U.S.A.T. SEA MARLIN
THE CAPTAIN AND HIS SHIP
Doubtless many of you would like to drop in to see the skipper of the ship, as the master of any vessel is usually of interest to the passengers aboard. However, as we all know, such procedure aboard a troop transport is quite impossible. So we decided that we’d tell those of you are interested, a bit about our skipper, Capt. George Ekstrom of the Merchant Marine.
He started sailing in the year of 1898 at the age of 13, starting as a cook. He then became ordinary seaman, later an able seaman, and thereafter he worked in various capacities going up the ladder in the hard school until he became master of his own ship. In his span of years at sea, he has hit just about every port in the world. By the way, up until the last World War he put to sea only in sailing ships/. Then he decided that sailing ships were a past. After the war, he sailed on various types of steam vessels and on January 30, 1944 he was put in command of this ship, the USAT SEA MARLIN, taking the vessel out of the Engalls Ship Building Corporation in Pascagoula, Mississippi. The Captain and his ship sailed from New Orleans, Louisiana, on February 9, 1944 with troops for Australia and New Guinea, and have been roaming the Pacific ever since.
When asked where his home was, the Captain replied, “The sea is my home otherwise it’s any place I hang my hat.”
We asked the Captain what his post war plans were. He said, “My one desire when all this is all over with, is to drop my anchor and settle down in a little shack by the sea to paint pictures all day and to keep out of mischief.”
EDITOR’S NOTE: The Captain, we found out, is a fine artiste. He has on display in his quarters a splendid assortment of oils, depicting the many types of sailing and steam vessels on which he ahs sailed. We think they are super. Keep up the good work, Cap’n.
Like the Captain, another man we thought you should know wonething(sp) about is your Transport Commander, Major F. B. Willert. A brief study of the Major reveals the following:
The Major is now 44, first saw the light of day in Indian Territory, Oklahoma. He lived most of this life however in Willamette, Oregon. Major Willert attended Oregon State University and after graduation devoted his time to engineering and various occupations in the timber country of the Northwest. Among other occupations, the Major also taught school for ten years.
Major Willert entered the army with a Second Lieutenant Reserve Commission in the 736th M. P. Battalion. After service with the MP’s he then became Transport Commander of the SS Perida(sp) and in February of 1944 was assigned Transport Commander aboard the Sea Marlin(sp).
As to post-war ambitions, the Major said that he does not have any definite idea as to whay(sp) he’ll do, however, he is certain that he will not re-enlist.
The Major said that, as a whole, the troops aboard are one of the best groups he has had and that he likes their cooperative spirit.
In conclusion of our interview, the Major remarked that any credit being given for efficiency should go to the men who serve under him.
EDITOR’S NOTE: We think that the Major has done a fine job as Transport Commander and we believe that he too has shown the cooperative spirit of which he spoke.
Here are some of the men about whom the Major talked in regards to giving credit where credit is due:
Lt Col Garrel D. Snyder, CA
Capt Richard C. Borella, CA
Capt K. H. Gruberg, Transport Surgeon
1st Lt Howard C. Day, Transport Chaplain
1st Lt D. E. Wood Commissary Sales Off.
T/Sgt Alex Kaplan, Sgt Major
Pfc Jackson Hospers, Asst. Sgt Major
S/Sgt H. H. Stoyke, Mess Sgt
T/Sgt Arthur J. Crandall, Actg. 1st Sgt.
Captain, George Ekstrom
Chief Mate, Winifred L. Price
Purser, James W. Price, Jr.
Chief Engr, Robert F. Spears
Chief Electrician, Jack O. Hayes
ARMED GUARD PERSONAL
Lt. comdr Dale V. Walfron, USNR
Lt (jg) H. B. Kakterbeuser, USNR
Lt (jg) Herbert J. Edwards, USNR
GM1c Walter G. Jones USNR
A SEA VOYAGE
We can remember, with reluctance, our first day aboard the USAT Sea Marlin(sp). Like most voyages at the expense of the Army, the beginning was a rocky one.
There we stood and patently awaiting like pack mules and patiently awaiting our turn to board the transport. It seemed like an endless wait. As the hours flicked by, and as our pack and duffel bags took on seemingly gigantic proportions, we felt sure that our backs would remain permanently hunched. Night came and finally gave way to dawn, at which time we found ourselves at last staggering up the treacherous gangway. Fighting off fatigue, we made it to the hold were new problems confronted us, that of finding a bunk. After losing ten races, we thought we’d be smart by waiting until the track-meet was over. Thanks to this strategy, we found bunk two days later……..in the boiler room. Of course, this is slightly exaggerated. Seriously though, once we got settled we found that the Sea Marlin(sp) was “all reet.”
Memoirs of this sea voyage, we’re glad to say, were mainly pleasant ones. Of course, there were the usual sea sickness at first. We didn’t get sea sick, thought I sat in a green deck chair and no one noticed me. But thanks to having quite a few sea trips to our credits, sea sickness didn’t last very long with us.
After getting underway, we made a few stops. It’s nice to remember on those layovers the cool evenings on deck under the starslit(sp) skies, the nightly movie on the deck was an added pleasure, and one that was looked forward to every night. We even had some stage show on deck every now and then.
Of course, when we were moving there couldn’t be any deck activity. However, movies were shown in the holds. We know that it gets quite stuffy when a bunch of men gather in a hold, but this was offset by the fact that many of us preferred the nightly Bingo games instead of the movie. The Bingo games, by the way, became very popular, as a matter of fact there were never enough cards to go around. An added feature to playing Bingo was that the winners didn’t have to worry about the cigarette shortage because the prizes kept them amply supplied.
Many a pleasant afternoon was spent by book lovers, who would procure from the well equipped library a good novel with which they would curl up on the deck, forgetting their cares. Religion was something that was never lacking, as Transport Chaplain Howard C. Day saw to it that no matter what your religion was, you got plenty of it. Chaplain Day was ably assisted in religious services by passenger Chaplain Vernon A. Kuester.
We can’t forget the chow that was served. The cooks and ship’s complement did a yeomanlike job in the preparation of three meals per day. Therr(sp) meals a day was in itself an innovation when compared to other not too pleasant voyages. We can recall, reluctantly, on those trips, the vain attempts made at two alleged meals a day. Hence we were quite satisfied with the gastronomical side of the voyage.
We surely don’t want to forget our good fortune in having females aboard. The nurses and Red Cross workers added color and glamour to what would have been an otherwise colorless trip.
Of courses, all was not sugar and cream; that is to be expected aboard any Army transport. Some of us didn’t like G.Q. because we were exponents of the late to bed, late to raise theory. However, we fully realize now, that it was for our own good. Then, there were others of us who didn’t appreciate the early morning salt water shower afforded us by the clean-up detail. But after the job was done and the griping was o’er, a clean ship made up for everything. Yes, difficulties arose, but thanks to expert guidance, problems were dealt withefficiently(sp) enough so as to afford us a safe and sane journey.
Have we got memories: I should say!! And plenty! Whenever we pore(sp) over our memories again, we’ll always think of the Sea Marlin(sp) as a ship to remember.
- By P. H. Fitzpatrick, RM 2/c -
A tough nine weeks on a tough old ship;
Our memories of this will never slip.
The baking sun, the wind, the rain,
The hours we spent in a gin rummy game.
After seasickness vanished, we settled down
To the life of a troopship foreign bound.
Our duties were few, some had none at all
We starred at the stars till tattoo’s call.
No ship at sea could have more recreation
Seeing shows and such were great relaxation.
The trip was tough every bit of the way
But we complained a little less, each new day.
When the war is over and home we go,
The folks from the home front will want to know
What ship did you go on, and what did you see?
We went on the Sea Marlin(sp) and saw the sea.