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A White Christmas Open Thread - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse] | Main | Yule Log Christmas Open Thread
December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas, Mr. Harrison - [Niedermeyer's Dead Horse]

Ace and the co-bloggers are often respectful in their remembrance of Veterans and of the wars they fought but, today, I would like to say a special thanks to one Vet in particular.

Mr. Harrison and I are not personally acquainted but that fact is irrelevant for what I do know is this: He served our nation during the The Big One; World War II. As a young man he signed his name on the dotted line and took an oath to protect this nation and, in doing so, helped to ensure freedom for Americans in the generations who followed. My grandparents and my mother before me, and now my daughter who succeeds me, have enjoyed liberty because he had the courage to fight for us. So, again, I need to know no more to know that I owe this man a debt of gratitude.

That said, what I do know is this:

Seaman Calvin Harrison served on several ships during World War II, including the USS Mahogany.

Mahogany (YN‑18) was laid down 18 October 1940 by the American Shipbuilding Co., Cleveland, Ohio; launched 13 February 1941; and commissioned 22 December 1942, Lt. R. L. Collins in command. Shortly after commissioning and sea trials, Mahogany reported to Argentia, Newfoundland. There she conducted net tending, rescue, and icebreaking operations through 1943. On 20 January 1944 she was redesignated AN‑23. Four months later, having received additional armament and equipment, she was assigned to the Pacific Fleet. She completed passage through the Panama Canal 14 July and continued on to San Diego for further exercises. Arriving Pearl Harbor in August, she soon steamed westward; and, from 14 September into March 1945, she laid and tended torpedo nets, moorings and buoys, and participated in various towing, salvage and demolition operations in the central Pacific. By April, Mahogany had moved to the western Pacific for the invasion of Okinawa. She operated with minecraft during the 82‑day campaign, 1 April to 21 July, and then remained in the Okinawa Gunto area until after the end of the war. On 14 September 1945 Mahogany. caught in a typhoon, grounded on a reef in Buckner Bay. She was towed to Guam for repairs, but these promised to be so extensive that she was scrapped. After salvageable equipment had been removed, she decommissioned and her hulk was destroyed 19 April 1946 at Guam. Mahogany received one battle star for World War II service.

Following an honorable discharge, Mr. Harrison joined the Merchant Marines and served aboard the Liberty ship, Joseph V. Connolly. The Connolly and her crew had the grim responsibility for returning the dead to the states until, in January 1947, the ship caught fire at sea and sank with her cargo. Blessedly, her crew was rescued.

On 12 January 1947 In January 1947 USAT General R. E. Callan responded to a distress signal from Army Transport Joseph V. Connolly which was burning at 3948′N 5437′W, some 890 nautical miles (1,650 km) east of New York. Freighters SS Union Victory and Black Diamond each picked up a lifeboat, while General R. E. Callan picked up the remaining two boats. The Army transport stayed with the burning hulk of Joseph V. Connolly until being relieved by Army ocean-going tug LT-788. General R. E. Callan was ordered to Halifax with the survivors. All 46 hands from Joseph V. Connolly were saved by the three ships, while the ship itself was lost.

Today Mr. Harrison is 91 years old and in Hospice Care in Florence, SC.

I wish I could provide more information about Mr. Harrison but, alas, my limited research skills have yielded little. For the above information, I am grateful to Bill Krzyk of Honor Flight Myrtle Beach, a wonderful organization, who first brought Mr. Harrison to our attention and who responded quickly to a request for information. As well, Mr. Krzyk was kind enough to send a recent photo of Mr. Harrison who is seen holding a Christmas tree sent to him by the firefighters of New York City.

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Saying "thank you" to the men and women who risked their young lives in service to our great nation will never be enough but, today, we can assure that Mr. Harrison's name and photo will be seen by the thousands of followers who visit this site and he will be remembered. And, if Mr. Harrison should ever find himself reading this post he will know that today and forever more, he is in our thoughts and our prayers.

It's the least we can do.

(All comments unrelated to this topic should be directed to the open thread below. Thank you for your consideration.)

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posted by Open Blogger at 10:52 AM

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