Recollections of a WW II Coast Guardsman
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A series of short stories recollected by Jim Jesson who served in the US Coast Guard in World War II. These are actual events in Coast Guard history with the dates, places, and statistics recalled to the best of Jim’s memory. Identities, names and places may be changed. More
“Take all the ammunition you can carry sailor” my commanding officer ordered as he gave me my first assignment. Rather than being in the North Atlantic hunting German U-boats as I had expected, I was assigned to foot patrol duty on Nantucket Island. I was issued a pistol, flare gun, sub-machine gun, and most importantly a dog named Rinty. As I patrolled the beach, checking the dunes and sea grass which seemed to dance in the moonlight, I recalled an earlier encounter with the Germans. At the time of that earlier encounter, I was a civilian crew member of a tug boat out of Boston Harbor. As best as I can remember, at that meeting our tug boat found itself face to face with a German U-boat in waters off the Massachusetts coast. I clearly recall the German U-boat captain opening the hatch and using something resembling a megaphone, calling to us in broken English and ordering us to cut the line to the “lighter” we were towing. He clearly indicated that we would be sunk if we did not comply. Having no armament, there was no choice, our captain ordered me to cut the line. As we sped off from the encounter, I’ll never forget the chilling sight and sounds of the “lighter” being sunk.
Well, let me get back to my Nantucket story. I did manage to complete that shore duty and eventually got out to sea. Assigned to the Asterion, a “Mystery Q-Ship” which was sent out into the Atlantic to confront the enemy, I was completely unaware of the adventure about to unfold. While helping to keep the ship seaworthy, I only later became aware of a special team of Boston Police Officers training for a sensitive and unpublicized mission. I was honored to be a part of this special mission which would be substantially carried out by these brave and unheralded Police Officers. As they carried out a raid on a Nazi outpost in Greenland, it never crossed my mind that one day I would join their ranks as a police officer. My later career as a police officer, investigator, and security official pretty much had its beginnings at this moment.
I believe that each war veteran has a special share of history which he/she should share with the public in the best way they can. This is what I am attempting to do with this book.
Note: Jim Jesson’s first book, “The Case Book of Detective Jim Jesson” is an eminently readable series of short and interesting stories of Jim’s encounters in his detective and security careers. It’s available both as an e-book and soft cover. He is well on the way to writing another detective series.