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PENDLETON AND FORT MERCER RESCUE - FEBRUARY 18TH, 1952

The strong Nor'easter that ravaged the Cape Cod coast in February 1952 produced a maelstrom for the Coast Guard in New England.  Stricken mariner's sent out SOS's up and down the coast.  These calls were answered by the brave crews of both Coast Guard Cutters and small boat stations on Cape Cod.  Bernie Webber described it as "a day in which few would remain untouched in one way or another by the events that took place"

The Coast Guard Historian's Office documents the rescues well, and by clicking on the following links you can read more of the heroic efforts during that storm.

Coast Guard Historian Office Pendleton/Ft Mercer Page

Official press release for Medal Ceremony (Scan Courtesy of Sandy Howerton) PDF file

Comments by Vice Admiral Merlin O'Neill, Commandant at the 1952 Medal Ceremony(Scan Courtesy of Sandy Howerton) PDF file

Click on the thumbnail for a larger version

Official Coast Guard Photo (#12) with back caption reading, "A general view of the ceremony in the Treasury Building, Washington, D.C., May 14 at which 21 U.S. Coast Guardsmen were decorated for their participation in the rescue of 70 men from the tankers FORT MERCER and PENDLETON, which broke in two during a violent storm off the Coast of Cape Cod, Mass., February 18, 1952.  Five of the men received the Treasury Department Gold Lifesaving Medal for "extreme and heroic daring;" four received the Silver Lifesaving Medal for "heroic action;" and 15 were cited for "courage, initiative, and unswerving devotion to duty," and authorized to wear the Coast Guard Commendation Ribbon.  Three others who were awarded the latter decoration were unable to be present.  The presentations were made by Under Secretary of the Treasury Edward H. Foley and Vice Admiral Merlin O'Neill, Coast Guard Commandant.

Station Chatham launched two 36' Motor Lifeboats that day.  The CG 36383 was sent to locate the Fort Mercer.  BMC Donald Bangs, EN1 Emory Haynes, BM3 (P) Antonio Ballerini, and SN Richard Ciccone were the crew on board the 36383 that day.  They were diverted later to the bow section of the Pendleton to attempt a rescue of the personnel there.  For their efforts, the crew of the CG 36383 were awarded the Coast Guard Commendation medal, one of the most prestigious awards in the Coast Guard.

The CG 36500 was launched when the bow section of the Pendleton was observed on Radar and the station knew it would not come ashore.  The crew on the 36500 that night was BM1 Bernard Webber, EN2 (P) Andrew Fitzgerald, SN Richard Livesey, and SN Erwin Maske.  The crew of the CG 36500 received Gold Lifesaving Medals for the rescue of 32 people off the stern section of the Pendleton.  Click here to read the citation.

The Gold Lifesaving Medal was awarded to ENS William R. Kiely, Jr. for saving 2 crewmembers from the bow section of the Fort Mercer.  Click here to read the citation.

From Nantucket, the CG36524 was launched to aid the Fort Mercer.  On board were BMC Ralph Ormsby, EN1 John Dunn, BM1 Alfred Roy, and SN Donald Pitts.   Click here to see some historical documents on the CG36524!

The U.S. Coast Guard Lightship Sailor's website has a page dedicated to the February 1952 storm.  Click here to visit that page.

In 2002, the crew of the CG 36500 returned to Chatham to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the rescue. 

Click on the thumbnails below for pictures from the 2002 reunion.

The CG 36500 underway with the original crew.

Bernie Webber at the controls

  The Chatham 44' MLB's escort the CG 36500

  The Gold Medal Crew and Pendleton Survivor Charles Bridges

Artist rendition of a 36 footer underway with Hurrican flags flying.  Photo Reproduction courtesy of Sandy and Pete Howerton.

Another artist rendition of a 36 footer underway with Hurrican flags flying.  Photo Reproduction courtesy of Sandy and Pete Howerton.

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Last Modified 9/19/2013