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Chapter 7

This webpage reproduces a chapter of
Men, Wind and Sea

by
Riley Brown

published by
Carlyle House, New York 1939

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though,
please let me know!


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Chapter 9

This site is not affiliated with the US Coast Guard Academy.

p170 Chapter Eight

Wings and Men

With the development of Coast Guard aviation, it is no longer possible for such smuggler ships as the I'm Alone and others to lay out on the edge of the twelvemile limit without being discovered. Coast Guard planes with cruising ranges of 500 to 1500 miles sweep out to sea, plot the positions of these smuggler craft, and then radio the information to the cutters on patrol. This is being done every day, thus preventing entry of illicit material into the United States. But the most important duty of Coast Guard aviation, from the humanitarian point of view, is the service it affords to the sick and injured far at sea, and the scouting for small boats driven from shore.

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Photo U. S. Coast Guard

Seriously Burned Man Transferred from Lifeboat
to Coast Guard Plane

Transfer at sea from lifeboat of Steamship Samuel Q. Brown, to Coast Guard plane, for speedy transportation to shore hospital for treatment.

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Photo U. S. Coast Guard

Injured Man Aboard Coast Guard Plane

Injured man being transported from ship at sea to shore hospital. The mechanic administering first aid while radio man in rear compartment sends call for ambulance and doctor to be waiting. Coast Guard seaplanes are especially equipped for such rescue work.

On the 29th of August, 1916, the President approved an Act of Congress, which authorized the Secretary of the Treasury to establish, equip and maintain not more than ten air stations along the coasts of the United States at such points as he deemed advisable, and to detail for aviation duty officers and men of the Coast Guard. This Act provided that these stations were to be employed in saving lives and safeguarding p171property along the coasts and at sea, and to assist in the National defense.

Selecting a group of young officers, the service sent them at once to the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Florida, for training, but before these officers could finish their course the United States entered the World War. The fledgling airmen were immediately absorbed into the Naval Air service, performing duty in this country and abroad.

It was not until 1920 that the first Coast Guard air station was established at Morehead City, N. C., with planes obtained from the Navy. Despite the lack of facilities and funds, the Coast Guard kept this station in commission until 1921, demonstrating the great value of aviation in the carrying out of Coast Guard duties. Aviation extended the range of Coast Guard humanitarian efforts far out at sea, and proved its worth where speed, with its consequent saving of time, is a vital factor.

Coast Guard aviation has continued to grow. Today, the service has air stations situated at Salem, Massachusetts; New York, N. Y.; Charleston, S. C.; Miami, Fla.; St. Petersburg, Fla.; Biloxi, Miss.; San Diego, Calif.; and Port Angeles, Wash. These stations are equipped with longrange amphibian planes, constructed in a manner that enables them to land on the roughest seas. Besides these stations, the Coast Guard maintains Air Patrol Detachments at Cape May, N. J., and at El Paso, Texas. Seven cutters of p172the Coast Guard fleet are equipped to carry aircraft, which greatly increase the effective cruising range of these vessels.

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Photo U. S. Coast Guard

Modern Coast Guard Speed Boat and Amphibian on a Rescue

Speed boat and amphibian plane head out at full speed to effect a rescue off the coast.

Primarily, as with the rest of the Coast Guard, service aviation is concerned with the saving of life at sea, and many persons would not be alive today, had it not been for the courage of Coast Guard flyers and the sturdiness of their planes. But the saving of life is only one duty with which Coast Guard aviation is concerned. The service as a whole is charged with law enforcement along the coasts and at sea, its aviation playing a vital part in spotting smuggling craft and other vessels which seek to evade the revenue laws of this country.

There are many fishing smacks plying the waters along the northern coasts of the United States, and the work that these fishermen do is hard, cold and disagreeable; and often extremely dangerous. A fall on an icy deck, a slip with a knife, and a man becomes gravely injured. He must be landed for hospitalization at once. But how? The fishing vessel is 150 miles at sea, with rough weather and storm between it and shore. It will take days for the boat to reach port, and by that time, the man will have died. No time to lose. Send out a call for the Coast Guard, ask for a plane to come out and get the injured man.

Hardly a day passes that the Coast Guard does not receive such a request. And these appeals are heeded, no matter what the weather, regardless of the condition p173of the sea upon which the plane must land. It is the Coast Guard's job; they must go out.

Such a call for assistance came from the Trawler White Cap, on the stormy night of May 20, 1937, to the commander of the Boston Division. A member of the White Cap's crew had suffered a serious injury and was in need of immediate hospitalization if his life was to be saved. Orders went out at once from the Division Commander to the Salem Air Station, and at midnight, Lieutenant Commander F. A. Leamy took off to contact the trawler, which was in a position 60 miles southeast of the air station.

Misty rain made visible poor; the wind was gusty and rough. Commander Leamy requested the trawler to transmit radio signals, and by means of the radio direction finder aboard the plane, he flew along the null of these signals to the trawler's position. A message came from the White Cap — the patient's arm had been completely severed; he was suffering from loss of blood; all possible speed must be used in getting him to a hospital.

At 12:40, the Coast Guard plane was circling over the White Cap, and Commander Leamy noticed that the trawler was laboring considerably in rough west southwest seas. Making several approaches close to the water, he realized at once that the sea conditions were extremely bad and that he might crack up upon attempting to land. Coast Guard lives were placed in the balance against the life of an unknown fisherman. If p174the plane were cracked up, those Coast Guard lives would be forfeited; if no attempt to land were made, the fisherman would die before the trawler reached port.

In a few seconds, the commander made his decision. He ordered flares to be dropped; then he circled and came in for a landing in the patch of light that the flares made. The plane nosed closer to the water, the waves slapping up at the Coast Guard amphibian as it settled down. Easy, easy, sailor! A false move here, and it's all over. The waves were just underneath now, huge green things with white lace across their tops.

Commander Leamy eased the plane over the top of one wave, and then brought it down into the trough between the seas. It pounded heavily for a moment, with one wing digging deep into the water, then slowly righted itself.

The Coast Guardsman wiped their faces and grinned to themselves. They were down; half of the job was over. They dared not think of trying to rise from that water; it was too easy to see how close to impossible the task was.

Commander Leamy ordered a quick examination of the plane, but this inspection revealed no apparent damage to the control surfaces and the engine mounts. Once again, Coast Guard equipment had proved its sturdiness. A plane less sturdily built would have crumpled like cardboard under the impact of the seas.

A boat from the trawler had been lowered, and the p175patient was being brought over. The boat came up under the side of the plane; but the first attempt to place the injured man aboard met with failure owing to the rough seas which tossed the small craft against the plane and threatened to dump the crew into the water. The Coast Guardsmen put out fenders, and by careful work, managed to get the helpless man into the plane, where he was strapped into a seat and made as comfortable as possible. Making a flashlight inspection of the injured man, Commander Leamy saw at once that the arm had been completely severed just above the elbow. A tourniquet had been placed around the stump; but the patient, already half unconscious from shock and loss of blood, was still bleeding slightly. Realizing that additional first aid would do no good, Leamy made arrangements for an immediate takeoff.

He directed the boat crew from the trawler to keep their boat in the water until the takeoff had been accomplished. Then, looking back at his men, he smiled and opened the throttle.

The plane rode sluggishly through the water, waves beating against it with a sound like that of sails flapping in a gale. It ploughed nose first in a breaker, trembled and hesitated, then recovered. It rode over the top of a wave higher than the rest, freed itself momentarily — enough to maintain flight before the next on‑coming wave could impede its progress — gained a little altitude, split the tops of the next few p176breakers, and finally rose from the sea. The men in the boat cheered and waved their hats as the Coast Guard plane headed for Salem Air Station.

Riding the null of the homing beam, Leamy informed the air station of the time of arrival. Back at the station, preparations had already been made in the hangar office for an emergency operation should one be necessary, and an ambulance was standing by outside.

At 2:05 A.M., the plane landed. The patient was examined by a Public Health Doctor, placed in the ambulance, and rushed to the Marine Hospital at Chelsea, Mass.

The courage of Commander Leamy and his crew on that night flight out over the storm-whipped water has been duplicated in dozens of similar cases throughout the years. Commander Leamy and his men came back. Others have gone out, but have not come back.

On the morning of April 6, 1939, a Coast Guard plane — carrying Lieutenant Robert L. Granthama as pilot, Radioman James Dinan, Aviation Machinist's Mate Clifford J. Hudder, and R. A. Paddon, another Coast Guardsman — left El Paso, Texas, at about 9:30 A.M., for Galveston by way of Del Rio.

In the afternoon, near Alpine, Texas, they ran into a snow storm. The plane had been flying over mountainous country, with bearings being taken from a railroad below, when the storm rendered visibility zero. Air currents from the mountains below tossed the p177plane around like a feather. The air was bitterly cold, and the snow storm steadily became worse. This was like flying inside of a soap sud, with pieces breaking off and floating past the wildly tossing plane. Lieutenant Grantham was experiencing difficulty in keeping it righted, when Hudder, who was seated beside him, pointed out the window at the wing struts.

"Ice!" he said, "She's beginning to ice up, sir!"

Lieutenant Grantham nodded grimly. Already, the plane was showing the effects of the ice. It was becoming increasingly hard to handle, with one wing persisting in going down. Finally, he turned to Hudder and said: "All right, Hudder — abandon ship."

Hudder stared at him. "But you, sir?"

"Get out," Grantham repeated. "I'll hold the plane until you fellows are clear." His mouth twitched as he fought to get the wing up; he looked at Hudder. "Go along, sailor. See you down below."

Hudder nodded, and turned to the other Coast Guardsmen. "Lieutenant Grantham says for us to jump. He can't hold the plane up much longer."

Paddon stared at him.

"Get out!" Hudder ordered again. "Get out!"

With a quick glance at Lieutenant Grantham, Paddon stepped to the door, but the weight of the wind was holding it shut. Finally, they got it open, and Paddon, the first man to go, said softly, "Good luck, fellows!" and let his chute pull him off into the night.

Dinan was the next to jump, followed closely by p178Hudder. Before he left the ship, Hudder looked back at Lieutenant Grantham and waved. "I'll see you down below, lieutenant!" And Grantham smiled and called, "Right!"

After Hudder had gone, Lieutenant Grantham felt suddenly very lonely. A coldness, not at all from the weather, settled over him. He knew that the plane could not be held up much longer; the weight of the ice was pulling the wing down, down, until the unseen, terrible whirlpool of death was very near.

He worked desperately. He got up out of his seat, looked around for something to lash the controls down with, then shook his head quickly. He didn't have time. He would have to get to the door, take his chances on a quick leap into the night. If the plane nosed over and missed him, all would be well; if it came his way — well, that was the chance that he must take.

Clenching his teeth, he whirled and made a dash for the door. The plane lurched suddenly, throwing him against the door-facing. He scrambled up desperately, lost his footing and almost went down again. By this time the plane was turning over and over; but somehow Grantham forced himself out of the door. For a moment, he thought himself free, then something dark hovered over him —

His half opened chute was fouled in the falling plane.

Hope vanished.

p179 There was nothing left of life but a howling, twisting fall though heavens, down through the snow that had caused all this, and finally, the black, red‑shot awfulness of the crash. Then, oblivion.

Yes, some come back. Others do not.

Paddon struck on a hill, fell on his back with a force that knocked the wind out of him. He was dragged along for a hundred feet before he could recover himself sufficiently to collapse his chute. This done, he lay down in the snow, and tried to rest, though he was wrack with pain. Finally, he managed to get to his feet, and started over the hill where he had seen another chute come down.

Hudder came down on another hill not far from where the plane struck. Dinan fell some distance away, and when the three Coast Guardsmen got together, they looked at each other, and without speaking, started for the plane.

They found it in a valley a few hundred yards away. Found it half buried in the snow, crushed and broken to bits. They found Lieutenant Grantham's body wrapped in his parachute, one hand thrown up over his face. The three Coast Guardsmen turned and walked away from the plane without a word; they kept walking until they were a hundred yards away. Then, "I don't believe it," Hudder said quickly. "He can't be dead. I was talking to him just a few minutes ago. He said, 'I'll see you down below.' But he won't. He —"

p180 "We got to get out of here," Paddon broke in quickly. "We got to find help. Night's coming on; the storm's getting worse. We'll get the compass —"

"We won't," Dinan said. "It's broken. I looked at it when we were back there."

The three of them stood silent for a moment, while a 47mile gale howled and whirled the snow around them. They were bitterly cold, and all bore injuries received when they jumped from the plane. Paddon, with a badly bruised back and a twisted knee, was the most severely injured. Every step he took gave him excruciating pain, but he kept to his feet. Once he let down in the cold . . .

The three men drove themselves through the snowdrifts, all sense of direction gone, wandering forward, knowing that they must keep going, keep fighting.

Around five o'clock, they heard the mournful sound of a train whistle in the distance. Hope flared wildly in them, and they started mushing desperately in the sound's direction. For an hour, they kept on, but they did not find the railroad track. Then, as though in mockery, the train whistled again; the sound was weaker now; it seemed to come from behind them. Blankly, they stared at each other.

"We're chumps," Dinan said. "We've been following an echo all this time."

They were completely lost. It was growing dark, the storm seemed to be increasing. They moved on a p181few hundred yards, wandering aimlessly, bending against the wind, until they could go no further. Suddenly Hudder discovered that Dinan was not with them. Somewhere, back on the thin trail they had been following, Dinan had turned off, possibly intending to circle around and meet them farther on.

"Let's go look for him," Paddon said, wearily.

Hudder shook his head. "He's in better shape than you, Paddon. You can't travel tonight. We'll build fires, and use our chutes as windbreakers. Dinan'll see the flames and rejoin us."

So they spent the miserable night in the snow banks, with the chutes spread open and propped up with sticks. They lay down in front of the fire, catching fitful naps, while coyotes howled dismally on the hills nearby.

Early next morning, they started out again, moving forward in a white world, their eyes burning and blurring from the whiteness. Once, during the morning, they thought they heard a plane's motors, but they could not be sure. Dinan failed to rejoin them, and now they feared he must have perished.

In the afternoon, their strength ebbing fast from lack of food, Hudder and Paddon came across an old cattle‑dip pit dug in the rugged mountain side. The two weary men dropped down and rested and rubbed snow over their burning eyes.

A noise sounded in the stubby undergrowth nearby. p182Both Coast Guardsmen whirled quickly. There, standing at the edge of the dip pit, a cow stared at them with lonesome eyes. And back of the cow, stood Dinan, grinning from ear to ear.

Hudder said, "Hiya, Dinan. Where'd you pick up steak?"

"Back up the trail a piece," Dinan said, nodding toward the way he had come. "It's a shame, too. Mooley liked me, fellows, first off."

Paddon grinned. "You guys thinking like I am?"

Dinan nodded again. "Sure. I said it's a shame, but it's got to be done. I found her. Hudder, you got to do the dirty work."

Hudder got to his feet, looked around on the ground until he found an iron rod. He jerked his hand toward the pit. "Let's get her in there. It'll be easier on me and her, too."

Carefully, they herded the cow into the dip pit. Then, Hudder stood astride of the pit, and beat down on the cow's head with the iron bar. It was a hard job, for Hudder's strength was almost gone. Finally, however, the cow dropped to her knees, and Dinan cut her throat with a pocket knife.

It took a long hour to skin the carcass and cut off five or six pieces of meat. They cooked the steaks by holding them over the fire on sticks. Paddon said later that, to him, nothing had ever tasted as good as those steaks. They cut off about ten pounds of steak p183for future use, and having finished their meal, started out again.

That night, the second one after the disaster, they spent in a deserted ranch house. All the next morning, they restored, regaining their strength. In the afternoon, they heard planes roaring in the distance, but there were no visible signs of them. Apparently, the planes were searching on the other side of the mountains, for they did not cross the range. In an attempt to attract them, Hudder and his companions built large fires out in the ranch yard, but without success.

The next day, giving up hope of being found, the Coast Guardsmen decided to keep moving. Their trek through the snow-bound wastes had partially blinded them; they saw mirages. Dark patches on the snow became ranch houses; waving bushes became men moving along toward them. Finally, the three men came to a little valley between the mountains and here they halted for a rest.

Hudder said, "If it doesn't turn out to be another dark patch, I think that's a house down there."

Dinan and Paddon stared through swollen lids in the direction of Hudder's outstretched finger.

Dinan shook his head.

"I can't see a thing but snow. I don't think I'll ever see anything but snow again."

Paddon nodded quickly. "I see it, too, Hudder. It is a house! There's smoke coming out of a chimney! Let's get going, fellows!"

p184 They ran down the hillside, falling, twisting through the snow, laughing. But when they got down into the valley, the house had vanished into the surrounding snow.

"Gone," Dinan said bitterly. "We're chasing mirages again."

Hudder shook his head. "I don't think so this time, Dinan. Our eyes are bad, that's all. There's a ranch house ahead of us; we'll find it if we keep going."

And keep moving they did, Dinan and Hudder supporting Paddon between them, as his back was troubling him greatly. Finally, when it seemed that they could go no farther, a house loomed out of the snow just ahead of them. A man came out on the porch and stared at the three Coast Guardsmen.

"You're them Coast Guard flyers who crashed with their plane," he exclaimed. "There's a searching party in the mountains looking for you now. Heard about it over the radio."

"Never mind that," Paddon said quickly. "We've got to notify someone of our whereabouts. Got a telephone?"

Without a word, the man led them into the house to a telephone on the wall. Hudder called G. J. McGee, chief inspector of the United States Border Patrol, at Alpine, Texas, and advised him of their whereabouts, Mr. McGee replying that assistance would be dispatched immediately.

While they were waiting, the ranchman prepared p185a hot meal for the Coast Guardsmen and did what he could for their injuries.

Later, they were taken to the hospital, where they remained for some time, recuperating from their terrible experience. All three were quick to state that, had it not been for Lieutenant Grantham's unselfishness and courage, they would have died. As it was, Lieutenant Grantham stayed with the plane, giving the three enlisted men their chance for life, and then, and only then, when it was too late, did he leave his command. He was true to the tradition of the sea, and died in that tradition — that the skipper of a ship should be the last to leave her.

From a hospital bed, Paddon said: "At this time, I do not feel I can give a good account of the accident which took the life of one of the service's finest officers. I do want to say, however, that there is no tribute too high for Lieutenant Grantham, for he was 'all man' and gave us our chance for life, even at the cost of his own. . . . It all seems like a nightmare to me, and as yet, I can't fully realize that it happened. . . . I want to state again that the Service and the public should know that Lieutenant Grantham had what it takes, and may the Lord be kind to his generous soul."

There's not much more one can say for Lieutenant Grantham. His courage, his unfailing adherence to ideals above and beyond the call of duty, have spoken for him. To those who knew him, worked with him, p186his death was a terrible shock, and the Service has lost an officer whose fine endeavor and high achievement have won him a high place on the roll of the Nation's heroes.

Around noon, January 1, 1933, a message was received from Chester Shoals Surf Station, by the Coast Guard air station at Miami, Fla. — a boy had been swept out to sea in an open skiff in the vicinity of Cape Canaveral, Fla., and two fishing boats had been searching for him since 10 P.M. the night before. Coast Guard aid was urgently requested.

Making immediate preparations to aid in the search, Lieutenant Commander C. C. von Paulsen ordered the big amphibian plane Arcturus warmed up and brought out to the line. The commander gathered up the weather reports that had come in and scanned them closely. They were anything but encouraging, with prevailing rain and squalls, and at that time the wind was blowing from the northwest at a rate of 25 miles per hour.

At 12:20 P.M., the Arcturus took to the air, its crew consisting of Lieutenant Commander von Paulsen, pilot; Lieutenant W. L. Foley, co‑pilot; James B. Orndorff, Jr., A. C. M. M., mechanic; William D. Pinkston, A. M. M. 1C., mechanic; and Thomas S. McKenzie, R. M. 3C., radioman.

The weather was heavy and gray, with rain being driven down upon them by the wind. Commander p187von Paulsen headed the Arcturus out to sea, then northward toward Cape Canaveral. In about twenty minutes, they arrived in the approximate position of the skiff as given by the Chester Shoals Coast Guard Station. Von Paulsen brought the craft down slightly and flew in ever-widening circles, until at last the skiff was sighted wallowing in the waves. They saw the boy, too, who stood up in the tiny craft and waved desperately, as the Coast Guard plane zoomed over him.

Commander von Paulsen circled the skiff closely, making a careful observation of boy's condition. The Coast Guardsmen realized at once that the boy was in very poor shape, and that his craft was in imminent danger of sinking. It was imperative that a rescue be effected at once.

Swinging out widely, von Paulsen searched for a boat that might be led to the spot, but none was sighted. The nearest Coast Guard craft was at Palm Beach, Fla., some eighty-five miles away. The rescue attempt was clearly up to the Arcturus. If the boy lived it would be through the efforts of the crew alone.

Flying back over the skiff, von Paulsen studied the situation. The wind had shifted to the northeast a few minutes previously, and was increasingly squally. It became readily apparent that if the youth were not picked up before nightfall, it would not be possible to locate him again until two or three p188hours after daylight the next morning. It was definitely established that no vessels were near enough to reach the boy before dusk. Considering these facts — together with the youth's poor condition and the state of weather — the only possible conclusion to be drawn was that, if the boy's life were to be saved, he must be picked up by the plane.

Commander von Paulsen realized that the condition of wind and sea would make the task extremely dangerous and difficult of accomplishment. After picking up the boy, the plane might not be able to take off again. He believed, however, that in the event of such a possibility — the Arcturus would be able to taxi to shore, as it had been built precisely for such type of work. Should the plane become damaged in landing — and thus be unable to taxi — von Paulsen believed that it would stay afloat until driven into the surf.

The question of the safety of the personnel did not enter into the case. This sort of thing was their work; it was their job to die, if necessary, to save another's life. Von Paulsen, veteran that he was in Coast Guard aviation, quickly decided to land and pick the boy up.

After dumping the surplus gasoline, he brought the Arcturus in for a landing. Gust of wind kept whipping the plane up and down, and it was a hard task to keep her on an even keel. With superb skill, von Paulsen set her down in the sea; but a float broke p189in landing, and kept banging against the wing with such force as to threaten grave damage.

Radioman Thomas S. McKenzie, despite the fact that he was aware of the presence of sharks in the vicinity, immediately went overboard to free the float, but fortunately the wires holding it carried away, relieving him of the task. Realizing the boy in the skiff was in such a weakened condition that he would not be able to assist himself, McKenzie now swam to the skiff and steadied it while the plane taxied around. Then, by dint of careful maneuvering and with McKenzie's assistance, the skiff was brought under the wing of the plane and the boy was transferred to the Coast Guard craft.

The absence of the wing float made it advisable to get off the water, if possible. Obviously, if the wing kept dropping down into the sea, the Arcturus would soon suffer heavy damage. Commander von Paulsen opened the throttle. The plane bumped heavily through the water, steadied and took off from the sea like a great wounded seagull. They were in the air!

Misfortune struck swiftly. The plywood on the left wing began ripping away, and the plane could not be held level. Quickly, von Paulsen set the plane down, and this time, the force of the landing wrinkled the hull considerably under the forward spar. There was only one thing left for him to do.

He headed the ship toward shore and attempted p190to taxi to the beach. However, due to the absence of the wing float — which made it impossible to keep the plane on a desirable course — it was apparent that the try would fail. Realizing this, von Paulsen stopped the engines, and ordered a sea anchor thrown out to hold the plane steady. Already the force of the pounding waves was doing its work; the wings were rapidly disintegrating; water was beginning to seep through the plane's hull.

At this time, the sea anchor carried away, causing the plane to lurch heavily, and not until another sea anchor was improvised and put over the side did the craft ride more easily. Directing McKenzie, the radioman, to rig up the radio antenna, von Paulsen now prepared the ship as well as possible for any unpleasant eventualities.

The drift toward the distant surf continued, with the plane's crew making occasional adjustments to the sea anchor to ease the riding. By this time, the plane was showing very plainly the effects of the pounding to which she was being subjected. One wing was a mass of wreckage, the other badly damaged. Around 9 P.M. that night von Paulsen ordered McKenzie to send out an SOS, as no reports of rescue vessels had been received.

SOS! — SOS! — SOS! — The call whipped through the night, silencing powerful shore stations up and down the coast, bringing countless operators to alert tenseness. The commercial radio stations rebroadcast the p191message: Coast Guard plane down off Big Bethel Beach needs immediate assistance.

Coast Guard cutters were dispatched at once to the assistance of the Arcturus, but they failed to arrive in time to be of service. At 11 P.M. the seas had increased to a height of 15 feet with a tendency to break rapidly, and the pounding of surf was plainly audible to the men in the plane. The water shoaled rapidly, and the craft was pounding. Within an hour, they had passed the first line of surf, and were being driven into the second, the sea anchor having failed to hold against the twisting seas.

Commander von Paulsen attempted to start the engines to aid the craft through the maelstrom but they refused to fire. Those were anxious moments. Finally, at 1 A.M., on the second of January, the Arcturus successfully passed the last line of surf, and was carried high up on the beach, just inside Bethel Shoals — a remote locality entirely surrounded by a primeval jungle.

Realizing that prompt medical attention for the boy was imperative, von Paulsen was about to have him carried on an improvised stretcher through the woods to civilization, when a group of Custom Border patrolmen came upon them. Von Paulsen therefore sent the boy, in company of Lieutenant Foley and the patrolmen, to the nearest doctor, where he was placed in the latter's care. Foley then called the p192office of the Coast Guard East Coast Patrol Area and arranged for the salvage of the plane.

Once again, the Coast Guard had gambled with the sea and won. The stakes — a human life!


Thayer's Note:

a The author fails to tell us that Lt. Robert L. Grantham is the same man we read about in Chapter 5. The following is a newspaper article, El Paso Herald Post Friday, February 3, 1939 (public domain since no copyright was renewed in 1966 or 1967) — thus, published just two months before what you will read above:

New Commander in Charge of Coast Guard Station

Takes Post of Chief Who Was Killed in Crash

Lieut. Robert L. Grantham of San Diego, Cal. today assumed command of the Air Patrol Detachment of the U. S. Coast Guard in El Paso.

He will succeed Lieut. Perry S. Lyons, former commander, who was killed during December in a plane crash at Boerne, Tex.

Lieutenant and Mrs. Grantham arrived here yesterday from San Diego where he has been stationed for two years at the San Diego Air Base of the Coast Guard.

Colorful Record

The flier, who has a colorful record with the Coast Guard, and who has participated in many rescues and relief work on land and at sea, graduated from the Naval Air Station at Pensacola, Fla., during May, 1937.

Lieutenant Grantham was graduated from the Coast Guard Academy at New London, Conn., in 1932. One of his close friends was Clyde Teague, Jr., former El Pasoan and a member of the Coast Guard Air Patrol Detachment here, who was killed in the crash with Lieutenant Lyons.

After graduation, Lieut. Grantham was assigned to the Cutter Pontchartrain at Norfolk, Va. Later he was assigned to the Current Nike in the Gulf of Mexico.

800 Hours in Air

The new commander of the detachment is an expert flier with more than 800 ˙ours in the air.

Lieutenant Grantham will be in command of eight men and two planes. They are on call for rescues, relief work and co‑operation with the Southwest Customs Patrol. Their planes and pilots are at the disposal of both civilian authorities and government officers.

"Most of my flying has been routine work and flying medicine s and supplies to persons in stranded areas," he said modestly.

Lieutenant Grantham is 30 and a native of Alabama.


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Page updated: 6 Nov 13