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Captain's Hat: USS PC-617, Omaha Beach


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#1 Charlie Flick

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 04:01 PM

Gentlemen:

 

The grey officer's cap shown below belonged to my father-in-law.  In June, 1944 he was the Captain of the USS PC-617, a 173 foot long steel patrol craft.  He was 27 years old and a Lt. (jg).  Just three years earlier he had been a member of the Class of '41 at Princeton University.  This was the cap that he was wearing on D-Day.

 

Attached File  RBP USN Cap ed.jpg   348.67K   2 downloads

 

 

The PC's job was to escort the landing craft close to the Beach.  They could do so because of their relatively shallow draft.  They were only lightly armed with a main gun in the form of a 3 inch 50 caliber piece mounted on the foredeck, a single 40mm gun and several 20mm guns.  There was no automated fire control. 

 

My father in law related to me that the PCs had orders to refrain from shooting at the shore because of their fire control limitations and the fear that they might hit friendlies.   They were very close to the beach and could see what was happening.  His crew begged for permission to fire the main gun.  My FIL finally gave in and they cranked off a few 3 inch rounds.  He wasn't sure that they hit anything, but the crew was excited to be shooting at the enemy, not to mention being a part of the greatest invasion fleet in the history of the world.

 

A few days after D-Day the invasion fleet was anchored just off shore and came under a night attack by Luftwaffe aircraft.  He thought they were JU-88s as they were using glide bombs of some sort.  His ship shot down one of the aircraft which crashed close aboard the 617 lightly wounding several crew, including my FIL.  He later received a Purple Heart decoration.  Decades later he gave me several pieces of crushed aluminum debris which came from that aircraft.

 

My FIL talked very little about the War, but I knew that he was proud of his service.  He was also very glad to have come home in one piece.  He lived a happy and successful life as a civilian and died in 1990. 

 

Regards,

Charlie

 

 


Edited by Charlie Flick, 06 June 2019 - 04:07 PM.


#2 Captainofthe7th

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Posted 06 June 2019 - 04:17 PM

Thanks for sharing this, Charlie.  I've been peeking at a few of the D-Day threads today and this has been my favorite artifact so far.  Great story about your father in law and an example how some simple objects can hold powerful history.

 

Rob



#3 Charlie Flick

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Posted 29 June 2019 - 09:24 AM

The document below is a re-typed copy of the Commendation which my father in law received for the D-Day action in which his ship participated.  I have seen the original, now buried somewhere in the family papers, but this copy was found this past week scotch-taped to the back of a framed photo of my FIL.  My wife pulled it off and turned it over to me.  I thought it would be of interest here in providing further details on the action of June 6.

 

The Commendation is from Rear Admiral John L. Hall.  He was commanding officer of the 11th Amphibious Force (11th PHIB) based in the UK.  He had previously commanded the 8th PHIB in the Mediterranean Theater which was responsible for all of the amphibious forces used for the invasions of Sicily and Italy.

 

Attached File  USS PC-617 Commendation ed.jpg   453.79K   1 downloads

 

Admiral Hall is seen below aboard the USS Ancon off the Normandy coast on D-Day.

 

Attached File  RAdm Hall aboard USS Ancon June 1944 ed 2.jpg   23.63K   1 downloads

 

Regards,

Charlie


Edited by Charlie Flick, 29 June 2019 - 09:39 AM.


#4 aerialbridge

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Posted 30 June 2019 - 10:11 PM

Thanks for sharing the history behind that cover and beautiful, bullion cap device.




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