.)

Baxter Webb – Hapeville, GA; US Army, Lt., Tank Platoon/4th Division

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US Coast Guard 225th Birthday

USS Samuel Chase

USS Samuel Chase

Tomorrow, 4 August 2015 commemorates the 225th Birthday of the United States Coast Guard.

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Congress authorized 10 vessels in 1790 to enforce tariff laws, prevent smuggling and protect the collection of federal revenue.  Life-saving and humanitarian responsibilities were later added.

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coast-guard

Today, the Coast Guard is a multi-mission, maritime, military service.  Its mission is to protect the public, the environment and American economic interests in the nation’s waterways, along the coast, on international water, or in any maritime region as required to support national security.

“Landing on the Beach” by Coast Guard artist, BMC William Goadby Lawrence

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Animated images are courtesy of: net animations.net and fg-a.com.  Thank you to the U.S. Coast Guard websites and – a HAPPY BIRTHDAY from the Pacific Paratrooper!  

Pennant from USS LCI (L) - 87, amphibious landing ship, WWII, ETO & PTO service

Pennant from USS LCI (L) – 87, amphibious landing ship, WWII, ETO & PTO service

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U.S. Coast Guard and Brevard County Zoo release 25 sea turtle into the ocean.  To see the story CLICK HERE!!

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Coast Guard Humor – Tides of War sm

'round and 'round we go...

’round and ’round we go…

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Farewell Salutes – 

Carlous Bolton – Osprey, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII/ Merchant Marine

Grant Cunard – San Diego, CA; US Coast Guard, Korea, USS Pontchartrain, Sonar technician

Larry Davis – W.Hartford, CT; US Coast Guardeagle

Richard Engle – Rockford, IL; US Coast Guard, Vietnam

Clyde ‘Doc’ Hamer Sr. – Lawrence, KS; US Coast Guard, WWII

William Kastner – Gainsville, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO

Duward “Dewey” Koch – Picayune, LA; US Coast Guard, WWII

Casey Malik – Sun City West, AZ; US Coast Guard, WWII

Michael Neuman Jr. – Palm City, FL; US Coast Guard, WWII, PTO, fireman/cook

Gerald ‘Bingo’ Smith – Bloomingdale, GA; US Coast Guard, Vietnam, river boat

Jean Young – Louisville, KY; US Coast Guard, WWII

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