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Heroic Weathermen To Be Given Purple Hearts At Last

19 Nov 2015, 1:04 pm

Muskeget weather heart
Four meteorologists will finally receive their Purple Hearts on Thursday at the Naval Heritage Center at the U.S. Navy Memorial in Washington, DC. According to the Washington Post, the four men will be the first National Weather Service employees to be awarded the Purple Heart for their service in World War II.

Lester S. Fodor

27, a weather observer from Cleveland

Luther H. Brady

27, an assistant weather observer from Atlanta

George F. Kubach

24, an assistant weather observer from Sandusky, Ohio

Edward Weber

24, a junior weather observer from Brooklyn

All perished when a German U-boat torpedoed the Muskeget in the dangerous waters of the North Atlantic in September of 1942.

The Muskeget was an aged weather ship used by the U.S. Coast Guard to transmit crucial weather reports for the Battle of the Atlantic; the longest continuous battle of WWII. The meteorologists measured pressure, humidity, wind and temperature to include in data to be used by the Allied forces.

On September 9th, the Muskeget sent back its last weather report before the arrival of a relief weather ship when the German sub targeted the weather ship. When the relief U.S. weather ship reached the area, there was no trace of any wreckage or bodies. The Muskeget was the only weather ship lost during the war.

Of the 102 men aboard the Muskeget, all crew members received the Purple Heart except the four meteorologists. It was an oversight until three years ago when a private historian began researching how many people on the Muskeget received medals. 73 years later, the four men will be honored properly for their service to science and the Nation.

The telegram every family feared receiving.

Sadly, the families of all of the crewmen on board Muskeget received such a telegram from the Navy Department, followed by a letter from the Secretary of the Navy, Frank Knox, indicating that their loved one was missing in action. Knox informed them that the Commandant of the Coast Guard, Vice Admiral Russell Waesche, would “advise you when further information is available.” Unfortunately, no such notification was with BM1 Kelsch’s mother’s papers, which were donated to the Coast Guard Historian’s Office. It is apparent that it was quite some time before she learned of the official declaration, from the Coast Guard, of her son’s death. In an official reply to a request for information that Mrs. Kelsch sent to Coast Guard Headquarters in 1948, the chief of the Military Morale Division of the Coast Guard noted that the “Secretary of the Navy found that his death was presumed to have occurred on 10 September 1943 [sic]. His death was in the line of duty and was not the result of his own misconduct.” The officer who wrote the letter enclosed a certified copy of a “Finding of Death in lieu of a death certificate.”

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