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Leatherwringer

Amazing USS Serpens (AK-97) US Coast Guard KIA letter grouping

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I just received this US Coast Guard grouping of letters and I am awestruck. The letters are from US Coast Guardsman MoMM 1c Hugo Riccardi to his wife. The

first is from Texas in October of 1943 and his last letter is dated January 25,1945. The USS Serpens exploded on January 29, 1945 in what was first thought to be an act of war and then later determined to be an accident. The loss of the Serpens remains the largest single disaster ever suffered by the U.S. Coast Guard.

A mass grave for 250 of her dead was dedicated at Arlington National Cemetery in 1950.

I have not counted them but there must be over 150 letters. There was also a paper inventory of items he had sent home in Feb of '44 and a US Coast Guard paper on INFORMATION FOR NEXT OF KIN OF PERSONS REPORTED MISSING,MISSING IN ACTION,CAPTURED BY THE ENEMY, OR INTERNED IN A NEUTRAL COUNTRY.

Hugo transferred to the Serpens two days before the first anniversary of the ship. He stated in a letter that he was very happy to be on the ship because they put on a huge spread to celebrate the occasion. He constantly mentions shipmates and what a great crew they had and how hard everyone worked together.

 

 

I will start with the first letter which is interesting because he is setting up codewords to start their letters with that would tell his wife where he was...

 

The first address he sent to his wife with his new address on the USS Serpens

 

 

 

 

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Hugo's Christmas letter to his wife and a Christmas card

 

Hugo's last two letters home to his wife... the last one written on January 25,1945 (both have a date of 2-1-45 written in pencil on the covers, I assume that is the day they were received by her)

 

His wife wrote Hugo on January 23,1945 but by the time it arrived in San Fransisco, it was bounced back to her. The stamps on the cover read return to sender,not at this address and No Record Of Unit At F.P.O. S.F.,CALIF.

The US Navy postmark on the back is dated Jan 31, 1945

 

 

 

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Those are amazing! Did you have an opportunity to read all of those yet? This was the worst event that involved the loss of life of Coast Guardsmen since the TAMPA in WW1.


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no, I have been working alot but I have read about 30 of the letters! This husband and wife were truly in love and the letters get a little sappy sometimes but

his descriptions about shiplife and the goings on are in amazing detail!


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Does he talk about his medical staff or contact with Japanese?


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I am writing a book about the history and loss of USS Serpens (AK-97) to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of her loss (28 January 2020). A team of us are flying to Guadalcanal to dive on the bow and debris field in September. I am including personal letters provided to me by relatives of the crew who were lost and would very much like to include some of Hugo Riccardi's. I know this is some 6 years after the above emails were posted but just thought I would try. Of course, anyone else reading this - anything that can't be found on the Internet would be appreciated! The draft is 200 pages so far. Doug Campbell, 39 Talamore Drive, Southern Pines, NC 28387.

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I am writing a book about the history and loss of USS Serpens (AK-97) to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of her loss (28 January 2020). A team of us are flying to Guadalcanal to dive on the bow and debris field in September. I am including personal letters provided to me by relatives of the crew who were lost and would very much like to include some of Hugo Riccardi's. I know this is some 6 years after the above emails were posted but just thought I would try. Of course, anyone else reading this - anything that can't be found on the Internet would be appreciated! The draft is 200 pages so far. Doug Campbell, 39 Talamore Drive, Southern Pines, NC 28387.

 

Hi Doug, I sent you a message with my email address.


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