I met World War II Navy veteran Charlie Conrad several years ago at a patriotic picnic gathering near my home. He had a ball cap with a Navy design on it and so I approached him (as I have done with many veterans) to ask if I could interview him.
He allowed me to do so and it was a wonderful talk.
He is now deceased. He lived near my sister so when I drive past his former home, I think of him and his love for the Navy and his country, the grand old USA.
Thanks to all veterans reading this for your service to our country.
“Every minute of every day I knew someone was trying to kill me,” said Charlie Conrad of Fort Wayne, Indiana.
During World War II, Conrad was assigned to the USS Farquhar DE-139. “We were a destroyer escort,” he said. “Our job was to chase and sink German subs across the Atlantic.”
The Farquhar was part of an American convoy consisting of the carrier, USS Mission Bay CVE-59, and two other destroyers: USS Douglas L. Howard DE-138 and the USS Hill DE-141.
On April 22, 1945, the USS Frederick C. Davis DE-136 was torpedoed and sunk by the German submarine, U-881, commanded by Dr. Heinz Frische operating around the southern part of the Grand Bank of Canada.
The German submarine was one of a deadly force of underwater vessels that had sunk approximately 2,779 Allied vessels during the past four years.
On May 2, the Farquhar and other ships in the convoy left Newfoundland to scout the waters along America’s east coast. When the U-881 honed in on the group, Frische decided to attack the Mission Bay.
He closed the sub in at 1,200 meters to use her torpedoes.
Lt. Lloyd R. Borst of the Farquhar ordered that depth charges be detonated in an attempt to take care of the German sub. The Farquhar dropped 13.
The sonar buoy released at 0527 hours registered several violent explosions. The crew was uncertain as to the exact cause and the entire division searched the area for the next 12 hours for signs of the sub’s sinking.
When no evidence of the U-boat was ever found, it was presumed sunk without leaving any trace. The search was called off.
Conrad, born and raised in Urbana, Indiana, enlisted in the Navy in 1943. He was assigned to the Farquhar, part of the American Navy’s Fifth Fleet established in 1944, as it patrolled the Marshall Islands and Saipan and Tarawa of the South Pacific.
Conrad was assigned as a fireman and eventually became a cook. At general quarters he manned 20-mm and 40-mm fantail guns outside the galley door.
The destruction of U-881 was just two days before Germany surrendered on May 8, 1945. Thus, the U-881 was the last German submarine sunk by an American vessel in the Atlantic. The crew of the Farquhar received a Bronze Star.
The USS Frederick C. Davis was the last American ship sunk by the Germans during WWII.
Conrad re-enlisted and was discharged in 1960. “The military was good for me,” he said. “I believe we should require military service of our high school graduates. It would teach discipline.”
Read more about Charlie Conrad in my book, They Did It for Honor: Stories of American WWII Veterans. It contains 34 stories of men/women from every branch who served.
Charlie also introduced me to his friend, Bart Corricelli. Charlie encouraged me to interview Bart because he had been through some big battles as a Marine in the Pacific.
Boy, he was not kidding! Here is Bart’s excerpt of his story at my blog:
These two friends were part of the 16 million Americans who helped set the world free from tyranny from 1941-1945.
Hear some of them speak in one-minute talks at my Youtube Channel / World War II Veteran Interviews. Here is Bart Corricelli’s talk.
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