THE RARE BREED |
Recognizing Area Veterans Of World War II
Frank Sanders' Ship Ferried
Troops For D-Day Invasion
FRANK SANDERS and buddy, Choppy Hammlin. They went thru boot camp together in 1942.
Just as soon as he reached his 18th birthday, which was Aug. 8, 1942, Frank Sanders was off the shrimp boat and headed for Port Arthur, where he joined the Coast Guard, enlisting as Seaman First Class.
That launched a tenure of a little over three years of duty, a lot of which aboard troop carriers crossing through the submarine-infested waters of the North Atlantic.
Frank was born on that Aug. 8 date in 1924 at Bayou LaBatre, Alabama to Robert and Daisy Sanders. He says he "immigrated" to Palacios with his shrimping and fishing family as a 7-year-old in 1931.
He well remembers where he was when the Japs attacked Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. "I was on a Coast Guard patrol boat out of Port Arthur with my uncle, J. C. Scott, who was in the Coast Guard and also from Palacios."
"When the war started, that was the branch of service I wanted in," he says.
He made a number of trips across the Atlantic in convoys. For the June 6, 1944 D-Day invasion at Normandy, his ship, the troop carrier U.S.S. Gen. William H. Black, American troops to England for the invasion.
"I never saw so many ships in all my life," Sanders said about the huge armada of troop carriers and escorting Navy vessels.
Later, he suffered a severe leg injury in a freak accident aboard ship.
"There was a submarine scare and we had to climb up four flights of stairs to reach our battle stations," he said. "This really huge guy in front of me slipped and fell back on me, knocking both of us over the stairway railing and he fell on top of me."
Although he tried to carry on his regular duties, the leg injury finally became so severe that he was relieved of ship duty and assigned to a port security station.
In August 1945, he was aboard a train headed for the Coast Guard station at Long Beach, Calif., from where he was to be shipped out to the Pacific War. Enroute, the A-Bomb was dropped and the war was soon over.
Sanders said that being a new arrival at the Long Beach station and the Japs had surrendered, they had nothing for him to do. So, on VJ Day, Sanders and a buddy hitchhiked to Los Angeles and found their way to Hollywood.
"We spent VJ Day at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. That was some mad house!" he says.
It wasn't too long afterwards that he received his discharge, with the rank of Coxswain.
Sanders returned to Palacios and a couple of years ago finished out a 60-year career in the fishing and shrimping business.
On a 1956 visit to Aransas Pass, he had met Floella Hardin and about a year later she became his bride. Frank and Floella have one daughter, Sharon Hill of Palacios‹ along with four grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
(L-R) Brothers Tom, Frank and Ron Sanders in 1994 photo.
Only Frank was in WWII, although Tom became a career Navyman.
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