Vice Adm. Kevin Lunday, commander of U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, and Command Master Chief Jeremy DeMello, also of Atlantic Area, with Capt. Gretchen Bailey, the new commanding officer of U.S. Coast Guard Activities Europe, visited the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium on Monday.
Lunday and DeMello were in Europe to oversee the transfer of command of Activities Europe from Capt. Ryan Manning to Bailey.
“Command Master Chief DeMello and I were joined by Capt. Gretchen Bailey, the new commanding officer of Activities Europe, as we rendered honors at the gravesite of Seaman Apprentice Woodrow Elaman, U.S. Coast Guard at Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium,” said Lunday. “Our Coast Guard men and women have proudly served our Nation in every war and conflict since the creation of these United States. Woodrow Elaman was from Tennessee and joined the Service in Kentucky. Even far from home all these years later, the history of his heroic sacrifice inspires us. As we visited his final resting place, we will always remember his sacrifice as part of our history and ethos.”
On May 3, 1944, the USS Menges (DE-320), an Edsall-class destroyer, was just over 15 miles astern of a convoy chasing a radar contact when it was hit at 0118 hours by a G7es acoustic torpedo from U-371. The explosion was so violent it destroyed the aft third of the ship, killing 31 men and wounding 25.
Elaman was the most junior casualty of the torpedo attack. He arrived at the Ardennes Cemetery after his death for identification. Due to the efforts of the cemetery’s identification team, his family and friends back home were given the gift of knowing where their loved one rested–a small but meaningful solace that so many others in the war never had. We thank the American Battle Monuments Commission for hosting us and their work in looking after our heroes and returning them home when appropriate.
Although nearly eight decades have passed since Woodrow Elaman lost his life in service in the Mediterranean, his shipmates have not forgotten him. U.S. Coast Guard Activities Europe members, based in the Netherlands, frequently visit. Created to help re-establish merchant shipping in Europe at the end of the Second World War, Activities Europe conducts vessel inspections, incident investigations, and international port security engagements in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
On the heels of the 78th anniversary of D-Day and the Normandy landings, June 6, it is humbling to pay our respects to the legacy of our members and their sacrifices. These actions are a legacy that lives on in our adaptability and resilience. We delivered mission excellence on D-Day as Coast Guardsmen alongside our sister services, planning the invasion, crewing the assault transport ships, and driving the LSTs seen famously in photos from Omaha Beach.
The American Battle Monuments Commission is an independent agency of the United States government that administers, operates, and maintains permanent U.S. military cemeteries, memorials, and monuments primarily outside the United States.
U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area and its units conduct operations around the globe, emphasizing the region from the Rocky Mountains to the Middle East. The Area is responsible for deploying U.S. Coast Guard forces to protect the homeland and mariners, supporting surge operations in crisis, building enduring relationships with regional partners, synchronizing efforts, and augmenting combatant commanders.