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United States Marine Corps Stories of the Sinking of the
USS Henry R. Mallory on February 7, 1943

Assembled here are collections of eyewitness stories of men who were on board the Mallory on her final trip across the Atlantic. These stories have been shared with me personally by the survivors or by the survivors and victims families. These stories are very valuable for us to read as they give the readers a feeling of how it really was during those dark and uncertain times of WWII when the balance of power was still teetering from one side to the other. There were some significant things about the Mallory sinking. It was one of the biggest convoy battles of the war, the loss of lives was one of the largest of any ship sinking, and it happened during what the German U-boat commanders called "The Happy Times", when they enjoyed many successes against Allied convoys. This also happened before the turning point which came in June of 1944, after the capture of the German U-boat U-505, along with her precious enigma coding machines. And so here is one of the untold and largely unknown but heroic stories of the battle of the Atlantic.

If you have a family member or know of someone who was on the USS Henry R. Mallory please e-mail me and I will add that mans story with his shipmates.

These stories of the survivors and victoms are divided into 4 sections. The Stories of the Marines, The Stories of the Navy, The Stories of the Army and the Stories of the Merchant Marines.

Stories from the Marines in Hold No. 3

Hold No. 3 took a direct hit and the Marines suffered a great loss of life and in fact only 21 Marines escaped that day and were saved. The 21 Marines were:

Marvin E. Muehl
Joseph J. Biedenbach
John Tokarchick, Jr.
Clair R. Stratton
Carl D. Miller
Charles T. Calhoun
Stanley A. Pasinski
John E. Stott
Ralph C. Welliver, Jr.
John Behun
Thomas Sullivan

George G. Miller
Paul Cernansky
Nicolas J. Yannuzzi
Chester S. Penko
Adolph C. Mattes
Joseph J. Bucheck
Joseph I. McMillen
Emil S. Ellefsen
Henry F "Pop" Filippone
Robert James Smallwood

Marvin E. Muehl, USMC
"I remember the explosion and the feeling"

By survivor Marvin E. Muehl from Hold No. 3

I enlisted in the Marine Corps in December of 1941 and arrived in Parris Island in January of 1942. After basic training I was sent to camp Lejeune N.C. from where I was transferred to Quantico Va. and from there was sent to Brooklyn Navy Yard where I boarded the USS Henry R. Mallory. My quarters were slightly astern amidships and on the deck at the water line. I do remember that we spent about a week to 10 days at dock before we sailed and that we visited Times Square just about every night.

We were at sea for quite some time and at night you could see one Tanker after another being torpedoed and erupting in a ball of fire and we were getting quite nervous. Two days before we were torpedoed the weather turned sour, heavy seas, and we had a lot of sick people in our compartment and because of the weather nobody was allowed on deck to get much needed fresh air, plus we had to take showers in un-heated water as the ship could not provide enough hot water.

At the time we were torpedoed I was standing in our compartment with my back against the hull on the starboard side right next to the stairwell. The hull was cold and we used this means to cool ourselves, as the compartment was very warm. I remember the explosion and the feeling that I was floating through the air and then for quite some time every thing was quiet. Then I realized that I was flat on my back lying next to the people that I had been talking too and was being trampled on by people trying to get on deck through the opening were the stairwell had been before the explosion. The sound of water running and the odor of something burning made me realize that I had to get out of there. I tried to stand and realized then that my right leg was injured and I could see a lot of blood on my pant leg. I crawled over to a stanchion by the opening and pulled myself up and was looking up through the opening when two people with a light shining down through the opening were asking if anybody was down there. When I hollered they reached down and grabbed my hands, pulled me up on deck and said you are on your own she is going down fast. I crawled to the edge of the deck to try to get into one of the two-man rafts that were floating by but I could not stand up to jump. I heard somebody holler if there was anybody else on deck. I called to them and they came over and put me on the raft, which had quite a few people on it. I remember that we almost went down with the ship as a one-inch line was preventing us from drifting free and had to be cut.

I remember spending a lot of time in those heavy seas on that raft and then looking up from the bottom of the raft when someone yelled they see us upon seeing the USCGC Bibb. I too remember the captain of the Bibb standing on the bridge directing the crew to get those survivors on board as there were sonar reports of a sub in the vicinity and the Bibb was a sitting duck. With that a line was quickly fastened under my arms and I was hoisted aboard. I was taken to the sick bay and the bunk I was put in allowed me to look out to the stern of the Bibb, I could see rafts and debris all around the back of the ship. When the Bibb got under way they fired depth charges and I thought we were again torpedoed. I spent several days in the sick bay; I think it was around 7 days, although I'm not quite sure.

I was visited by the captain of the Bibb who informed me that the ship would be leaving the convoy in the next couple days and proceed to the Naval operating base in Iceland where I would receive good medical care. After we arrived in Iceland, I was operated on and spent months in a leg and partial body cast. After my cast was removed I was transferred to Chelsea Naval Hospital in Boston to recuperate and from there I was transferred to the Naval Hospital at Great Lakes Illinois. It was there that I was awarded the Purple Heart and a received a medical discharge.

I have never had the opportunity to thank the people who pulled me out of the hold or put me on the raft so if you happen to read this and were one of these persons my heartfelt thanks because if it wasn't for You I wouldn't be here.

Marvin E. Muehl
USMC, Service No. 353653

Joseph I. McMillen, USMC

"my wristwatch was stopped at 4:00 o'clock"

By survivor, Joseph I. McMillen, from Hold No. 3
USMCR, Service Number 479147

Mr. McMillen contacted me about my Henry R. Mallory web page two days before the 60th anniversary of the sinking, on February 5, 2003 and he wanted to know why he was not listed as a survivor. I had asked him if he would share his experiences with me so I could add this to the Mallory's web page. This is his story:

I enlisted in the Marine Corps on November 7, 1942 and reported for service at Paris Island. After nine weeks of basic training, I was transferred to Quantico, Virginia for reassignment. After about one week there I was sent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for further assignment although it had already been decided what my assignment would be.

On or about January 23, 1943, the Mallory left New York and joined up with the convoy that was en route from Halifax. Life aboard the ship was fairly routine, with lifeboat drills and duties as assigned. Some of the guys would not sleep at night for fear of being caught in their bunks in case of an attack. The scuttlebutt at the time was that we were on our way to Iceland to relieve the last of the 5th Marines who had been there for about a year. I celebrated my 19th birthday (2/3/43) aboard ship. On February 6th, I had been assigned to KP duty and that evening, after dark, I was dumping the garbage over the side when I saw a big flash on the horizon; I guessed it was possibly a tanker that had been hit. At about midnight there was an alert and we all were ordered to put on our life jackets and report to our lifeboat stations. After about half an hour, however, the alert was secured and we returned to our quarters below deck. The Marine area was on the port side of the ship near the hatchway for the number three hold; my bunk was on the bulkhead of that hatchway. But, I did not return to my bunk. Instead, I joined a fellow Marine (Stanley A. Pasinski) from the Pittsburgh area in a couple of unoccupied bunks nearby to talk and to try to relax after the excitement of the alert. I fell asleep in that bunk.

FEBRUARY 7, 1943: I woke up to the sound of people yelling and screaming and much confusion. The area was a mess. I do not remember an explosion, and I am not sure if I may have been unconscious for a short period. But I do remember looking in the direction of where I should have been sleeping and there was nothing there. I managed to get on deck and to my assigned lifeboat, but it was gone. Then for some reason, I decided that it was going to be cold on the water, so I went back down below and got an overcoat. Back on deck, I went to another lifeboat station and got into that boat as it was being lowered. But when we reached the water, no one could figure out how to release it from the lines. Then someone found a hatchet and used that to cut the lines at one end. While passing it to the other end, though, the hatchet was lost over the side. The issue with the lines became moot, however, as we also discovered that the boat was filling with water, since no one had closed the seacock. As the waves lifted the boat, guys would jump out of the lifeboat and back onto the deck of the Mallory. I was still in the lifeboat when an object landed in the water next to me; I jumped to it. I did not land on it, but did manage to grab hold of it and climb aboard. Once aboard, I realized that it was a life raft and soon it began to rain men who were jumping from the Mallory. When morning came I counted 22 people on board. I think that was more than the raft was designed to carry, since it was riding so low we were almost up to our waists in water. I slipped off the raft once and a couple of the guys pulled me back on board. I remember that two of the persons aboard appeared to be dead. I also noticed that my wristwatch was stopped at 4:00 o'clock. (I kept that watch for many years, but some time during one of our moves around the country I lost it).

RESCUE: Although I was alive, I did not have much hope for survival, since we had been told that ships in convoys did not stop to pick up survivors, because that would make them sitting ducks for the subs. Sometime after daybreak, we noticed smoke on the horizon. We could see it only when the raft was on the crest of a wave, but we noticed that sometimes the smoke was not there, and then the next time it was there. We thought it might be a vessel picking up survivors, so when we were on the crest of a wave, we would wave all sort of things to attract attention. On one crest we noticed a signal light that looked like it was aimed in our direction, and that gave us some hope. At about noon, the USCGC Bibb stopped by the raft and dropped ropes with loops over the side. I put one under my arms and was hoisted aboard. When I reached the deck, I had trouble walking and was helped by the crew to the boiler room, where I could dry out and warm up. I was also given a cup of black coffee, which I drank without hesitation even though I had never had a cup of coffee before. Later that day I tried to drink coffee again and could not stand the taste of it. After drying out, I went out on the deck and was immediately swamped by a huge wave that broke over the bow, and I was again drenched. The Bibb was overloaded, since it carried a wartime complement of personnel, which was greater than its peacetime complement, and then it had all the survivors, some of whom were from another ship. Later in the day, while sitting around thinking how lucky I was there was a huge explosion and all the lights went out. That scared the hell out of me because I thought a torpedo had hit the Bibb. Almost immediately, the Captain came on the PA system and explained that they had a contact with a sub and had dropped depth charges on it. The charges had exploded so close they had opened the circuit breakers. The Bibb went after the sub and there were several more explosions, but none caused the lights to go out. I don't know if they sunk the sub. We arrived in Iceland on February 14, 1943, after a voyage of 21 days.
AFTERMATH: I spent a year in Iceland. During that time, the scuttlebutt was that the Captain of the Bibb, CDR Roy Raney, was court-martialed for disobeying an order to return to the convoy that the Bibb had been escorting. I have been unsuccessful in finding any records of this, although there is a short piece about the Bibb and the Mallory at the Coast Guard website.

Note: (According to Bill Matthews, who supplied the story of one of the Mallory's cooks Thomas Wilson "Death in the Icy Mid-Atlantic" below, read in the book "HITLER'S U-BOAT WAR, The HUNTED 1942-1945" by Clay Blair, discovered that Commander Roy Raney who was captain of the USCGC Bibb was not court martialed and later rose to the rank of Vice Admiral in the Coast Guard. Bill Matthews also found this about the Mallory in the same book. "In the book he said that the USCGC Bibb during the rescue operation had picked up the USS Mallory's cooks dog "Ricky," found all alone on a raft. He refers to a Webster article, "Someone Get That Damn Dog!")

SURVIVORS: I have several press releases that my parents saved once they knew I was in Iceland, so I have the names of several Marines I served with during that time. I am not sure that all of them were picked up by the Bibb. I have tried a number of WWII veterans web pages to get in contact with some of them, but without success. These names are all taken from press stories that my parents had saved. So here is the list (all from Pennsylvania): Joseph J. Biedenbach, John Tokarchick, Jr., Clair R. Stratton, Carl D. Miller, Charles T. Calhoun, Stanley A. Pasinski, John E. Stott, George G. Miller, Paul Cernansky, Nicolas J. Yannuzzi, Chester S. Penko, Adolph C. Mattes, Joseph J. Bucheck, Joseph I. McMillen

Taking It Easy on "Sandbag Terrace"
Shown at a sandbag terrace which they helped build around the huts in their camp somewhere in Iceland are seven Marines, all from Pennsylvinia. Left to right, they are Privates First Class Joseph J. Biedenbach, John Tokarchick, Jr., Clair R. Stratton, Carl D. Miller, Charles T. Calhoun, Stanley A. Pasinski, John E. Stott. The huts are their current homes.
These are seven of the Marine survivors from Hold No. 3 in Iceland after their rescue. This newspaper clipping was shared by fellow Marine survivor Joseph I. McMillen and the exact date is not known.

The newspaper clipping above was taken after he came back from Iceland and was on leave at home in a borrowed uniform. Mr. McMillen relates "Never owned a dress uniform myself but a friend in Quantico loand me his."

"Go Down Like Marines" Torpedoed Men Urged

Four Pittsburgh District Corps Members Recall Tragic Sinking In North Atlantic

This was a wartime newspaper article written in the Pittsburgh Press.

A torpedo slammed into their ship before dawn of an icy North Atlantic morning. Half stunned, they scrambled out on deck and struggled in the darkness to launch a lifeboat. Through the confusion cut the voice of a Marine corporal, "Remember, you guys, you're Marines. If we go down, we go down like Marines." That scene is indelible in the memories of four Marines from the Pittsburgh district, for they participated in it, and in an agonizing eight hours on the open sea before they were picked up. The men were: Pvt. John Behun, 347 Renova St. Pittsburgh; Pvt. Joseph J. Biedenach, 339 Renova St., Pittsburgh; Joseph I. McMillen, 24 E. Grant St., Huston; and Stanley Pasinski, 528 Vermont St., Glassport.

Sinking Cost 850
The torpedoing was that tragic one of last February in which 850 lost their lives as two ships went down in the frigid seas. The four Pittsburgh district Marines recently told their story to Sgt. Francis J. Acosta, Jr., a Marine Corps Combat Correspondent, at an overseas base. Pvt. Pasinski said, "The torpedo must have knocked me out, because I came to with a gash on my head. I don't remember anything except climbing up through the hatch." Pvt. Behun was one of the first men out on deck. He found that one of the two lifeboats assigned to the Marines had been blown to pieces by the explosion. In the darkness and weather it took about 15 minutes to get one end of the cable cut and the other boat over the side. Then, with the boat half full of men, they discovered that it was filling rapidly.

Jump Back On Deck
"Lots of us jumped back on the ship when the waves would lift us close to the deck," Pvt. Behun said. "But then another lifeboat that had been launched up forward came floating by in the water, so with Biedenach and some others I jumped over into it." Pvt. McMillen jumped from the sinking boat to a raft, which rapidly became crowded. "Once during the night I fell out, but a sailor pulled me back on," the Huston Marine related, "He and I helped each other stay balanced all night. When it got light I counted 22 men on that small raft. Two of them had died during the night. "All of the time the raft rode about a foot under water, with so many men aboard, and the flurries of rain and sleet were almost continuous."

Transfer Boats
Pvt. Pasinski had gotten into the boat that Pvts. Behun and Biedenach later boarded. "There must have been 50 or 60 of us in the boat," he said. "We were so overcrowded that the boat was low in the water, and waves kept washing in and filling up the boat even more." "But," he added, "during the morning another lifeboat came alongside with only 20 men in it, so we caught onto it and about 15 of us jumped over into that one." By 10 a.m. the men from both lifeboats had been picked up by an escort vessel, and about noon the heavily laden raft was picked up.

Martin C. Finn, Private, USMC

"Little Brother, let us pray, That God will grant us meet someday, That I may clasp a Hero's hand, In the great eternal land"

Pvt. Martin C. Finn, U.S.M.C.

I was contacted by Richard Morton about his uncle, Martin C. Finn who was a Marine and was lost on the Mallory on 7 February 1943. I ask him if he could share the story of his uncle with me to add here with the other stories of the Mallory. Martin C. Finn was a private in the Marine Corps and so he would have been bunked down in Hold No. 3 with fellow Marine Privates Alfred Buono, Marvin E. Muehl and Joseph I. McMillen in the general location where the torpedo hit the Mallory. Richard Morton spoke with his mother about her brother Martin C. Finn. This is the letter she provided with a poem written by her other brother Kevin Finn about the loss of thier brother that day in 1943.

My brother Martin Christopher Finn was born and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. In July 1942 at age 17 years old he joined the Marine Corp, determined to become a Marine. He was sent to Parris Island, South Carolina and later on he was stationed in Quantico, Virginia. On February 7, 1943 he was on the USS Henry R. Mallory when that ship was sunk in the North Atlantic. A survivor (of the sinking of the Mallory) of Norwegian Heritage (I never heard his name) told my parents that he asked about my brother and was told that he made it out. He never did make it. The Telegram arrived on March 5, 1943 to say that he is Missing in Action. In February 1944 he was declared dead. I was 11 years old at this time. He was a wonderful brother,always looking out for me. I think about him everyday.

In Loving Memory
His Sister
Mary Finn Morton

Private Finn's brother Kevin J. Finn, wrote this poem in his Memory. It was published in one of the New York newspapers at the time. This copy shown at the right came from the collection of items from Pvt. Buono profiled below.

To My Brother

Little Brother, think of me
From your grave beneath the sea
Pray for us with crosses deep
Strengthen us who mournful weep

Little Brother, let us pray
That God will grant us meet someday
That I may clasp a Hero's hand
In the great eternal land

Little Brother, how I miss
Those bygone days of boyish bliss
I hope you died without much pain
I pray you haven't died in Vain

Pvt. Joseph Alfred Buono, USMCR Service No. 502019

“Nothing else remains except family photos & memories of this brave young hero and an uncle I never knew.”

Pvt. Joseph Alfred Buono, USMCR
30 September 1942- 7 February 1943
August 20, 1943

Dear Miss Buono,

I remember your brother's name, but not his face. You see, when we were aboard ship and were attacked, I was fortunate to be above decks while most of the marines were below sleeping. The way I understood it after all survivors were rescued and told their story, almost all the marines had got out of the hold and into a lifeboat or on a raft. Mrs. Finn's son who was my buddy was below deck. I looked for him after we were hit but couldn't find him in the commotion and panic. I can't furnish any information about your brother except what you already know. I can't help or hinder your hopes but I can say, I pray to God that there is some more marines alive.

Sympathetically Yours
Emil S. Ellefsen

Marine Barracks
Navy No. 101

Joseph Alfred Buono, Jr. was born on September 30, 1924 in Westerly, Rhode Island. His parents were Mary and Joseph Buono, Sr.

Joseph Jr. was the first child born to Mary and Joseph Sr. and they would also have a daughter named Esther. Joseph Sr. was born in Italy and became a naturalized citizen in 1920. In April of 1930 the Buono family lived in Brooklyn, New York in a rented home located at 22 Union Street. The Monthly rent Joseph, Sr. paid was thirty-dollars and as noted on the Federal Census the family did not have a radio set in the home, so luxuries at the time were kept to only the basics. Joseph, Sr. worked as a baker in a bread making plant. His wife Mary worked as a packer in a tin factory.

Family remembrances recalled by Frank L. Punturieri, Joseph Alfred Buono’s nephew tell that he was an average boy, athletic and a good basketball player. Joseph Jr. was also a hard worker and in 1942, he worked down at the docks in New York and was working on the ship the SS Normandie, while being converted to a troopship during World War II, the Normandie caught fire, capsized, and sank. Joseph was nearly killed in the disaster.

Joseph wanted to join the Marines when he was 17 but his parents would not sign the papers to allow him to join. However, he turned 18 in September 1942 and he enlisted into the Marine Corps on November 13, 1942 in New York and was sent to Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, South Carolina to boot camp. Right from boot camp he was shipped off on the USS Henry R. Mallory destination Marine Detachment, Naval Operation Base Reykjavik, Iceland for training for the Normandy invasion.

When Joseph left in November 1943 for training he never returned home again except for some letters he sent home, that are now treasured by his family; his belongings shipped home from boot camp when they shipped out and a Purple Heart Award post-mortem. 

When the Mallory was sunk his body was never retrieved and was reported missing. His family was notified and as per law was classified as officially presumed dead, 8 February 1944, one year and a day after the sinking of the Mallory. Pvt. Buono has been memorialized at the Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England, which is his only grave marker being lost at sea.

Frank Punturieri, the son of Esther (Buono) Punturieri, Joseph’s sister relates of his uncle, “Nothing else remains except family photos and memories of this brave young hero and an uncle I never knew.”

Pvt. Buono sister had written to another of her brothers fellow Marines inquiring about the events of his death. She was answered by Pvt. Emil S. Ellefsen who was on board the Mallory with Bono and also was a buddy to Pvt. Martin C. Finn, who's story appears above. Buono and Finn were also good friends as in Buono's personel effects was a photo of Martin Finn taken at Paris Island. Below is the transcribbed letter from Ellefsen written on August 20, 1943 while Ellefsen was stationed in the Marine Barracks, Reykjavik, Iceland. The notation he made at the bottom of the letter "Navy No. 101" was the navy designation for the post office in Reykjavik, Iceland.

Certificate issued to the family of Pvt. Buono from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, one year and a day after the sinking of the Mallory.
Pvt. Buono on the training course at Paris Island.
This photo was in the possession of Pvt. Buono's personal effects from Paris Island. It is believed to be Pvt. Martin C. Finn.
Pvt. Buono on the training course at Paris Island.
The Purple Heart issued to the family of Pvt. Buono
The reverse side of the Purple Heart
WWII Victory Medal issued to the family of Pvt. Buono
Reverse side of the WWII Victory Medal

Emil S. Ellefsen, USMC, Mallory Surivor

"...I can't help or hinder your hopes but I can say, I pray to God that there is some more marines alive."

Emil S. Ellefsen is known to be a survivor of the sinking of the Mallory on February 7, 1943 as he was contacted by the sister of fellow marine, Pvt. Joseph Buono asking for information on the death of her brother, Joseph Buono. On August 20, 1943 while Ellefsen was stationed at Marine Barracks, Reykjavik, Iceland. Ellefsen wrote to Joseph Buono's sister and told her what he knew of the death of her brother. This letter is still among the treasured possessions of the family of Pvt. Buono. In the letter he also makes reference to Mrs. Finn's son, which would be another fellow marine named Pvt. Martin C. Finn, who was killed along with Buono that morning on February 7th. Ellefsen also wrote a letter to the family of Pvt. Martin Finn but this letter has not survived to this day. It is assumed that Emil Ellefsen's rank was that of a Private.

Emil was born on Spetember 11, 1924 in New York to Emil Sr., and Anna Ellefsen. The elder ellefsen's were of Norwegian heritage. Emil Sr. worked as a Policeman possibly for an express agency and Anna was a telephone operator. In 1930 when young Emil jr., was five-years old the family lived in Brooklyn, New York. The only other fact known of Emil Ellefsen, a surivor of the sinking of the Mallory is that he passed away in October of 1974.

Ralph C. Welliver, USMC, Survivor of the Sinking

Among the marines on board the Mallory was a young 23-year old by the name of Ralph Carman Welliver, Jr. He was born on 21 May 1921 in New Jersey to Ralph C. Welliver, Sr. and Charlotte M. Welliver.

Ralph Welliver, Jr. can trace his roots back to his grandfather Elmer W. Welliver who was born in March of 1872 in Pennsylvania, and his grandmother Jessie who was born in January of 1874 also in Pennsylvania. Elmer was a laborer in a railroad car shop located in Columbia County, Pennsylvania. Elmer and Jessie’s first child was a son named Ralph Carman Welliver born on April 24th of 1899. Ralph would one day marry and have a family and his wife’s name was Charlotte. She was born about 1895 in Germany and together she and Ralph would start a family of their own. Their first child was born on 21 May 1921 and they named him Ralph Carman Welliver, Jr. At the time the family lived in Trenton, New Jersey where Ralph Sr. worked as Postal Clerk and Charlotte was working as a stenographer.

Prior to WWII Ralph Jr. was working as an actor in the New York area. But as American men were joining the armed services of the United States due to America’s entry into WWII, so would Ralph Jr. join the armed forces. Ralph C. Welliver, Jr. enlisted into the United States Marine Corps and when ordered for overseas duty he found himself sailing the waters of the Atlantic bound for Iceland with the rest of the marines on board the troopship USS Henry R. Mallory.

The torpedo struck the Mallory at the worst possible place for the marines. It was the hold that they were quartered in and most of the marines were killed or sustained severe injuries that dark cold morning of February 7, 1943. According to Ralph Jr.’s son Peter Welliver, Ralph did not talk much of the events of the sinking of the Mallory, likely as it held too many bad memories. So we will never know for sure what Ralph was doing that morning or how he was saved. But the fact is that Ralph got off the ship and was lucky enough to get to a lifeboat and was rescued by the USCGC Bibb. Ralph did sustain injuries from the sinking but he recovered from them.

After the war and Ralph was discharged from the Marine Corps and moved back to the New Jersey area where he met his wife during the 1950’s. She was from Sweden and they later moved to Sweden where they would life for the rest of their lives. Ralph Carman Welliver, Jr. passed away on September 25, 2002 and was a US Citizen until his death. This was known as the United States Consulate Office in Stockholm, Sweden recorded his death.

Chester S. Penko, USMC Survivor of the Sinking

One of the few Marines who survived the sinking of the USS Henry R. Mallory on February 7, 1943 was Chester S. Penko. His roots begin in the Anthracite Coal producing hills of Luzerne County, Pennsylvania. Born on April 26, 1922 likely in or near the Pennsylvania towns of Plymouth and Hunlock Creek nestled along the Susquehanna River, Chester was the son of Michael and Francis Penko. His father Michael Penko was born in Russia and had come to America in 1910 and worked as a coal Miner in the many coalmines in Luzerne County. It was in Luzerne County in 1919 that the great Baltimore Colliery explosion occurred and killed 92 miners. The Penko family would be a coal mining family for many years.

Chester's mother was Francis Penko and she was born in Poland and had come to America about 1911. She had been married previously as her former married name was Prusiewicz and she had 3 sons by that first marriage. They were Charles, Stanley and Bernard. Charles being the eldest and he was born in Poland and came over with his mother Francis. Stanley and Bernard were born in Pennsylvania.

Then when Michael and Francis married they had 4 sons, Lenord, Chester, Edmund and Henley. In April of 1930 the Penko family lived the Hunlock Creek Road between the towns of Hunlock Creek and Plymouth, Pennsylvania. Both were snuggled along side of the wandering Susquehanna River just south west of Wilkes-Barre. The home the family lived in was owned by the Penko's and valued at $3,600. Michael the father, his stepson Charles who was 22-years old at the time and three boarders, Eward, Anthony and Peter Konieczko all worked in the coalmines.

When Chester S. Penko turned 18-years of age he may have felt that he did not want to spend the rest of his life working the coal mines of Luzerne, County and turned his thoughts to a life in the United States Marine Corps. We will never know how he thought of this as it was before the events of Pearl Harbor and it may have been a Marine Recruiter who got Chester to join the Corps but for whatever reason he did he was on July 24, 1940 at the Recruiting Station located in the Customs House in Philadelphia. That same month Recruit Penko was taken to Parris Island, South Carolina where his journey to becoming a marine began. He spent from July through September 1940 there before being sent as a Private to the Guard Company, Marine Barracks at Quantico, Virginia. Private Penko would serve there until Christmas time of 1940. He took leave from December 19-26 and likely went back to Luzerne County to see the family.

His likely path after December 1940 was back to Quantico and then just before the end of the year of 1942 he would have been at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in a Marine Detachment being formed up to be sent to Iceland. In the last week of January 1943 Private Chester Penko would have walked up the gangway to the deck of the transport USS Henry R. Mallory bound for Iceland. As his boots touched the deck of the Mallory he could not have known what would befall him in the coming days. I'm sure he felt that the Mallory was a good sturdy ship and would deliver him and his fellow marines to their intended destination. But the fact of the matter was that he would not make it to Iceland, or at least he would not make it there aboard the Mallory. The Marines were bunked down in Hold No. 3 of the Mallory. Fate would deal the marines a horrible blow because Hold No. 3 was the site of the German torpedo impact that would send the Mallory and many of his fellow Marines to death. Only a few of the Marines would survive the sinking and Private Penko somehow was among the living and the end of the day on February 7 of 1943.

It is not known if Penko was injured in any way from the sinking and he would have been picked up out of the icy angry waters of the Atlantic by the Coast Guard Cutter Bibb with many of the men from the Mallory. After nearly a week at sea on the Bibb, Captain Raney landed the men from the Mallory back to solid ground on Iceland. They had made it to Iceland; just not in the way they ever intended to get there. Private Penko may have had thoughts at that time that life in the coalmines was not so bad after all.

Penko's travels after being landed on Iceland after the rescue are not known but he did survive the rest of the war and eventually returned to his civilian life. When he was discharged from the Marine Corps his rating was Staff Sergeant. It is known that in 1947 Chester Penko was living at 137 Rugby Street in Providence, Rhode Island, which was a few blocks just off from Providence Harbor. It is likely that he was not married at that time as in the 1947 Providence City Directory only his name is listed.

At some point in his life Chester S. Penko married as from information from his gravestone is his wife's name, "Maria K. Penko Born July 22, 1919, Death March 6, 1999, Wife of Chester S. Penko." Chester Penko passed away on August 6, 1972 and was buried in Section 1C, Row 9, Site 1 in Arlington National Cemetery. On his stone it states  "SSGT US Marine Corps" He and his wife lay resting peacefully next to each other there in Arlington.

Corporal Henry F. "Pop" Filippone, Survivor

Henry F. Filippone was another of the Marine Survivors from Hold No. 3 on the USS Henry R. Mallory as she slipped from the surface of the cold dark Atlantic on February 7, 1943. To the men in his Marine Detachment he was known as “Pop” due to the fact that he was some eight or so years older than the rest of the marines.

Henry F. Filippone was the son of Enrico and Francesca (Guarino) Filippone. Henry’s father Enrico was born in the area of San Marino, Italy on January 25, 1887. He had come to America in about 1902 and settled in Boston, Massachusetts. Enrico was known as Henry Carmino Filippone while he lived in the United States. Henry Carmino did not receive his Naturalization certificate until September 28, 1931 and at that time he lived at 187 Bennington Street in East Boston.

Henry Carmino Filippone met Francesca Guarino who was born in Boston about 1890, and fell in love where they married about 1909. Henry Carmino was a shoemaker by trade and likely learned it in Italy. During WWI at the age of 30-years, he registered for the Federal Draft and was then working as a shoemaker for the Thomas & Groker Shoe Company in Roxbury Crossing. He was married and had 2 children at that time.

Henry Carmino and Francesca had their first child a son named Andrew who was born about 1914 in Boston. Another son followed this, on September 11, 1915 when Henry F. Filippone was born. The family lived in 1930 in a rented apartment house at 253 Bennington Street that was owned by R. Scarpa and his wife Rose, both of whom were from Italy. Henry Carmino was still working as a shoemaker and his wife Francesca was working as a shipper in a candy factory. The eldest son Andrew was also working and may have been working in the same candy factory as his mother Francesca.

Henry F. grew up a typical “Boston Kid” and on December 7, 1941 like many other “Boston Kids” heard the call of duty and joined the military. Henry F. joined the United States Marine Corps and was sent to Paris Island for training. In late December 1942 Henry “Pop” Filippone who was by then a Corporal was sent to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where a Detachment was forming for duty in Iceland. Corporal Filippone went aboard the USS Henry R. Mallory an event that would change his life forever in just a few days time.

Henry “Pop” Filippone later in life was not very talkative about the events of the sinking of the Mallory but one of his sons Ed does recall his father telling this story. On the evening of February 6, the evening of the sinking, “Pop” was down by the galley of the Mallory and noticed a fresh baked blueberry pie one of the cooks had set out to cool. When “Pop” enquired about the possibility of getting a piece the cook informed him that the pie was destined for the officers and was off limits. “Pop” was not going to get a piece of pie that evening and tried to put it out of his mind. Later that evening the image of the pie was getting to “Pop” and early in the morning he dressed and started up from Hold No. 3 where the marines were berthed to the Galley to see about that pie. As “Pop” was climbing up a ladder the German Torpedo slammed into the side of the Mallory mortally wounding her and killing many of his fellow marines at the same time.

“Pop” made his way to one of the crate type rafts somehow in the confusion and got off the quickly sinking Mallory. As it turned out the same cook that told “Pop” the Blueberry pie was off limits was also on the same crate type raft as “Pop” and he could not decide if he should punch the cook or thank him for saving his life. If it were not for the image of the pie “Pop” would have still been in his skivvies in his bunk sleeping in Hold No. 3 and likely killed.

After a few hours, the heroic efforts of the Captain and crew of the Coast Guard Combat Cutter Bibb rescued “Pop” and the cook from the sea. Captain Raney had defied a direct order and put the Bibb in harms way to rescue the men from the Mallory. Safe aboard the Bibb they spent another week at sea chasing German U-boats before they were landed on Iceland. After a few months the survivors from the Mallory were sent separate ways and Corporal Henry “Pop” Filippone was sent to the Pacific where he finished out the remainder of the war. The only story the family remembers about “Pop’s” experiences on the island hopping campaigns was that he found the cannibalized remains of some Japanese soldiers in a cave once.

After the war ended “Pop” Filippone, who had survived a sinking and the bloody island war in the Pacific returned to his home in the Boston area. He would marry a woman named Rita and together they would raise 5 children. Ironically Henry Filippone made a living working as a cook at the Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts. “Pop” could finally get that piece of Blueberry pie anytime he wanted. One of Henry’s sons Lenny remembers that his father's Italian Sauce was great. Henry also worked at a local newspaper and bar tended before finally retiring in the 1980’s.

At the end of his life Henry F. Filippone lived in Peabody, Massachusetts and passed away on April 12, 1995.

Private First Class Henry F. Filippone, taken shortly before sailing on the USS Henry R. Mallory Another undated photo of Filippone likely taken after basic training as he is shown as a Private because he has no Private First Class stripe in his shoulder.

Private Nicolas J. Yannuzzi, USMC Survivor

Nicholas J. Yannuzzi was one of the Marines aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory who survived the sinking on February 7, 1943. Nicholas J. Yannuzzi Service No. 440768 entered the Marine Corps at Paris Island, South Carolina on August 20, 1942 where he took his basic training. By early October 1942 Recruit Yannuzzi was serving in the 5th Separate Recruit Battalion, Fleet Marine Force at the Marine Barracks in New River, North Carolina. On October 12 Pvt. Yannuzzi was transferred to the Guard Company, Marine Barracks, New York Navy Yard. While at the New York Navy Yard Pvt. Yannuzzi’s unit was assigned to duty on Iceland and was awaiting transportation there.

The ship that would transport the Marines to Iceland was the SS Henry R. Mallory, a veteran of the First World War, and she seemed to be a seaworthy ship and likely gave no cause to anyone that this voyage would end in her sinking and a great many lives lost, when the boots of Pvt. Yannuzzi set foot on the Mallory’s deck.

The morning of the torpedo attack Pvt. Yannuzzi was likely asleep in his bunk in Hold No. 3 of the Mallory. This was the location that the German torpedo hit and killed many of the Marines who were in that hold. From the experiences of other survivors, we can assume that if Yannuzzi was in his bunk he was likely thrown out and dazed by the explosion and leaking ammonia from the refrigeration lines. Somehow in the twisted debris and the darkness Yannuzzi and his fellow Marine survivors found their way top side to find the weather about as angry as they were. In the end Pvt. Yannuzzi was among the men picked up by the Cutter Bibb and after another week at sea was finally in Iceland.

Once in Iceland the surviving Marines were all assigned to duty at the various military installations on the Island. Pvt. Yannuzzi was assigned to duty at Camp Knox, likely on guard duty. Camp Knox was the Naval Operating Base on Iceland. Pvt. Yannuzzi would serve at the Naval Operating base on Iceland through at least January of 1944 along with several other of the Mallory Marine survivors.

Now advanced to PFC, Yannuzzi was transferred back to the States on February 19, 1944 and took schooling at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, Virginia. He was assigned to Company D, Training Battalion, Marine Corps School, and was there during the summer of 1944. It is not known what the remainder of his service during the remainder of the war was but on November 20, 1945 PFC Nicholas Yannuzzi was Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps.

Nicholas John Yannuzzi was born on July 24, 1924 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to Anna Rita Laffey (b abt. 1905) and Charles Anthony Yannuzzi (1903-1945). Nicholas John or sometimes his middle name was listed as Joseph, took his first name from his grandfather Nicholas Yannuzzi (1879) who was born in Italy and had immigrated to the States about 1895, and had settled in Philadelphia. Nicholas John’s father was Charles Yannuzzi and he was the second son of Nicholas (1879) and Josephine (1879) and was the first Yannuzzi to be born in the United States.

By 1930 Charles Yannuzzi was married and he and Anna his wife was living in Philadelphia where Charles worked as an insurance collector. They had 6 children, Ellen, Nicholas, Marie, Josephine, Anna, and John. Nicholas grew up in Philadelphia, and by the time he had turned 18-years old America was already in a World War. Like so many other Pennsylvania boys his age he joined the war effort. Once he was discharged from the Marine Corps he returned back to civilian life and his home in Philadelphia. Sometime in 1946 Nicholas Yannuzzi was married in Philadelphia, and her name was Jennie M. Hecker. This marriage did not last very long and it is not known when it ended.

But by 1961 Nicholas Yannuzzi was again married. On February 3, 1961 he was married to Otis Gynel Burton Rainwater (1934-2006), and together they had at least two children. This marriage lasted until April 11, 1969 when Nicholas and Gynel were divorced in Harris County, Texas.

Nicholas would again take a wife on December 20, 1973 when he married Dorothy W. Daffon in Harris County, Texas. Dorothy was 15-year younger than Nicholas. There is not much known about this marriage and they likely were still living together in the Houston area until Nicholas passed away on August 23, 2000.

Today Nicholas John Yannuzzi is buried in the Houston National Cemetery in Section C2, Row B, Site 89.

PFC Paul Cernansky, USMC, Survivor

One of the 19 marines who survived the explosion of the German torpedo on the morning of the February 7 attack on the Mallory was Private First Class Paul Cernansky. PFC Cernansky was one month short of being 18 years old on the morning of February 7, 1943 when the Mallory was mortally wounded.

Many of the marines aboard the Mallory that trip were from the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area and Cernansky was also a Pittsburgh area boy. Paul Cernansky was born on March 9, 1925, and grew up in Glenfield, Pennsylvania, which is located along the Ohio River down river just a bit from Pittsburgh. In the spring of 1940 the Cernansky family lived on Dawson Avenue in Glenfield, which was nearly in the shadows of the bridge across the Ohio River, which is now Interstate 79. In the Cernansky home that was within eyesight of the Ohio River lived Paul’s 52-year old widowed mother Barbara with 6 children; Charles, Elizabeth, Peter, Paul, Ellen, and Eli.

In October of 1941, two months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Paul Cernansky joined the Marine Corps. At the time he would have been 6-months shy of his seventeenth birthday. So it seems that he must have fudged his birthday just a bit or he did get permission from his mother to join the Corps. But on October 29, 1941 Recruit Cernansky was in the First Recruit Battalion, Recruit Depot, Marine Barracks, Paris Island, SC under the command of Major Peter Conachy, USMC. Once boot camp was finished Private Cernansky was placed into a Military Police Company. In October of 1942 he was with the First Guard Company at Quantico, Virginia.

He was assigned to duty overseas and his unit was sent to New York where they boarded the Henry R. Mallory in late January 1943. After the sinking of the Mallory Cernansky ended up on Iceland along with the rest f the survivors of the Mallory. Cernansky was assigned to Camp Knox, which was the Naval Operating Base on Iceland. This assignment lasted until at least through the first few months in 1944. He was then sent State side and was at Quantico, Virginia with Company D, Training Battalion by at least the spring of 1944. He remained there until April 24, 1945 when he was sent to Camp LeJeune, NC. On October 24, 1944 he was awarded the Good Conduct Medal. Cernansky was advanced to Corporal while at Camp LeJeune.

On January 2, 1946 at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center Corporal Paul Cernansky 326154 was Honorably Discharged from the Marine Corps.

Paul Cernansky returned to civilian life married and raised a family in Florida. His wife’s first name was Eileen and they had one son named Paul, Jr.

Paul Cernansky who survived the sinking of the Mallory in 1943 passed away on June 4, 2011 in Venice, Florida. His Mass of Christian Burial was held at the Epiphany Cathedral. His wife Eileen, son Paul of Venice, Florida, a sister Ellen Spontak of Burgettstown, Pennsylvania, and three grandchildren survived him.

Private James R. Jennings III, Killed in Action February 7, 1943

Private James R. Jennings III, USMC KIA February 7, 1943

James Robert Jennings III, Private, Service Number 363944, United States Marine Corps. Killed in Action during the sinking of the SS Henry R. Mallory, February 7, 1943. His body was not recovered. Hometown: Tennessee. He was Posthumously awarded the Purple Heart Medal, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal; World War II Victory Medal, and his name is engraved on a stone tablet in the American Cemetery at Cambridge, England.

James Robert Jennings III was born 27 October 1914 in Chattanooga, Hamilton County, Tennessee, to James Robert Jr. and Nell E. Jennings. It is believed that the father was deceased by the time James III enlisted in the Marine Corps as his mother is the only listed parent in his file. Sometime in 1943, she moved to Spartanburg, South Carolina, where she later married a Mr. Allen (first name unknown). James III had the following siblings: Billy and Donald E.

James enlisted into the United States Marine Corps on March 24, 1942 at Nashville, Tennessee, for the duration of the National Emergency and was assigned to active duty the same day. After completing boot camp at Parris Island, North Carolina, he transferred to Quantico, Virginia, on March 26, 1942, and was sent to New York City January18, 1943. Private Jennings embarked to Iceland aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory on January 23, 1943.

Private Harry Eugene Gehret, USMC KIA

On April 28, 1950 in a Pennsylvania State government office a clerk stamps a control number of 80337 onto a document for an application for WWII death compensation. Harry F. and Clara L. Gehret are making this application on behalf of their son, Harry Eugene Gehret who was Killed in Action on February 7, 1943 while serving with the United States Marine Corps. The full amount of compensation for the life of Private Harry Eugene Gehret, Service number 376443 was for $500. Little compensation for the life of their son who had given his life in service of his country, but Pvt. Gehret was not just a claim number on a State Government form, he had a life and a story.

Harry Eugene Gehret was from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and was the son of Harry Franklin and Clara L. (Shough) Gehret.

Harry Eugene’s story begins with his father Harry Franklin, who was born on March 29, 1890 in Pennsylvania. Harry Franklin was a patriotic man and previous to the First World War had served for 3-years in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Previous to the war Harry Franklin had worked for the Remington Arms Company as a machinist, and did enlist into the Army during the First World War where he served in the Ordnance Department at the Frankford Arsenal in Philadelphia. After the war Harry Franklin met and married Clara L. Shough about 1921.

Harry Franklin and Clara started their family on November 20, 1922 with the birth of their first child, a son named Harry Eugene, the subject of this narrative. At the time Harry Franklin worked as a streetcar conductor for the city of Philadelphia. About 1926 a second son named Melvin W. was born, and then a third son named Lewis A. was born in 1928. The Gehret family made their home at 2125 South 71st Street in Philadelphia.

The three Gehret boys grew up in Philadelphia, and as America was now in a second war Harry Eugene at the age of nineteen enlisted into the United States Marine Corps. Likely from the patriotic example of his father Harry Franklin. On February 23, 1942 at Philadelphia 19-year old Harry Eugene Gehret became a Marine. He likely took basic training at Paris Island, South Carolina, and after Basic was assigned his first duty station, which was to be at the Naval Operating Base at Reykjavik, Iceland.

In December of 1942 the now 20-year old Pvt. Gehret was in Boston loading on his ship that would take him and his fellow Marines to Iceland. The ship he was boarding for the trip was the SS Henry R. Mallory a veteran of many wartime crossings during WWI and had already made several wartime voyages in this present war. We will really never know what Pvt. Gehret’s thoughts were as he set foot upon the deck of the Henry R. Mallory in Boston but once his boots touched the deck that day his life and the life of the ship he was standing on were forever linked together, he could not have known what lay before him at that moment.

The Mallory steamed to New York where they had to stay aboard for an entire week before sailing again to meet up with the other ships in Convoy SC-118. The date was January 23, 1943, and Private Harry E. Gehret had 16-days left of his life as the Mallory steamed out into the Atlantic Ocean never to return again.

Sixteen days later at about 4 o’clock in the morning on February 7 a German torpedo tears into hold No. 3 where the Marines and Private Gehret are berthed. The Marines take heavy casualties and only 19 of the Marines would make it off the Mallory alive. Tragically Pvt. Gehret would not be one of the 19 Marines. The exact details of how Pvt. Gehret died will never be known and it is very likely he was killed in his bunk by the explosion of the torpedo.

Private Gehret’s body was not recovered and today the only remembrance of his life is his name inscribed on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Cemetery in Cambridge, England. Private Harry Eugene Gehret, 376443 USMC was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and his date of death by law is listed as February 8, 1944, one year and a day from the date he was last seen alive.

The end of Pvt. Harry E. Gehret’s story ends on September 5, 1950 when another Pennsylvania State clerk stamps the approval date “Sep 5 1950” on the WWII Compensation form. Harry Franklin and Clara Gehret received a Government check in the amount of $500 for the life of their eldest son, a small compensation for a life that could have been many wonderful things. Private Harry E. Gehret, USMC stands today on eternal guard duty, Semper fi.

Pvt. Roscue Harrison Albaugh, USMC Service No. 487405, KIA

In the early morning hours of February 7, 1943 as the German torpedo exploded into Hold No. 3 of the Mallory the Marines who were berthed in that compartment took heavy casualties, and in fact only 19 Marines would make it off the ship alive that day. Private Roscoe Harrison Albaugh would not be one of the 19 Marines that day.

Roscoe Albaugh was a young 18-year old Marine who would have turned 19 the next month if he had survived the sinking. He was born on March 13, 1924 in Akron, Ohio to Roscoe (1892-1969) and Mary Grace Harrison Albaugh (1893).

Roscoe took his middle name of Harrison from his mother’s maiden name, and on his father’s side of the family he can trace the Albaugh name back to his Great-Great Grandfather Zachariah Ahlbach who was born in Germany in 1698 and was the first of the family to come to America. Sometime along the way the German name of Ahlbach was Americanized to Albaugh.

Roscoe Harrison’s father was born in 1892 in Ohio and did serve in the military during WWI. After the war he and Mary Grace were married about 1921, and they would together have one child the son they named Roscoe Harrison. The elder Roscoe worked as a custodian for the Akron schools to support his family and paying the $60 per month rent for the home located at 252 Fountain Street in Akron. Today the home does not exist and has been taken out because of Interstate 77 running through the neighborhood.

It’s not known how Roscoe Harrison entered the United States Marine Corps, but it may have been due to the example his father set by serving his country during WWI. But what is known is that in January 1943 Pvt. Roscoe H. Albaugh was a member Barracks Detachment, Marine Base, Navy Yard, New York awaiting transportation to his new duty station at the Naval Operating Base on Iceland as part of the Marine Detachment.

When Pvt. Albaugh boots touch the deck of the SS Henry R. Mallory he could not know that within a few days his life would end in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. He would never see his family again and his mother would never be able to hold her son in her arms. The end for Private Albaugh will never be known but it can be surmised that he was killed instantly during the explosion of the torpedo. His body was never recovered and today his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing in the American Cemetery in Cambridge, England. He was awarded posthumously the Purple Heart. His official date of death is February 8, 1944 which is a day and a year after his presumed death. This was done during wartime so that if he was taken prisoner his name would have appeared on a prisoner of war lists by then.

There is one final chapter to the story of Pvt. Albaugh to be told. In the Memphis National Cemetery in Memphis, TN there is a white marble military stone placed in his memory located at Plot MA 10. In this area of the cemetery there is a bronze plaque that reads: “The marker in this memorial area honor Veterans whose remains have not been recovered or identified, were buried at sea, donated to science or cremated and the ashes scattered.”

Today Private Roscoe Harrison Albaugh, USMC remains on Eternal Guard Duty.

Pvt. Boyd W. Heckathorn, USMC, KIA

One of the thirty Marines who were Killed In Action aboard the SS Henry R. Mallory when she sank on February 7 of 1943, was a 21-year old Marine by the name of Boyd Wiseley Heckathorn. His body was never recovered and his parents would never have a final resting place for their son.

The Marines were bunked in the very hold where the German torpedo made its deadly impact and they suffered very heavy losses that morning. Being that Private Heckathorn’s body was never recovered, and there seems to be no eye witnesses that have seen him after the first explosion we can conclude that he was killed in his bunk as he was sleeping.

Boyd W. Heckathorn was born on June 21, 1921 in Ohio to Frances Wiseley and Delvinna Emmerson Heckathorn. Boyd’s father was known as “Del” and was a farmer who worked a farm in Biglick Township in Hancock County, Ohio. Boyd was the youngest child of Del and Frances, and was their only son. Boyd’s middle name Wiseley, was his mother’s maiden name. During the depression years Boyd’s grandmother, Elizabeth Wiseley lived on the farm in Hancock County with the family.

By 1935 the Heckathorn family had moved to a new farm in Eagle Township still in Hancock County, Ohio. But by then Boyd, who was then 18-years old, was running the farm and his three older sisters had moved away, and his father Del was now working at a tile foundry. Only Del and his wife and Boyd were living on the farm in Eagle Township.

By the time America entered into the Second World War Boyd felt the calling to serve his Country. His father Del before WWI had served as a Corporal in the Coast Artillery Corps for 3-years in the New York Coast Defenses. Del may have passed on his patriotic feelings to his son Boyd, and it was on November 7, 1942 that Boyd enlisted into the United States Marine Corps Reserves as a volunteer. Private Heckathorn took his basic training at the Marine Barracks, Paris Island, South Carolina.

Once basic training was complete Pvt. Heckathorn was assigned to duty, and was transferred from the 12th Recruit Battalion on January 8, 1943 to the Marine Barracks, New York Navy Yard where he awaited transportation to his duty station, which was to be on the island of Iceland. While serving in the Marine Corps Pvt. Heckathorn had a nickname of “Buzz”.

When the boots of Pvt. Heckathorn and the boots of his fellow Marines stood on the deck of the SS Henry R. Mallory each one of them would be forever linked to February 7, 1943. For that was the day fate decided who would perish and who would live. Pvt. Heckathorn was killed and his parents had lost their only son. Pvt. Heckathorn was awarded posthumously the Purple Heart Medal.

The Marine Corps listed his name on the Missing In Action list for the next year until February 8, 1944 when he was officially declared dead. Back home this was little consolation to his family as they had no body to burry and no grave to mourn at. Today the only remembrances of Pvt. Heckathorn are in Cambridge, England where his name appears on the Tablets of the Missing at the American Cemetery. And there is a second place of honor for Private Heckathorn, an upright marble headstone placed at the request of his mother Frances in Arlington National Cemetery. It was on July 20, 1960, nearly17-years after his death that his mother Frances filled out an application to have a headstone place in honor of her son in Arlington National Cemetery. On February 9, 1961 the Vermont Marble Company, 18-years and two-days after his death, delivered Pvt. Heckathorn’s marble headstone. Now at least the family could put to rest the memory of their son who gave his life serving his country.

PFC Robert James Smallwood, one of the 21 Marines who Survived

One of the few Marines who survived the sinking of the SS Henry R. Mallory on February 7, 1943 was PFC Robert James Smallwood Service No. 308836. The exact circumstances of how Smallwood got off the Mallory and rescued are not known, as no other survivor story mentions Smallwood, and his personal story of the sinking was never told or recorded.

Robert James Smallwood was born on June 26, 1921 in Morgantown, West Virginia. He was the first-born child of Thelma Arbargast, and James Franklin Smallwood. In the 1920’s the Smallwood family must have lived in the Morgantown, WV, and northern Virginia areas as Robert was born in Morgantown and his two sisters Kathleen and Lindy were born in Virginia. During this time, James Franklin was working as an electrician in an automobile factory to support his family. But by 1930, the Smallwood family had moved to Detroit, Michigan, most likely in search of work as James was now working for an aircraft maintenance company in Detroit.

When Robert James Smallwood was 18-years old he was on his own working for the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC). In April 1930 Smallwood was working as a kitchen helper at Camp F-33 in Duncan Township in Houghton County, Michigan. He may have worked with the CCC throughout much of the Depression years.

By the spring of 1941 Robert felt he needed a change and that change came on April 24 of 1941 when he enlisted into the United States Marine Corps at a recruiting office in Detroit, Michigan. Recruit Smallwood was then send to Paris Island, South Carolina and was stationed with the 2nd Recruit Battalion for his basic training. On July 1 Smallwood was transferred to the Marine Barracks at Quantico, Virginia with Company B at the training center. July 21-31 Pvt. Smallwood was under instruction at the Motor Vehicle Operators School there. By October 1941 Smallwood, now a Private First Class, was qualified Mechanic and was assigned to the Post Service Battalion, Transport Detachment at the Marine Barracks, Quantico, VA.

In January of 1942 PFC Smallwood was sick for a time and was in the Naval Hospital at Quantico. Once released from the hospital he returned to his duty with the Post Service Battalion, Transportation Detachment, as a motor vehicle operator. This duty continued through January 13, 1943 when he was reassigned. Ordered to a Casual Company PFC Smallwood along with fellow Marines Marvin E. Muehl, Lawrence W. Famularo, Martin C. Finn, and Joseph I. McMillen all had orders to take transportation to the Naval Operating Base (NOB), Iceland for duty there. They were to go to the Marine Barracks at the New York Navy Yard and await transportation to NOB Iceland.

The Marines gathering for duty at NOB Iceland were to board the SS Henry R. Mallory. As Smallwood and the four other Marines, Muehl, Famularo, Finn, and McMillen, who came from Quantico with him, only three of them, Smallwood, Muehl, and McMillen, would survive the trip. As the Marine detachment boarded the Mallory, as she was tied to the dock in New York, each Marine had but two fates before them. One was survival and one was death, but none knew what lot he had drawn when his boots hit the deck of the Mallory. On the morning of February 7, 1943 was when each Marine would find out what lot he had been given.

Some way, somehow, PFC Smallwood had drawn a survival lot that morning. The torpedo hit the hold where the Marines were berthed and many of the Marines died in their bunks in that hold. So, possibly Smallwood was not in his bunk and may have been awake at the moment the torpedo tore into the side of the Mallory. In several of the survivor stories there were reports of Marines who were wounded and this may have been the case with Smallwood because after the rescue he was sent back to the States for medical care.

By the end of the day on February 7, Smallwood found himself on the deck of the Coast Gard Combat Cutter Bibb, feeling about as safe as one could feel under the circumstances. Gone was more than half of the Marine detachment that had boarded the Mallory. Aboard the Bibb there may not have been any time for Smallwood or his fellow survivors to think about those who had been lost, or how really lucky he and his fellow survivors really were. For the next week, the Bibb chased after U-boats and then made way to Iceland to off load her survivors to dry ground.

If Smallwood was injured in the sinking he likely received medical care in Iceland but was needing additional care and so on March 23, 1943 he boarded the USAT Chateau Thierry for transportation back to the States. On April 5, the Chateau Thierry arrived in Boston, and Smallwood was in the Naval Hospital in Chelsea, MA for 10-days until he was transferred to the Naval Hospital at Bethesda, Maryland about April 21, 1943.

Smallwood would remain in the Marine Corps until his discharge on March 13, 1945. Once he was honorably discharged from the Marine Corps Smallwood went back to Detroit, Michigan where he was going to school under the G. I. Bill. Within two years of leaving the Marine Corps, Robert Smallwood met a young Cadet Nurse who was at the time going to nursing school at the Evangelical Deaconess School of Nursing Hospital in Detroit. The young nurse was Laurel Brudi from Battle Creek, Michigan. Laurel would graduate from nursing school on September 9, 1946, and on March 22, 1947 Laurel Brudi and Robert Smallwood were married. The marriage took place in Angola, Indiana, where Laurel and Robert were married by Pastor R. E. Gillette of the Church of the Nazarene.

After they were married Laurel and Robert may have moved to Battle Creek, Michigan near where Laurel’s parents Karl and Gertrude Brudi lived. The first child born to Laurel and Robert was a son they named Robert James Jr., and was born on October 10, 1948 in Battle Creek.

By the time the second child, a daughter named Sylvia, who was born on July 20, 1951, the Smallwood family had moved to Detroit. While living in Detroit Laurel gave birth to a third child a son named Mark Alan on July 26, 1953. Another son named David Paul on August 20, 1955, which was followed by a daughter named Sharon and lastly a son named John.

After raising their family Laurel and Robert would move away from Detroit and moved west to Castle Rock, Washington, which was where Robert’s father James Smallwood was living. In 1978 James would pass away and Laurel and Robert would continue on living in Castle Rock, WA. In 1997 Laurel and Robert suffered a loss when their daughter Sylvia passed away at the age of 46-years.

On September 28 of 1999 Robert James Smallwood passed away in Castle Rock, WA. And as of 2017 Laurel his wife, was still living in Castle Rock.

© 2005-20016 Joe Hartwell. This page was first up-loaded on 2 February 2006 and last modified on: March 29 , 2017