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

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 49 of 64

Canavan, "I did more praying in those hours I spent in the water than I had done in the twenty previous years of my life." After swimming throughout the day and late into the evening, Canavan reached the shores of nearby Florida Island. He had covered over a dozen miles of ocean water in nearly twenty hours. Late in the night, Canavan emerged from the water slashing the soles of his feet on coral under the surfline. Despite his lacerations, he collapsed on the beach and fell into a deep sleep. He remained in that state for so long that the local natives covered him with protective palm fronds. Famished, Canavan tried to eat a coconut for nourishment, but he failed to stomach the milk and coconut meat. During the day he hiked along Florida Island's shoreline through deserted native villages toward Tulagi. After sleeping under cover a second night on Florida Island he located the closest point of land on Florida Island to American-occupied Tulagi. Dehydrated and exhausted and with only 400 yards of water between him and a Marine outpost on Tulagi, Canavan tried to swim the final leg of his odyssey. On his first attempt he was thwarted by strong currents between the islands. He made it across on his second try. But to his surprise, the Marines appeared to believe he was an enemy intruder and were prepared to shoot first ask questions later. The unit's commanding officer decided to take a chance and ordered his men to hold their fire. Canavan's life was spared yet again. Canavan finally crawled out of the water and the Marines carried him to their encampment. Next they sent him to the base hospital to recover his strength. After he recuperated the Navy reassigned him to a new unit. Fiercely loyal to his commander and crew, Canavan disobeyed orders and stowed away on a PBY amphibious aircraft headed back to Guadalcanal. After disembarking at Henderson Field, Canavan returned to his unit and reported for duty. Not happy with Canavan disobeying orders, his Coast Guard commander dressed him down but allowed Canavan to remain with his unit on Guadalcanal. As for the HAGIKAZE, the same day that Canavan lost his boat and shipmates, the predator became the prey. In the afternoon of Wednesday, the 19th, an Army Air Corps "Flying Fortress" zoomed across Iron Bottom Sound and caught the Japanese destroyer carrying out her shore bombardment mission off the shores of Tulagi. The B-17 bomber dropped its payload and scored a lucky hit on the warship's number three gun turret--nearly sinking the HAGIKAZE, killing thirty-three and wounding thirteen of her crewmembers, and causing a mushroom cloud visible across Iron Bottom Sound at Guadalcanal. Later, the severely damaged destroyer underwent emergency repairs and fought another year until the Battle of Vella Gulf when U.S. destroyers sank her with nearly all of her crew. Back at Guadalcanal, Thursday, August 20th, proved a momentous day for the Americans defending their small strip of the island against experienced Japanese troops. Nearly two weeks after the landings on Guadalcanal, Henderson Airfield finally opened for business when nineteen Wildcat fighters and twelve Dauntless dive-bombers arrived to begin air operations against enemy land and sea forces. Coast Guard personnel serving at Guadalcanal received dozens of medals for heroism and devotion to duty making the battle for Guadalcanal one of the most honored Coast Guard combat operations in Service history. In February 1943, U.S. Army General Alexander Patch declared Guadalcanal secured of all Japanese military forces. After that the Allies remained on the offensive for the rest of the Pacific War and the Japanese fought a lengthy retreat back to their home islands. During Guadalcanal, Coast Guardsmen like Bob Canavan and his shipmate, Medal of Honor recipient Signalman 1st class Doug Munro, lived up to the Service's core values of Honor, Respect and Devotion to Duty. Canavan later returned to his hometown of Chicago after surviving one of the most physically demanding struggles in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard. � The Japanese destroyer HagiKaze, which sank Bob Canavan's LCP and killed his shipmates during their anti-submarine patrol on Wednesday, august 19th. (Courtesy of Wikipedia) 48 RESERVIST � Issue 2 • 2016

Articles in this issue

Archives of this issue

view archives of Reservist - ISS2 2016