Lt. Cecil E. Harris – Intrepid ACE

Awarded Navy Cross, 24 kill ace of USS Intrepid VF-18

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Who was Charlie Devens? – Update

He said he was an old man of 33 when he came aboard Intrepid in 1943 as the Flight Deck officer. He was awarded a Bronze Star. He had graduated Harvard, but he said “all he wanted to do was play baseball.” He passed away in 2003 at 93.”

Charles Devens (January 1, 1910 in Milton, Massachusetts – August 13, 2003 in Scarborough, Maine), was a Major League Baseball pitcher after pitching at Harvard (1932-1934). While pitching for Harvard he signed up in 1932 to the New York Yankees. At 92 years of age, Devens   was the oldest surviving member of the famed 1932 world champion Yankees, and he recalled with great detail the now famous Babe Ruth’s ‘Called Shot’.  After leaving the Yankees in 1934, Devens’ Major league career was cut  short by his future father-in-law who refused to have a ball player as a  son-in-law. After his departure from the big leagues Devens established his reputation as a standout businessman in Boston. Given his short 3-year career Charlie Devens was only able to amass 82 innings pitched with only one start in 1934. At the conclusion of his career, Charlie held a 5 and 3 record with 31 strikeouts and a 3.73 ERA.

Charles, whose great-uncle Charles Devens was a Civil War hero and the person for whom Ft. Devens in Ayer, MA, was named, served in the Navy during WWII. He was a flight deck officer aboard the aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, which was the target of an intense Japanese attack on November 25, 1944. According to his Bronze Star citation: “Endangered by fire, suffocation, and exploding ammunition, he let … and was to a large extent responsible for those fires being brought under control.”
Submitted by FCM/Past USS Intrepid Association president, Bob Dougherty
Let Us Not Forget Those Who Have Gone Before Us
Update info provided by Mr. David Read, UDO Research Library Manager, Research/Alumni Affairs & Development,
 The Harvard Campaign and obtained
via Official Military Personnel Files (OMPF), Archival Holdings, Saint Louis


Charles Devens dates of service … Feb 16, ’42 to Oct 15, ’53
Lieutenant Commander Assignments and Geographical Locations:
Feb 21, ’42 to Apr 20, ’42 – Quonset Point, RI Apr 20, ’42 to Jun 23, ’42 – Norfolk, VA Feb 25, ’43 to Jun 29, ’43 – New York, NY Jun 29, ’43 to Jun 29, ’45 – USS Intrepid (CV11) Jun 29, ’45 to Aug ’45
 Naval War College Decorations and Awards
Atlantic Theatre Campaign Medal, Pacific Theatre Campaign Medal w/6 service stars, Commendation Ribbon, Bronze Star
Place of Separation – Newport, RI Award United States Pacific Fleet Third Fleet – 126748
“The Commander, Third Fleet, United States Pacific Fleet, takes pleasure in commending Ensign Charles Deven, United States Naval Reserve for service as set forth in the following citation:
For outstanding service as Flight Deck Officer aboard the U.S.S. Intrepid on 29 Oct, ’44
While Lt. Devens was engaged in landing aircraft, his ship was attacked by a group of enemy aircraft and he rendered valuable assistance in combating a fire which resulted and in removing casualties. His conduct was in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
W.F. Halsey, Admiral, U.S. Navy, Commander Third Fleet Dated May 1, ’45
Commendation Ribbon authorized
Non-Classified Finished File PERS 328 March 12, 1947 Ref: 126748
“The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the Bronze Star Medal
to Lieutenant Commander Charles Devens, United States Naval Reserve
for service as set forth in the following Citation:
“For heroic achievement as Flight and Hangar Deck Officer of the U.S.S. Intrepid,
in action against enemy Japanese forces in the Pacific War Area, November 25, 1944.
When two Japanese suicide planes with bombs struck the deck of his carrier and started intense fires, Lieutenant Commander (then Lieutenant) Devens directed fire fighting parties on the flight deck
and gallery decks amidst smoke and exploding ammunition.
His courage and devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon Lieutenant Commander Devens
and the United States Naval Service.
Lieutenant Commander Devens is authorized to wear the Combat “C”
For the President
Secretary of the Navy
copy to pers101 public relations navy dept
ref: com2ndcartaskforpac ser0903
Fitness Reports Finished Filed Pers-101
To facilitate Administrative Handling Classification changed to Unclassified – Pers 823, Officer Personnel Files “
Presidential Award
“In the name of the President of the United States,
the Commander, Second Carrier Task Force, United States Pacific Fleet,
presents the Bronze Star Medal to Lieutenant Charles Devens United States Naval Reserve
for service as set forth in the following Citation (126748)
“For distinguishing himself by heroic and meritorious achievement while serving as Flight and Hangar Deck Officer aboard an aircraft carrier during the action on 25 November 1944.
Lt. Devens with complete disregard for his own personal safety, endangered by fire, suffocation, and exploding ammunition,
lead and directed fire parties fighting fires on Flight and Gallery Decks
and was to a large extent responsible for these fires being brought under control and extinguished.
His heroism, devotion to duty, fearlessness, and maritorious achievement, were at all times
in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
J.S. McCain
Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy Commander 2nd Car Task Force
Serial 0903, Jan 12, /45 Temporary Citation Fitness Report/Finished File Pers 823/328
UPDATE #2  – May 29, 2014
Below is a  proper citation for the Deven’s material from NARA.
Note that the citation will be changing in October of ’15.

 “Charles Devens was completely separated from the Navy (Naval Reserve status) on October 15, 1953.  His OMPF, therefore, will not transfer into the holdings of the National Archives until October 15, 2015, 62 years after separation from service.   In view of this, the last element in the citation shown below will be “National Personnel Records Center” until 10/15/2015, at which time the last part of the citation should be changed to read: National Archives at St. Louis.  We would be grateful if the folks at the Intrepid Museum follow through and make this change on 10/15/2015.  Doing so will avoid confusion in the future, should anyone want access to the file after that date.”

At the present time, here is the correct way to cite the material furnished, i.e, the copy of Bronze Star award citation that we sent:


 “Official Military Personnel File of Charles Devens; Official Military Personnel Files, Record Group 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel; National Archives and Records Administration–National Personnel Records Center”


 “Official Military Personnel File of Charles Devens; Official Military Personnel Files, Record Group 24, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel; National Archives and Records Administration–National Archives at St. Louis.”



“TWINS who served…”


As per requested…following is some information regarding me and my twin brother Alfons. We have served aboard three (3) combat ships in the Pacific and they were the USS Henderson, USS Gambier Bay and the USS Intrepid. We were assigned to the Intrepid on December 8, 1944 at Hunters Point, CA and served aboard her until December 31, 1945. When aboard the Gambier Bay we survived when she was sunk during the surface battle in the Battle of Leyte Gulf on October 25, 1944. We were awarded 30 days Survivor’s Leave and our Leave Papers read…”Report to the U.S.S. Intrepid (CV-11) at Hunters Point, CA”.

Ed Krzemecki, Former Intrepid Crewman”

 Newspaper Notice:

“Twins Serve Together” – U.S.S. INTREPID (CV 11): Alfons Krezemecki, shipfitter 2/c and his twin, Edward, shipfitter 2/c served aboard the a/c carrier where planes took part battering Okinawa prior to Marine and Army landings. Both Al and Ed were never separated during their service in the Navy, even in combat, since they enlisted together in the Navy.”

Forced to abandon ship from the USS Gambier Bay, they lashed themselves together before going over the side. The Gambier Bay was one of the two (2) U.S. CVSs sunk after the heroic stand against – at that time – a Jap battle fleet of superior speed and gunpower.

 Much of the history of the Intrepid belongs to the tale of repairing battle damage, and is a tribute to the repair party training program and to the valiant efforts of the men who risked their lives to fight fires and rescue trapped personnel.

Few experiences of naval life could exceed the havoc and the terror of a major conflagration. Planes burn fiercely and ammunition explodes – all within a slippery, slanting space made black as night by the heavy smoke. Yet these men knew they must do – and did it. The ship lived and salvage work began.

Does anyone remember Intrepid’s mascot dog that had one black eye? His name was “Pooch”?

 A PATHETIC AFTERMATH of the battle was the plight of the survivors of U.S. sunken ships off Samar. The men from the Gambier Bay, the Saint Lo, the Johnston, Hoel and Roberts, were left in the water, hanging onto rafts, nets, and wreckage, suffering from thirst, sunburn, and attacks by sharks, for two days before rescue ships arrived to take them onboard. This failure was a disgrace to the Seventh Fleet authorities charged with responsibility for the rescue of personnel.

Many died from thirst, wounds and exhaustion. Two men were known to have perished from the attacks of sharks, Those still alive were picked up on the morning of October 27th by sub-chasers and LCI’s from Leyte Gulf.

Let Us Not Forget Those Who Have Gone Before Us

Roll of Honor Aircrewman

“January 4, 1999

Dear John (Blog editor)

Enclosed is some of the info you requested regarding my Distinguished Flying Cross. Along with some before and after photos that I would like returned if possible. I have included a rough draft of a bio that will be presented to the nominating committee by my sponsor for induction into the “Enlisted Combat Aircrew Roll of honor” at the Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum aboard the USS Yorktown in Charleston, SC. Also included is a consolidated list of the 3 combat flights recorded in my flight log book that made me eligible for the DFC. Congressman Bill Pascrell will be presenting the medal to me later this evening with family and friends being present.


Steve Mihalovic, ARM1/C, Radioman/Gunner, Former Intrepid Crew Member”


Chief of Naval Operations

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the DISTINGUISHED FLYING CROSS to…




…for service as set forth in the following:


     For extraordinary achievement while participating in aerial flight with Bombing Squadron SIX from 19 November 1943 to 13 August 1945. In the successful completion of  23 missions, Petty Officer Mihalovic contributed materially to the success of Unites States efforts. By his undaunted courage, superb airmanship, and unyielding devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions, Petty Officer Mihalovic reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

For the President,

J.D. Johnson

Admiral, United States Navy,

Chief of Naval Operations



Distinguished Flying Cross

Air Medal w/3 Gold Stars

Navy Unit Citation w/1 Star

Asiatic/Pacific Area w/5 Stars

Air Medal w/3 Gold Stars…

…in lien of a 2nd, 3rd and 4th Air Medal

Missions served from the USS Enterprise (CV 6), USS Intrepid (CV 11), USS Hancock (CV 19)


(L)Frank Doria, Hector Giannasca, Mr/Mrs. Bob/Gwen Kofnovec, Tony Zollo,  Steve & wife

Let Us Not Forget Those Who Have Gone Before Us

“I went over the side…”

“June 21, 1999

Hi John (Blog editor)

God bless Zachary Fisher. Five (5) yrs ago I visited the Intrepid for the 1st time since I served aboard her for 2 year during World War II, 1943-1944. I flew off the Intrepid in a T.B.F. Torpedo plane, the Avenger as a Radio Radar Operator. The Intrepid received he award as the Best Ship in the Fleet.

Intrepid was first hit with a Torpedo and 5 times with Japanese Kamakazies. When you see the Fighting I film on the History Channel, you will see my plane go over the side 90 ft upside down after being hit with anti-aircraft fire while photographing Kwayalein in the Marshall Islands.

Zachary Fisher knew the history of the Intrepid and he was determined to save this historic ship for posterity.

I was proud to have served aboard the Intrepid. She is now a definite part of history. Zachary Fisher was always ready to help the military, Army, Navy, Marines and Coast Guard. He was a true Patriot who loved this country, the United States of America.

Joe Liotta, Former Crewmember, 1943-1944″

Let Us Not Forget Those Who Have Gone Before Us

FCM – John McCain, Ltjg, USN

John Sidney McCain III (August 29, 1936 – August 25, 2018) was a former crew member of the U.S.S. Intrepid (CV!-11) serving as a A-1 Sky Raider Squadron (VA-65) pilot who served a tour (’61-’62)  prior to becoming an American politician and senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican presidential nominee in the 2008 United States election.


Autographed photo in this Blog author’s cruise book

McCain followed his father and granfather, both four-star admirals, into the U.S. Navy, graduating from the Naval Academy in 1958. He became a naval aviator, flying ground-attack a/c from the aircraft carriers Intrepid, Enterpirise, Oriskany and Forrestal. During the Vietnam War, he was almost killed in the ’67 USS Forrestal fire.. In October 1967, while on a bombing mission over Hanoi, he was shot down, seriously injured, and captured by the N. Vietnamese. He was a POW until 1973. McCain experienced episodes of torture, and refused an out-of-sequence early repatriation offer. His war wounds left him with lifelong physical limitations.

He retired as a Navy Captain in 1981 and moved to Arizona, where he entered politics. Elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1982, he served two terms, and was then elected to the U.S. Senate in 1986, winning re-election easily four times, most recently in 2010. While generally adhering to conservative principles, McCain at times has had a media reputation as a “maverick” for his willingness to disagree with his party on certain issues. After being investigated and largely exonerated in a political influence scandal of the ’80s as a member of the Keating Five, he made campaign finance reform one of his signature concerns, which eventually led to the passage of the McCain-Feingold Act in 2002. He is also known for his work towards restoring diplomatic relations with Vietnam in the ’90s, and for his belief that the war in Iraq should be fought to a successful conclusion. McCain has chaired the Senate Commerce Committee, opposed spending that he considered to be pork barrel, and played a key role in alleviating a crisis over judicial nomiations..

McCain ran for the Republican presidential nomination in ’00 but lost a heated primary season contest to George W. Bush. He secured the nomination in 2008 after coming back from early reversals, but lost to Democratic candidate Barack Obama in the general election. He subsequently adopted more orthodox conservative stances and attitudes and largely opposed actions of the Obama adminstraion.

McCain died on Saturday, August 25, 2018 from Brain Cancer.

The Smugglers of Misery – Part V

The Smugglers of Misery – Part V

Full-Scale Attack. In recent months, significant efforts have been launched to do something about the illicit drug traffic into the United States. For instance:

  • Operation Intercept, a program of rigorous border inspection ordered last year, dramatically cut the flow of Mexican drugs, at least temporarily. Operation Intercept, which caused long delays a border check-points, was followrd by Operation Cooperation, a joint U.S. Mexican drive designed to slash smuggling and also drug production south of the border. Six thousand Mexican soldiers were sent on “search and destroy” missions in areas where marijuana is heavily cultivated. And for the first time, Mexico imposed controls on the sale of amphetamines and barbiturates. New legislation is being drafted by Mexican authorities to punish drug producers and smugglers.
  • A vitally important agreement was reached last January with the French government to curb the illicit processing of heroin in that country. Pressed by Washington, Paris has pledged a stepped-up campaign against drug  traffickers, with 10,000 French policemen to be trained in narcotics work.
  • At the insistence of President Nixon, nearly 700 new agents and inspectors are being hired by the woefully under-manned Customs Bureau.
  • Most important, perhaps, the President has declared an all-out war on organized crime. Federal strike forces have been set up in major cities to combat the syndicates that control narcotics and other rackets.

The Attorney General has received permission to wire-tap major drug traffickers. A comprehensive anti-crime package is moving through Congress. Administration officials expect no overnight victories. The are taking on immensely powerful, well-entrenched criminal groups. But the government’s full-scale attack is long overdue and deserves the determined support of every citizen.

The End

 Source: The Reader’s Digest, April 1970, by William Schulz


As an added Special Feature to this story readers may be interested in searching your local library, or the Internet, for the book “THE HUNT FOR “ANDRE” by Nathan M. Adams

The books ‘Forward’ reads…

For five frustrating years, U.S. Customs and narcotics agents, trying to plug a major heroin pipeline into the United States, dogged the heels of a mysterious man known to them as “Andre.” He posed, among other things, as a restaurateur in Asuncion, Paraguay, but in reality he masterminded the world’s largest heroin smuggling operation.

Reader’s Digest reporter Nathan M. Adams retraces the danger-packed trail which finally led to the capture and incarceration of the man who has been called the biggest drug boss of them all.”

This issue was reprinted with permission from the March 1973 READER’S DIGEST (c) copyright 1973

by The Reader’s Digest Assn., Inc.

The Smugglers of Misery – Part IV

The Smugglers of Misery – Part IV

Couriers and Codfish.

Some of the most ingenious techniques of all were practiced by a Geneva-based syndicate headed by ex-convicts Andre Hirsch and Robert more. Syndicate couriers would board Trans World Airlines flights in one European city, say Frankfurt, and deplane in another, usually London. Wile aboard, they hid six-kilo lots of heroin (stuffed in men’s socks) behind lavatory waste receptacles. American-based couriers would then board the plane at its first U.S. stop – perhaps New York, perhaps Washington – retrieve the heroin in flight and get off at a second U.S. city, usually Denver or St. Louis. There would be no necessity to through Customs. The couriers would return to New York, contact their buyer and receive $51,000 for each six-kilo load.

The operation worked smoothly for some time, with the U.S. couriers sending back as much as one million dollars a month, usually via secret Swiss bank accounts. Then, in July 1968, a TWA maintenance worker discovered the heroin and alerted Customs. The couriers were arrested, as were their U.S. buyers.

But within a month Hirsch had another scheme under way.* A 23-yr-old Parisian, Christian Serge Hysohion, was dispatched to New York with instructions to set up the Panamanian Chemical and Food Co., Inc., a dummy import firm ostensibly handling Spanish food-stuffs. Then, in the Spanish port of  Malaga, large quantities of heroin were sealed in cans of codfish and pzella, and shipped to hysohion in New York. On December 10, 1968, the S.S. Raunda sailed with 702 cases of the tins. On January 31, 1969, another 400 cases left aboard the S.S. Grundsunda. In New York, the dope was to be separated from the legitimate foodstuffs and sold to a syndicate contact.

Unknown to Hirsch and Hysohion, however, a globe-girdling investigation by New York-based Customs agents, Edward Coyne and Albert Seeley, had uncovered the operation.

When the Ragunda docked in late February, Coyne was on the scene. Using a high-powered X ray, he examined the 700 cases, discovering six (6) in which heroin was secreted.

Coyne and Seeley bided their time. Undercover agents followed the precious shipment as it was delivered on March 7 to Hysohion’s home in Queens, and kept up an around-the-clock surveillance. On march 8 an accomplice arrived from Paris, and early the next morning the two left, carrying a large leather satchel stuffed with heroin. Hailing a cab, they headed for Grand Central Station to hide the stuff in a public locker. The never made it.

Customs agents arrested Hysohion and his partner and seized 62 lbs of heroin. Twenty-four hours later, the Grundsunda docked, and Customs grabbed another 62 lbs of the deadly white powder. Ultimately, more than 30 ring members were arrested, but in less than two years of operation, Hirsch and his coterie had shipped more than 800 obs of pure heroin into the United States, enough to push tens of thousands of addicts closer to their grave.s

* Mori was arrested by French police as a fugitive in May 1968, extradited to the United States, and convicted of smuggling. He is now appealing his conviction while serving a 20 year sentence in federal prison.

See ‘The Smugglers of Misery – Part V’

 Source: The Reader’s Digest, April 1970, by William Schulz

 Article posted with permission from Former WWII Intrepid Crew Member and former U.S. Customs agent, Edward ‘Ed’ Coyne

The Smugglers of Misery – Part III

The Smugglers of Misery – Part III

The major quantity of the heroin used in the United States originates in the poppy fields of Turkey, where licensed farmers supply raw opium for pharmaceutical purposes. Many of the same farmers also sell to black-market brokers who use mules and camels to transport the sticky, malodorous opium into Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. There, in clandestine laboratories, it is converted into a crude morphine, reducing its bulk by 90%, and is subsequently smuggled by merchant seamen to the sough of France. In the area around Marseille, several groups of Corsicans employ skilled scientists to turn the morphine into heroin.

From France the heroin is shipped to the United States, often by circuitous routes through Mexico, South America or Canada. It is carried on tramp steamers and jet planes, in diplomatic pouches and home freezers, By the time it reaches the street, diluted time and again, a kilo of heroin that wholesales for $10,000 may bring more than a third of a million dollars.

U.S. street sales of heroin have been pegged at about $1.5 billion a year. Behind much of this traffic is La Cosa Nostra, whose smuggling and wholesaling profits are estimated at $90 million a year, Says Anthony Scaduto, a top authority on organized crime: The men of the Mafia are at the top of the pyramid that makes up the international narcotics racket. They ‘invest’ in it with funds from their hidden gambling interests, their illegal gambling empires, their loan-sharking and extortion and myriad other rackets. They are the financiers”, They never touch narcotics themselves.

A case in point is John S. Nuccio, a pudgy, manicured racketeer who directed an international heroin operation. Nuccio supplied the money for the drugs – anywhere from $20,000 to $70,000 a trip – to an Air France steward who shuttled back and forth from Paris to New York. Deliveries were made not to Nuccio but to third parties. Apprehended, the steward agree to cooperate with federal authorities. Only then was it possible to convict Nucfdio, who is now seriving 15 years in prison.

Claims have been made in recent years that La Cosa Nostra is getting out of narcotics to concentrate on less dangerous enterprises. Actually, while the mob is no longer involved in the street-sale stages of heroin distribution,”most of the importation and virtually all of the wholesaling remain in Mafia hands”, according to William T. Tendy, the assistant U.S. Attorney who has prosecuted many of the country’s major drug cases in recent years.

The techniques of heroin importation are varied. A group of French smugglers shipped a 1962 Citroen back and forth between Paris and New York with as much as 246 lbs of heroin hidden in compartments that could be opened only if a certain upholstery button was twisted. Diplomats, who can move easily through U.S. Customs, are often used as couriers; in fact, envoys from Mexico and Uruguay are currently serving federal prison terms on narcotics charges.

See ‘The Smugglers of Misery – Part IV’

 Source: The Reader’s Digest, April 1970, by William Schulz

Smugglers of Misery – Part II

The Smugglers of Misery – Part II

Major Tijuana dealers – whose headquarters are sometimes protected by machine-gun-toting guards – supply the entire United States. Tipped off by an informer in September 1967 that a Ford station wagon loaded with marijuana would cross the border at Calexico, Customs officials decided to trail the smugglers. Four days and 3,300 miles later, the couriers pulled into north Bergen, N.J., headquarters of Angel Roberto Millan, a Cuban national known as a major New York dealer. Right behind were the men from Customs. They jumped from their cars, grabbed more than half a ton of marijuana, and arrested Millan and the two couriers, all of whom were convicted in federal court.

Customs agents seized the cars of 1516 smugglers as they crossed the Mexican border last year. But big-time operators use other forms of transportation as well. Yachts and high-speed launches leave Southern California for Ensenada and other Mexican ports, returning with caches of marijuana. Some smugglers rent small planes to bring in the stuff. Customs’ agents arrested nearly 1,700 of these other marijuana smugglers along the borders of the Southwest last year – “ and still the stuff comes in”, says a weary government official, “night and day”.

Pill Carriers.

 Mexico is also the source of millions of goofballs (barbiturates) and bennies (amphetamines) that are sold in school yards throughout the United States. In 4 years the number of pills seized at the Tijuana checkpoint has increased 70-fold and beleaguered Customs agents admit they get only a fraction of the illicit cargo.

A typical pill smuggler was Donald Rice, 25-yr old San Franciscan and admitted drug user. In testimony before a Congressional committee, Rice said he started in the business with $25, purchasing stolen pills from employees of a California military depot. As business grew, Rice and his 14-man organization turned to Mexican suppliers. Rice would purchase $3,000 work of Tijuana bennies and pay a local runner $1,000 to take them across the border, stashed in an automobile gas tank. When sold to San Francisco wholesalers, the pills brought $12,000 – a handsome profit for a weekend’s work.

Investing in *Heroin.

 The really big money, say agents, is made in the hard stuff – cocaine and heroin.

Poverty-stricken Indians cultivate coca bushes on the steppes of the Andes, selling the leaves for pennies a pound. These are broken down to pulp, refined, and smuggled into the United States by Latin American syndicates. By the time it’s cut and recut, a kilo of cocaine will bring $360.000 in street sales.

Pure cocaine is usually brought into Miami or New York by couriers who fly up from South America carrying false-bottom suitcases or wearing custom-made vests. Last year New York police arrested a Chilean smuggler who had brought in 44 lbs of cocaine secreted in specially made wine bottles. The courier worked for a Santiago syndicate that smuggled millions of dollars’ worth of cocaine and heroin a year.

* Ref : “Merchants of Heroin”, The Reader’s Digest, August ’68, September ‘68

SeeThe Smugglers of Misery – Part III’

 Source: The Reader’s Digest, April 1970, by William Schulz

FCM – U.S. Customs Agent

A Story involving a Former WWII Intrepid Crew Member.

The Smugglers of Misery – Part I

As the nation (still) watches in alarm, young America is being victimized by a massive drug-smuggling industry. Here is how it operates – and what is being done to stop it

 1969…smugglers deluged the United States with an estimated 300 tons of illegal drugs, an incredible increase in the traffic of more than 500 % in just 3 years. The contraband – marijuana, heroin, cocaine, amphetamines, barbiturates – came in by land, sea and air, in false-bottom suitcases, in hollowed-out surfboards, in babies’ diapers. When it was finally sold on the streets it brought the purveyors well over a billion dollars.

Trying to stem the daily flow of drugs across our borders and beaches is the awesome task of federal Customs officials. Their adversaries are a shrewd and tenacious legion, ranging from Mafia dons to respected diplomats, from South American gangsters to European financiers. And the methods they employ are sophisticated and ever-changing. “One thing is certain”, says Assistant Treasury Secretary Eugene T. Rossides, who directs the government’s efforts against the smugglers. “Without these highly professional, rightly organized rings of narcotics smugglers, the United States would have little or no drug problem.” Federal Customs Commissioner Myles Ambrose supplies the statistics: 90% of the marijuana used in this country domes from abroad, 100% of the opium, cocaine and heroin, substantial quantities of amphetamines, barbiturates and other synthetic drugs.

How do such vast quantities of dangerous drugs enter the country? What kind of profits do the big-time smugglers reap? What are their ties to organized crime? What is being done to deter these brokers of misery?

Seeking answers to these basic questions, I traveled from Miami to New York, from Tijuana to Montreal, probing the shadowy world of illicit narcotics. To understand this world, it is necessary to look at each drug separately.

 Marijuana by the Ton.

80% of the marijuana used in this country originates in Mexico, where peons from it on small plots, carry it to town by donkey and sell it for perhaps $4 a kilo (2.2 lbs). The marijuana leaves are then packed in one-kilo cellophane packages, and stored until transported up Mexico’s highways to points along the Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California borders.

Much of it winds up in Tijuana, the wide-open border town just below San Diego, Because of Tijuana’s heavy international traffic – more than 100,000 people cross the border every day – most of the college students, hippies and others who buy small amounts of marijuana there manage to get through Customs without being caught, But they account for only a small percentage of the Mexican marijuana smuggled into this country.

Most of it is brought in by big-money professionals. In his new book, The Smugglers, author Timothy Green tells of a top Tijuana dealer who currently sends two or three cars into the United States every day, each carrying more than 300 lbs of “grass” hidden in gas tanks, secret panels or customized upholstery. He buys the marijuana for $12,000 a ton and delivers it in San Diego for $65,000, in Los Angeles for $100,000 and in San Francisco for $200,000. Local pushers then break down the kilo bricks into ounce bags, which sell for $25 to $35, and into individual cigarettes – which usually go for 50 cents to a dollar apiece. Thus a kilo of marijuana, purchase originally in Mexico for $4, can bring more than $1000 once it reaches big-city slums or college campuses.

 SeeThe Smugglers of Misery – Part II’

 Source: The Reader’s Digest, April 1970, by William Schulz



Dear Shipmates:
You may or may not be aware of the gym exercise program Catch A Lift.
   The program – established by former Intrepid crew member Dave Coffland ’55-’58 (a Gold Star Father) – was created in memory of  his son, Christopher (K.I.A. 11/13/09). Dave has recently reported to me that, in regard to the fund, in these past two years his program has have been very busy.
   Dave’s organization now receives 10 to 15 applications per week from wounded vets of the Iraq/Afghan wars. Sorry to say many many of them are with post Traumatic Syndrome.
   Catch A Lift  works with the Walter Reed Hospital in Bethesda, MD and they notify Dave of vets as they are released to civilian life. When they seek further medical help the VA doctors prescribe gym exercise as the best avenue for mental and physical health, but, sorry to say, if a vet left a part of  his/her body…an arm or leg in a foreign country or have suffered mental issues resulting from their service, the U.S. Govt. does not pay for a gym!
   Most of these troops are on low financial assistance so Catch A Lift gives them a Free Gym Membership any where in the U.S.
   Dave is seeking all the help he can muster, by asking all of us, to help spread the word about the Catch A Lift Fund and to ask our representatives why this our government shuns this responsibility! Of course, the caveat is we accept all donations!
   Please go to to see and learn about some of these courageous warriors! And…spread the word to your State, County and Washington representatives, and your local news media.
   As Dave ended his message to me, he stated…”God Bless and hope all are in fine health and spirits
Lets Not Forget Those Who Have Gone Before Us

Repatriation of Remains of 13 U.S. Sailors in Libya

The Repartriation of the remains of 13 U.S. Intrepid sailors may not happen soon.

The remains of 13 American sailors buried in the libyan capital of Tripoli for more than 200 years may be there a bit longer.

The sailors were the casualties of a mission to destroy a once-thriving pirate fleet, and their descendants have sought for years to repatriate the remains. Their efforts have been alternately blocked by the Gaddafi government and resisted by defense officials.

Soon after the ouster of the Gaddafi government, the Senate was on the brink of passing legislation that would have required the Pentagon to seek the return of the remains. But the provision now appears to be on hold.

As a result, the repatriation of the officers and crew of the USS Intrepid might not happen anytime soon.

The story of the USS Intrepid is part of the history of what is known as the First Barbary War. In 1804, the 13 sailors aboard the vessel were dispatched with explosives to blow up the Tripoli harbor. The city’s ruler had been using it as a base for pirate ships that were pillaging American merchant vessels in the Mediterranean, and the covert mission was a last-ditch effort to end the practice.

The Americans’ vessel, however, exploded prematurely — it’s unclear exactly why — killing all on board.

The Navy has respectfully declined to retrieve the remains, saying it believes Libya is the “final resting place” of the sailors and noting that it is custom to honor the burial grounds of those lost on ships and downed aircraft. There was a formal memorial ceremony held in honor of the sailors and crew in Tripoli in 1949, and the Navy says that U.S. Embassy personnel conducted regular services there for decades afterward.

The cemetery that is believed to be the site of most of the remains is U.S. diplomatic property.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert considers the Tripoli Protestant cemetery to be the final resting place of the Intrepid sailors who sacrificed their lives for our nation,” Lt. Cmdr. Alana Garas, a Navy spokeswoman, said in a statement this week, echoing the stance of Greenert’s predecessor, Adm. Gary Roughhead.

Those behind the grass-roots repatriation effort, however, say the Tripoli cemetery is hardly Normandy.

The sailors “are not honored there,” said Michael Caputo, who coordinates the Intrepid Project, the group that has pressed to have the remains brought back. “They’re stashed there.”

The Navy has previously raised doubts about whether the remains could be found and identified after 207 years. Caputo said his group has provided the Navy with historical records that should allay those concerns.

Veterans’ organizations have backed the effort, as have key lawmakers on the Hill.

At the end of the day, the families are not satisfied with the fact that [the military] marched around the place and blew the Bosun’s whistle,” Caputo said. “The Navy should be concerned about the status of some of their earliest heroes, too.”

In the spring, the House passed legislation that would compel the Pentagon to act. And it seemed likely that the Senate would support a similar provision in the defense authorization bill — until, according to backers of the measure, it was blocked by Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) – who – by the way – was once a former crewmember of the U.S.S. Intrepid CVA-11, as attached to VA-65 during the 1961-1962 cruise.

A spokesman for McCain, a former Navy pilot and the ranking Republican on the Armed Services Committee, said the senator “is still reviewing the issue, and has asked the Navy, the Defense POW/MIA Office and the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command for their views on it.”

Supporters of repatriation say they’re stunned.

Among those killed aboard the USS Intrepid were Capt. Richard Somers, the commander of the ship, and his second in command, Lt. Henry Wadsworth.

A descendant of the lieutenant, William A. Wadsworth, a Republican representative in Connecticut’s General Assembly, has been among those to recently rally to the cause for the repatriation of the remains.

He noted that several of his relatives served in the military and died in the line of duty. And although he has visited their graves, he can’t easily do the same with the burial ground of Henry Wadsworth.

Unlike the others, he said, the lieutenant’s grave has not been treated with the same degree of honor.

I think they owe us this much as a family,” he said of the military, noting that the family has given rise to senators, soldiers and statesmen, not to mention the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the nephew of the lieutenant.

There’s an opportunity to get [Lt. Wadsworth] back now to the United States,” William Wadsworth said. “I think we should take advantage.”

Ref: Jason Ukman, Published: The Washington Post

Richard Somers, Master Commandant

An Educational Venue

 for former U.S.S. Intrepid (CV, CVA, CVS-11) Crewmembers

Chapter IV

–        Richard Somers, Master Commandant –


                           Richard Somers (1778 or 1779– September 4, 1804)

Born at Great Egg Harbor, NJ he attended school in Philadelphia with future naval heroes Stephen Decatur and Charles Stewart. He was appointed midshipman on 25 April 1797 and served in the West Indies during the Quasi-War with France on the frigate United States with Decatur and Stewart, a ship commanded by Captain John Barry.

Promoted to lieutenant on 21 May 1799, Somers was detached from the United States on 13 June 1801 and ordered to the Boston on 30 July 1801. He served on the latter frigate in the Mediterranean. After Boston returned to Washington, DC, Somers was furloughed on 11 November 1802 to await orders.

On 5 May 1803, Somers was ordered to Baltimore, MD, to man, fit out, and command the USS Nautilus, and when that schooner was ready for sea, to sail her to the Mediterranean. The Nautilus got underway on 30 June, reached Gibraltar on 27 July, and sailed four days later to Spain. He then returned to Gibraltar to meet Commodore Edward Preble, aboard the Constitution, who was bringing a new squadron for action against the Barbary pirates.

The Nautilus sailed with Preble on 6 October to Tangier where the display of American naval strength induced the Europeans of Morocco to renew the treaty of 1786. Thereafter, Tripoli became the focus of Preble’s attention.

Somers’ service as commanding officer of the Nautilus during operations against Tripoli won him promotion to Master Commandant on 18 May 1804. In the summer, he commanded a division of gunboats during five attacks on Tripoli, during the First Barbary War.

On 4 September 1804, Somers assumed command of fire ship Intrepid which had been fitted out as a “floating volcano” to be sailed into Tripoli harbor and blown up in the midst of the corsair fleet close under the walls of the city. That night, she got underway into the harbor, but she exploded prematurely, killing Somers and his entire crew of volunteers.

Somers is buried in Tripoli, Libya. In 2004, the New Jersey state assembly passed two resolutions calling for the return of his remains. It is hoped that with the fall of Moammar Gadhafi’s regime in Libya in August 2011 that the effort to repatriate the remains will finally be successful.

Since 1804, six ships of the US Navy have successively been named the USS Somers in his honor.The town of Somers, NY, located in Westchester County is named in his honor. Somers Point, NJ, is named after Richard’s great-grandfather.



Intrepid Project Works To Return Intrepid Sailors To United States

The bodies of five New York sailors who were killed when the first USS Intrepid sank back in 1804 may at last be returned to American soil thanks to improved relations between the United States and Libya, but tension between advocates and the Navy could bring things to a halt.

The bodies of five New York sailors who were killed when the first USS Intrepid sank back in 1804 may – hopefully – be returned to American soil, but tension between advocates and the Navy could bring things to a halt.  

The United States didn’t send Americans to fight in Libya this last time, but they did two centuries ago. Some never came home.

I only have one hero in my family. I would like to visit his grave,” says Dean Somers, a descendent of Captain Richard Somers, who led a crew of 13 men, including five sailors who enlisted in New York City.

In 1804, the Intrepid was loaded with explosives to repel Barbary pirates attacking merchant ships. It blew up, either from an enemy cannon, or an intentionally lit fuse to escape capture.

The sailors’ bodies washed ashore. They were fed on by dogs. Most ended up in communal graves long left in disrepair.

I saw the pictures of the graves and I heard the story of how they were treated, and I’m just not able to sleep at night until these men come home,” says Michael Caputo of the Intrepid Project.

The cause has attracted a motley crew that includes Caputo, who ran the campaign of Carl Paladino, the failed GOP candidate for governor. On the other side of this issue has been an unlikely opponent…the United States Navy.

Officials have said they would consider the men’s final resting spot, adding that the cemetery is being renovated.

Congress has been expecting to force the Navy to begin a nine-month study into the feasibility of bringing the remains home. Some say that may not be good enough.

We think we have a window, but we don’t know what a future government will look like. We don’t know what their relationship will be like with the United States. We don’t know if they will be friendly,” says New Jersey Representative Frank Lobiondo.

And the Somers family says their demand has always been a U.S. burial.

For years after Somers’ death, his sister asked that his body be returned from Tripoli and be reinterred at the family plot in New Jersey. Her wish was unfulfilled at the time of her own death, so she asked that a marker in memory of her brother be placed next to her grave.

I could come and be here and visit it. It’s home for him,” says Somers.

The others sailors may never be paired with their descendants, but under the plan, the nation could honor their service with a burial at Arlington National Cemetery.







This Educational Venue is for former Intrepid Crewmembers

who served …’with pride and dedication’