Coast Guard Hero Raymond F. O’Malley Passes Away

USS Escanaba (USCG WPG-77) crewmembers BM2/c Melvin A. Baldwin (left) and SN1/c Raymond F. O'Malley (right) on June 18, 1943, aboard the USCGC Raritan, which rescued them from sea after the Escanaba sank. Photo provided by USCG Headquaters Historian's Office.

USS Escanaba (USCG WPG-77) crewmembers BM2/c Melvin A. Baldwin (left) and SN1/c Raymond F. O’Malley (right) on June 18, 1943, aboard the USCGC Raritan, which rescued them from sea after the Escanaba sank. Photo provided by USCG Headquaters Historian’s Office.

CLEVELAND – Raymond F. O’Malley, 86, Coast Guard World War II veteran, honorary Chief Petty Officer and the last surviving member of the sinking of the USS Escanaba, died today at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

”The Coast Guard lost a real hero today with the passing of Mr. Ray O’Malley,” said Adm. Thad Allen, commandant of the Coast Guard. “As one of only two survivors following the enemy sinking of the USS Escanaba in 1943, Ray was truly a Coast Guard legend, and was a fixture during the annual tribute to Escanaba at its memorial in Grand Haven, Mich. Ray never forgot his shipmates, and for more than 60 years he recognized his fallen comrades both at the public memorial service and with a private prayer, when he would light a candle for the crews of both the former and current cutters named Escanaba. Six decades following the Escanaba tragedy, Ray O’Malley is finally reunited with his shipmates. Our prayers and sympathy go out to the O’Malley family.”

O’Malley and another crewman were the lone survivors of the Escanaba, which blew up in the North Atlantic June 13, 1943, and sank within three minutes. A total of 103 Escanaba crewmen were lost in the sinking.

The O’Malley family has not released funeral arrangements.

Here is a link to the U.S. Coast Guard Oral History Program interview with Raymond O’Malley.

Here is a link to the story of The sinking of the USS Escanaba (USCG WPG-77) as written by U.S. Coast Guard Historian Dr. Robert M. Browning, Jr.

Rear Adm. John E. Crowley, Jr., Commander of the Ninth (US) Coast Guard District, escorts Mr. Raymond F. O'Malley, last living survivor of the USS Escanaba (WPG-77), to the USS Escanaba Memorial during the Coast Guard Day Festival in Grand Haven, Mich. in August 2006. USCG Photo by Petty Officer William R. Colclough, Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office.

Rear Adm. John E. Crowley, Jr., Commander of the Ninth (US) Coast Guard District, escorts Mr. Raymond F. O’Malley, last living survivor of the USS Escanaba (WPG-77), to the USS Escanaba Memorial during the Coast Guard Day Festival in Grand Haven, Mich. in August 2006. USCG Photo by Petty Officer William R. Colclough, Ninth Coast Guard District Public Affairs Office.

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