A Happy 97th birthday to Fred Mann
A Happy 97th birthday to Fred Mann, who joined the Coast Guard in August of 1939 on the eve of World War II. Fred held many positions on board many vessels during his 31 year Cost Guard career. He is best known as one of the Coast Guard’s Silver Star recipients. His Silver Star citation reads as follows:
“For conspicuous gallantry while attached to the USS George Elliott in action against Japanese forces off Guadalcanal August 8, 1942. When a hostile plane was shot down and exploded on board the ship, transforming the ship into a blazing torch, Mann carried a fire hose into the troop ammunition magazine to flood the compartment. Subsequently, despite suffocating smoke and dangerously heated bulkheads he reentered the compartment recovered the hose and continued his efforts. His action prevented the magazine from exploding.”
Fred remembers that terrible day well: “One does funny things when fear and life pop in front of you. I was half way from the beach and the ship when I stopped and observed the airplanes attacking our convoy, especially the Elliott. After the plane hit her amidship and set her on fire, I went alongside and climbed aboard. I went down to my locker and, for some reason, put my billfold in my locker. Why? I don’t know and I didn’t think of it until several days later.”
Fast forward to October 2015, and it was a red, white and blue tribute to Fred on his 97th birthday. How great a day was it? We’ll let Fred tell you!
“I couldn’t have asked for a better day. It was the best day I’ve ever had. Everyone was there. I don’t know how they did it. Two ships came down from Sector Corpus Christi and I don’t know where else. I can’t believe they did that for me.” “I talked to everybody and it was everybody, the whole station. First I talked to the whole group and then small groups.” When Fred was asked if he talked to them about Guadalcanal, he answered, “Of course I did. I wasn’t talking to stupid people!”
“They gave me everything. I got a clock and a shirt and candy. They gave me a framed letter, and I don’t even know what it says yet. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, I’m still so excited.”
“It was the Chief of all the chiefs from Washington, and a chief from Corpus Christi. I had them come to breakfast here (at his retirement community) and we had a good time. I just can’t believe this was all done for me. I’ve never had a birthday party and this was the greatest.”
Fred Mann’s story is just one of the many that will preserved at the National Coast Guard Museum. If you want to join us in “making history together,” please hit the “donate” button below to make a donation.