Friday, July 09, 2010

Fullbore Friday

A minor ship in a minor action - but for every Sailor lost at sea in combat, all are equal.

Loss of USS Magpie, 1 October 1950

Brief narrative report of loss of USS Magpie while on Minesweeping duty off Chusan Po, Korea. Ship’s forward portion exploded and after section settled by the head when Magpie struck a mine. 12 survivors.
10 October 1950
USS Dixie (AD 14)
From: CARPENTER, Vail P., BMC, 393 08 57 US Navy
To: Secretary of the Navy
(1) Commander Mine Division Fifty-two
(2) Commander United Nations Blockading and Escort Force, Far East
(3) Commander Naval Forces, Far East
(4) Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet
(5) Chief of Naval Operations
Subject: Loss of the USS MAGPIE (AMS25)
Reference: US Navy Regulations 1948, Article 0778
1. As senior survivor of the USS MAGPIE (AMS25), my version of the MAGPIE loss is as follows: At about 1700, minus 9 zone time, 1 October 1950, I was on watch on the fantail, during mine-sweeping operations. The starboard sweep gear and magnetic tail were streamed. Three hundred fathoms of sweep wire was in use. We were in approximate position latitude 36-30 N., longitude 129-30 E., off Chusan Po, Korea, and on a southerly course. Steaming at ten knots. The USS MERGANSER (AMS26) was stationed about five hundred yards astern and to starboard of the MAGPIE. At about this time there was a tremendous explosion forward and the entire forward portion of the ship, forward of the stack, appeared to explode. The remainder of the ship immediately started to settle by the head. During this period I took shelter under the towing winch but could see forward. After the debris stopped falling I assisted in launching the port after ten-man life raft. After that I proceeded as far forward as I could to the break abreast of the stack, on both port and starboard sides, with the view of assisting any survivors or saving the ship. I encountered no one. After this inspection I abandoned ship, port side, to assist BENNETT, 365 32 49, EMFN, USN, who was in the water and shouting for help. BENNETT was injured and unable to adjust and inflate his life jacket. I assisted BENNETT to the raft and both of us boarded the raft. After being in the water and on the raft for a period of about thirty minutes, the USS MERGANSER (AMS26) Wherry towed us to the MERGANSER.
2. There were twelve survivors: CARLOCK, Dale T., 344 79 03, FN, USN; CARPENTER, Vail P., 393 08 57, BMC, USN; DOBBS, Thomas D., 325 16 58, ETSN, USN; ESPINOZA, Leo L., 369 20 83, SN, USN; KEPFORD, James W., 345 02 15, FN, USN; McCLAIN, James H., 569 02 59, FN, USN; HARRISON, William E., 234 41 27, GM3, USN; BENNETT, Alex W., 365 32 49, EMFN, USN; BENSON, Richard B., 325 74 34, SN, USN; BLASSINGAME, Henry A., 581 07 35, CSSA, USN; KASTENS, Howard L., 344 82 35, USN; SANDERS, Howard W., 570 94 48, QM3, USN. The first seven survivors are now quartered on board USS DIXIE (AD14). The last five were transferred by USS MERGANSER to USS REPOSE (AH15) at Pusan, Korea for treatment. I do not know what disposition was later made of them.
3. To the best of my knowledge all records and logs were lost, except pay accounts which were on board the USS DIXIE (AD14). Pay account of HARRISON, W.E., 234 41 27, USN, were lost with the USS MAGPIE.
4. It is understood that Commander United Nations Blockading and Escort Force, Far East, had ordered an investigation to inquire into the circumstances resulting in the sinking of the USS MAGPIE and the injury or loss of the members of her crew. – (signed) VAIL P. CARPENTER

LT. (jg) Warren R. Person, USN, Pacific Grove, CA
LT. (jg) Donald V. Wanee, USN, Gardena, CA
ENS. Robert E. Wainwright, USN, North Andover, MA
ENS. Robert W. Langwell, USN, Indianapolis, IN
Robert A. Beck, BMC, USN, Richmond, CA
Richard D. Scott, BM1, USN, Peru, IN
Seth D. Durkee, QM1, USN, Cashmere, WA
George G. Cloud, EN1, USN, Oakland, CA
Lloyd E. Hughes, CS1, USN, Ottawa, KS
Roy A. Davis, HM1, USN, Russellville, KY
Cleveland G. Rogers, SO2, USN, Foxworth, MS
Richard A. Coleman, YBN3, USN, Lewistown, MT
Vincente Q. Ferjaran, SD3, USN, Asan, Guam
Charles R. Bash, RDSN, USN, Dixon Valley, PA
Theodore A. Cook, QMSN, USN, Sacramento, CA
Stanley L. Calhoun, EMFN, USN, Pembroke, KY
James C. Dowell, EMFN, USN, Stockton, CA
Harry E. Ferrell, ENFN, USN, Cleveland, OH
Charles T. Horton, CSSN, USN, Columbiana, AL
Eugene P. Krouskoupf, SN, USN, Zanesville, OH
Most Sailors who are lost at sea are never found. Their families have no body to honor or lay to rest.

Well, ENS Langwell;
welcome home.
The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
U.S. Navy Ensign Robert W. Langwell, of Columbus, Ind., will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery on July 12. On Oct. 1, 1950, Langwell was serving on the minesweeper USS Magpie when it sank after striking an enemy mine off the coast of Chuksan-ri, South Korea. Twelve crewmen were rescued, but Langwell was one of 20 men lost at sea.
In June 2008, personnel from the Republic of South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense Agency for Killed in Action Recovery and Identification (MAKRI) canvassed towns in South Korea in an effort to gather information regarding South Korean soldiers unaccounted-for from the Korean War. An elderly fisherman, interviewed in the village of Chuksan-ri, reported that he and other villagers had buried an American serviceman in 1950 when his body was caught in the man’s fishing net.

The MAKRI located the burial site on April 28, 2009, where they excavated human remains and military artifacts. The burial site was approximately three miles west of where the USS Magpie sank in 1950. The team turned the remains and artifacts over to U.S. Forces Korea, which sent them to Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command for analysis.
Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, JPAC scientists used dental comparisons in the identification of Langwell’s remains.

With Langwell’s accounting, 8,025 service members still remain missing from the Korean War.


Byron said...

Sailor, rest your oar.

LifeoftheMind said...

Welcome home Ensign.

That was a good clear account by the Chief. The only points that I could think to raise are that he did not note who he believed to be on watch at the time or other information regarding the locations of those lost or survived at the time of impact and <span><span>KASTENS, Howard L., 344 82 35, USN did not have his rate given.</span></span>

The holiday from history mindset we suffer from is one of the consequences of the shift to an all volunteer force. Both the Left and the Libertarian Right collaborated in that change. The professional military hates the idea of a draft. If everyone was given 6 months of basic military training and educational or small business loan financial aid was tied to military service then many of the problems we face would fade.

Korea is very much still a country at war. Indeed most of the world is either at war or in a tenous state of truce between wars. The fantasy that wishing it was otherwise permits an endless state of self indulgence is what leads to Obamaism.

sid said...

There are those who want to treat such ships as "expendable."

Some even wnat the 21st century USN to be made up of such vessels, because they are "affordable."

Well...When blood of the "expendable"  is shed, it still flows read.

And thier loved ones still grieve.

AW1 Tim said...

God Bless them all.

sid said...

Have to ask...

How's that MIW module coming along for the LCS?

Ever get the MH-60 reel problem fixed?

How many H-60's will be available to go around anyway?

Any more word on the ability of either design to tolerate shock?

Oh. Thats right.

The LCS won't get hit....


Salty Gator said...

Sal, thanks for posting this.  I am feeling a little sheepish that the article I sent to you was so spartan...thanks for doing the diligence to tell the full up story.  This was a great post, and it is likewise awesome for us to be able to honor this Sailor.  I think I'll stop by to pay my respects at Arlington on the way home on Monday.


sid said...

Sad pic here...

And 6 decades later...

PresterSean said...

Fair Winds and following seas shipmate- welcome home.

Outlaw Mike said...

Sid, is that the stern of a small warship going down there?

And is that the very same hull on the second pic? I find it hard to believe authorities would let a wreck lay like that.

Outlaw Mike said...

God bless. RIP Ensign Langwell. Thank you for the story CDR.

A nation that still honors its dead in such a way after 60 years is still a great nation.

Like the CDR, i'd like to recommend Such Men as these by D. Sears. Bought it via UK-based Book Depository. It's cheaper than Amazon and, believe it or not, they don't bill shipping, at least in europe.

I'm thru 25% now, and have just read about the sorry fate of Ensign Jesse Leroy Brown, the USN's first black aviator.  Flew a Corsair. What a magnificent character.

He crashed with his F4U in NK in winter 50 while in a CAS role to protect a MArine division's withdrawal. AMAZINGLY, his friend Tom Hudner who couldn't bear leaving Brown, obviously trapped in his cockpit, deliberately crashed his own Corsair. It was alas to no avail. He and a chopper pilot couldn't liberate Brown, who by that time was hypothermic and almost unconscious. His leg had gotten stuck between the fuselage and the rudderstick.

It seems the skipper of the Leyte carrier ordered pilots, some days later, to give Brown a warrior's funeral, incinerating the crash site with napalm.

Man there's a lot of awful stories in that book.

DeltaBravo said...

Welcome home, Ensign.  And rest in peace where you belong.  :(  

Anonymous said...

Every ship can be a minesweeper...once.

Hope we learned someting about MIW since 1950, but I fear we have forgotten much of what we knew.

sid said...

Outlaw, that first pic was a S Korean minesweep wreck. It was taken from the USS Merganser, which had rescued the Magpie's survivors 17 days earlier.

The second is the recently sunk Cheonan.

Just goes to show.

In the Littorals- What you think you know; What you think your enemy knows;And what you think you are going to do about it....  Is ALWAYS up for grabs.

Which makes the whole LCS idea of:

"We are smarter than them and will evade their threats (elegantly), while dominating their every potential move"...

a sure-fire recipie for more such scenes.

sid said...

In the Littorals- What you think you know; What you think your enemy knows;And what you think you are going to do about it;And what your enemy WILL do about it....  Is ALWAYS up for grabs.

LT Rusty said...

Welcome home, shipmate.

virgil xenophon said...

"Home is the Sailor, home from the Sea."

Speaking of mining ops, which Navy Admiral was it during the Korean war that complained about the problem of NORK mines before the term 'asymmetrical warfare' had been coined?: "Here we are, the largest, greatest Navy in the history of the world, denied operating in waters by a country that doesn't even HAVE a Navy!"

AW1 Tim said...

Indeed. Some folks forget that the enemy always has a say in the outcome of every engagement.

Curtis said...

We had a blow up of that picture, taking from NWP 27 photoengraved and mounted on the entrance door to CIC.  Helped focus the concentration a little bit each time we went to work.

ShawnP said...

Thank you to the South Koreans and the fisherman who did the right thing. Minesweeping is a dirty, slow business that takes time and energy.

Curtis said...

I think everybody was on watch with the ship at the equivalent of GQ with all posts manned and ready.  Working for to aft I'd expect a minelookout on the bow, gun fully manned and ready, CO, XO on the bridge, OOD, JOOD, full NAV team, Danning Team and sweep team on the fantail.  Engineers below manning the engines, generators, magnetic generators and switchboard and possibly DC Central.  That would take about as many people as their are onboard and reflected the peacetime manning numbers on the MSOs almost perfectly.  When we went to Condition II for sweeping there was nobody not on watch and our crew would fluctuate between 37 and 40.  We didn't man any guns though.

sid said...

<span>I think everybody was on watch with the ship at the equivalent of GQ with all posts manned and ready.</span>
<span>Crew concentration was recognized as a concern after the loss of the Liscome Bay, where it contributed significantly to the very high loss of life.</span>
<span>Aboard an "optimally manned" ship that concern should be even more acute.</span>
<span>How many folks can you AFFORD to lose, and still be combat effective?</span>

pworker said...

Thanks for sharing that.

DM05 said...

For those intrepid souls that went before us. BZ.

Salty Gator said...

on optimally manned ships you have zero bench.  Zero.  one man gets SICK, and you are out of the fight, let alone one man dies...

LifeoftheMind said...

I never served on a Minesweeper, just drove an Amphib and a Cruiser. While at GQ everyone should be at a battlestation I would think that for an etended operation, as I believe sweeping a channel would be, shouldn't that be modified so as to permit some portion of the crew to stand down on rotation? Also I am puzzled by the reference to "optimal manning" leaving no slack. The reason that naval ships carry a large crew is so that they can absorb battle loses. Look at the bridge team. During GQ you will have the CO, OOD and maybe a JOOD, even on a small ship. At the wheel you would have your best Hellmsman, usually a Quartermaster and another QM at the chart table with the logbook. In addition there is the Lee Helmsman, possible a Boatswains Mate, at the Engine Order Telegraph who really serves no purpose except to be there in case the Helmsman gets killed. Ships expect to suffer casualties in combat, otherwise they would be manned like merchants. While I know that the bean counters are pushing to minimize crew size the Navy we are discussing here had not yet been McNamaraed let alone Obamaed. If the chief knew who was where on the ship then that information could have proven useful to a Board evaluation the loss and then after seeing who survived making recommendations. The most important part of any action is the "lessons learned." What did we learn from the loss of the Magpie?

ewok40k said...

Mines show up regularly here in the Baltic, and are still deadly... mine warfare is cheap, has a degree of deniability, and is perfect for small state seeking to deny access to its waters (NK/Iran anyone?)

SubIconoclast said...

Naw, now we have incredibly capable crewmembers who can do five jobs at once.  I saw a powerpoint brief about it once, which showed that we make sailors more capable by sending them through fewer and shorter schools.  All part of the same cost-savings movement that reduced manning, reduced training, and reduced the overall number of ships during a period that the Navy budget actually GREW (because R&D dollars are where the real profit is for Flag Officer Parachute Corporations (FOPC), while N1 money offers near-zero FOPC profit).  

Please, no input from anyone on the waterfront.  You guys just aren't effective leaders if you can't produce the sort of output predicted by 'conclusions' slides.