Jun 8, 2014

Thoughts on the Maloy...

USS Maloy (DE-791)
The recent 70th anniversary of D-Day brought to mind the last ship that I served on, the USS Maloy (DE-791).  She was a Buckley class destroyer escort, the last of her type in commission.  And the Maloy was present on D-Day.  According to a letter written by Maloy sailor Kenneth Surprise to his parents in Lowell, Indiana, "During the initial assault on France, the Maloy carried the flag of Commodore Campbell D. Edgar, USN, Cazenovia, New York, who commanded an important phase of the invasion."  During the months leading up to D-Day, there are extensive archives that describe Maloy's role as a squadron flagship for a PT boat squadron.  I suspect that Commodore Edgar was a PT boat squadron commander, embarked on Maloy as his flagship.  According to Wikipedia, "On D-Day, 6 June 1944, Maloy supported operations off Omaha Beach in this hard-fought assault where naval gunfire support played a decisive role in victory."

Seaman Surprise further wrote, "We got off to a good start on D Day by knocking down a JU88 with our guns," he said, "and since then we've seen plenty of action!"   While on patrol off the Nazi-held Channel Islands, the Maloy came under the fire of heavy shore guns.  Although the German gunners fired 38 rounds at the vessel, she maneuvered too quickly and the heavy shells splashed harmlessly in the sea nearby.  On another action, Surprise said, his ship went in close to one of the islands and again the shore emplacements opened up on her.
"Their first salvo straddled us, showering shrapnel along our starboard side and hitting some depth charges," he related. "It was close enough for me!"

Later the Maloy stood off St. Malo, France, within sight of the bombing and subsequent surrender of Cezambre, a fortified island which held out long after German forces on the mainland gave up.

"That was some show!" Surprise declared.

I reported aboard Maloy nearl 20 years after these events.  There was a plaque in the passageway aft of the officers mess recognizing Maloy for her D-Day service.  It's hard to imagine that she was one of over 5,000 vessels that took part in that portentous event.  I once rode the City of Richmond overnight ferry that was part of the Baltimore Steam Packet Line, running from Baltimore to Norfolk.  That ferry boat had a plaque commemorating her participation on the D-Day armada!  The world will never again witness such a spectacular enterprise.

Yesterday, my Google Alert informed me that a new Web content had been detected in which the term "USS Maloy" was present.  I hope you find the following video as interesting as I did.

Jun 2, 2014

A Saturday Excursion...

Yesterday was the occasion of the 10th Annual Cigar Box Guitar Festival in Huntsville, AL.  It is held at Lowe Mill, a century-old cotton mill that houses the Flying Monkey Arts Center.  Several years ago I built a cigar box guitar and I have a long-standing interest in these unique instruments.

My banjo-building buddy, Clint Rankin, and his wife Sarah, had expressed an interest in the event and we agreed to meet there.  As I stepped out of my truck, I spotted an amazing array of food trucks.

I passed through "Food Truck Alley" and met up with the Rankins near the stage, which is set up on the sheltered loading dock of the old mill.
The stage area on the old loading dock
We listened for a while and then went into the air conditioned mill to dine at the "Happy Tummy."  Then we wandered through the cavernous building which is now a haven for dozens of art galleries, artists, craft shops, and other creative outlets.  We proceeded to the second floor, where there was to be a guitar-building workshop.  The next workshop was scheduled for 4:00 PM and it was only 2:00.  We continued to wander.  The sights were quite varied.

One of the big surprises for me was the number of vendors selling cigar box guitars.

By about 4:00 PM, it was just plain hot.  The Rankins and I bid adieu and headed home, after a delightful afternoon.