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U.S. Coast Guard disaster, the USS Serpens

USS Serpens USCG

The sinking of the ammunition ship USS Serpens in January 1945 was the single deadliest day in the history of the Coast Guard. The gigantic explosion, which killed 250 sailors and almost vaporized the ship, was blamed on an accident involving the ship’s explosive cargo. Now, new allegations push the theory that the ship was actually attacked by a Japanese submarine—and that U.S. Navy officials were covering this up as late as 2003.

On the night of January 29th, 1945 the island of Guadalcanal was wracked by a truly massive explosion. The USS Serpens, whose crew had been handling a cargo of anti-submarine depth charges, exploded with the force of 600 tons of explosives.

Serpens, a Liberty Transport Ship, 424 feet long and displacing 14,250 tons, practically disappeared in the blink of an eye. The ship, save for a section of the bow, disappeared from the face of the earth. Along with it went 193 Coast Guardsmen, 56 U.S. Army soldiers & a U.S. Public Health Service surgeon.

One sailor who responded to the explosion stated:

“…as we came into closer view of what had once been a ship, the water was filled only with floating debris, dead fish, torn life jackets, lumber and other unidentifiable objects. The smell of death, and fire, and gasoline, and oil was evident and nauseating. This was sudden death, and horror, unwanted and unasked for, but complete.”

The U.S. Navy would ultimately chalk up the incident to an accidental detonation of the ship’s cargo: 3,399 unfused bombs, each containing 350 pounds of high-explosive Torpex. That adds up to 1,189,650 pounds of high explosive, or 594 tons. As the Coast Guard states, “By 1949, the U.S. Navy officially closed the case deciding that the loss was not due to enemy action but an “accident intrinsic to the loading process.”

Now, 74 years later, a son of one of the lost crew members of the Serpens is lobbying for the Pentagon to reconsider the official explanation. Backing him up are some curious facts, allegations, and discrepancies, as reported recently by the Sarasota-Herald Tribune:

  • Amazingly, there were two survivors of the ship explosion, both of whom survived in the remaining bow section of the ship. One of them reported that a Japanese submarine had been tracking the Serpens before the explosion.
  • Two explosions were heard by nearby military personnel. The second explosion was the detonation of the million plus pounds of high explosives aboard the ship. According to the submarine theory, the first explosion was a torpedo which then set off a huge “secondary” explosion of the ship’s cargo.
  • A majority of the Court of Inquiry convened to look into the accident believed that the ship had been the victim of enemy action—yet the Navy still insisted the cause of the explosion had been an accident.
  • Japanese radio propaganda actually announced the explosion before Japan could have plausibly learned about it from the Americans, suggesting a submarine reported the attack back to Tokyo.

Veering into sinister territory: the Navy Judge Advocate General’s conclusions on the Serpens’ sinking, dated 1949, “were checked out of the National Archives Records Administration in 2003 by the Navy JAG’s office and never returned.”

USS Serpens’ caskets at Arlington Cemetery

At 76, the retired Central Intelligence Agency senior finance officer and certified fraud investigator wonders if he’s onto one of the last cover-ups of World War II.

So why would the U.S. Navy cover up the incident? By 1945 Guadalcanal was thousands of miles behind friendly lines and was part of the logistics chain supporting the Allies’ advance on Japan itself. Anti-torpedo nets were supposed to be strung along Lunga Point to protect ships like the Serpens, but were often less than 100 percent reliable.

The death of 250 military personnel far from the front line would have been a major embarrassment to the Navy.

Could the Navy reverse course and come clean? In 2001, Naval historians pieced together enough evidence to convince the Chief of Naval Operations and Secretary of the Navy that the USS Eagle 2, a patrol boat sunk off the coast of Maine in 1945, was the victim of a submarine attack. For decades, the Navy believed Eagle-2 had been the victim of a boiler explosion.

USS Serpens monument

Historians discovered reports by survivors that a mysterious submarine with unique symbols painted on the conning tower was sighted at the time of the attack. The symbols matched those painted on the German Navy U-boat U-583,proving it was responsible for the sinking.

The official explanation for the loss of Serpens leaves open the possibility that members of the crew were in some way incompetent and caused their own deaths. A submarine attack, on the other hand, could mean that local anti-submarine defenses were not strong enough and would fault the Navy’s leadership.

Reopening the case of the Serpens could help clear the names of the crew—and determine why the real truth didn’t come out decades sooner.

Story by:
Kyle Mizokami

Click on images to enlarge.

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Stuart Amstutz – New Orleans, LA; USMC, WWII, PTO

Jeff Bricker – Quincey, IL; US Army, Gulf War, 82nd Airborne Division

John Christopher – Roswell, GA; US navy, WWII, PTO, USS Rodman

Aubrey Downey – Morvin, AL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, CBI; 375th Bomb Squadron

William Frasher – Philadelphia, PA; US Army, WWII, ETO

Frederick Gerken Jr. – Denville, NJ; US Army, WWII, Pvt., cannoneer, 398th Infantry Reg., Bronze Star

Richard Lillie Sr. – Boston, MA; US Navy, WWII, USS Bunker Hill

Ceci Nelson (102) – Oklahoma City, OK; US navy, WWII

Peter Povich – Akron, OH; US Army, Cpl., 11th Airborne Division

John A. Shelemba – Hamtramck, MI; US Army, Korea, L Co./3/34/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Taejon)

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Veterans Day 2019

For each and every veteran – Thank You!!

For All Our Todays and Yesterdays

Armistice Day Becomes Veterans Day

World War I officially ended on June 28, 1919, with the signing of the Treaty of Versailles. The actual fighting between the Allies and Germany, however, had ended seven months earlier with the armistice, which went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month in 1918.  Armistice Day, as November 11 became known, officially became a holiday in the United States in 1926, and a national holiday 12 years later. On June 1, 1954, the name was changed to Veterans Day to honor all U.S. veterans.

For their loyalty

War Dog Memorial on Guam.

 

US Military dog insignia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Things That Make a Soldier Great

The things that make a soldier great and send him out to die,

To face the flaming cannon’s mouth, nor ever question why,

Are lilacs by a little porch, the row of tulips red,

The peonies and pansies, too, the old petunia bed,

The grass plot where his children play, the roses on the wall:

‘Tis these that make a soldier great. He’s fighting for them all.

‘Tis not the pomp and pride of kings that make a soldier brave;

‘Tis not allegiance to the flag that over him may wave;

For soldiers never fight so well on land or on the foam

As when behind the cause they see the little place called home.

Endanger but that humble street whereon his children run–

You make a soldier of the man who never bore a gun.

 

What is it through the battle smoke the valiant soldier sees?

The little garden far away, the budding apple trees,

The little patch of ground back there, the children at their play,

Perhaps a tiny mound behind the simple church of gray.

The golden thread of courage isn’t linked to castle dome

But to the spot, where’er it be–the humble spot called home.

 

And now the lilacs bud again and all is lovely there,

And homesick soldiers far away know spring is in the air;

The tulips come to bloom again, the grass once more is green,

And every man can see the spot where all his joys have been.

He sees his children smile at him, he hears the bugle call,

And only death can stop him now–he’s fighting for them all.

by: Edgar A, Guest

For All Those In Free Countries Celebrating Remembrance 0r Poppy Day

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Current News – 

In honor the Veterans who are in hospice, there is a drive for Christmas cards, and if possible, small gifts for those who are about to go on their final mission.  Please do your best for them – they did it for you!

https://equipsblog.wordpress.com/2019/11/08/reblog-from-national-anthem-girl-send-christmas-cards-to-lonely-vets-in-hospice-care/

Veteran’s Last Patrol; attn: Holiday Drive, P.O. Box 6111, Spartanburg, SC 29304

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Military Humor – 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Salutes – 

Willard R. Best – Staunton, IL; US Army Air Corps, WWII, ETO, SSgt., 40th/1st Air Div./8th Air Force, gunner, KIA (Germany)

Leon E. Clevenger – Durham, NC; US Army, Korea, Cpl., Co. K/3/21/24th Infantry Division, KIA (Kalgo-ri, South Korea)

Harry Dexter – Davenport, IA; US Army, MSgt., 11th Airborne Division

Herbert B. Jacobson – Chicago, IL; US Navy, WWII, Pearl Harbor, KIA, USS Oklahoma

Servando Lopez – Alice, TX; US Army, WWII, ETO, Bronze Star, Silver Star, Purple Heart

Ralph Nichols – Dawson, GA; US Army Air Corps, WWII, 551/82nd Airborne Division

Robert Register – Jacksonville, FL; US Navy, WWII, PTO, minesweeper USS Notable # 267

William Timpner – Stamps, AR; US Army, WWII

Frank Wills – Columbus, OH; US Navy, WWII, PTO, submarine service

Peter Zemanick – Pittsburgh, PA; US Army, 504/82nd Airborne Division

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Table For One

A VERY SPECIAL POST FOR A VERY IMPORTANT WEEKEND! PLEASE THANK OUR HOST FOR PUTTING THIS TOGETHER FOR US.

December 10 – The Loss of the First Sealion

USS Sea Lion

USS Sea Lion

THE USS SEA LION – DAMAGED BY THE JAPANESE. LT. CROTTY,USCG, LED THE TEAM TO STRIP HER AND LAY CHARGES FOR HER FINAL DESTRUCTION.

theleansubmariner

USS-Sealion-195-2

The attack at Pearl Harbor was barely finished when the predicted attacks in the Philippines began. In order for the Japanese empire to complete their planned establishment of a Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere, the Philippines would have to be “liberated” from the American’s influence. A casual study of that part of the world shows that the oil and food that would be needed to satisfy the growing Japanese empire could easily be obtained form the vast resources in the southern Pacific. The small Japanese islands were hardly capable of supplying the basic needs of her own people at home no less the far flung forces of its marauding armies. Like a giant hungry tiger, she was consuming as much as her army and navy could take in a furious march across the hemisphere.

japanese-painting-tiger-032

The Philippines were the key to her ability to anchor her gains. These beautiful islands lay across…

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