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Darwin Williams, Matagorda, Gets Letter of Ship


From Mr. Darwin Williams, president of the Matagorda Chamber of Commerce, comes a letter today relative to the U. S. S. Matagorda, a ship built during this war and named after the county of Matagorda and bays and inlets in this vicinity.

A story was printed when the U.S.S. Matagorda was launched and at that time Roger Perry, graduate of Annapolis and son of former Judge John F. Perry of Matagorda county, was placed in charge of the ship. In this letter written to Mr. Williams by a member of the crew of the U.S.S. Matagorda, nothing is mentioned of this but other deeds of interest and valor of the little ship appear.

The letter Mr. Williams received:

Fleet Post Office
New York, N. Y.

Chamber of Commerce, Matagorda, Texas

Gentlemen:                                                                                                                    March 28, 1945

       Having been designated to write this letter, I hardly know how to begin. Perhaps if I knew more of your city personally, I would not feel as if I were treading so uneasily. My words would come more freely; my thoughts would be clearer.

       In December, 1942, there stood in the Boston Navy Yard a cold gray, massive bulk. This was the U.S.S. Matagorda, as she appeared the day she became one of the many servants of our Navy—one of the many saviors of our country.

       Before this she was just a statistic card: “MATAGORDA, Seaplane Tender (Small AVP), Displacement 1,695 tons, Diesel-powered. Named for bays and inlets.” She had not yet begun to live. Yard workmen still poured over her like so many ants over a lump of sugar. At night she was lit up with countless burner’s and welder’s torches.

       Gradually she took shape. Her machinery was installed; turrets and gun mounts were added to make her look more like the ship she has grown to be. Officers and Men of the Navy were boarding now—her first crew—and gave the little lady more life.

       The men were new. Like others, many of them had never been aboard a ship before. They were green and inexperienced, too.

       Her generators began to hum; she was beginning to live on her own now, as she rested there at her moorings, untried and still ignorant of the ways of the sea. Many times we recall that generator’s hum. It was all we had to guide us back to her through the blacked out streets of England.

       Then that great day came—her first sea trial. It was the moment all the officers and men—yes, and she too—had been waiting for. She came through it, as she has always came through. Whether it was the cold, bitter and relentless pounding of the North Atlantic, or the calm serene waters of the Carribbean, she came through, never letting her crew or her country down.

       As a seaplane tender, her performances are beyond compare. She has kept our patrol planes in the sky and helped them rid the Atlantic Area of enemy submarines that played havoc with our shipping. As a rescue ship, she is even more uncompromisingly active. The Matagorda has clutched many survivors of the sea from slow, agonizing death by starvation and thirst, and has sent them on to bigger and faster ships to further our campaign against the enemy and his scourge.

       Yes, she is our ship. But more, she is our life, our home and our comfort. We are as proud of her name Matagorda and the ship that bears it, as you are undoubtedly proud of your City of Matagorda.    We hope, with the help of God, that we may keep her sailing and performing the great service she is doing for our Navy and country in the future, as well as she has in the past.

Sincerely, Joseph I. Schackner

The Daily Tribune, May 8, 1945


For additional information and photographs of the U.S.S. Matagorda, please see the following website: