Today in Coast Guard History – February 22nd

  • 1943- The USS Campbell, CG, under the command of CDR James A. Hirshfield and assigned to the international escort group A-3 that was escorting Convoy ON-166 through the North Atlantic, engaged numerous submarine contacts during a running battle across the sea. Campbell’s attacks damaged at least two U-boats. The cutter also rescued 50 survivors from a torpedoed Norwegian freighter. Then, on 22 February 1943, as the Campbell returned to the convoy after rescuing the Norwegians, it detected a radar contact closing the convoy. The Campbell raced toward the target and soon made visual contact. It was the surfaced U-606, earlier disabled by a depth charge attack delivered by the Free Polish destroyer Burza. The Campbell closed to ram while its gunners opened fire. The big cutter struck the U-boat with a glancing blow and one of the submarine’s hydroplanes sliced open the Campbell’s hull, flooding the engine room. The crew dropped two depth charges as the submarine slid past, and the explosions lifted the U-boat nearly five feet. Hirshfield later noted, “I felt sure he was ours.” The Campbell illuminated the U-boat with a spotlight and the gunners continued to fire into the submarine’s conning tower and hull. Hirshfield was hit by shell fragments but remained at his station. When he realized the Germans had given up, he ordered his men to cease firing. The Campbell then rescued five of the U-606’s crew. Due to the collision, Campbell was towed to safety, repaired, and returned to service. CDR Hirshfield was awarded the Navy Cross for this action.
  • 1944- Coast Guardsmen participate in the invasion of Parry Island (in the Marshall Islands).

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