Memorial service held to honor Coast Guard World War II veteran

NEW YORK-Memorial services and military honors were held for William Vogt, a Coast Guard World War II veteran, in East Hanover, N.J., today at 11:30 a.m.

Vogt, a man that many consider a hero, died in the company of his family in Florham Park, N.J., Saturday.

The S.S. El Estero caught fire with 1,300 tons of explosives aboard in April of 1943. Next to the El Estero was another ship with an equal amount of explosives as well as train cars carrying explosives and fuel containment facilities nearby in Bayonne, the explosives were all headed to support the war effort in the European Theater.

Vogt along with other Coast Guard members answered a call for volunteers and acted with speed and courage, voluntarily boarding the ship while it was ablaze to keep the explosives, munitions, bunker buster bombs, depth charges and fuel barrels from exploding.

It was estimated that if the explosives detonated, the result would be akin to the power of a small atomic bomb detonating in New York Harbor. The explosion would have caused incalculable damage to Lower Manhattan, Bayonne, N.J., Governors Island, Staten Island and Brooklyn.

After hours of fighting the fire, the ship was towed by tugs to Robbins Reef where the vessel filled with water and sank to rest on the bottom.

The Coast Guard commendation medal was presented to Vogt for his selfless actions at a hospice care center in Florham Park, N.J., April 8, 2010.

Vogt and his fellow Coast Guardsmen were also awarded a gold medal and a parade from the City of Bayonne, N.J., on Sept. 25, 1944.

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