Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Attack on SS Charles Morgan

I received three photos from the Department of the Navy last week. The above image is a photocopy from their order form.

Rear echelon work shared some of the same dangers faced by the front line troops. On June 10, 1944 German bombers struck the SS Charles Morgan. There is no surviving record for casualties in the other companies, or if any beside the 304th were serving on the ship. Dave Weaver requested copies of the 304th's Company Morning reports before they were destroyed in the National Archives' 1973 fire (see image at left). Bruce Kramlich provided me with a document stating that a Pvt. Richard E. Heon went MIA on this day. I wonder if he ever turned up. Also listed as MIA is Pvt. Frank Rodriguez. This was a friend of Irving Sugarman, one of the vets I talk to. He was sad to say Rodriguez was killed.

There were seven 304th Port Co. men killed and six men injured on June 10th, 1994, presumably from the same ship bombing. All casualties to the 519th Port Bn. during the war took place in the first week of landing at Normandy. A total of 10 men were killed and 12 were wounded. The 519th Historical Report states that all of these were due to aerial bombing. However, a couple of veterans told me that at least one man was killed by a booby trap while souvenir hunting.

Bruce Kramlich's diary lists June 15, 1944 as the worst German air raid on the beach. I don't have Company Morning Reports for that day, but I do have a separate record documenting T/4 Willard Begel being killed. They were laid to rest in the Military Cemetary in Normandy. The Army named roads on Utah Beach after the fallen men.

June 10th 1944 Morning Report Figures:
Killed in action:
Pvt. Lionel L. Ridgeway*
Pvt. Francesco Barone
Pvt. James E. Curry
Pvt. Walter M. Slasinski

Wounded in action:
T/4 Ralph F Phelan
Pvt. Dwayne E. Trantham
Pfc. Raymond D. Hankins

Injured in action:
Pfc. Robert J. Ballenger
Pfc. Albert J. Karowski
2nd Lt. John C. Winfree

June 10th figures found on a later record:
Missing in action:
Pvt. Richard E. Heon of Rhode Island
Pvt. Frank Rodriguez of New York
Pvt. George J. Swinehart, Jr. of Michigan

*This summer the niece of Lionel L. Ridgeway got in touch with me. I asked the 304th Port Co. veterans if they remembered him. Remarkably, Dave Weaver did. He sat next to him on the train to Indiantown Gap. I was happy to put the two of them in touch.


  1. My grandfather was the Master of this ship Capt. William L. Adams he died in Boston. Ma in 1993 after being struck by a car in the fog walking to volunteer at the local co-op near his home. He was a great man and kind and gentle in his later years and was a wealth of information.

    Steve s. Adams
    e-mail ( )

  2. My great uncle was Pvt.Richard E. Heon. I'm interested in any veterans of the 304th Port Co,519th Port Battalion that may have know him. There probably aren't many veterans or any left but any remberance of him would be greatly appreciated from family. My mother told me he was 20 and he died during the first bombing of Normandy. Thanks!

  3. Hello. My grandpa was in the 304th, so the story in my book will apply pretty closely to your great uncle.


Thank you for your comment! You can email me too (see at right).