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LT Thomas Crotty, 1st USCG POW in WWII Repatriated


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News Item Stars and Stripes (Pacific Edition): Remains of first Coast Guard member to become POW in WWII returning home for burial

 

FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii — The remains of the first Coast Guard member to be taken prisoner of war during World War II will be flown from Hawaii to New York for burial after a repatriation ceremony Thursday.
 
Lt. Thomas Crotty, 30, died July 19, 1942, at the Cabanatuan Prisoner of War Camp in the Philippines after being captured with the fall of Corregidor earlier that year. Crotty was among the 76,000 Filipino and American prisoners pressed into the Bataan Death March by their Japanese captors. He was the first Coast Guard member to become a prisoner of war since the War of 1812, according to the service.
 
Crotty’s repatriation ceremony will be held at Coast Guard Air Station Barbers Point on Oahu. An honor platoon will escort his remains from a hearse to a HC-130 Hercules airplane for a flight to Coast Guard Air Station Sacramento. He will be buried Nov. 2 in Buffalo, N.Y.
 
Crotty’s remains had lay in a grave for unknowns in the Philippines for more than a half-century. After dying from disease, he was first buried in the Cabanatuan Camp Cemetery. After the war ended, personnel from the American Graves Registration Service exhumed and examined all those buried at the cemetery, according to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. But because of extensive commingling of the bodies and the limited technologies available at the time, some remains were not identifiable. Those were reburied as “unknowns” in the graveyard now known as Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, DPAA said in a news release. Those remains were again disinterred in January 2018 and sent to the DPAA lab at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. The lab in September identified the remains as belonging to Crotty. The lab used dental and anthropological analysis, along with circumstantial evidence, in making the identification. Scientists from the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System also used mitochondrial DNA analysis, DPAA said.
 
DPAA lists 613 Coast Guard members as unaccounted for from World War II, with 448 of them considered “non-recoverable” because the remains are in the deep sea or were obliterated in some way.
 
Crotty, a native of Buffalo, graduated from the Coast Guard Academy in 1934, and then served on cutters based out of New York, Seattle, Alaska and Sault Ste. Marie, Mich., the Coast Guard said. He was manning a Coast Guard cutter that responded to the infamous 1934 fire aboard the cruise ship Morro Castle, which left 137 passengers and crew members dead before the ship ran aground on the New Jersey shore. After extensive training at Navy facilities, Crotty became the Coast Guard’s leading expert in mine operations and demolition. In the summer of 1941, he was sent to the Philippines, where he served as second-in-command aboard the Navy minesweeper USS Quail.
 
After World War II broke out on Dec. 7, 1941, he spent the following months defending the ever-shrinking Allied strongholds in the Philippines against the Japanese incursion. Defenders on the Bataan peninsula fought on until April 1942, while forces on Corregidor island held out until May. The deck guns on the USS Quail had been moved to Corregidor for a final stand. Eyewitnesses last saw Crotty commanding a force of Marines and soldiers who were firing 75 mm guns at Japanese forces landing on Corregidor’s beaches, the Coast Guard said.
 
Crotty became a victim of a diphtheria epidemic that raged through Cabanatuan in the late summer, which at one point was killing 40 prisoners a day. Without medical care, he died days after contracting the disease.

 

Photos:

 

Coast Guard Lt. Thomas Crotty is shown in an undated photo provided by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. DPAA

 

Thomas Crotty stands second from left among a group of fellow Coast Guard members in this undated photo provided by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency. DPAA

 

"Lt. Thomas James Eugene Crotty: Mine Specialist, Demolitions Expert, Naval Officer, Artilleryman, Marine and Coast Guardsman in the Battle for Corregidor."

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History – LT Thomas James Eugene Crotty: A Coast Guard Leader, Hero and Prisoner of War - Includes Photos and detailed info

 

 

At the Academy, Crotty excelled in leadership and athletics. During his senior year, he served as class president, company commander and captain of the football team. Graduation in 1934 proved to be the last time many of Crotty’s classmates and friends would see him. (Coast Guard Academy Tide Rips, 1934)

 

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Welcome Home, Lt. Crotty. Rest in Peace.

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"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." (Message sent by 1st Lt. Clifton B. Cates. USMC, 96th Co., Soissons, 19 July 1918 - later 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps 1948-1952)

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A newly updated and much more detailed biography of LT Thomas James Eugene Crotty by the Coast Guard historians office regarding his USCG sea service, mine and demolitions work at Cavite, Bataan & Corregidor Island, XO of the USS QUAILL, and action with the Naval Battalion, Army and Marine beach defenses at Malinta Hill.

 

The Return Home of Lt. Thomas James Eugene Crotty The Long Blue Line: LT Crotty and the Battle for Corregidor

 

Jimmy Crotty performed exceptional duty under trying circumstances and distinguished himself through his various combat roles. He participated in Philippine combat operations in 1941 and 1942 as a member of U.S. Navy, Marine Corps and U.S. Army and served in a variety of missions against an overwhelming enemy force. During the Japanese invasion of the Philippines, Crotty relied on his innate leadership skills repeatedly in the defense of Bataan, and later at Corregidor....

 

Records indicate that Jimmy Crotty was the only active duty Coast Guardsman that fought the Japanese at Bataan and Corregidor, operations that merited authorization of the Defense of the Philippines battle streamer for the Coast Guard.
 
The story of LT Crotty has been lost and forgotten like the heroic sacrifices made by thousands of defenders of Bataan and Corregidor. Even though he singlehandedly earned the battle streamer for the Service, Crotty received little individual recognition for his heroic efforts during the war or its aftermath.

 

The official U.S. Marine Corps history for the defense of Corregidor concludes that those who fought in the ranks of the Fourth Marine Regiment, “whatever their service of origin, were, if only for a brief moment, Corregidor Marines.”

 

 

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He's the second person in my book who has been IDed and returned since my book went to the printer in September...

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Only a weak society needs government protection or intervention before it pursues its resolve to preserve the truth. Truth needs neither handcuffs nor a badge for its vindication. -Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy

Peace is not the absence of war, but the defense of hard-won freedom. -Anton LaGuardia


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