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The Monaghan's Sole Living Survivor

 
War Stories: Heroism in the Pacific by North, Oliver
 
      
Interview with Even Fenn


February 27th 2005  8:00 PM ET

A Tribute to the Tin Can Sailors

Click here for more details on FNC War Stories


18 December 2002 9:12 AM PST  "The Lord answered a long standing prayer for me last night as I was updating our website with new found information" said PDN Webmaster Dave Jenest in a message to his members. "A dream whose roots extend back some 50 years came true: I found the last living survivor from my dads ship... he is alive and well in Arizona.

For years, I searched for the survivors of the USS MONAGHAN.  Two years ago I found an article about a VFW Post Commander who would be the Grand Marshall in a Veterans Day parade. He had served on my dad's ship when she sank a mini-submarine as she went to sea during the attack on Pearl Harbor. He transferred off a year or two before the disaster.  I've connected with a few people who had second and third-hand information about the events of those three days before the men were rescued. One read a story from a local newspaper of the period, another said they had made a movie about the survivors. So many have passed away in the past decade.

The Internet can be a powerful tool.  From the Crew Members of the USS Tabberer report (second to last paragraph) came a name, Evan Fenn,  that wasn't in the Navy Department's press release:

Six men from the USS Monaghan, a third destroyer that had capsized, still drifted in the sea. Evan Fenn, one of the six, suffered from severe leg lacerations, but he refused to give up. On the 21st he confidently told the others they would be rescued that day. Sure enough he was right. They were discovered by the USS Brown and became the Monaghan's only survivors.

This short paragraph demonstrates the true grit and determination of these young war heroes. A new lead, and new opportunity to search.... for Evan Fenn.  Up pops Tin Can Sailors Shipmate Registry

Hull Number Shipmate Rank/Rate Dates Aboard Email Address Comments
DD-354 Jack Arthur EM 2/c Jan -42 till Nov --44 Jackhazelus@yahoo.com All Dead
DD-354 Frank 'Bud' Considine BSM 2/c   rorovin@aol.com  
DD-354 Evan Fenn   -- To Dec 18,1944 galleon@theriver.com Was on Monaghan when it sunk. Is very much alive. 1 of 6
DD-354 Loyd Scott TTM 1/c 1941 to 1942 grizzly93@juno.com I Live in Cohasset, Ca.

Initially, Jack Arthur's "Comments" post confirmed what I had heard from others during last year's search.  I sent Evan Fenn an email anyway and one to Jack. I wasn't really expecting a reply and had no real clue as to how long ago this message had been posted. I flagged my website for any hits from Evan's ISP (wishful thinking came to mind)  Then it happened:

Patriot Watch
Recent Visitor Details

Detail Domain Name Last Page View Page
Views
Visit Length
  8 
theriver.com   

7:58:22 pm

4

5:53

Could it really be? Then this morning, an email arrived from Evan's next-door neighbor Tony Gallego.  This lifetime desire to communicate directly with someone who served with my dad, was inspired again by updating my pages on yet another anniversary of this terrible incident that took so many young lives.

Update 27 December 2003: I just heard today from Jack Arthur's grandson that he had passed away just months before I sent the first e-mails to he and Evan.  I shared that news with Evan today.  On an upbeat note, Evan has heard from other family members and we'll be sharing their stories here as they arrive.  I would like to devote some more space to the Hull and Spence since there's a greater chance that Typhoon Cobra survivors are still alive.

 

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One look at this rare photo says it all.  Consider how tall a carriers rides in the sea (freeboard) and what the power of 110 knott winds and 70 foot seas can do to a ship her size. If you connect the # 5 dots in the chart below and imagine human beings thrust into that sea, only God's hand could have spared those few brave men.

USS Langley (CVL -28) on a roll to starboard. "Even the largest and most seaworthy vessels become virtually unmanageable and may sustain heavy damage."

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The green dots are where Weather Central said the storm was and the purple dots are where Halsey's aerologist said it was. The red dots represent the storm's actual center at those times and the red and black dots numbered 5 mark the position of the storm and of the Third Fleet respectively at 0900 on 18 December.

 
The actual time of Monaghan's loss has never been determined, nor is the exact location of her sinking known. She was last heard from at 1007 on the 18th. Watertender Second Class Joseph C. McCrane spoke of sounding the fuel tanks at sometime between 1000 and 1030, in preparation for ballasting The ship was rolling too heavily to continue that operation so he sought shelter in the after five-inch gun-mount, which he found crowded.  I suspect my dad, a Chief Gunner's mate, was among them.

"We must have taken at least seven or eight heavy rolls to starboard when the ship finally rolled over on her side," McCrane said The weight of the gun mount door and the wind blowing against it made it difficult to open "But eventually, we did get it open and managed to crawl out. Thankfully, none of the men had panicked, nor was there any confusion among them. They did the best they could to help their shipmates." They were all thrown into the sea and eventually McCrane found himself on a life raft with nine others.

One, Gunner's Mate Joe Guio, who had stood outside the gun mount hatch pulling sailors out, died from exhaustion. During the next three days, two more died from exposure. Another thought he saw land and houses and swam off into the night. On the third day, the raft was spotted by search planes and, within an hour, USS Brown (DD-546) came to their rescue.

There were six of them - all that was left of Monaghan and her crew. Evan Fenn, is likely the last living survivor of the U.S.S. Monaghan.


PDN Webmaster Note: Since the above reports were added to the website, I've kept in touch with my new found friend. After all, Evan is about the same age as my dad would have been. He joined the crew of my dad's ship at Pearl Harbor in the summer of 1943.

Evan lives an active retirement life. His hobbies include refurbishing farm tractors and selling them along the roadway near his modest ranch in Arizona.  Evan kept in touch with Joseph C. McCrane for a number of years. They spoke as recently as two or three years ago.  The same can be said for Doyle Carpenter   I hope to chronicle more of Evan's story as we approach yet another anniversary of Typhoon Cobra. Thanks to top rankings in various search engines, friends and family members of the Monaghan's crew pop up from time to time and share even more information with us.

Recently I heard from family members of John (Jack) Bowen who served aboard the Monaghan during Pearl Harbor.  His story and the accompanying photos and news clippings will be added here soon. I'll be sending Evan copies of the photos to see if these shipmates recognize one another.  History is being reborn as these stories emerge and are preserved for future generations.  I shared these events recently with the children of Howe Elementary School. (See: Vets in School project)

UPDATE November 18, 2004:  Evan's story and those of The Tin Can Sailors is being documented for the very popular and highly regarded Oliver Noth's War Stories cable news program. In making connections with the producers, PDN has received updates and photos from our family members. One of those e-mails tells of the heroism of Gunner's Mate Joe Guio:

I have spoken with Evan on several occasions in the past year after my brother, David (Major USAF), discovered the information provided on the "Patriot Defenders Network" by Dave Jenest, late last year. Dave got me in touch with Evan. He remembered my great uncle very well and remarked that: "it was Joe who had actually grabbed me and safely got me to the raft ... your Uncle Joe was the one who saved my life that day".

We have attempted to retrieve any medals that he may have earned during his service, with out much luck. It is my goal to continue to pursue this as much as possible. Possibly with statements confirmed by Mr. Fenn this may be possible.

I have news clipping from several parts of the country reporting the USS Monaghan's story, along with photos and many personal letters that Uncle Joe sent home during the war.

Mark Guio

I cannot begin to express the joy this has brought to me, your humble webmaster. Every year, on the anniversary of 18 December 1944, I take a private moment to honor my father's service and the sacrifice of so many men those tragic days.  Many of their children share this special anniversary, having been conceived on these ship's last liberty in the summer of 1944.  That little item of trivia lives within us, having reached age sixty in the same year of the 60th anniversary of Typhoon Cobra that took their lives. At long last, some of our family members will have an opportunity to see their loved one honored in a special and more appropriate way.  The Tin Can Sailors of the USS Hull, Spence and Monaghan deserve nothing less.  Our tribute to all of them and their families.  God bless you and God Bless America.

 

  E-Mail Typhoon Cobra Family-Resource List if you have a personal connection to these events.

 

 

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