Bernard Webber, Coast Guard Hero Passes Away

One of the Coast Guard’s legendary heroes, Senior Chief Petty Officer Bernard C. Webber, died at his home in Melbourne, Fla., last Sunday, Jan. 25.

On the night of February 18, 1952, the SS Pendleton, a 503 foot tanker with 33 men on board, broke in two off of Cape Cod. Boatswain Mate First Class Webber, the Coxswain of CG 36500, was called on to rescue the survivors in 60 foot seas and 70 knot winds. The crew faced 60-foot waves, hurricane force winds and blizzard conditions to rescue 32 sailors. When the rescue boat left Chatham Harbor, its compass failed and it began shipping water because the engine kept quitting. But, by dead reckoning, they finally sighted the stern section of the Pendleton where the ship’s crew was awaiting rescue.

BM1 Webber courageously positioned CG 36500 beneath the stern of SS Pendelton as it tossed in the heavy seas. He timed the rise and fall of the waes adn one by one rescued the men as they climbed down a jacobs ladder and jumped into the water.All but one man, the ship’s cook, George D. “Tiny” Myers, was rescued from the SS Pendleton.

With no radar or compass to guide them home, Petty Officer Webber relied on expert seamanship and instinct to navigate CG36500 back to its mooring with 32 survivors huddled on board.

The four who manned the rescue boat. Webber, Engineman Second Class Andrew Fitzgerald, Seaman Richard Livesey and Seaman Irving Maske all received the coveted Coast Guard Gold Medal for their heroism in what maritime historians consider to be “The Greatest Small Boat Rescue in Coast Guard History.” The 36-foot rescue boats were designed to carry a crew of six with eight to 10 survivors; they went out short-handed and rescued 32.

In a message to Coast Guardsman about Senior Chief Webbers death, Coast Guard Vice-Commandant Vivian Crea said, “Bernard Webbers bravery and seamanship are and inspiration for all Guardians. He remains a Coast Guard hero and will forever be an integral part of our Coast Guard heritage. His passing is a great loss for all of us.”

After his retirement, Senior Chief Webber wrote in his book, “Chatham: The Lifeboatmen”; “After 42 years of work on the sea, it became time to come home.”

Chief Webber will be cremated and his remains will be interred with military honors in a family plot in Wellfleet later this spring.

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