WWII Coast Guard veteran returns to Normandy

Normandy – On Thursday, Coast Guard veteran Tommy Harbour returned to the site where he made three trips inĀ  PA33-4 delivering troops and equipment during the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. Harbour was a Coast Guard coxswain mate, whose vehicle and personnel landing craft (LCVP), also known as a Higgins boat, transported soldiers to Omaha Beach as well as Utah Beach during WWII.

Harbour began his military service when he was sworn into the Coast Guard on July 5, 1943, and attended attended Coast Guard boot camp at Manhattan Beach Training Station in New York. He was trained by both Coast Guard and Marine Corps personnel to become a motor machinist or motor mac (now known as a boat engineer). He was assigned to the Coast Guard-manned attack transport USS Bayfield (APA-33), where he served as a motor mac for one of the USS Bayfield’s LCVP landing craft, PA33-4.

Two months after the Normandy invasion, while preparing his landing craft for the invasion of Southern France, a German airplane dropped a bomb that hit LCVP PA33-4 while cradled on the Bayfield. Harbour’s coxswain and boat seaman were seriously injured and his landing craft sustained significant damage. Harbour was not harmed during the bombing and made several landings at Saint Raphael in a different landing craft with another boat crew.

Shortly after his European campaign, Harbour continued his assignment onboard the Bayfield and participated in the invasion of Iwo Jima. On the second and third days of the invasion, Harbour continued to make landings, hauling in supplies such as flame-thrower fuel, mortar shells and hand grenades to Marines clearing the island. He also took part in the Okinawa invasion with a force that simulated landing operations in an effort to confuse the island’s Japanese defenders, and completed a total of four invasions from the Bayfield in a ten month period.

Following his active duty service in the Coast Guard, Mr. Harbour continued to serve his community as the mayor of Milton, W.V. for 17 years. He is a member of the Disabled American Veterans, active in the Huntington Veterans Center and continues to advocate for veterans benefits.

U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Tommy Harbour returns to the site Thursday, June 4, 2009, where he made three trips in LST PA33-4 delivering troops and equipment during the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. U.S. Coast Guard photo

U.S. Coast Guard Veteran Tommy Harbour returns to the site Thursday, June 4, 2009, where he made three trips in LST PA33-4 delivering troops and equipment during the Normandy invasion on June 6, 1944. U.S. Coast Guard photo

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2 Comments

  1. leesea says:

    I believe the first paragraph incorrectly uses term LST? PA33-4 is the designation for the number four boat from USS Bayfield APA-33. It was indeed a busy USCG crewed attack transport.

    goto here for further info:
    http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/03/03033.htm

  2. cgnews says:

    Thank you for pointing out our error. It has been corrected.