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Quick swim in the North Atlantic, March 1944

A little light note on the collision trip.  We enlisted men rarely knew our destination until we were underway.  On the eastbound leg of the trip we crossed the Gulf Stream.  Although the sea was slightly warmer, this meant little to the North Atlantic.

Aboard ship was a shipmate we all called "Mo".   His last name was too convoluted and long for anyone but a linguist to pronounce.  Every morning at reveille he, with no orders or sanction would come to each enlisted men's compartment and blow a police whistle.  No one really was disturbed, and we enjoyed his company in the midst of serious business.  Also, in the midst of our crossing the Gulf Stream, Mo decided to test the waters.  He removed his life jacket and jumped into the sea with our convoy ships.  The skipper used our skills in "man overboard" drills to rescue him.  This took some time since we were doing about 15 knots, and he was nowhere in sight.

By leaving our convoy screening position, a number of ships, including troop ships were left vulnerable to U-Boats, which could have been anywhere.  Generally we would deviate our courses, besides the zigzag patterns used.

The captain put thousands of soldiers, plus other cargo vessels (probably including tankers) at high risk.  As far as I could ascertain, this was done on his own volition.  (The same inept skipper who froze when the Portuguese ship collided with us).

It took some time to search for Mo, and fortunately we did spot him.  He looked like a tiny cork bobbing in the waves.  After being hoisted aboard, he said that he could have stayed out longer!  A DE was too small for a brig, but the food lockers became depleted as we ate our way across the seas.  Mo was placed in a locker which had mesh screening, so he had plenty of company as we would come to talk to him, so happy were we to see him alive.  It was like winning the Publishers Clearing House Grand Prize.

When we reached Londonderry, Ireland, he was transferred, I assume to some medical facility. In retrospect, he might have been clairvoyant (if you believe in that stuff). The return trip was the fateful one when we met our Portuguese friend.  Mo missed another dip in the sea.

-- Al Green, October 2007



Trans-Atlantic foundation

I am a NYC immigrant from Philadelphia.  Since Brooklyn Navy Yard was our primary US home port between convoys, I was smitten by the electricity of the city and eventually was able to spend time at Columbia, settling in NJ just across the George Washington Bridge to this day.  New York dwelling was above my budget.

There is a peripheral road circling Manhattan on the waterfront.  On the East River it is called the FDR Drive.  From the southern tip (The Battery where the war memorial for sailors lost in the Battle for the Atlantic is located), it goes north passing under first, the Brooklyn Bridge, then the Manhattan Bridge, and just before passing under the Williamsburg Bridge, on the East side drivers can see the remnants of the Brooklyn Navy Yard across the river.  The site is now an industrial park with small manufacturing plants and a movie studio.

All this background to tell you that Eastbound convoys needed ballast.  Some of this was debris from the Blitz of London and other cities.  The material was used in the construction of the FDR Drive!  There is a memorial dedicated to this, but I haven't seen it.

                                                                            -- Al Green, October 2007

USSEnright.org editor note:  The following link contains the text and details on the FDR Drive sign referred to in Al's story.  It describes how the rubble from the Blitz is used as the foundation for FDR Drive.



Escorting troops in to post D-Day Normandy, August 1944

We escorted a convoy from New York and screened for a troop ship to the western-end of Normandy, just after Cherbourg [France] surrendered.  These poor souls went from basic training to embark from Brooklyn Army pier to the front lines of Normandy!

We were moored forward of them at the Army pier, and chatted back and forth.  Their main deck looked down on our mast.  One GI said to me "You go out on the ocean on that little boat?  I wouldn't want to do that".   I answered that I wouldn't want to go where they were going.

Little did we know our exact destination. 

Overnight a pontoon pier had been built at Cherbourg.  We said goodbye to them, crossed the English Channel to Plymouth, England, where a local pilot steered us into shallow water, fouled our screws [propellors] so we had to move to His Majesty's Dockyard in Plymouth.

There we saw what the Blitz had done, and even had enough time to take a train to London, where it was blacked out so we really didn't see the full effects of the Blitz.  The Germans were buzz-bombing London at this time, so we weren't too unhappy to return to Plymouth.

-- Al Green, October 2007



Mixing it up in Plymouth, August 1944

The Enright was involved in an escort division convoying ships to various points in the UK and also to Normandy.  One of the ships in the convoy was an older cruise liner converted into a troop ship. We docked near them at the Army Pier in Brooklyn. Talking back and forth to us, some soldiers asked us if we went to sea on such a small boat.  We explained to them that their survival across the North Atlantic depended on our escorting them.  Their response was more or less-I wouldn't want to cross the ocean living on that boat.  My response to a group of them, perhaps a year or two younger than we, and just fresh from basic training-I wouldn't want to go where you are going.

We, not knowing our destination, but surmising it would be to the UK, went about our chores.  The convoy started forming that night and after a crossing, during which we dropped depth charges on an underwater contact, (I assume those poor future dog faces were both sea sick and saying prayers-not knowing what was occurring, but probably thinking a Wolf Pack had their ship in their sites), the convoy split up near Europe, and we escorted the troop ship to a hastily constructed pontoon at Cherbourg, Normandy.

The German garrison had just surrendered, and the fight was continuing a short distance away.  We said our farewells to those poor souls, and crossed the English Channel at night.  There was so much traffic and activity on this narrow stretch, the poor radarmen must have been up all night.  In sonar, we were also alert, but had no real contacts.  There was a situation in the Channel, just after the beach head was established, that a U-Boat evaded a screen and torpedoed a troop ship near the French coast with considerable loss of lives.

Our destination was Plymouth England. Unfortunately the pilot who came aboard the see us safely into the harbor ran us aground, fouling one of our screws.  To repair this damage we has to go to His Majesty's Dockyard in Plymouth, on the Channel coast.  There we saw the devastation of the Blitz.  The dockworkers showed us picture postcards of the city before it was destroyed.  It had been a beautiful city, but now some sections had, perhaps, one building standing, but net exactly inhabitable.  Americans really don't know the total costs of war.  Unless someone in our family or group was killed or mutilated, it always seems so far away.  Had one of our cities been destroyed, we might think twice about rushing into battle.

The area of course, was blacked out at night, and barrage balloons were everywhere.  At night we established a security watch.  For reasons unknown to me, I was given a 45 and told to walk around the decks looking for possible saboteurs climbing on board or planting explosives onto the hull.  My thoughts were - we were all proud of our ship, and its contributions to the war effort, but there were bigger targets in the yard.  During my circling, I heard a fuss at the gangway.  A small group of the crew were working with much effort to bring a big object on board.

Since I had the security watch, I asked what it was.  The night was very black, and I didn't know who was to do what.  Then I found out that it was a huge commercial size Hamilton Beach mixer which wad been discovered on one of the docks.  As a DE, we had no bread except in port.  We would be able to use it for several days at sea, trimming the mould, until there was more mould than bread.  We also had no ice cream machine until the ship was converted into an APD.

One of the cooks had some real like experience in a bakery (Jim Novak, I believe), promised to bake for us if we acquired (borrowed) this machine.  Someone on gangway watch thought it advisable to let the officers know.  Into the Wardroom he went.  A group of officers playing cards thought it was a good idea, but had one condition-they didn't know it was happening.  I walked the other way.

We embarked after our repairs were done, and joined a convoy as one of the screening escorts.  It was then discovered that the baking appliance had the wrong wiring for our use.  The electricians didn't have the proper supplies to convert it, so it was secured in a locker, and we dreamed of fresh bread on our next trip--perhaps even some simple pastry!

Returning to a pier at the Brooklyn Navy Yard at the end of the westbound convoy, the ship was greeted by the high brass of the USN and His Majesty's Fleet.  Didn't they know there was a struggle for survival still being waged over the entire world?  How important could a little (?) mixer be?  Didn't those important men have more important projects to occupy their time?

The answer, apparently was NO.  Some of us had a short leave.  I went to Philadelphia to visit my future wife and my family.  Some punishment was meted out.  Fortunately, no one seemed to recall the "Security Watch Duty", and my leave was not interrupted.

 -- Al Green, October 2007



The Morning Call Inc., Copyright 11/06/05


'Friends last a lifetime.  But shipmates are forever'

As Veterans Day nears, the daughter of a World War II sailor learns about a ship -- and what it means to her father and his crewmates.

By Debbie Garlicki Of The Morning Call


When I was a child, the large horizontal photograph of a gray ship slicing through gray waters hung on the basement wall near the wash basins where my father, much to my mother's dismay, gutted trout.

The photo aroused my curiosity, but I never asked about it.

Grade school, junior high and high school came and went. So did college. I moved from Pittsburgh to begin a career on the other side of the state.

The photo of the USS Enright DE-216 and my childhood stayed behind.

It would be almost 40 years before I'd understand the small part the ship played in a big war and the enduring role she had in the life of my father and his shipmates.

And why he carried a faded photograph of her, like a lover, wife or child, in his wallet.


Mystery of the map

When the country called the Garlicki residence in the Polish enclave of Lawrenceville, it didn't get a busy signal.

My grandfather had fought in World War I; my father and one of his brothers were in the Navy; two other brothers served in the Marine Corps and Air Force during the Korean War; and another brother was in the Army.

My father knew military service was inevitable. A strong swimmer who loved water and wanted to travel, he joined the Navy. That same day, his draft papers for the Army arrived in the mail.

Grandma liked to tell the story of how she knew where my father was during the 38 months he was a sailor.

They devised an ingenious plan. Before my father left for places he had only read about in history books, he and my grandmother sat down with a map and numbered places where they thought he might travel. The number "1" would be Hawaii, "2" the Philippines, "3" Africa and so on.

When my father later wrote to his mother, he would include clues to his whereabouts. "Wish Aunt Mary happy birthday on the 10th," he would write.

Grandma would consult the map, look for 10 and take some comfort in having a general knowledge of her son's location.

Time passed, and Grandma sold her house and moved to an apartment and then a nursing facility. She died in 1998, and her belongings were sold and distributed among family.

We don't know what happened to the map. But my father still has a white Navy cap and a P coat embroidered with a dragon in Shanghai.


Sailors once more

In 1994, my father excitedly told me in a telephone conversation about an invitation he received in the mail. After more than 48 years, the crew of the destroyer escort Enright was having a reunion in Kingston, N.Y.

"Are you going?" I asked.

He seemed surprised that I would even ask.

Of course he was going.

He wondered if Louie Mahr, Ivan McCombs, Steve Myers and the rest of the crew would be there. I could tell he was eagerly awaiting the June reunion.

My father was one of 42 men who traveled from all over the country for the event. He told me how they laughed about the old times, talked about their lives after the war and shared memories of their trips to Northern Ireland, the Mediterranean, Tokyo Bay and China.

In civilian life, they were dentists, lawyers, carpenters, plumbers, cranemen, mail handlers. For the four-day reunion, they were sailors, one and all.

How good it was, my father said, to see Louie, Ivan, Steve and the others.

The significance of the occasion ranked up there with a wedding or a child's birth.

Already, Dad was looking forward to next year.

It must be like anticipating a high school reunion, I thought. How wrong I was.


Giant in the fog

Two weeks later, the telephone rang in my apartment.

"Debbie, this is Louie Mahr," the caller said.

Why was that name familiar? Then I remembered: Louie. Louie from the Enright.

"Louie, how are you? Where are you?" I asked.

"I'm in Whitehall," Mahr said.

I almost dropped the phone.

For 12 years, I had lived only a few miles from one of my father's best friends from the Navy. And none of us knew it.

Mahr said he had seen my name in bylines in the paper. He mentioned to his wife, "I was in the Navy with a guy named Garlicki from Pittsburgh." He wondered if we were related. Probably not, said his wife, Joan, because Pittsburgh's pretty far away.

At the reunion, my father told Mahr that his daughter worked for a newspaper, The Morning Call in Allentown. Louie was shocked. He told my father how close he lived to Allentown and how he always wondered if the Garlicki in the byline was connected to his old Navy buddy.

Mahr invited me to his house to watch a videotape of the reunion.

Blue eyes twinkling, he told me about the day in April 1944 when a Portuguese merchant ship struck the small but stout Enright.

The Enright was escorting a convoy from Ireland when radar and sonar alerted the crew something was amiss.

Cloaked in fog in the Atlantic Ocean, the Enright turned to try to avoid a collision but was rammed port side about 300 miles from New York harbor.

The merchant ship ripped a 64-foot hole in the 306-foot ship, peeling away metal as if it were a sardine can.

"When that thing came out of the fog, it looked like a giant coming at us because they sit high in the water compared to the destroyer escort. I said an Act of Contrition," Mahr said. "I thought that might be it."

Anybody, he said, who tries to say he wasn't afraid that day is lying.

The ship lost one man, Carl Mims, who fell or was knocked overboard.

In the chaos that followed, Mahr was on deck with my father when he saw something floating away from the ship. "Chester," he told my father, "there goes your accordion."

My father's mouth hung open when he saw his squeezebox in its case bobbing in the waves. It had escaped through the massive hole.

Then my father pointed to something else in the water.

"Louie, there goes your trumpet," my father said, as Mahr saw his trumpet and case following the accordion.

On board ship, Mahr and my father would entertain their mates by playing polkas and songs such as "By the Light of the Silvery Moon" to lift their spirits and remind them of loved ones.

As Mahr told me more about their experiences, I wondered what it was like seeing each other after almost five decades. Joan Mahr remembered the moment well.

Arriving for the first reunion, Louis Mahr entered the hotel lobby. My father was sitting by the door. "

He recognized me right away after all those years," Mahr said.

"Louie!" my father exclaimed. "Chester!" Mahr called.

The men ran to each other and hugged.

"That's the first time I saw grown men cry," Joan Mahr said.

Ivan McCombs of Wheeling, W.Va., entered the lobby and was overcome by seeing his old friends. He forgot about his wife, who was sitting in the car outside.

"They always say, "Friends last a lifetime,"' Mahr told me. "But shipmates are forever."

I was beginning to understand.


'Like kids again'

The men opened mental time capsules at that first reunion. They decided to make it an annual event.

One of the most memorable ones was in 2003 in Albany, N.Y., where they climbed aboard the restored USS Slater DE-766, the last of 563 destroyer escorts of World War II that remains afloat in the United States.

McCombs' wife, Alma Jean, remembers how history was rewound that day. "When the guys got on the ship, they immediately went to their old positions," she said.

Ernie Cox, of Mauldin, S.C., who had trouble walking, left his daughter wide-eyed when he slid down a handrail to the lower deck. "It was amazing," Alma Jean McCombs said. "They were like kids again."

At reunions in New Jersey in 1996 and Virginia in 1999, Mahr and my father pulled out their instruments and played tunes that took crew members back to the Enright.

Back to being 18 years old. Young, vital, seemingly invincible. Embarking on adventures with strangers to unknown places from which return wasn't guaranteed.


Planning a surprise

Epiphanies come without warning. When they do, they knock you broadside.

In 2004, on a return trip to Allentown from Pittsburgh, I told my husband I thought it was time I go to one of the Enright reunion banquets.

Maybe it was my father turning 80. Maybe it was my own middle age.

Whatever the reason, I felt an urgency to do this before it was too late. How many more reunions would there be? I asked myself. How many more reunions would my father be able to attend?

I would go, I decided. And I wouldn't tell him. I'd surprise him by showing up at the banquet.

He would know that I understood -- finally -- what the Enright and her men meant to him.

The men organizing the reunion in New London, Conn., near Mystic Seaport, pledged to keep the secret.

As September approached, I envisioned a Hallmark moment and my father's face when I walked into the room.

Hurricane Ivan had other plans.


An empty chair

I was packed and ready to go when I got a telephone call from shipmate Albert Green in Connecticut. My father, he said, wasn't able to make it to the reunion.

Amtrak Train 42 out of Pittsburgh couldn't depart because of flooding on the tracks in Harrisburg. I was beyond disappointed and debated whether I should still go to the banquet.

"Go," my husband said. "Do it for yourself. Do it for your dad. Do it for the guys."

Heavy-hearted, I drove toward New London. Signs flashed by on Interstates 287 and 95.

Checking in at the hotel, I asked where the hospitality room was for the Enright reunion. I had heard that the men gathered there before they got ready for the banquet.

I walked shyly into the room and announced who I was. The men warmly greeted me and shook my hand. They expressed their sorrow at my father's absence, but their gratitude that he had sent "his representative."

Mirth and reminiscing filled the banquet room.

Mike Crosby of Hancock, Maine, a communications officer on the Enright, articulated his feelings about this, his first, reunion and the shared emotion. "We," he told those assembled, "are a team. The officers give orders, but it's the crew that makes things happen. I had a great experience on the Enright.

"The whole thing for all of us was special because it was a justified war. It was one that had to be fought.

"The Enright didn't win the war, but she helped, and it felt good."

After the Allied invasions of D-Day, the Enright escorted troops from New York to Cherbourg on the Normandy coast.

The Enright was in jeopardy more than once.

At the reunion, the men remembered how the ship almost didn't make it into New York after her scrape with the merchant ship. She listed at a 12-degree slant into the harbor, where she stayed in dry dock for 30 days.

She was supposed to be headed for Normandy. The USS Rich DE-695 went instead. The Rich struck a mine, an explosion blew off her stern and she sank. Of her crew, 27 were killed, 73 wounded and 62 listed as missing.

Mahr remembered a night in June 1945 when Japanese aircraft dropped four bombs that barely missed the Enright.

The 15 men who attended this reunion were thankful that fate or faith spared their ship. They knew, however, that the Enright was battling another enemy -- time -- and was continuing to lose her crew to it.

After dinner, attention turned to a small round table with an empty seat. Atop the white linen tablecloth were a red rose in a vase, an inverted glass and a folded napkin. A candle flickered.

The empty chair represented shipmates who had died. The rose was in their memory. The memorial service started. The men, their wives and their grown children bowed their heads in prayer.

"Lord, these shipmates were part of a ship that was the best. Make them welcome and take them by the hand. You'll find without a doubt they were the best in the land. ... Let them know that we who survive will always keep their memory alive.

" Ivan McCombs read the names of shipmates who had died in the last year. One of them was Paul Bielinski of Mount Marion, N.Y., who spearheaded the first reunion. After each name was read, Albert Green of Hackensack, N.J., rang a bell.

One went off in my head. I understood why my father cherished the reunions, the unshakable loyalty of these men and how not even death could break the connection they forged during war and rediscovered during peace.


Sailors, dogs: Keep off grass

In the hospitality room after the banquet, the shipmates traded stories. I learned more about them and about my father. It was a rare opportunity to see a different side of him. Children, both growing or grown, don't think much about the lives their parents had before them.

Long before these men became husbands, fathers and grandfathers, they were part of another family.

The ship with its 198 crewmen and 15 officers was a self-contained city. It was a home on water for men who depended on each other for survival.

"You broke down in the middle of the ocean, nobody could fix you but yourselves," said Green, who wears a "plank owner" pin on his Enright baseball cap, a distinction for the original crew.

Their memories are of sounds, smells, tastes, sights.

Mahr remembered steering inside the quartermaster shack when my father, who was a cook, delivered coffee for the grateful lookouts on the bridge. "It was strong," Mahr said, "but it kept you awake."

They drank coffee and caught up on ship gossip.

"He was like a news reporter," Mahr said of my father.

"He knew everything that was going on on the ship."

The men laughed about "flying fish" that would jump on the deck and remembered the playfulness of dolphins that swam alongside the ship.

Although serving in the Navy enriched their lives, it didn't fatten their waistlines or their wallets.

"We would lose 10 pounds at sea," Green laughed. "But we would make up for it at port."

John Seila of Broomall, Delaware County, weighed 135 pounds when he left the Navy.

Mahr, who was 17 when he enlisted, said they made $77 a month.

When the sea tossed the ship, my father couldn't cook, so the crew ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. The men said they can still taste the crackers that replaced bread, which got moldy too quickly, boiled potatoes, corn pone and mystery meat they called hot dogs.

Ketchup was rationed for civilians, but sailors could get all they wanted. Albert Green still loves ketchup.

Ivan McCombs' favorite memory was his first night at sea. There was no bunk for him, so he laid his bed roll in the mess hall. McCombs, who grew up on a 160-acre dairy farm where he still lives, had never seen the ocean.

"I was scared to death," he said. He eventually fell into a restless sleep that was interrupted by an angry sea. Stainless steel lunch trays that had not been secured slid off shelves and startled him awake.

Willard Evans of Nutley, N.J., who has faded tattoos of an eagle, an American flag, an anchor and "USN" on his left forearm, remembered the booming sound the ship would make when it reared out of the water in violent storms and slammed down "like a sledgehammer."

Mahr said he will never forget the fetid smell of the Yangtze River in China that was a depository for all manner of waste.

Recalling rowdier times, their faces took on a youthful exuberance.

"Did your dad tell you," Mahr asked, "that in Norfolk, Va., people had signs on their property -- "Sailors and dogs keep off the grass?"'

Steve Myers, of Cleveland remembered sleeping on beaches when he was on liberty. Bob Frye of Albany, N.Y., recalled drinking with Mahr and my father, losing track of time and missing a bus to the ship.

The 2004 reunion hadn't even ended when Green announced the 2005 destination would be in Lancaster. "We're here, and we hope we can continue," he said. "Of course, it's up to us and how we feel, our health, next year. But we'll go on as long as we can."

Before the reunion ended, the men and their wives signed "missing you" cards for shipmates who weren't able to attend.


'He was our savior'

At September's banquet in Bird-in-Hand, Ivan McCombs stood before 12 shipmates. The piece of paper in his hand shook slightly. "

A lot of our crew are having physical difficulties," he said, his voice quavering. He went down the list.

A regular attendee had leg problems and couldn't travel. Another broke his hip and was in a rehabilitation facility. A shipmate who used to come to the reunions and push his wife in a wheelchair had a broken arm and a hip replacement. Prostate cancer and a wife's death prevented someone else from coming. A crew member with Alzheimer's disease was in a nursing home. Yet another had an eye operation and was thinking of moving from his home. Eleven others were unaccounted for.

"I guess most of you know that Harry Wingers passed away," said McCombs, a hitch in his voice.

Wingers, of Milwaukee, died a week before the banquet.

Gale Dobson, of Boyers, Butler County, who was attending his first reunion with his wife of 58 years and his daughter, lightened the mood by quipping, "You guys haven't aged."

He said he hopes to return. "If the good Lord's willing and the creeks don't rise, I'll be at the next one," he said. "I had a lot of fun, fellas. Been nice seeing you again."

McCombs, who hasn't missed a reunion, was optimistic but realistic. "It's been a good run," he said. "I don't know how long we can keep it going."

For the 12th year in a row, the bell tolled for the dead.

McCombs walked to the table where no one sat, cupped his hand around the flame and gently blew out the candle.

It was time for me to tell them a story. When my husband and I were in Ireland in 2001, we were at a medieval dinner with a large group of tourists from Holland who were having a fine time, no doubt fueled in part by copious amounts of mead.

My husband left the table. Upon his return, he said he had a chat with one of them about World War II. The man said he had been in the Dutch resistance. My husband told him that my father served on the Enright.

As we were leaving Bunratty Castle, the man approached me, grabbed my arm and looked earnestly into my eyes. "Tell your father thanks, he was our savior," he said.

The Washington, D.C., monument to World War II veterans stands as a testament to the country's gratitude. But kind words from strangers often speak loudest.

McCombs said people will sometimes walk into the hospitality room at the reunions and say simply, "Thanks."

"Chokes you up," he said.


A photograph in a wallet

As the reunion ended, the men said their goodbyes and told one last tale.

Ann Kelly, wife of shipmate Tom Kelly of Yorktown, Va., chuckled. "The stories change a little bit every year."

And every year, the stories provoke as much laughter as when they were first told.

Ann Kelly looked at the men who were patting each other on the back and hugging. "They grew up together," she said. "They went in as boys and came out men."

My father pulled out his wallet and showed John Seila a photograph of the Enright encased in a crinkled plastic sleeve.

George Driscoll, the brother of late shipmate Frank Driscoll of Hoosick Falls, N.Y., had given it to my father after Frank died.

"Manila Harbor, P.I." had been scrawled on the back.

Below, George Driscoll had written: "4/25/98 Chester, Frank carried this picture in his wallet for years. He would want me to give it to you. That ship was his pride. That is Frank's handwriting above."

Steve Myers then pulled a less sentimental object from his wallet. The men howled. It was a card that said, "Gone to P. Please leave my drink alone. This card compliments of a former DE [destroyer escort] sailor."

Myers uses it at his local VFW club.

In the motel lobby, Tom Kelly and Ivan McCombs started planning next year's reunion in West Virginia.


Scrapped, not forgotten

Time turned hair to silver. It wrinkled skin and weakened bones.

Mahr lost the sight in his left eye and can't play the trumpet anymore because of an arterial operation. "I can't even play taps," he said.

Macular degeneration, an incurable eye condition, prevents my father from reading the Destroyer Escort Sailors Association newspaper.

They have their good days and their bad days. At times, they mourn the losses, but they wake each day, thankful for what they have.

Destiny dealt a crueler blow to the gray lady that provided shelter from the storms and became a vessel for lifelong friendships. In 1978, the Enright was stricken from the U.S. Navy Register. She was scrapped or, as one history of American ships puts it, "deleted" in 1989.

No obituary was written, no eulogies spoken.

The shipmates know that it doesn't matter where the parts were scattered. Having left an indelible mark on the men and their descendants, the Enright and her spirit live on.

"Three years, three months and 23 days in Uncle Sam's Navy," said McCombs, who remembers those numbers as well as his Social Security number. "It burns in your memory."

debbie.garlicki@mcall.com         610-820-6764




Named after Robert Paul Francis Enright of Bradford in McKean County, Pa., a 25-year-old ensign killed when his destroyer was sunk in the Battle of Midway on June 6, 1942. Buckley Class Destroyer Escort

Size: 306 feet long by 36 feet 10 inches wide

Displacement (weight): 1,400 tons unloaded, 1,740 tons full

Speed: 24 knots

Crew: 198 men, 15 officers

Christened on May 29, 1943, at Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Commissioned on Sept. 21, 1943.

Received one battle star for World War II service.

Reclassified APD-66 on Jan. 21, 1945, converted to high-speed troop transport at the Boston Navy Yard.

Decommissioned on June 21, 1946.

Transferred to Ecuador on July 14, 1967.

Renamed escort destroyer "25 de Julio" (E-12).

Stricken from U.S. Navy Register on March 31, 1978.

Scrapped in 1989.

Sources: "Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships," www.navsource.org and www.hazegray.org




Top-side, observations of a Sonarman

A submarine could be beyond our protective screen and fire a torpedo, but the odds were not great for success.  During daylight, good lookouts were essential to supplement our Sonar work, spotting a torpedo.

On sonar, it [torpedo] sounded like rushing water, getting louder as the device approached the ship.  At this point there wasn't much time to maneuver.  Lookouts could spot the torpedo, and even the periscope.  DEs were more maneuverable than a full size destroyer.  I was on both type ships.   Both types with luck and skill could evade a torpedo. 

The Germans developed an acoustic gadget which made the torpedo home in on the screw noises.  We countered with a very simple device called a Foxer (FXR).  This consisted of two parallel metal rods (I don't remember the material, but it was probably steel).  There rods were about one inch apart, tied together.  Released from the stern to about 100 yards, they made enough noise to fool the torpedo.

This brings up another problem we has.  Sounds from ships nearby, wakes we created turning after an attack invariably hindered our detection.  After a "run" we had to echo range (ping) to relocate out target.  This was not always easy. 

The Doppler effect was used in determining the course of the sub.  It the echo returned to us higher than the signal we sent out, the object was moving towards us , and vice versa, a lower pitch would indicate the sub was moving away.  If there was no change in pitch, we has a stationary target.

To qualify for Sonar school, we were given a Seashore Test.  This determined how acute our hearing was to changes in pitch -- very important indeed.

False alarms were fairly frequent, but all echoes were investigated.  No chances were taken. Fish actually make noises, and a densely populated school could and was very deceiving. 

With the help of the Sonar Officer, who was theoretically better trained than we were, and the watch partner, we tried to settle the problem.  Our officer was good.  We stood four hour watches and worked 30 minutes on the "stack' and 30 minutes of rest, remaining in the Sonar Hut which was attached to the Flying Bridge, a small hatch forward of the watch platform, from which the ship was normally navigated.

If the weather was too rough, the officer of the deck and any ancillary helpers he had would move down to the enclosed bridge, where the helm was.  The Radar room was also down there along with the CIC (Combat Information Center).  During our North Atlantic convoy period we had many rough days.  Occasionally, the sonar head was retracted to protect it from the seas. During these periods, sub attacks were at best minimal.

I don't recall how frequently we were called to General Quarters.  It's highly unlikely that we escorted the same ships "round trip".  We would spend just a few days in Londonderry, Ireland, and then head East again.  We had a mimeographed newspaper which we named "The Derry Ferry".

The USS Enright was a turbo-electric powered ship. Many DEs were Diesel, and somewhat slower.  Our convoys were usually small-about 25 ships plus our division-6 ships.  We tended to have more risky ships--troop ships, tankers, ammunition, but a convoy could only go as fast as its slowest ship.

Crossing to the States, some of the ships carried rubble from the Blitzes for ballast.  This was used in the construction of the FDR drive, next to the East River in Manhattan.

Once we broke the German code, we had a good idea where the Wolfpacks were, and we would change course to avoid encounters, if possible.  Our responsibility was to protect the ships to get the supplies where they were needed.  There were "Hunter-Killer" groups.  A small group of DEs plus a "Baby Carrier" tried to hunt the subs and destroy them.

Our convoy to Oran, North Africa was very large and slow.  A day or two before we started we were requested to seek out a chaplain.  It made us think this was going to be a "Dirty Dozen" operation, and since we never had to do that before, we wondered. 

In the Atlantic, just before entering the Straits of Gibraltar, there was a submarine lair.  Fortunately we made no direct contact, though I thought I detected a torpedo sound.  Whatever it was, it disappeared.  Perhaps we were destined to live longer.  We were told that our shallow draft (about 10 feet), made us impervious to torpedoes.  I think this was just a moral booster.  It certainly was invalid when the acoustic fish entered the picture.  Of course, the subs were more interested in the convoy ships.   In the Mediterranean Sea those ships which traveled further East than Oran had to deal with enemy aircraft. The Enright didn't have that problem until it was an APD at Okinawa.

Either a week before, or a week after [the USS Enright's trip to Oran, Algeria], a DE was sunk in the Atlantic at the entrance to the Med.  It, I believed was Coast Guard manned. 

During the war, the Coast Guard was transferred from the Treasury Department to the Navy.  Most people don' know the integral part in very dangerous jobs during [the war]--manning "Higgins Boats"-landing craft, being beach traffic directors for landing craft at Normandy, etc.

We made one trip to Normandy, some weeks after the initial, and escorted a troopship with fresh replacements directly from Brooklyn Army Pier to a pontoon pier.  The Channel was dangerous.  One troopship was sunk by a sub which has infiltrated the screen.  Fortunately we didn't have this problem. 

US torpedoes ran about 25mph (if I recollect correctly).  WWII [German] subs ran about 4-5 knots submerged, on the surface - up to 15 knots. 

During the war subs were really not very submersible.  Before snorkel [vertical metal pipe extending from the German subs to above the waterline.  This allowed the German subs to run their diesel engines while submerged, by providing intake air and a path to exhaust emissions] they had to surface to recharge batteries and were usually refueled with diesel by milchcow subs [refueling submarines;  translation from German:  milk cow] and possible neutral (Portuguese) merchant.  The latter was always ship scuttlebutt.  How true this was I never investigated.

I hope you read about the feats of the USS England (DE-635) in the Pacific.  Japanese subs were purported to be more vulnerable than German, but look what one did to the USS Indianapolis.  HIS TRAGEDY WAS TOTAL CARELESSNESS OF THE NAVY-no escorts and I gather, no zigzag pattern.

-- Al Green, April 2008


Do you Remember? 

Any time one of the ships boats left for the beach without Doc Webb - we don't!

Anyone remember the ship at Special Sea Detail when it wasn't time for chow

Mr. Irvin to the skipper:  "I think that we are dragging Sir!  There is an LST 10 feet on the starboard beam."

Any typhoon in the last three months that we have missed sailing through

Lost at Sea 16 April 1944
from his Shipmates USS Enright DE-216

Recognition classes - the Jap planes will be the ones with the red circles on the wings

Your first lessons in foreign languages:
  • "Do bissnes Joe"                          - Oran, Algeria
  • "Get a bit O' goom, Yank?"        -  Londonderry, Northern Ireland
  • "Hey Joe, toss coin, me dive"   -  Zamboanga, Philippines

"What no noises? No Goils!"  -  Signal bridge

The best mid watch helmsman  -  Buddy Jones

Gluse and his midnight requisitions.

You can have her, I don't want her, she's too fat for me - Ha! Garlicki play that music box

Whitey Bennet picking himself up from the dock after telling Danny Loughlin he was going to marry his sister, Helen.  He is too!

Page and his exclusive gangway - No.3 line

Those bag inspections at Norfolk

"On the fantail- HOLD SIX!"

Ever see George Bald writing to anyone without enclosing a picture of a nude

The liberty party will shove off for MogMog in five minutes - Two beers per man

Cornelius Hickey went ashore in Londonderry Northern Ireland armed with his chocolate bars, chewing gum and cheap perfume?

Those wonderful liberties in New York City?

The Enright entering Portsmouth, England - 'X' marks the spot where the buoy used to be.

New London, Connecticut duty - General Quarters for all SP's [Shore Patrol] and civilian police.  Double the guard on the Top Hat and the London Terrace

Mr. Ryan playing Sherlock Holmes at Staten Island

Who really "borrowed" the English bread maker?

Poor Willie Turner feeding the fish daily, even in Long Island Sound

The Gunners Mates in the North Atlantic - Daniels, Kelly, and Wingers - last up- first in the chow line.

Moe Maledziej went swimming in the North Atlantic.

"Don't just stand there! DO SOMETHING!

The gunner boys let Adamovitz get hold of a 45

Skender, Hamit, and Lumi played Santa Claus in 1943?

"C" Division took all comers in baseball, even Emory's "Swabbers", Youngs' "Sparkies", and Phillips' (Pogey bait) "Snipes."

Danny Harnett's bridge quartet sang "Sweepers Man Your Brooms."

Did Chief Hurley get lost in China and never return?

Who did not get sea sick during the first hurricane off Bermuda on the shake down cruise?

The Enright coming into New York with a big gash in the port side.  Who has the picture?

Going through Cape Cod canal to Buzzard's Bay

Going through Panama Canal to the Pacific, Apr 1945.

Liberty at the Coconut Grove in Panama City, Panama.

Where did Van Vleck find Stubbs and Hurley when they didn't make it back to the ship in Panama?

Friends who were on the USS Rich (DE-695).  We went to Argentina, Newfoundland in Dec. 1943 with the USS Rich.  The USS Rich hit two mines during the invasion of Normandy, a large portion of her crew was either killed or missing in the sinking.

Johnnie Dawson, SoM [Soundman, sonar operator] 3/c had his leg caught in the mermaid cable, Feb 1944.

Liberty on East Main Street, Norfolk, Virginia

Liberty in Londonderry, Ireland.

"D" Day 1944 invasion of Europe...USS Enright in New London, Conn.

On trip to Ireland sighted floating mines, Jun 23, 1944

Who missed the ship and had to catch the pilot boat out of Staten Island?

Who was restricted most for sleeping in?

Who stole the most food from the galley?

Mail call - Liberty on an Island with 2 beers.

The large number of ships off Okinawa?  The hurricane off Okinawa.

Picket duty.  Bombs close by.

Japan surrenders.  Aug 15, 1945.

Liberty in Yokahoma and Tokyo.

Counting up your points toward discharge.

On the trip back to the States, who were the Gunners Mates that drank the beer from the magazine?  Fess up now!  Were you the one who put the empty cans back in the box?

Leaving the ship to return to the States for discharge, saying good by to shipmates.

--  compiled for a ship's reunions

This Really Happened 

The New York police investigating Nicolaisen for murder. He didn't do it - honest.

The night two tin cans chased us to Bermuda when Hickey gave them a Charlie for a Victor.

CCS [Chief Commissary Steward] David Underway from forecastle to SPO quarters without use of doors or hatch when they fired a primer in the 5 inch gun.

While ship is straddled with bombs [during Battle of Okinawa], men in Repair One, below decks, remark "Our old 5 inch sure sounds good."

Seaman with foc's'le watch on day of commissioning:  "Mr. Dhue, that thing on the floor up there is turning around by itself."

Majewicz hoisted aboard via the stretcher - too big a night between Provincetown's "Sea Dragon" and "Atlantic House."

Lieut. MacLean restricted till the ships service was straightened out after being open two days during the month.

Lippincott sleeping on hatch in galley passageway - someone told him C201 was filling with water and that part or ship would sink in night.

Normal holiday routine at Okinawa - 3 General Quarters, 5 sweep downs, two Jap planes downed with the Second Division painting the sides.

CBM [Chief Boatswains Mate] Baird holding reveille at 0530 with a night stick - 0531, all hands heaved out and triced up.

Moose Connolly not believing it was quite a drop from flying bridge to boat deck.

Turkey George actually taking a full month's vacation aboard ship - on full pay too.


--  compiled for a ship's reunions



Short Cruise on a DE

by famed World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle

In the Western Pacific -- So now I'm a D-E sailor. Full-fledged one. Drenched from head to foot with salt water. Sleep with a leg crooked around your rack so you won't fall out. Put wet bread under your dinner tray to keep it from sliding. Even got my Jesus-shoes ordered.

And you don't know what a D-E sailor is? You don't know the D-E Navy? Better not let one of
them hear you say that. They're 50,000 strong out here. And they pride themselves on their rough life at sea. So better be careful.

A D-E, my friends, is a destroyer-escort. It's a ship, long and narrow and sleek, along the lines
of a destroyer. But it's much smaller. It's a baby destroyer. It's the American version of the British corvette.

It is the answer to the problems of colossal amounts of convoying; amounts so huge that we
simply hadn't the time to build full-fledged destroyers to escort them all. The D-E was the result. It is a wartime product, and it has done very valiantly.

They are rough and tumble little ships. Their after decks are laden with depth charges. They can turn in half the space of a destroyer. Their forward guns can seldom be used because waves are breaking over them.

They roll and they plunge. They buck and they twist. They shudder and they fall through space.
Their sailors say they should have flight pay and sub pay both -- they're in the air half the time, under the water the other half. Their men are accustomed to being wet and think nothing of it.

I came back from the northern waters on a DE. When a wave comes over and you get soaked a sailor laughs and says, "Now you're a DE sailor," it makes you feel kind of proud. And I did not get seasick! I better have my stomach examined.

My ship formed part of the escort of a tiny convoy retuning to a southern base island for more
planes and supplies, to be hurried back north to the battle.

We mothered ships that were big and slow. We were tiny in comparison. We ran way out
ahead, and to the side. We and DE's like us formed the "screen" and there was nothing bigger than us in it. We felt like strutting.

We felt like the little boy of the plains left at home for the first time to protect his mother from the Indians -- the only man on the place.

A DE carries more than 150 men and a dozen officers. That's small enough so that those who
serve on her know personally almost everybody else.

Sailors always seem to be proud of their DE. So proud that they often get in a fight with crews
from other DEs if they go ashore together.

At some of our island anchorages, the navy has set up recreation islands where men in from the sea can go ashore for a few hours and play ball and drink a few cans of beer. It's really a pitiful excuse for shore leave, but it's all there can be. Well, on these recreation islands they never let the crew of a big carrier go ashore alongside the crew of another one, for invariably they fight.

It seems they were tied up against another DE at some anchorage. They let parts of the crews of both DE's go ashore to one of these recreation islands. The usual fight got started over there. They fought all afternoon ashore, then they fought each other in the small boats as they were coming back, and when they got back aboard their respective ships they continued fighting, reaching across the rails to smack each other, just like pirates of old. The boys howl with laughter when they tell about it. Since then, no two DEs of this same division, ever go ashore together. That certainly could be called "pride in your ship," couldn't it?

I'm glad this method of rivalry had been watered down before I came aboard. For I don't
suppose there's anybody in the DE Navy small enough for me to fight with any distinction either to myself or to my ship.

In the Western Pacific, the boys on a DE are very friendly, and glad to have you aboard, for it's
seldom they have a visitor.

I've spent three days aboard two different DE's. Both had been out here quite awhile, but neither had had very much contact with the enemy.

Their life is mainly one of constant vigil, while plowing back and forth over the Pacific Ocean
herding convoys of men and planes and supplies.

They had been out for 15 months and true they talk a lot of wanting to go home but they didn't
seem as sorry for themselves as the other boys.

My DE got credit for helping sink two subs. They just got credit for an assist. It burns them up, for it was they who discovered the subs.

The boys say "We dig 'em up, and then they order some other DE to sink them. Our skipper got so mad about it he threatened to have 'USS PROSTITUTION' painted on the stack."

Since there isn't much enemy action to talk about, the boys talk mostly about the storms they've been through. For when you've been through a storm on a DE, you've been somewhere.

The boys toss off angles of rolling that are incredible. They tell of times when the ships rolled all the way from 65 to 85 degrees, which is lying flat on the side. In a typhoon, the boys say "All you can do is put on your Jesus-shoes and hope." In other words, be prepared to walk on water.

There are little things all over the ship to indicate how rough she is. Fiber rugs are fastened to the steel decks of cabins with scotch tape, so they won't slide. Ash trays are stuck to the walls with scotch tape. There are hand railings the entire length of the narrow decks. (My ship never had a man washed overboard).

The boys have trouble airing their bedding on deck, even on the bright war days, for there is almost always some spray coming over the side.

When you're talking to a DE sailor on deck, you'll notice his eyes unconsciously following and
judging the waves, to sense when one is big enough to come over.

It gets so rough they can't cook on board. The boys in the bakeshop say that during bad storms, the bread dough all runs to one end of the pans, and the loaves come out only half as long as usual, and all jammed up at one end. So now they keep three days supply on bread baked ahead, thus outwitting the storms.

The sailors, and officers too, love to tell you about the time they got the wormy flour. They'd been out a long time, and were running low. So they got some flour from a tanker. Apparently the tanker had been out a long time too, for the flour had millions of weevils in it. They didn't discover this till they started eating the bread. For days after that, you'd always hold a piece of bread up to the light before eating it.

My crew really was the best-natured bunch I've run into in a long time. They enjoyed telling stories on themselves. Even about sea-sickness.

There are still a good many who get seasick in the most violent weather. There have been men and officers with chronic seasickness who finally had to be transferred. The boys say that when a new officer reports aboard, they wait outside the wardroom door to see him come shooting out from his first meal when it gets rough.

And speaking of meals, we ate well on my DE, but the boys laughed and said "We wish you'd stay on here permanently, the chow has been twice as good since you came aboard."











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