Thursday, November 10, 2011

For My Dad On Veterans Day 83 Footer 83-301 U.S.Coast Guard WW2....An Iron Sailor

My Dad Seamn 1/C G. Stuart Richards as a Seaman In the USCG. 1942-1944

“Semper Paratus”



Iron Sailor of the Wooden Patrol Boats
The 83 Footer

The 83 footer story began in 1940 when the first of 230 cutters was built for the USCG. The wooden cutters were used for convoy duty in the Gulf and ASW patrol off the east coast of the U.S.

The 83 footer USCG vessel the type my dad served on. His was CG-83-301

My Dad Seaman 1/C G. Stuart Richards enlisted as a seaman in the United States Coast Guard on September 24, 1942. He entered the USCG at Curtis Bay, Md. And was subsequently stationed at Ocracoke Station, N.C. located near Cape Hatteras. Dad served as a sonar operator and a 20 mm gunner on board an 83 foot sub-chaser. They were assigned the duty of patrolling the east coast of the U.S. looking for German U boats.
My Dad told me this info:
“I was assigned duty on board an 83 foot sub-chaser with the designation CG-83-301. They were too small a craft to have a name. They were made of wood and had a top speed of about 30 knots. We carried 12 Depth charges on board, 2 on each launcher and 2 set on a Y gun located in the center of the ship. The crew consisted of 22 men and officers. Our skipper was a commander. The ship was pretty confined and you slept on a rack that hung from the ceiling by chains. The enlisted men slept in the forecastle. My job on board was as a sonar operator who listened for the underwater sounds of a sub. The equipment we used consisted of a sounder that sent out a signal and a wheel that was located between your legs. This had a compass rose on it. By turning in it you could tell what direction you were listening in. if any subs were out there, the sound would echo of their hull and return to the gear. Sometimes you would pick up the sounds of fish or the propellers of other ships. You had to learn the difference between the sounds. You got a bearing from this information that could guide the ship toward the sub. The sonar room was a small room located aft of the forecastle and you could only fit two men in there. After a sub was found, we went to general quarters where I manned a 20 mm gun.
We helped chase down a few German subs, we think, we saw a lot of oil slicks when we fired depth charges but you never knew. I picked up a German life preserver and light that I kept. We also got a commendation medal for helping to get a yacht out of a mine field. We had to go in there and tow them out. What they were doing in there during wartime was pretty unusual and really dumb.

On Patrol
My last trip on CG-83-301 was on September 30, 1944. we were on a patrol when we had a fire in the engine room and were called to general quarters and then started to fight the fire. I was using a fire hose in the hold above the engine room when there was a big explosion. The boiler blew up and threw me backwards pretty far. I landed against an ammunition can for the 20mm. I broke my back, crushing three vertebrae. I couldn’t move my lower body. The ship was pretty well damaged. The whole side, from mid ship to the stern, was wrecked. We didn’t sink because all the water tight doors were closed. It took 4 to 5 hours to get us into Portsmouth where I went into the Naval hospital and spent the next 20 months recuperating. I was then discharged from the Coast Guard.

My dad’s vessel CG 83-301 CG 451 WAS WRECKED IN TYPHOON 0N 9 OCT 1945 near Okinawa.

Dad At the World War ll Vetrans Memorial in Washington DC. 2004

My brother Rick and his wife Sally took Dad to visit the memorial in June of 2004. He was so happy, many people came up to him and thanked him for his service.I am so glad he had this pleasant experience.

My dad was very proud of what he did in the USCG and World War ll, he devoted his whole adult life to the VFW and the Disabled American Veterans. Dad was 100% disabled from the injuries he received while on CG 83-301.But I never once heard him complain of his injuries. He was a great dad to both myself and my brother devoting his time to trying to make our lives happy, sports, vacations, etc. He was a hard worker and I truly miss him. He died in 2006.

G. Stuart Richards 1921-2006


Friday, September 23, 2011

Tribute to Sgt Harold Messerschmidt, 3rd Infantry Division Schuylkill County MOH Holder WW2

This is a recent tribute to Sgt. Messerschmidt who was KIA at Raddon, France.

American Forces Network Europe Home Article Display (DD)
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The Vosges Mountains are located in the northeast portion of France. Heavy fighting took place there in August and September of 1944. The fighting there would terminate the foot hold German troops had on France. Fighting in this area was the famous 3rd Infantry Division. Because of their fierce fighting methods the Germans still held a portion of the Belfort Gap in the Vosges. On the 15th of September the 3rd ID was on the move marching north toward the French town of Faucogney.

Fighting with the 3rd ID was Schuylkill Countian Sgt. Harold O. Messerschmidt born in Grier City, Schuylkill County. Sgt. Messerschmidt enlisted in the U.S. Army at Chester, Pa. On the 17th of September Messerschmidt’s unit, Company L 30th Infantry Regt. was in the process of trying to capture a small village west of Faucogney named Raddon. Company L had just taken a heavily forested ridge that dominated an important and strategic road. About mid day a heavy tank and artillery fire swept the ridge immediately followed by advancing German infantry over 200 strong. One member of the unit stated” They rushed into our fire in an insane manner, as if they had been given liquor or drugs.” For six hours Sgt. Messerschmidt and the men of his squad held the right flank of the company and resisted wave after wave of the fanatical German troops. Sgt. Messerschmidt ran out of ammunition and was the only member of his squad still standing, he used his Tommy gun as a club to kill as many Germans as he could. A last ditch charge by the enemy came rushing up the slope and caught Sgt. Messerschmidt still wielding his empty weapon were upon he was killed. At the end of this engagement Company L was down to only four squads and very nearly out of ammunition, but they held the ridge.

Sgt. Harold Messerschmidt was awarded the Medal Of Honor posthumously on 17 July 1946.

The Citation:

Sergeant Messerschmidt, Harold O. Army
Medal of Honor


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company L, 30th Infantry, 3d Infantry Division. Place and date: Near Radden, France, 17 September 1944. Entered service at: Chester, Pa. Birth: Grier City, Pa. G.O. No.: 71, 17 July 1946.

Citation: He displayed conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty. Braving machinegun, machine pistol, and rifle fire, he moved fearlessly and calmly from man to man along his 40-yard squad front, encouraging each to hold against the overwhelming assault of a fanatical foe surging up the hillside. Knocked to the ground by a burst from an enemy automatic weapon, he immediately jumped to his feet, and ignoring his grave wounds, fired his submachine gun at the enemy that was now upon them, killing 5 and wounding many others before his ammunition was spent. Virtually surrounded by a frenzied foe and all of his squad now casualties, he elected to fight alone, using his empty submachine gun as a bludgeon against his assailants. Spotting 1 of the enemy about to kill a wounded comrade, he felled the German with a blow of his weapon. Seeing friendly reinforcements running up the hill, he continued furiously to wield his empty gun against the foe in a new attack, and it was thus that he made the supreme sacrifice. Sgt. Messerschmidt's sustained heroism in hand-to-hand combat with superior enemy forces was in keeping with the highest traditions of the military service .

Sgt. Harold O. Messershmidt is buried in the:
Christ Lutheran Church Cemetery
Schuylkill County

Thursday, September 22, 2011


A Wired Hair Terrier The Type Jack Was



United Press.
Philadelphia Jan 27, 1930

This is a great story about a dog, a mascot of the 109th Infantry regiment, 28th Division during WW1. Jack a little wired haired fox terrier will be buried near Radnor today with all the honors of a warrior. His broken little body will rest in a flag draped casket. At least one squad from Company C, 109th Infantry, Pennsylvania National Guard, will be in attendance and a regular bugler will blow taps on a silver tongued coronet. Twelve years ago Jack was a precious little puppy who didn’t understand a word of the very expressive English used by the members of Company C, when their dust coated hobnailed boots awakened the echoes in a little battle scared village in the Condrecourt area. The language of bones, nice juicy bones with meat attached is universal, however and Jack permanently attached himself to the company and to Corporal James C. McCool, of Mahanoy City, Pa. in particular. Following the soul stirring months of the summer of 1918 with fighting everywhere from Flanders to the Vosges and the 28th Division in the thick of it. So was McCool and Company C and his buddy Jack, dodging across a machine gun swept wheat field one sunny morning in July, Jack got his “Blighty” It resulted in the amputation of his right foreleg. Regimental surgeons fixed him up. Two months latter at St. Mihiel, cool was seriously wounded. Before being evacuated he gave strict orders to his squad to take care of Jack.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The 213th Coast Artillery Schuylkill County Men During the Years of Peace. 1922-1941

During the years of Peace
The 213th Coast Artillery

In 1922, both Pottsville’s companies were reorganized, Co. C and D of the 103rd Engineers, The old First Defender Company the Washington Artillery of 1861 became the service battery of the 213th Coast Artillery, And Company H of the 112th Infantry Regiment of WW 1 fame, the old National Light Infantry of 1861 another of the famed First Defenders, became the Headquarters Battery, 213th Coast Artillery. Again August of 1924 they were reorganized to arm the 213th Coast Artillery. During the years that followed the units became highly proficient in there new roll as anti aircraft artillery, with its intricate problems of three dimensional gunnery, tactical organization, material and fire control instruments. Adapting itself to its new assignment and concentrating on training, the companies and regiment soon attained a technique and tactical proficiency which made it second to none and which placed it high among the vital instruments essential to the National Defense of the Nation and State.
The companies along with the regiment followed an intensive training program which include annual field training camps at stations in Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware and New Jersey. It participated in the III Corps maneuvers at Heuvelton, New York, near Ogdensburg, and conducted firing practice from Fort Ontario New York. It received a citation from headquarters 28th Division, during the First Army Maneuvers for its High Spirit and usual initiative” and for “the efferent manner in which the regiment gave anti aircraft protection.”
In early December 1942, the 213th Coast Artillery moved from Camp Stewart into the New York Metropolitan area for the defense of the Coast Line. In April 1942 the 213th was split up, many men moved into different branches of the Army; some went into the Engineers, Infantry and other branches. Some cadre stayed behind and rebuilt the 213th coast Artillery. It is hard to trace the men or unit at this point. We know the 213th served in Northern Ireland, Scotland, North Africa, Italy and France. They also participated in the following campaigners: Tunisia, Naples, Foggia, Anzio, Rome-Arno, North Apennines, Po valley Rhineland, Algeria, French Morocco. Eventually the unit was inactivated in 1944 after being in the service of our country for four years. We are quite sure, even though the unit and men from Schuylkill County went in different directions during the war; they served their country and state with dignity and honor, as did their forefathers.

From A History of Pottsville’s National Guard Units.

HQ Battery, Schuylkill Haven Pud Fager 1st Sgt. In Front.

213th Coast Arty Band From Pottsville, Pa.

Machine Gun Battery Firing at Balloons Grand View Beach, Va.

Gun ready for action 213th CA.

Front Row Left to right Irvin MArtin, Ed Armbuster, Norman Golden Francis Francis,unknown , Bob Rowe Vaughan Hipple. 213th

The Boat that took the 213th from Phila, to Fort Monroe Va.

On Board the Chateau Thierry

F.W.D. Trucks taking the boys to the pistol range Ft. Monroe, Va.

Thursday, September 1, 2011


Ted Williams

Red Sox’s Ted Williams Escorted By Schuylkill County Flier.

The Article in the February 19, 1953 Issue of the Pottsville Republican stated: Ted Williams Escorted By County Flier.

A Pine Grove boy piloted a jet fighter bomber that escorted Ted Williams back to an advanced Korean Base after the ball Player’s fighter plane began to burn after participating in a recent raid against an enemy base in North Korea.
He is 2nd Lieutenant Lawrence Hawkins, 75 east Pottsville St. Lt. Hawkins marked his 22nd birthday last Thursday.
News of Lt. Hawkins feat in escorting Williams to safety was contained in a news dispatch from the war area.
Hawkins a graduate of Pine grove High School, class of 1948 enlisted in the Marine Corps following his graduation from High School. He served in the Marines for 21 months and was stationed at Cherry Point, N.C. He then switched to the naval air arm and took flight training at Pensacola Fla. Where he received his wings early 1952. He went to Korea last November and in the last letter received by his family he related he had completed 44 missions, had two air medals and a rest leave in Japan.
From Ted Williams Book ,”My Turn At Bat The story of My Life ” he relates the story of his rescue.

Somebody wrote one time that I had privately resigned myself to my fate, that I thought I was going to Korea to die. That’s not true. The thing that always brought me to my senses about relative danger was the F9. When I flew it, I always marveled at how good a plane it was and how much better I had it than some of the guys in the South Pacific who flew over water al the time ad in equipment that wasn’t as good.

After about eight or ten missins, I began to get real sick. The weather was miserable, cold, foggy, misty. My ears and nose plugged up. I was going to the infirmary every other day. Well, I was out on this one mission, far above thirty-eight Parallel. Our target was an encampment a large troop concentration. We were nearing the target when I lost visual reference with the fellow in front of me. I swung out to pick him up, and when I got back on target I was too low.
We were supposed to be pretty low anyway, using daisy cutters that day, anti personnel bombs that hit and spread out. But now I was a target for I don’t know how many thousands of gooks in that encampment, and sure as hell I got hit with small arms fire. When I pulled up out of my run, all the red lights were on in the plane and the damn thing started to shake. I knew I had a hydraulic leak. Fuel warning light, there are so many lights on a jet that when anything serious goes wrong the lights almost blind you. I was in serious trouble.
I started to call right away, I had a plane in front and one to the side, but I couldn’t pick anybody up. All of a sudden this plane was right behind me. The pilot was a young sandy haired lieutenant named Larry Hawkins, from Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. He could see I was calling, nodding my head, and the last I heard was, “I can barely read your transmission,” and the radio pooped out. Later he told me he was yelling for me to shoot the canopy and bail out, and if I‘d known I was on fire I probably would have. He came up close and I saw he was pointing like mad, trying to show me I was leaking fuel or something. He signaled with his thumb: “Let’s get up,” So we climbed. Altitude is a safety factor. The thinner air helps in case of fire, and if you get another 10,000 feet you can glide thirty five to forty miles if the engine fails.
Meantime, I had taken off my leg strap which holds the data for the trip, I was sure I was going to have to bail out. I’d gone off my hydraulic system. (When it’s damaged it is safer to fly without hydraulics, even though you really have to wrestle the stick.) I got up to 18,000 feet and I could see the frozen water on my right. Any minute I expected I’d have to bail out, and I always dreaded the prospect. It was the only real fear I had flying a plane, that if I had to bail out I wouldn’t make it. Among other things, the cockpit is small. For a big guy, crammed in like I was, I thought I’d surely leave my knee cap right there.
Lieutenant Hawkins did a great job. He led me back to the field and called in to warn them. From the target to the base, flying time was about fifteen minutes. All of a sudden I was over the field. Not the same field I had taken off from but one nearer the target. It was a mad house.

Williams landed successfully at the base, thanks to Schuylkill countian Lt. Larry Hawkins.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011



Pottsville Bombardier Earns Oak Leaf Cluster to The Distinguished Flying Cross.

1st Lieutenant Charles Zalonka
April 21, 1945

“Target time in two minutes,” came over the interphone. A shower of steel peppered against the wing and fuselage of the Flying Fortress that was leading the mission. The weather was hazy and the smoke pots set up a screen that further obscured the target. First Lt. Charles C. Zalonka of Pottsville, took a final look at his target chart and bent over the bombsight. His skilled hands set meters, turned knobs, last minute corrections were made. A dozen 500 pound bombs tumbled from the belly of the 15th Air Force B-17 Flying Fort. Crewman’s eyes strained as they followed the course of the explosives. Someone laughed and yelled, “Mr. Hitler, recount your oil refineries”. Smoke and flame billowed heavenward. The planes came off the target, rallied and headed home. Tail gunners watched the smoke and flame grow to 20, 000 feet and could still see it a distance of 250 miles. It was the last gas producing target within the operating area of the 15th Air force in Italy. Following this mission Charlie added one more oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross.

The Citation read in Part.” On this and many other occasions, Lt. Zalonka has displayed superb skill and inspired leadership.” The man who wrote that citation has seen Zalonka records. There was Schwartsheide Synthetic Oil Refinery, 15th March, 1945 “good Results” Sopron Hungary, railroad Yards, “Very well hit” Linz Austria, railroad Yards “well Hit” in Italy. Zalonka has flown 23 missions; Five times he has lead his squadron as lead bombardier.

On March 25, 1945 1st Lt. Zalonka was promoted to Captain.

Captain Zalonka is known as the "The Silent Success-O-Meter", Officers who know him insist that he is a born bombardier. When a flight is in the preparation he studies the maps, target charts and photographs, memorizing all identifiable buildings, landmarks and approaches within several miles of the target.And on the bomb runs he watches for these points. That is why he is considered one of the outstanding egg droppers in the Mediterranean theatre and is credited with hitting the target point blank out of 22 times.

Captain Zalonka is flying from a 15th Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress base in Italy, and has led his squadron many times over oi refineries, rail yards and such important targets many times. He says he prefers not to wear a flak suit because it is so bulky and a touch of it against the adjustments of the bomb sight throws it out of calibration. This he thinks has some bearing in his success. His citation reads: "On this and many other occasions Lt. Zalonka has displayed superb skill and inspired leadership"


Tragically in 1955, then Captain Charles Zalonka was killed in an accident while flying as a navigator on board the B-36 Bomber.
A B-36J-5-CF Tail Number 52 2818A assigned to Walker AFB New Mexico, crashed on a training flight. They encountered sever turbulence and weather over Texas while flying at 25,000 feet.

The Aircraft began to disintegrate in flight resulting in the loss of control and went into a flat spin, and struck the ground at high impact resulting in the aircraft exploding. This made location of the bodies and identification very difficult.
Zalonka was the 2nd Navigator on board the aircraft.
One theory stated that the Fifteen airmen died in the flaming crash of the B-36 bomber in rugged territory 60 miles from San Angelo, Texas. Air Force spokesmen said apparently the big craft was snapped up by a howling tornado skipping high above the ground.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Schuylkill Counties 33 Casualty During the Vietnam War Pfc. Thomas P. McKerns, Mahanoy City.. August 28, 1969.

Three days after Sgt. Paul F. Kostick was killed at Tay Ninh August 25, 1969, Schuylkill County once again suffered another casualty in the Vietnam War. On August 28, 1969 at Quang Tin Province South Vietnam, while sprinting through an open field to help wounded members of his platoon who were pinned down by the North Vietnamese. Pfc Thomas P. McKerns was hit with a hail of machine gun fire and killed. Pfc. McKerns was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with V device and Oak Leaf Cluster, among other medals.
Tom was from Mahanoy City, he was 21 years old at the time of his death. He was a member of Company B, 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry.
The 4th Battalion went to Vietnam in the spring of 1966, operating initially in War Zone D and around Tay Ninh near the Cambodian border. In 1967, the battalion moved north to help form the 23d "Americal" Infantry Division. Operating at Quang Ngai, Chu Lai, and the Que Son Valley for most of the rest of the war, the 4th Battalion fought to keep Viet Cong guerillas and the North Vietnamese Army from capturing the coastal lowlands. Two of the battalion's members earned the Medal of Honor almost a year apart near the bitterly-contested village of Hiep Duc. When American forces departed, the 4th Battalion 31st Infantry was part of the last brigade to leave Vietnam. It was deactivated in 1971.

Friday, August 26, 2011

96th P.V.I at Camp Northumberland. Virgina. 1862

The 96th in Regimental Formation At Camp Northumberland, Wearing Their Regulation Frock Coats, Dark Blue Trousers And Hardee Hats. A Fine Example Of A Fighting Regiment During The Civil War.

Pottsville Miners Journal
January 14, 1862

Camp Northumberland

Here is an interesting article written to the Miners Journal concerning the 96th P.V.I.'s camp in the Virginia country side outside of Washington.

Camp Northumberland, Jan. 4 1862

Dear Journal- It being sometime since a communication has appeared in your valuable columns from the 96th. I thought that a few lines would not come amiss at this present instant. The more especially as many in and around your borough have relatives or friends serving in the ranks, for whose personal welfare they have and feel a warm interest.
We are at present encamped about 2½ miles from the city of Alexandria , and about the same distance from the Long Bridge, near the line of the Louden and Hampshire Railway, where it crosses Four Mile run, which is about three hundred and fifty yards below us.
The spot is a most admirably adapted for the purpose intended, situated as it is, near to good water, and completely sheltered from the weather by hills which are well wooded.
The streets are laid out with mathematical precision, and the tents of the men are, in their way, models of comfort. They are placed on good log foundations, the inter-space plastered with clay, and are as a general thing floored. Each tent contains a fire place built of brick, which our efficient Regimental Quartermaster was so fortunate as to obtain for the hauling at no great distance from the grounds. Altogether we have one of the handsomest, best regulated, and cleanest camps on this side of the Potomac.
Each man has been supplied with two blankets and an overcoat which though in some cases of rather inferior quality is sufficient to make them comfortable. The provisions provided for the men according to regulations are good, and as to quantity, ample, as many of your citizens who have visited us can testify to.
The health of the men is most excellent, but few being at present in the hands of the surgeon, and the majority of those who are there, being so from their own indiscretion.
Some two weeks ago we had a trial of picketing on the Little River Turnpike, our outposts being within cannon shot of the rebels The officers and men seemed to like this duty so much that they were sorry when they were relieved, wishing that they may be detailed for especially for that purpose. Nothing of special note occurred during the trip; but the stories of hair breadth escapes, gallant forays, and daring adventures that circulated among the men on their return, would excite the admiration and envy of Sylvanus Cobb, Emerson Hounett, and the other storiests of the New York Ledger, generally.
The health of our Colonel has for some days past been delicate, but we are most happy to say that he is now convalescent, and will be able, shortly to resume the arduous duties of his new profession. The health of the other officers as a general thing is excellent. Lt. Col. Frick never looked better, and Major Martin flourishes finely. Our kind and most respected Chaplain seems to endure the hardships of the camp well., and our Surgeon who by the by is in common parlance, a splendid fellow. He cures the many pains that our human flesh is heir as much by his exuberant humor and attie wit, as he does with his strengthening compounds.
We have lately been furnished with new Austrian musket, which though rather clumsy in construction, owing to the imperfect finish, is a most efficient weapon.
As yet the majority of the men have not been paid since we were formed into a regiment, why, I know not. Neither will pretend to say, doubtless good reasons could be assigned, if it were necessary. John Bruns Esq., has been appointed paymaster, and the probability is, though uncertain, that we will be paid off.
We have had several attempts to snow lately, but until last evening they did not amount to much. At present there is about inches of snow and sleet on the ground.
Owing to the continued inclemency of the weather, we have done little duty lately; but prior to this, we were kept steadily to work. Our men begin to drill well and bid fair at rival the crack regimental of the reserve. Brig. General Slocum, who, by the by, has won the hearts of the men by his humble and soldierly bearing, honored the regiment a short time ago with his special attention, trying that they did honor the brigade; and that they were fit at any moment to be led into action; hinting that the same time, that the day was not far distant when they would have a chance to display their loyalty and show their mettle.
There are rumors of an onward movement, and report says, that we are to be in it. How soon we know not, but wait in expectancy. The Potomac is to be opened; Richmond is to be occupied; so look for stirring times shortly. When the time does come, your readers can rest assured, that good old County of Schuylkill will not be disgraced by her children of the 96th.
Yours Ninety-Sixth.

Pottsville Miners Journal
January 19, 1862

Camp Northumberland

This is a letter from Major M. Edgar Richards the Adjutant of the regiment describing the conditions of the 96th's camp at Camp Northumberland. The letter was written on January 19, 1862 while the regiment was still encamped.

I thought I new what muddy was were from traveling experiences, but I find since my introduction to the sacred soil that I am commencing to learn. It is a soil that readily becomes mud- the water is not absorbed, nor does it seem to run off. There is also no limit to the depth of Virginia mud- It is difficult to find a hard place..
We are noted for having the cleanest and driest camp in the division, and from personal experience I should judge, tat the mud in our camp is the thinnest place it must be about three inches judging from what I saw riding through them to headquarters this morning, the mud in the other camps must be about knee deep, and how they walk about at all is a marvel to me.
We are situated with our camp, on a side hill, and have taken care by grading and leveling and rolling with a very heavy iron roller, to get the ground firm and hard before the rainy season came on, but the water absolutely refuses to run off, even down a pretty steep grade. We are infinitely better off than our neighbors on the flat, who have no grade, and did not take the trouble we did. The ground is best described by comparing it to a sponge.
It is surprising how people accustom themselves to circumstances, here we walk about through the mud and pouring rain, with the same non chalance and indifference as if we were walking on Brussels carpet in the parlor at home. I have to laugh at it every day, and although I have come accustomed to doing it myself, I can't help noticing it in others- You see them wading about in it like ducks, never even looking for shallow places.
Every day or two it clears up for an hour or so, and then takes a fresh start, and rains with renewed energy.

Thursday, August 25, 2011



Paul Francis Kostick

Home of Record: Gilberton, PA
Date of birth: 01/10/1948

Service: Army of the United States
Grade at loss: E4
Rank: Sergeant
Note: Posthumous Promotion as indicated
ID No: 172409241
MOS: 11C20: Indirect Fire Infantryman
Length Service: 01

Start Tour: 12/14/1968
Incident Date: 08/25/1969
Casualty Date: 08/25/1969
Age at Loss: 21
Location: Tay Ninh Province, South Vietnam
Remains: Body recovered
Casualty Type: Hostile, died outright
Casualty Reason: Ground casualty
Casualty Detail: Artillery, rocket, or mortar


ON THE WALL Panel 19W Line 113

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Charles N. Taylor Co. E 84th Indiana Volunteers..."Oh the life of a soldier is the life for me"

The following letter was written by Charles N. Taylor a young man who lived in Minersville before moving to Indiana. During the Civil War Taylor enlisted in the 84th Indiana regiment and wrote many letters to the Miners Journal.

This letter is such a good example of the life of the common soldier in the civil war. This letter could have been written by a soldier from any war past or present.



2nd Div, 2nd Brigade, 4th A.C.
Okrrwah Station, Feb. 4th 1864

Editors Miners Journal: Since my last letter to you I have taken a long march and changed my place of encampment. We were seeing easy time and had good and comfortable dog house erected: were drawing full rations and had drawn light bread three times. After we had drawn twice, the boys said we would leave in a few days. Why? Because we are drawing light bread? It is ever so. I have ever known it to fail, that when ever we draw light bread, and had good and comfortable quarters, that we were sure to leave in a few days. Such was our day when we were at Shell Mound. On the morning of the 25th ult. At reveille we had orders top be ready at 10 a.m., to march. After breakfast all was in an uproar in the camp, packing boxes. At 10 a.m. the brigade took up the line of March., the 1st brigade in the advance. The 2nd Brigade only marched 3 miles. The weather clear and pleasant. Early the next morning we took up the line of march again. Today our road runs through what is called the narrows. The dirt road runs between the railroad and the river. And is only wide enough for one wagon to run on. The first brigade being in the advance with their teams, together with Division teams they cut up the road so badly that it was almost impossible for teams laden as ours were, to come through, therefore we made slow progress the first two days having only marched about six miles. The next morning early, we again took up the line of march and passed through Whiteside. This is a small station on the K&C R.R. and before the taking of Lookout Mountain. Was a post of the utmost importance and extreme danger though it was fortified and garrisoned by old and experienced soldiers, viz: 36th and 30th Indiana , 77th Pa. and 84th Ill. With the 4th U.S. Battery, Col. Grosse, of the 36th Ind. Commanded the Brigade. The troops here also had good and comfortable quarters erected and like ourselves had to leave them. So it is with the soldier. After he has himself comfortably fixed and about to compliment himself upon his good workmanship upon his dog houses he receives orders to leave. He takes it all easy and thinks that if he has to go some of his brother soldiers will receive the benefits of them.

Oh the life of a soldier is the life for me,
He takes his duty merrily,
The winds can whistle, while he can sing,
Still faithful to his friends and kin.

We marched until about 4 p.m. when we went into camp for the night, on the bank of Lookout Creek, we having marched 12 miles today. Moccasin point is plainly to be seen and as I look across the Tennessee River and see our old camping ground, it recalls to my mind the dangers and hardships we endured while there. There are built there now good and comfortable barracks. While we lay there five weeks without blankets and tents and on half rations, our duties were so heavy we had no time to erect barracks. There is Lookout Mt. how different it looks now. How different this place looks now from that it had in Sept. 1863. The railroad has been completed and the trains loaded and rations and running daily. The commissary stores are stored away in all directions, and in general it presents quite a military appearance. We marched some tree miles south of town, where we went into camp for the night at the foot of mission ridge, on the battleground of November last.
The next morning we took up the line of march, crossed the ridge, Chickamauga creek, and then went into camp on a ridge among the trees. We lay here in camp for three days, when we again took up the line of march for this place, distance from our camp some 8 miles. It was about 10.a.m. when we started, and we went into camp here about 2 p.m. pretty fast march8ing I thought. And all of use obliged to labor under great disadvantages .viz: knapsacks or all our wardrobe and furniture, an advantage we posses that when we move we are able to take all our goods and chattels with us upon our backs. We are now lying at the above mentioned station. Enjoying ourselves as all soldiers should. The rebels are only seven miles distant, but what cares the soldier for them? We fear them not.

“Tis much he dares
And to that dauntless temper of his mind
He hath a wisdom that doth guide his valor
To act in safety”

There is a small stream here named Wolf-teaver. The railroad crosses it by means of a bridge, built mostly of stone. The wood work has been destroyed by the rebels, but as I am writing, I look down toward it and see an engine is there and competent hands at work who will so repair the same in six hours that the cars can run across in safety. In the course of a few days, should nothing unexpected turn up the cars will run through to that contested place, Knoxville.
How does the war fever rage in your peaceful town? Is there a prospect of this cruel war being over? As I am, writing how my memory wonders, I am away there in your quiet town, then at home with my parents. Then in another moment all is over, and I find myself here in east Tennessee, in my dog tent. Paper, pen and ink before me and surrounded on all sides by brother soldiers, who like, myself, have responded to their country’s call and to protect that flag, which in the opinion of a few mean an unprincipled politicians and demagogues, ought to be trampled into the dust. Never shall that be done though, while there are left a few young patriots, though many have fallen and are now quietly sleeping beneath the green sward. Yes, many a brave companion I have lost, but they were fghti9ng for a good and just cause, the maintenance of the constitution, and for that blood bought emblem the stars and stripes bestowed on us by or forefathers. Still these stay at home cowards and politicians would fain see it go down. That never shall be, No never !
Prate on vile traitors,
Thou can’t hurt no soldier’s fame with thou ill words,
Though tongues are as harmless as thy swords,
But keep clear of us boys
I will close this letter by stating that the heath of the regiment is good and mine also.

C.N.T. 84th Co. E Indiana Volunteers

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The War Horse “Dollie Slocum”

Me and My War Horse "Savage" In Memory of "Dollie Slocum"Dr. D W. Bland 96th Pennsylvania Infantry And His War Horse “Dollie Slocum”

Death of Dollie Slocum
August 3, 1883

The old gray mare, the property of Dr. Bland, was found dead in her stall on the farm of James Kilpatrick, near Schuylkill Haven, Thursday morning.
She was about thirty years old. The Doctor purchased her in October 1861, previous to entering the Army of the Potomac.
This mare had an eventful career. She never lost a day of duty during the three years of active service in the field. She was present at all the general battles of the Army of the Potomac. Also in numerous skirmishes and reconnaissance’s of the old Sixth Corps.
When the army was sent to the Peninsula in 62 she in company with a number of other horses, stood on board of a schooner for twenty five days and was then hoisted from the deck and thrown into the water to swim ashore. At Gettysburg she was a conspicuous target for a rebel sharpshooter positioned near round top. The Doctor used her through the Wilderness and Spotsylvania campaigns, down to Petersburg then back to Washington, down the Shenandoah Valley to Winchester, Fishers Hill and back to Harpers Ferry.
For the past six months she has been leading a retired life on the above mentioned farm.
She was very much admired by different officers in the army among whom may be mentioned. Generals Slocum, Franklin, Sedgwick, Wright, Bartlett and others.
The doctor had her properly buried on the farm, where she lived. Peace to the ashes of “Dollie Slocum”.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The cost of freedom is always high, but Americans have always paid it. And one path we shall never choose, and that is the path of surrender, or submission.
John F. Kennedy

In memory of all those from Schuylkill County who have kept America Free!
Happy 4th of July everyone!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Schuylkill Countians Killed In Vietnam During The Month Of June 1967-68-69

19 year old Pfc. Dennis E. Hoffman, Orwin
23 year old Sgt. Frederick W. Schaeffer, Potsville
20 year old Sgt. Michael J. Kaplafka, Mahanoy city
19 year old Pfc. Richard D. Roberts, Pottsville


Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Today is Flag day,
This stirring poem was written about the battle flag of the 96th P.V.I. and states with pride and honor what an important part the flag played in the make up of this regiment.

The regimental flag was to be protected at all costs, even with the lives of the men entrusted with its care, the color bearers and the color guard. To be selected as a member of the color guard was one of the most distinguished honors bestowed upon a Civil war soldier. To carry the colors into battle meant that one was in the fore front of the regiment. One knew that enemy fire would be focused on one's position and the possibility existed that one would be killed or wounded. It took a man of extraordinary courage to be a color bearer, and men from Schuylkill county courageously filled this post of honor often paying with their lives. Not once in battle did a Schuylkill county regiment permanently lose their colors to an enemy regiment.

The 96th Flag as it looked and today


By J.T.B.
November 21, 1863

Dear old standard, rent and torn,
Tattered, soiled and gory;
Hallowed banner, battle worn,
Let me tell your story.

True hearts own! By patriot hand
To valor thou wast given,
When the union of our land
By rebel blows was riven.

A thousand freemen followed thee
Mid sighs, and tears, and prayers,
To shield their true love, Liberty,
And scourge her base betrayers.

West point saw your folds baptized
With the waves of battle-
Saw your dreamings realized
Amid the muskets rattle.

By Chickahominy’s sad stream,
In Richmond’s air you quivered:
And, in the sparkle of its gleam,
Our serried ranks, were shivered.

O’er Gaines Hill your ensign beamed;
Waved high at Savage Station;
At Charles City Crossroads streamed,
An honor to the nation.

Next, where Freedom’s son retired
Before foul treason’s minions
By Red Bull Run, you rose inspired,
And stretched your shielding pinions.

Then at Crampton’s Gap you led
Our charging ranks to glory;
Drooped o’er fierce Antietam’s dead,
And made yourself a story.

Thrice, at Fredericksburg, your stars
Gleamed on the Rappahannock;
Cold and Chill your Crimson bars
Lit Salem’s sanguine bannock.

At Gettysburg, where the true cross’d corps
Hurled back the foe victorious,
Mid powder smoke and cannons roar,
You waved serene and glorious.

And ever since, through storm and rack,
Unterrified, undaunted,
You’ve followed on curs’d treason’s track,\
Where’er its rag was flaunted.

Scarce a shred of you remains;
Your stars have ceased to sparkle;
Your virgin white bears battle stains;
Your bars no longer darkle.

Yet, with soldiers pride we look
Upon thy tattered splendor,
And read our trials, as from a book,
With feelings sad and tender.

Green be mem’ry of the braves
Who fell, thy cause maintaining,
A nation’s prayers illume their graves,
Their praise be ever gaining-

But let public finger wag
And scout the regiments proudest,
Who left thee desolate, old flag,
When treason’s storm sway’d loudest.

May bitter thoughts corrode their minds, ‘
and let their foiled ambitions
die with their names, like passing winds,
their lives be kind contrition’s.

Honored flag of Auld Lang Syne!
Fall Union’s foes before us,
Whilst a thread or star of thine
Remains to waver o’er us.

In camp September, 1863

To read about the individual color bearers from Schuylkill County se my post for
Tuesday, November 27, 2007
Schuylkill County Color Bearers During the Civil War Only the Brave were Chosen

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Fleetweek, 2011 Trip To U.S.S. Intrepid Walk Around

Took my grandson on a trip to New York for Fleetweek on Memorial Day Weekend to the U.S.S. Intrepid. If you get a chance don't miss this excellent tour of one of America's finest ships.

Some of my photo's

Photo's inside the Intrepid

Some of the aircraft displays on the flight deck of the Intrepid and flying in the area.