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Machinist's Mate Third Class Joseph Buell Eastman
U. S. Coast Guard
Ser. # 614235

June 1, 1915 - March 9, 1944
Tablets of the Missing
Cambridge American Cemetery
Cambridge, England

Gold Star Mother Mary Annie Fojtik Eastman

Machinists Mate Third Class Joseph Buell/Benjamin Eastman, Jr.*, U.S. Coast Guard [June 1, 1915 – March 9, 1944] was born to Joseph Buell Eastman [March 9, 1887 – April 13, 1962] and Mary Annie (Fojtik) Eastman [August 22, 1890 – January 3, 1990] at Matagorda County, Texas.  Joseph was a graduate of Bay City High School, and a member of First Methodist Church.  He was particularly fond of fishing and hunting. On June 1st, 1938 he married Miss Elva (Eva) Adeline Hale from Matagorda County. Before joining the Coast Guard c. 1942, he was engaged in farming. The following year, Eva and Joseph celebrated the birth of their daughter Betty Gene “Gennie” in Wharton County. After primary training at La Porte, Texas he was at New Orleans for some time, and then was stationed at Padre Island below Corpus Christi.  At an undetermined date he was assigned to the USS Leopold (DE-319), a U.S. Navy ship fully manned by Coast Guardsmen. The Leopold was launched at Orange, Texas on June 12, 1943, and Joseph may have been among her original crew (plank owners).  Leopold went to sea on her first assignment on December 24, 1943 as part of Task Force 61, escorting convoy UGS-68 to the Mediterranean.  The convoy reached the Straits of Gibraltar on January 10th and was turned over to British escorts.  She moored at Casablanca on the 11th.  On January 16th, she began escorting a convoy back to New York, arriving on February 4th.  At this time Joseph took a short furlough and went home to visit his wife and family.  Departing New York on March 1, on her second voyage, the Leopold took her screening station, as part of Escort Division 22, with the 27 ship convoy CU-16 bound for the British Isles.  On March 9th, south of Iceland, she reported a radar contact at 1950 [7:50PM] at 8,000 yards which placed it seven miles south of the convoy.  Assisted by her sister ship the USS Joyce (DE-317); a flare was released and gun crews strained to sight the submarine in the lighted area.  The U-boat was almost submerged when spotted and the gun crews had to work blind.  Leopold was struck by an acoustic torpedo fired from the German U-boat U-255.  Severely damaged, she was abandoned.  The Joyce rescued 28 survivors at the close of the action; 171 others were lost through explosion on board or drowning after abandoning ship.**  Leopold remained barely afloat until early the next morning, then sank just south of Iceland.  Joseph’s remains were not recovered.  He was survived by his wife:  Eva and their daughter Gennie; and his parents: Joseph and Mary.  At the time of his death his family was living in Cedar Lane.  Joseph is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at Cambridge American Cemetery, Cambridge, England.


* Joseph’s middle name is found either as Buell/Jr. or Benjamin.  It is not known which is correct.

Leopold was next to the Coast Guard's biggest loss of life in WWII, the Serpens explosion had 198 lost.  The USCG manned 30 destroyer escorts during WWII.
The white round
dot southeast of Iceland (large white land mass at the top) on the map above gives the approximate location of the sinking of the USS Leopold.

J. B. Eastman, Jr., F 2-c With U.S. Coast Guard

Missing In Action


Parents of Cedar Lane and Wife Get Official Word Wed.


Official announcement was received here Wednesday that J. B. Eastman, Jr., F2/c of the U. S. Coast Guard, is missing in action against the enemy in the North Atlantic war arena.


Through a personal visit of Chaplain Edwin R. Howard of the U.S. Naval Reserve from Galveston, word of his missing was brought to Mrs. Eastman who was with her baby daughter, is making her home with her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Hale.


Son of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Eastman, Sr., of Cedar Lane, J. B. Jr., was widely known throughout Matagorda County where he was born and where he was engaged in farming prior to his enlistment in the coast guard about two years ago.  He was a graduate of Bay City high school and had many friends among the sportsmen of the district. , being particularly fond of out-of-door recreation such as fishing and hunting.  He was a member of the Wesley Class of the First Methodist church.


After primary training at La Porte, Texas he was at New Orleans for some time and later was stationed at Padre Island below Corpus Christi.  It was about three weeks ago that he had a short leave from duty out of New York City and flew here for a visit with his family.


The message bearing word of his missing also expressed the sympathy of the U.S. Navy Department and of the U.S. Coast Guard.


The Daily Tribune, Thursday, March 16, 1944


Texas Gulf Personnel Has Enviable War Service Record

Newgulf's Gold Star Honor Roll

J. B. Eastman, Jr., F-2/C, USCG--Reported missing in action against the enemy in the north Atlantic war arena, March 1944. He was the son of Mr. and Mrs. J. B. Eastman. His father has been employed by Texas Gulf Sulphur Company since March 22, 1919, and is now Painter Foreman.

100th Anniversary Edition of the Matagorda County Tribune, August 23, 1945


Funeral services for Mary Annie Fojtik Eastman, 99, of Cedar Lane will be held 2 p.m. Friday at Taylor Brothers Funeral Home with the Rev. W. A. Haskell and the Rev. W. E. Dugger, Jr. officiating. Burial to follow in Roselawn Memorial Park, Van Vleck.

Mrs. Eastman was born Aug. 22, 1890, in Smithville, Texas, and died Jan. 3, 1990, at Bay Villa Nursing Home, Bay City.

She was a resident of Cedar Lane for over 50 years.

Survivors include a granddaughter, Gennie Eastman McAferty and grandson-in-law, Tom C. McAferty, Jr. of Grapevine, Texas; two great-grandsons, Thomas Graham McAfterty and Michael David McAferty, also of Grapevine; and extended family members, Eva and J. P. "Prep" Graham, Kaye and Robin Orr, Margaret, Barry, Alan and Addie Nauman, all of Bay City; a brother, Albert Fojtik of Bellmore, N. Y., and numerous nieces and nephews.

Pallbearers include Pete Hale Jr., Presley Hale, Joe Wyse, Philip Bowie, Don Ross and Ira Clements.

She was preceded in death by her son, J. B. Eastman, Jr. who was killed in action during World War II in 1944 and her husband, J. B. Eastman, in 1962.

Arrangements are with Taylor Brothers Funeral Home, Bay City.

The Daily Tribune, January 4, 1990

J. B. and Mary Eastman and great-grandchildren of May Patterson Hopson
Photo courtesy of Helen Hopson


Joseph B. Eastman Longtime Resident Of County, Expires

Final rites for Joseph Buell Eastman of Cedar Lane, 75, were held at 3 p.m. Sunday from Taylor Brothers Funeral Home, with Rev. Martin Rucker of Cedar Lane Baptist Church officiating. Burial was in Roselawn Memorial Park. He expired Friday following an extended illness.

Mr. Eastman was born in Austin County and had resided in Matagorda County for over 40 years. He was a retired employee of Texas Gulf Sulphur Company, started with the company at the Old Gulf plant on March 19, 1919, then going to Newgulf Sept. 23, 1936, where he worked until his retirement April 1, 1952. He raised cattle and sheep in his later years in Cedar Lane.

Mr. Eastman was a member of the Bay City Masonic and Oddfellow Lodges. A son, Joseph Benjamin Eastman, preceded him in death during World War II.

Survivors are the wife, Mrs. Mary A. Eastman, one daughter, Mrs. Julia Bernetta Hammond of West Columbia; two sisters, Mrs. Vida Karback of Houston and Mrs. Etta Mae Massey of Rosenberg; two brothers, Arch Eastman of LaMarque and Rev. Gilbert Eastman of Raton, New Mexico, and Miss Gennie Eastman of Bay City, a granddaughter.

Pallbearers were Hershel Shepard, Billy Hammond, Alex Lyle, J. W. Norell, Paul Andrews, and Murray Clapp.

The Daily Tribune, April 16, 1982

Pictures courtesy of Kenneth L. Thames.


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All rights reserved

Jan. 28, 2006
Jan. 15, 2009