The portrait of the USS Carson City somewhere in the Pacific Ocean displaying its camouflage paint. Camouflage paint prevents an enemy from getting an accurate position when viewing the ship through a periscope for a torpedo attack.
As soon as Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939, the United States began to prepare for war. On September 16, 1940, Selective Service required all males between the ages of 21 and 45 to enter the draft, our first peacetime draft.
In 1940, 1 million men were drafted into the army for basic training. Before the repechage, our army was smaller than the Albanian army. Without using “Hey Google”, can you name a country that Albania shares a border or capital with? Albania borders Montenegro, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Greece. The capital of Albania is Tirana. Are any of these countries on your vacation radar?
In early 1942, the United States Navy began awarding contracts to shipyards to build a total of 100 Tacoma-class patrol frigates. Our navy needed “sub-killers” to locate and destroy enemy submarines so that convoys could dock and unload their vital cargo at a British port to provide the Allies with everything needed to defeat Germany, the Italy and Japan, the Axis powers.
Who controlled the North Atlantic shipping lanes during the first three years of World War II? Nazi submarines, submarines. The subs received hero’s celebrations when they returned to their homeport. During the entire war, the Allies lost a total of 3,500 merchant ships and 175 warships to 783 submarines (80% of their submarines) and 47 Nazi warships. Most of the 3,500 Allied merchant ships were lost in the first three years of the war. In the UK, food supplies were at a critical level, close to starvation.
For your information, the Tacoma class of patrol frigates are named after small towns in all 48 states. (Alaska was admitted to the union on January 3, 1959 and Hawaii on August 21, 1959.) Can you guess what city the PF-50 was named for? The ship is named after the capital of Nevada, not Carson City in Michigan or Mississippi.
On December 29, 1940, in a radio broadcast nearly a year before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, President Roosevelt called America “the arsenal of democracy” against the Axis nations for the first time. .
Did you know that on November 1, 1941, 37 days before the US Congress declared war on Japan, President Roosevelt signed Executive Order 8929 transferring the USCG from the Department of Revenue to the command of the US Navy?
How do you tell a Marine enlisted in the Navy and a Coastie by their uniform? The enlisted Coastie “wears a single gold shield on the right outer sleeve of dress or service uniforms 4” above the armband centered between the front and back pleats. Like their commissioned counterparts, warrant officers never wear a CG shield as a sleeve device on uniforms that require epaulettes. Now you are almost an “old salt”.
On December 8, 1941, Hitler ordered Nazi submarines to sink any ship flying “stars and stripes.” Three days later, Germany officially declares war on America. The same day, Congress votes to declare war on Germany. There were no negative votes in the US Senate or the US House of Representatives.
I entered my teens in 1954 and remembered several members of my family telling me stories of American merchant ships being torpedoed within sight of the Massachusetts coast at night during the latter part of December 1941 and into 1942. The flames from the explosions were seen by my parents from the local beaches. In a day or two, the cargo and corpses of American merchant seamen would wash up. Suddenly the war was no longer thousands of miles away, it was off our shores.
In fact, during the war, 73,000 American merchant seamen lost their lives when Nazi torpedoes sank our merchant ships. If a merchant seaman was in the freezing waters of the North Atlantic for 15 minutes, he became a permanent resident at “Davy Jones Locker”.
PF-50, USS Carson City, was built in the Consolidated Steel Corp yard. of Wilmington, California, west of the city of Long Beach. She was sponsored by Mrs. CB Austin, launched 13 November 1943 and commissioned 24 March 1944 for service in the Pacific Ocean where she earned two Battle Stars, a Proud Lady.
On August 26, 1945, PF-46, Bisbee, PF-47, Gallup, PF-48, Rockford, PF-49, Muskogee and Carson City, PF-50 were decommissioned and loaned to the ‘Soviet Union. . The Carson City was renamed EK-20.
Anyone used to dealing with the Soviets, once an object is under Soviet control, getting that object back is a lengthy process at best. EK-20 was returned to the USN on November 1, 1949, more than four years later, at Yokosuka, Japan.
The USS Carson City served in the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force as JDS Sakura from 1953 to 1971. The city government of Carson City proudly displays the ship’s bell and commissioning pennant at the hall of city.
For your information, my father, Art Beaton, was 20 years old when he enlisted in the USCG in September 1936 and retired as CWO-2 on October 31, 1956. Prior to enlisting in the Coast Guard, he served 18 months in the Civilian Conservation Corps. in East Jaffery, NH
My parents were married in December 1937, four years before I was born in 1941. I served 15 years as a kid in the Coast Guard.
In 1943, Dad was sent to the Leathem D. Smith Shipyard Co., Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin, to be an original crew member of PF-67, USS Peoria. Mom and I arrived a few days after dad in Sturgeon Bay. The Peoria was launched on October 2, 1943, sponsored by Agnes Renolds and commissioned on January 2, 1945 at Houston.
Peoria’s first mission was to be one of the submarine killers escorting a convoy across the Atlantic. Mers El Kebir, Algeria was their first port of call. I have to share with you that my mother had to know where her husband and sons were at all times. All mail was read and censored from American men serving in the military. You couldn’t write home and share where you were, for security reasons. So dad sent mom a picture of him riding a camel which solved the problem, where is Art Beaton instead of “Where is Waldo”.