Reservist

ISS2 2016

Reservist Magazine is the award-winning official publication of the United States Coast Guard Reserve. Quarterly issues include news and feature articles about the men and women who comprise America's premier national maritime safety and security

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Coast Guard Seaman 1st Class Frank DeVellis from Cambridge, Mass., was aboard a 382-foot U.S. Navy Landing Ship Tank (LST) on April 1, 1945. U.S. Naval Forces were beginning the invasion of Okinawa in the Pacific during WWII. Devellis was just 20 years- old. "It was about mid morning," said 91-year-old DeVellis from his Florida home. "It was a regular day, about 70 degrees. But I wasn't thinking about the weather all that much. We had Kamikaze airplanes and bullets flying over our head. It was July 4th, 50 times over. Battle wagons and cruisers were firing over and enemy forces were shooting at us. We were caught in crossfire. It was the loudest thing I have ever heard. We were right in the middle of a war. " DeVellis was a member of deck forces mounting a 20-mm anti- aircraft gun on the starboard side forward between amidships and the bow. He and his shipmates were able to shoot at least one Kamikaze plane down. Meanwhile below, members of the ship's black gang kept the engines running as the gray hull lurched toward the beach. "There were oilers and engineers down below," DeVellis explained. "Black gang had a job do and they did it well. Everyone had to do their job." DeVellis and all the men aboard would be stranded on that beach for the next ten days with "the bow hung up in coral and sand." DeVellis said he ended up with a lifetime full of memories, some not so easy to forget. The LST, which DeVellis called a floating coffin, was eventually freed from the beach by engineers blasting charges as the "black gang hit the engines in full force." "We finally got off and made it to Saipan for repairs," DeVellis explained, his voice as strong and clear as a man half his age. DeVellis was wounded in action at Okinawa and was awarded a Purple Heart. He explained later in the deployment the LST was caught in a Typhoon while underway in the Pacific near Okinawa. His buddy, Emilio Romano, from the Italian section of Boston's North End was on the deck. He was trying to weld deck plates in heavy seas and keep everything together. "We went on to be life-long friends," said DeVellis of his buddy, who has since passed away. "I remember going to the North End with him and getting a pizza." You can still get a great pizza in Boston's North End, and you can still find black gang members hard at work welding, turning wrenches, and fixing cutters and small boats at the Naval Engineering shop across the street at Coast Guard Base Boston. The same spirit of teamwork and can do attitude exhibited by DeVellis and his generation doesn't seem to have changed all that much when you talk to members of the Boston Reserve Maintenance Assist Team (R-MAT) attached to the Base Boston Naval Engineering Department (NED.) The Coast Guard Reserve is celebrating its 75th Anniversary throughout 2016 and Frank DeVellis served with charter U.S. Coast guard reservists and members of the Reserve Maintenance assist team pose for a group photo at the naval engineering Shop at Base Boston. 32 RESERVIST � Issue 2 • 2016

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