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Civil Air Patrol
Oral History Interview

WNHC 13.83-17
M A J O R H U G H R . S H A R P, J R . , C A P

N AT I O N A L H I S TO R I C A L C O M M I T T E E
Headquarters CAP

C I V I L A I R PAT R O L
ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM

Interview

Major Hugh R. Sharp, Jr., CAP

by

Lt. Col. Lester E. Hopper, CAP

Date:

17 October 1983

Location: Wilmington, Delaware

~0~" ALL MEN BY THESE PRESENTS:

-~t ~,-~A~. ~.~
in

- ..?.~.,~ v~ ' ' , h~v, this day ~artic~patod

an or=l-oaL;(;-ta, ed in<eTie . </"

.

covering my best ~ecollections of events and experiences which may be of
historical significance to the Civil Air Patrol.
I understand that the tape(s) and the transcribed manuscript resulting
therefrom will be aceessloned into the Civil Air Patrol's Historlal Holdings.
In the best interest of the Civil Air Patrol, I do hereby voluntarily glvep
t r a n s f e r, c o n v e y, a n d a s s i g n a l l r i g h t , t i t l e , a n d i n t e r e s t i n t h e m e m o i r s
and remembrances contained in the aforementioned magnetic tapes and manuscript
to the Civil Alr Patrol, to have and to hold the same forever, hereby relinquishing for myself, my executors, administrators, heirs, and assigns all
ownership, right

title, and interest therein to the donee expressly on the

condition of strict observance of the following restrictions:

.

-J"+ i'c~ ~:7 ~< Xo'Ho:
. /I~

Dated /O/IZI~/
Accepted on behalf of the Civil Alr Patrol by
Dated

/o/17/g5

CIVIL

A I R PAT R O L O R A L H I S T O R Y I N T E R V I E W S

Civil Air Patrol Oral History interviews were initiated in
e a r l y 1 9 8 2 b y L t C o l L e s t e r E . H o p p e r , C A P, o f t h e C i v i l A i r
Patrol~s National Historical Committee. The overall purpose of
these interviews is to record For posterity the activities of
selected members of the Civil Air Patrol.

The principle goal of these histories is to increase the base
of knowledge relating to the early accomplishments of Civil Air
Patrol members who in their own unlque way contributed to the
d e f e n s e o ~ o u r g r e a t c o u n t r y.

Certainly not oT a secondary

nature is the preservation of

the contributions of individuals

as Civil Air Patrol continues

its growth.

FOREWORD

T h e

f o l l o w i n g

i s

t h e

t r a n s c r i p t

o f

a n

o r a l

h i s t o r y

i n t e r v i e w

recorded on magnetic tape. Since only minor emendations have
been made, the reader should consistently bear in mind that he
is

reading

w o r d .

a

transcript

A d d i t i o n a l l y,

n o

of

the

spoken

a t t e m p t

t o

rather

c o n fi r m

than

t h e

accuracy of the statements has been made.
t r a n s c r i p t
a

r e fl e c t s

situation

as

he

t h e

i n t e r v i e w e e ' ~

remembered

it

at

written

h i s t o r i c a l

As a result, the

p e r s o n a l

the

the

time

of

r e c o l l e c t i o n s
the

o f

interview.

Editorial notes and additions made by CAP historians are
enclosed
titles

in

are

brackets.

also

If

feasible,

provided. Any

first

additions,

names,

ranks,

deletions

and

or

changes

subsequently made to the transcript by the interviewee aEe not
indicated.
interview

Researchers
tape

prior-

to

may

wish

citing

the

to

listen

to

transcript.

the

actual

SUMMARY OF CONTENTS

In

this

oral

history

interview

Major

Hugh

R.

Sharp,

Jr.,

C A P,

recounts many of his experiences and feelings while serving as
the commander of Civil Air Patrol
the

early

stages

of

World

War

II.

exposure to aviation he continues
Holger

Hoiriis

and

the

Delaware. Me provides
procurement
t h e

w a r

of

e ff o r t .

S t a r t i n g
to

his

w i t h

h i s

association

e a r l y
with

establishment oF the base at Rehoboth~
much

materiel
H e

Coastal Patrol Base 2 during

and

o p e n l y

valuable

information

personnel

a n d

w i t h

for

g r e a t

this

on

vital

d e t a i l

the
part

r e c o u n t s

of
t h e

successful rescue of downed fellow CAP pilot, Lieutenant Cross.
This

description

includes

the

presentation

of

the Air

Medal

to

himself and Lieutenant Edwards by President Roosevelt.

The informatJon he provides on operational

aspects such as

coverage plans and bombings furnishes much

needed data on these

subjects.

GUIDE TO CONTENTS

1

F i r s t

F l i g h t

1

Early Flying and Solo

2

F i r s t

2

Flying Experience with Brother

3

Meeting between Richard duPont

4

Holger

5

Decision to Establish Coastal

6

Selection of Rehoboth Airport

7

I n i t i a l

8

First

9

I n i t i a l

A i r p l a n e

and Gill Robb

Hoiriis

A i r c r a f t

Flight

to

Patrol Base 2

F l e e t

Rehoboth

Communications

12

First

Coastal

Patrol

Plight

13

I n i t i a l

15

Living Accommodations

16

Seaplane Operations

18

Death

19

Acquisition of Sikorsky Amphibian

21

Rebuilding of Sikorsky

22

Cross-Shelfus Crash

25

Return to Shore

28

Second Rescue by Sikorsky

30

Coverage Plan

31

Submarine Spotted

33

Submarine Bombing

36

Base Insignia

S i g h t i n g s

of

Holger

Hoiriis

Wilson

37

Aircraft Markings

38

Presentation of Air

39

Comments on Air Medal

by President Roosevelt

42

Contributions Made by

CAP

43

Enlistment in Army

Medal

CAP ORAL HISTORY INTERVIEW

D
Number WNHC 13.83-24
Ta p e d I n t e r v i e w w i t h :
Date of Interview:
Location:
Conducted by:

H :

H u g h ~

i f

I

just

a

your

interest

S :

little

W e l l ,

m a y

bit

I ' v e

guess.

c a l l

y o u

your

of

in

Major Hugh R. Sharp~ Jr., CAP
October 17, 1983
Wilmington~ Delaware
Lt. Col. Lester E. Hopper~ CAP

personal

CAP

b e e n

and

t h a t ~

things

h o w

s t a r t i n g

background
of

i n t e r e s t e d

a b o u t

i n

that

and

o ff

lead

w i t h

into

nature.

a v i a t i o n

a l l

m y

l i f e ,

I

I remember when I was a kid, my mother was taking me up

to the usual summer camp for children, and we went by a cow
pasture

and

couple

of

letting

me

right

saw

dollars
go

a

fellow
fDr

a

barnstorming

couple

with

him.

World

after

up

War

I.

of

This

He

selling

minutes.

mu~t

took

and

me

have

up

for

I

talked

been
a

flights
her

1918

ride

in

for

or

an

a

into

"19,
OX

Jennie and that was my first experience.

H:

I think everybody started in an OX Jennie except me.

S:

Mow

flying

as

with

a

far

as

fellow

learning

to

named Ally

you remember him, Louisa.

fly

is

Buck

concerned,
down

at

k i l l e d

a s

she
a

is

t e s t

identified
p i l o t

a t

started

Bellanca

Field,

if

(Note: Participating in the

i n t e r v i e w w a s C o l o n e l L o u i s a S . M o r s e , C A P.
comments,

I

by

the

B e l l a n c a .

letter
H e

Where Col. Morse

"M".)

w a s

a

He

g r e a t

was

l~ter

f e l l o w

w h o

Sharp

~wned an OX Waco, which charmed me. That was in 1928, if I
remember.

I

took

lessons

from

him

hide my deeds from my family.
point,

but

school,

I

or

didn't

solo

something

surreptitiously

in

order

to

I got right up to the solo

with Ally.

interrupted

I

had

it.

I

to

go

back

started

the

to
following

slimmer in '29 and I soloed in a Warner Fleet with Richard
d u P o n t g i v i n g m e m y s o l o . T h e n C h a m p To l l i v e r g a v e m e s o m e
t i m e i n h i s W a c o F.
g o t

m y

l i c e n s e

In any event, by that time I soloed and

a n d

intermittent.

I

w h a t

didn't

have

when i had the chance.
a

primary

t h a n

I

h a d

claim

to

soaring
h i m

H:

glider

t o

w e

e a c h

fame
and

and

is,

I'd

n o t .

M y
an

t a u g h t
held

say:

t i m e

airplane

so

a f t e r
I

t h a t

was

w a s

just

flying

I.n college Richard duPont and I bought
although

he

fl i g h t

a

That's

he

had
o t h e r

e a c h

more
t o

world's
my

flying

fl y

record

student.

t h e

at

one

experience
g l i d e r.
time

(Laughter.)

M y

for
I

taught

fl y.

Pretty good claim to fame.

S :

Ye s ,

t h a t ' s

seriously

m y

about

o n l y

1936

c l a i m

and

I

t o

f a m e .

bought

a

I

s t a r t e d

Fairchild

24,

fl y i n g
no,

I

bought

a Ta y l o r c r a f t i n p a r t n e r s h i p w i t h m y b r o t h e r B a y a r d , a n d w e h a d
it

and

q u i t e
a

we
a

al~o

w h i l e

t e r r i b l e

kind
t i l l

p a n i c .

of

kept

t h e y
S o

that

f o u n d

w e

w r o t e

quiet

o u t
a

from

a b o u t
s i g n

o n

airplane and named it "Pappy's Panic."
for

a

year

or

a

year

and

a

half,

then

i t

the

family

for

a n d

F a t h e r

fl e w

t h e

s i d e

o f

i n t o

t h e

(Laughter.) We had it
I

graduated

into

a

Sharp

Fairchild

24

w h i c h

fl e w

h e

and

my

f o r

"rich"

q u i t e

a

brother
w h i l e .

bought

M y

n e x t

a

Stinson

a i r p l a n e

Reliant,

w a s

a

Staggerwing Beech," and then along came the war and I sold the
Beech to the Navy. They were taking them in whenever they
could

get

them.

Then

came

the

CAP

experience.

My

first

knowledge of the CAP was Richard calling me up one time and
saying that he~d been talking to Gill Robb Wilson, who had been
in Washington, and they'd talked about trying to form some sort
o f

c i v i l i a n

that,

in

b r a n c h

the

event
I

fl y i n g
of

d i d n ' t

t o

war.
r e a l l y

b e
I

h e l p f u l
think

t a k e

i t

t o

t h e

n a t i o n

this

was

before

v e r y

s e r i o u s l y,

a n d

a l l

Pearl

H a r b o r,

a n d

t h e

w h o l e

thing.

I don~t think anybody did, but as soon as Pearl Harbor

came around, then the thing started to look like somebody had
to do something.

M~

S:

CAP was started seven days before Pearl Harbor.

Ye ~ ,

Pearl

but

the

Harbor,

thinking

Sill

was

Robb

there

Wilson,

I

before

think,

that.

called

Right
Richard

after
and

got

h i m t o g o d o w n t o W a s h i n g t o n a n d t a l k s e r i o u s l y a b o u t C A P, a n d
Richard
have

H~

was

all

tied

the

time

to

do

Let's

see.

This

up

with All American Aviation

and

didn't

it.

was

Richard

duPont

who

developed

the

glider pi~k-up procedure.

S:

That's

exactly

right.

So

they

asked

Richard

if

he

could

Sharp

g e t s o m e t h i n g s t a r t e d i n D e l a w a r e . H e s a i d : " Ye s , I t h i n k I
can. I've got just the man to do it~ and he~s a former pilot
in my company and he's grounded~ on account of his medical
certificate~

I think he has the background and so forth."

That was Holger. So Holger Hoiriis was set up willy hilly as
the head of the CAP in Delaware by Richard. Holger

was

quite

enthusiastic about it. He was interested and thought it was a
good idea and so forth. Then there was a meeting held, I can't
remember where~ that I went to, at ~hich we discussed how we
were going to get this thing started.

I~ at that time~ was

interested but I didn't see where I fit into this thing very
well. I joined the CAR.
courses.

I went to some of the training

I went to First Aid and the various things that were

held out at duPont Field.

M:

Let me interrupt just for a minute and ask you a question.

I h a v e t h e r e c o r d s o f t h e s e r i a l n u m b e r s . Yo u ' r e i n t h e r e w i t h
28 or 5ome early number.

I can't find Holger Hoiriis on the

Delaware serial numbers list at aii. Was he in ~ome other
state?

S~

No he was right here in Wilmington.

M: Well, ~Je can't find a serial number ~er him.

That's

interesting.

S:

We l l , h e w a s t h e W i n g C o m m a n d e r, a n y h o w, w i l l y h i l l y.

Sharp

H:

He

S;

He probably did.

M."

He

M~
I.

probably

wasn't

Well,
I

on

that's

wasn't

forgot

to

active

pilot

probably

on

join.

active

why

pilot

status

he

at

that

forgot

status

t o

and

time?

j o i n .

they

N e i t h e r

wouldn't

d i d

take

applications.

S :

W e l l ,

w e

h a d

a

l o t

went

out

wife, Ada

B.,

l ' m

A n y h o w,

s u r e .

o f

g i r l s

and

w i l l y

i n

took

n i l l y,

t h a t

the

w e

F i r s t

First Aid

h a d

A i d

c o u r s e .

course

s e v e r a l

for

m e e t i n g s

M y

CAP
o u t

a t

duPont Field and then came the time when Richard, or Holger, I
guess,

told us there was some talk about forming a Coastal

Patrol

down at possibly Rehoboth, someplace in Delaware, and

Holger

appointed

the

job

of

trying

me
to

as
find

his
a

Operations

place

to

putt

Officer,
such

a

and

I

was

given

base,

and

what

would we do when we got there, and so forth. Nobody had the
faintest idea of what we were really supposed to do.

H:

Well

and

a l l

this
t h a t

was
g o o d

all

pretty

s t u f f

much

w a s n ' t

quiet

i L ?

c o n fi d e n t i a l ,

s e c r e t

Sharp

S ;

We l l ~

about

t o

we

s o r t

Ye s ,

it.

d o w n
why

y e s ,

we

b u t

I

d o n ' t

were

told

not

t h e

fi r s t

t i m e

R e h o b o t h
were

o f ,

coming,

that's

r e m e m b e r

to

say

t o

b e i n g

anything

l o o k

a t

true. Anyhow,

i t ~

t o o

when
a n d

Holger

q u i e t

we

n o t

and

I

went
t o

s a y

Tlew

down to Rehoboth and landed there on the airport and we went in
and looked around and everybody was very suspicious about what
we were doing, because everything was sort of grounded at that
time,

and

everybody

was

very

suspicious

of

our

flying

around.

We just kind of pretended that we had ~ome sort of clearance to
do

it,

and

to

fly.

I

I

think

don't

we

really

remember

did

all

because

the

you

details

of

weren't
that,

supposed

butt

we

went

down and we decided thaL Rehoboth Airport was a usable place, a
viable place.

H;

S :

What attracted you to Rehoboth to begin with?

We l l ,

idea;

t h e y

that

we

t o l d

u s

t h a t

t h i s

were

supposed

to

w a s

t o

b e

patrol

and

a

c o a s t a l

report

p a t r o l

anything

that

was going on out off the shore.

M;

S;

The entrance to the Delaware River.

The

i d e a l

H:

entrance

p l a c e

t o

to

d o

the

Delaware

Bay,

i t .

So you found the facility adequate?

and

it

was

certainly

an

Sharp

S:

We

We

found

didn't

really
was

tlne

know

facility

how

know

what

the

proper

in

adequate.

long

we

we

were

needed,

place,

It

going

except

and

so

He

was

there.

kind

of

Old

Captain

cool

to

us.

forth.

I

be

it

The

a

lot

there.

was

an

airport

of

things.

We

didn't

airport,
was

it

owned

It wa~ leased out to some

Wenyon
When

to

that

by the Carpenter family at the time.
operator

needed

(sp.?)

got

was

home

I

in

charge

went

to

of

see

it.

Ruly

Carpenter, my uncles and told him we had something afoot~ and
that

we

wanted

to

use

the

airport,

and

he

said

if

you

have

any

problems~ let me know~ and go ahead. So we never did have any
further problems about it.
w h o

r a n

they'd

t h e

be

a i r p o r t

I think that Wenyon and the people

w e r e

cooperative,

s o r t

and

o f

they

l e t

i n

were.

o n

We

t h e

s e c r e t

really

had

s o

no

t h a t

further

pr-oblems there, but Holger and I decided that it was the place
t o

b e

a n d

organize

~ o
a

f o r t h .

group

another

meeting

various

people

that

thought

we

T h e n

that
at

who

w e

was

might

o u t
to

Field,

and

airplanes

be

t o

willing

duPont
had

s e t

go

and

interested

fi n d

in

a n d

down

t r y

there.

invitations
were

t o
Holger

were

interested

hearing

the

~ent
in

story

had
to

flying~
of

what we were going to do and see if they would come in on the
idea.
there

I can't remember how many people we got~ but I think
were

6

or

7

airplanes

at

the

were 3 or 4 Fairchild 24~s and a
I

t h i n k

t h e r e

w e r e

6

o r

7

i n

a l l .

beginning.

think

there

couple of Stinson Voyageurs.
T h a t ' s

someplace.

M:

I

What did you have at that time?

o n

t h e

r e c o r d

Sharp

S;

I had the Staggerwing Beech~ which we decided was not

usable for the project.
Fairchild
us

have

d i d n ' t

24

It got left home~ but we borrowed a

from Avery

it

and A1

s t a y

v e r y

Draper,

Fleitas
l o n g ,

went

a n d

who
down

l e f t

i t

couldn't
in

his

t h e r e .

get

down.

Fairchild

O h

C h i c k

He

24,

let

but

he

d u P o n t

h a d

much

make

a 24 that he loaned us.

M:

What wa~ the story of acquiring the amphibian?

S:

Oh,

M:

That was the one used

S:

Ye s

H:

Well,

do

with

that

wasn't

until

quite

in

some

the

time

later.

rescue~

wasn't

there

was

it?

yes.

when
what

you
you

first
had

got

on

example?

How

many

a

Te n ?

the

base.

I

wish

S:

Golly~

H:

Where

I

remember

from

Bellanca

could

we

Field,

took
flew

put

initially

did

six

this

with

pretty
you

all

live~

together

airplanes

down

in

sore

in

you?

Yo u

my

mind

for

said

down
of

the

first

for

half

No problem. No problem.

S:

I

down

it

Twenty?

dozen?

went

down

day,

you.

left

pseudo-formation.

Sharp

Bernie

Mulliken

flew

down

with

me

as

my

co-pilot

or

observer

whatever it was ~alled.

I remember I thought these guys are

g o i n g

t h e

w a t e r,

w e n t

r i g h t

or

r i g h t

t o

fl y

n o w.

remember
fly

right

S o

o v e r

I

j u s t

Bernie

down

turning

to

me

middle

of

the

the

t h e y
d o w n

and

b e t t e r t h e

m i d d l e

saying:

bay,

are

g e t

u s e d
o f

Yo u ' r e

you?

t o

t h e

not

i t

b a y.

going

to

<Laughter.>

Got them broke in early, huh?

H:

S :

o u t

Ye s .

We l l ,

I

t o o k

t h e m

r i g h t

d o w n

t h e

m i d d l e

o f

t h e

b a y,

and we landed at Rehoboth with no problem, and about that time,
I had talked Ed Smith into coming down as a mechanic. He
brought

down

one

or

two

kids

with

him,

to

help

him,

I

don't

remember who. We picked up from time to time people during the
first

H:

S:

month,

so

we

had

quite

a

few

people

on

the

ground

staff.

How about your radio people?

We

had

one

girl

from

Butler one of our pilots.

here

Jane,

she

later

Jane Jane.

married

Smedley

What was her maiden

name? (Emma Jane Hodgson. > She was a character. Bu~ she was
a

r a d i o

girls

o p e r a t o r

came

down

i n

t h e

right

e a r l y

away.

p a r t ,

There

b u t
was

I
a

d o n ' t
fellow

t h i n k
that

t h a t
was

t h e

a

superintendent in the school system here, who was a ham radio
operator, and he went down and set up all the radios.
have his name.

I should

Sharp

H:

Well

out

and found a good ham to set their radio communications up.

S :

that

T h a t ' s

fits

r i g h t .

the

A n d

pattern,

h e

d i d

a

because

most

m a r v e l o u s

everybody

j o b .

H e

m e t

went

t h e

whole thing up.

M:

I t

S :

Ye s ,

w a s n ' t

i t

e x c e l l e n t
men

and

D i l k s ,

w a s

w a s - - C h a r l i e
j o b .

we

S o

had

w e

five

i t ?

D i l k s .

h a d
or

t h e n

six

T h a t ' s

w h o

i t

w a s .

H e

d i d

a n

the mechanics and the radio

airplanes.

Did you have enough people for crews?

Ye s , w e h a d a p i l o t a n d a n o b s e r v e r f o r e a c h

At that state were you the base commander?

No, Holger Hoiriis was the base commander.

H:

Yo u w e r e t h e O p e r a t i o n s O f fi c e r ?

I

H:

was

the

Operation~

Officer.

So Holger Hoiriis was both the Wing Commander

c o m m ~ n d e r.

and the base

Sharp

S:

R i g h £ .

H:

That's not unusual.

S :

T h e

w i n g

m o v i n g .
I

T h a t ' s

I

g o t

r i g h t .

v e r y

t h i n k

w e

l i t t l e

h a d

a t t e n t i o n

t h e

fi r s t

a f t e r

p a t r o l

t h a t ,

u n t i l

t h e following

w e

g o t

day~

if

r e c a l l .

M:

Yo u

h a d

H:

That's

a

t h e

fi r s t

matter

of

p a t r o l

b e f o r e

A t l a n t i c

C i t y.

record.

S: We always resented that they were called Base 1

and we were

Base 2.

H:
a

That's a matter
day

or

two

of

of record.

the

I think

you did have

i t

w i t h i n

establishment date.

H: Do you recall how yeLL picked Lip the orders for that patrol?
D i d

t h e y

a n d

f o l l o w

B:

j u s t

That's

i t ,

all

t e l l
o r

y o u

t o

g o

fl y

a n

a r e a

now.

But

o r

p i c k

u p

a

c o n v o y

- - ?

very

hazy

to

me

I

think

we

had

a

Sharp

general outllne of what we were supposed to do.

We were

supposed to establish patrols from one end of our area to the
other and out at sea.

I don't thinK" they put a limit on it.

M: The regulation said 20 miles first and then it was changed
to 100 miles.

S:

Ye s

M:

Twenty miles wasn't far enough.

I

think

that's

r i g h t . Ye s ,

you're

right.

S: But the first patrol, we went out and we went up across the
b a y t o C a p e M a y. We w e n t o u t t o F i v e F a t h o m B a n k L i g h t , a n d w e
went down paralleling the coast from Five Fathom Bank to
F e n w i c k I s l a n d l i g h t b u o y, t h e b u o y o ff F e n w J c k I s l a n d , w h i c h
was the southern end of our area at that time. Later the
southern end was extended to Winter Quarter Shoal, where we met
the Parksley group.

H:

YOU flew that first patrol?

H:

And who else wa~ with you, do you recall?

S: Bernie Mulliken was in it and I can't remember who the
other airplane was, but it was another Fairchild 24.

I have a

Sharp

feeling it was AI Fleitas and somebody.

M~ Cannon. Would it have been Marvey Cannon?

S:

N o

H:

Again,

S:

d o n ' t

t h i n k

that'~

s o .

really

A I

c o u l d

not

~n

light

little

that

H :

bit

was

L e t

that

important

buoy,
off

the

m e

and

the

end

a s k

coast

of

y o u

particular

then

the

i n

period

in

and

to

that

nature.

the

came

patrol.

a

l i t t l e

of

time.

anything~ obviously you didn"t
of

p r o b a b l y

t e l l

y o u .

issue.

But we flew oLLt to Five Fathom Bank and down to Fenwick

Island
a

I

We

shore

up

to

didn't

and

then

Rehoboth
see

came

and

back

then

anything.

more detail what you saw during
Since you said you didn't see
spot any submarines or anything

But were there any ships that had been sunk or

debris along the

coast? What were shipping problems up here

then?

S~

Ye s ,

as

water.
time
and
o f

to

I

remember,

we

did

report

things

that

we

saw

in

the

I can't remember the details of what it was, but from
time

jetsam

t h i n g s

reported.
they were.

we
that

l i k e

saw

life

preservers.

obviously

t h a t

w h i c h

were
w e

off

We

of

a l w a y s

saw

ships.

pieces
We

r e p o r t e d .

of

saw
O i l

flotsam

all

kinds

s l i c k s

w e

Any boats in the area we reported~ no m~tter that

Sharp

H ~

D u r i n g

t h a t

fi r s t

fl i g h t ~

i t

w a s

p r e t t y

particular

m u c h

a n

u n e v e n t f u l

thing?

fl i g h t ?

S:

As I remember so.

HI

Yo u

S:

We were all too busy being nervous to see very much.

H:

didn't

spot

I ran across

bottle

of

any

a n e ~ p r e s s i o n t h a t t h e Te x a s p e o p l e c a r r i e d -

engine

smoothner.

( L a u g h t e r. ) Yo u k n o w i t ' s a w e l l

known fact, with us pilots~

the minute you get out over water

your engine runs rough.

S:

H i

No

S o

doubt

t h e y

about

h a d

it.

t h e i r

O k a y ~

fi n e .

Yo u

t h i n g s

t h e n

s t a r t e d

No

question

b o t t l e

o b v i o u s l y

o f

about

s m o o t h n e r

s u r v i v e d

t o

b u i l d

u p

o n

i n

p e r s o n n e l

y o u r

t h e

it.

i n

t h e

fi r s t

b a s e .

a i r p l a n e .

fl i g h t

Te l l

u ~

a n d
a

l i t t l e

about that.

S :

Ye s .

u p

i n

We

b u i l t

f a c i l i t i e s ,

u p
a n d

w e

b u i l t

u p

a n d
i n

a i r p l a n e s ~

a l l

s o r t s

o f

a n d

w e

b u i l t

t h i n g s .

Before we were finished we had a restaurant, we had a mess
hall~

or

whatever

r a d i o

f a c i l i t i e s .

you
We

want

h a d

a

to
f u l l

call

it.

t i m e

We

s o r t

had
o f

much

t o w e r

better
o p e r a t i o n ,

Sharp

so that we were in communication without any problem5 momt of
t h e

t i m e

M."

Did you live on the airport?

S :

N o ,

c o n t i n u o u s l y.

n o b o d y

l i v e d

o n

t h e

a i r p o r t .

boarding houses and what not.
f e l l o w s
the

s o t

living

t o g e t h e r

was

done

a n d
off

a l l

l i v e d

i n

t o w n

i n

In a number of instances,

r e n t e d

the

We

a

h o u s e .

B u t

i t

w a s

a l l - - ,

a l l

base.

H: Now how about

y o u r

the beginning and

you straightened it out with Captain Wenyon,

who ran the base.

Well,

fellows
was

I

think

trying

pretty

community

play

obvious

it

like

we

thought
were

we did.

u s

over

B u t

I

a

l i t t l e

p r o b l e m

i n

t h i n k

on

we were a bunch of
a secret mission.

It

wasn't very secret, because they could

see almost everything
s o m e .

h a d

base established and going.?

the

to

Yo u

How well were you received in the community

once you sot your

S:

r e c e p t i o n ?

I think they sort of pooh-poohed

the

month~

that

they

got

to

like

us.

Some of the

kids were pretty rambunctious and got into some

scrapes and

troubles, which we had to ~mooth over with the town

authorities

f r o m

t i m e

anything more than
d e s t r u c t i o n

o r

a n y

t o

t i m e .

just fun.
o ~

t h a t

B u t

I

d o n ' t

t b i n k

i t

w a s

There wa~ never any kind of
k i n d

o f

t h i n S

d o w n

t h e r e .

A n d

i t

was a good bunch of guys by and large down there. We never had
any" real trouble.

They were quite cooperative, really.

Sharp

H:

Give

me

a

rough

idea,

if

you

will,

what

a

S:

and

Well,

area

it

all

night

was

the

patrols.

constant

time~

from

How

many

sun-up

to

a

day?

We

patrolling.

activity

Yo u fl e w d a w n

was, after you got the base up and running.
patrols

day's

had

somebody

sun-down~

or

over

daylight

to

dark.

M:

Yo u

flew

in

some

pretty

hairy

weather

sometimes~

didn't

you?

S :

We l l ,

winter
got

y e s ,

months.

pretty

airplanes
the

in

w a s
Yo u

handy
were

weather

skillful

i t

in

p r e t t y

had

at

a

d r e a r y.

lot

of

bad

w e a t h e r.

under

flying

bad

weather.

awful

slow,

those

days

handling

it

P a r t i c u l a r l y

so

it

than

and

was
it

knowing

d i r e c t i o n

home

fi n d

We

again,

B u t

now.

they

t h e

t D

f e l l o w s

have

you

fl y

They

were,

didn't
and

t h e

Of course~ the

e a s i e r

be

where

problems.

t o

l o t

would

getting back home without
fi n d e r s

a

i n

had

u n d e r

got

quite

and
any
to

find

it

on

your own.

H:

S;
one

Needle, bail, airspeed and compass.

That's

right,

seaplane

o p e r a t i o n

land

b e c a u s e

exactly.
up

in

I

j u s t

Everybody

the

bay.

f e l t

We

t h a t

always
started

a i r p l a n e s

got
a

back.

We

had

seaplane
o n

fl o a t s

w e r e n ' t

Sharp

very

good

fl o a t s ,
so

we

f o u r

H~

I

at

but

t h o u g h t .

tried

o r

sea,

to

get

o f

fi v e

E>~us~

A t

would

l e a s t

t h e y

a

airplanes

interruption,
sub-base.

Is

on

be

better

w e r e
floats

than

s u p p o s e d

but
that

at

and

some

what

you

at

not
t o

one

having

fl o a t ,

time

I

time

we

a n d

t h o s e .

the

established

they

had

believe

established?

A what?

A sub-base,

That's

right,

a

separate

for

the

ba~e

for

your

float

planes.

seaplanes.

And where was that, sir?

S:

ThaL was up at the head of Rehoboth Bay. Big housing

development there now.

H:

Was

there

an

existing

seaplane

base

there

at

that

time

or

something?

S~

No.

No,

H~

Oh,

you

S:

All

it was, was a place where we

nothing.

just

went

up

there

and--

could pull them up on the

Sharp

beach.

Hi Good beach,

S :

T h a t

M: At

w a s

what

and that

a l l .

point

did

you

replace

Holger

Hoiriis?

long was

How

he commander? Do you recall?

Si

N o ,

was

sometime during the middle of the first summer.

M~

I

d o n ~ t .

B u t

i t

w a s n ' t

r e a l l y

v e r y

l o n g .

I

i m a g i n e

It was only a few months that he was commander, really.

Si And

then

he

died

while

went up to the funeral,
v e r y

g o o d

awful

lot

o r g a n i z e r.

of

the

work

we

were

down

there. A lot

oT

us

lie was a great fellow~ but he wasn't a
N o t

of

t h a t

I

w a x

organizinQ,

e i t h e r ~
which

is

b u t

h e

l e f t

probably

a n

the

sign

of a good commander, to the rest of us.

H i

We l l ,

Officer
-

Hi

i t

l i t t l e

But

d u r i n g

and
b i t

you

you
o f

t h a t
did

a

fi r s t

p e r i o d ,

combination

t h e n ~
of

y o u

flying

w e r e

and

O p e r a t i o n s

scheduling

and

e v e r y t h i n g .

relieved,

at

whatever

date,

and

we

can

find

that

Sharp

from a records standpoint,

you

relieved

Holger

Hoiriis

and

became the CO of

Rehoboth. Now back to your seaplane base

establishnment.

Yo u j u s t w e n t o u t a n d f o u n d s o m e p e o p l e w h o

had

and seaplanes.

S:

float

planes

That's

right. Abbey

Wolfe

was

one

o~

the

people

who

really

got that going for us. He was a devoted seaplane man, and he
c a m e d o w n a n d b r o u g h t a f e l l o w n a m e d To m S a n s c h a g r i n w i t h h i m ,
who was a French Canadian by birth.

I think he was actually

born in Maine, but he was of French Canadian stock. They came
down

with

a

Fairchild

24

on

floats. And

then

they

convinced

a

number of other seaplane people whom they knew to come down and
d o

i t .

A n d

I

t h i n k

w e

h a d

f o u r

o r

~ i v e

F a i r c h i l d s

But before that I had gotten the Sikorsky.

o n

fl o a t s .

I decided that

something had to be done in case somebody went in the water.
At least we ought to have some way to try to do domething about
it.

I was not very sure we could do something about it, but we

should try anyhow.

H:

And who did you get the Sikorsky from?

S: The Sikorsky--Paul duPont owned the Sikorsky, and he, at
the

time,

was

Company).

working

They

had

a

at

the

liLtle

~:ept the Sikorsky over there.

Seaford
airstrip

beside

(of
the

the

duPont

plant

and

he

Of course he was grounded,

because everybody was grounded.
and I said:

plant

So I called Faul up one day

"Paul, you got theft Sikorsky over there at

Sharp

Seaford?" and he said:
l i k e

t o

i t . "

s e l l

I

here

t o

in

A n d

h e
I'd

like

case

c o m e

I said:

s a i d :

"Wells

said:

and

l i k e

i t . "

"Sure."

of

o v e r

" N o r

l o o k

use

it

to

emergency

a n d

I

and

a t

i t

"I wonder if you'd

w o u l d n ' t

l i k e

anyhow.

what

not."

s e l l

We'd keep it

and

a n y h o w - - s e e

t o

i f

I

I

said

c a n

I~d

fl y

i t .

So Holger and I went over to Seaford.

M:

Did you have Smitty with you?

S :

Ye s ~

I

t h i n k

went over.
I

up

"Let's

and

Smitty

got

said

that

t a x i e d

i t

t h e

e n d

t h e

w a s

o f

~ee

the

a n d

i t

w a s .

Ye s ,

h e

w a s

w i t h

u s .

T h e

t h r e e

o f

u s

We looked it over and it looked reasonable~ and so

said:

it

h e

the

engine
it

engine

going,

sounded

a r o u n d

a w f u l l y

if

fi e l d

t o
a n d

s l u g g i s h

h o w

g a v e

knew we were in the air.

and

pretty

s e e

t o

will

i t

g e t

So

sounded

we

cranked

pretty

good,

good.

We

checked

the

f e l t .

S o

w e

i t

t o

g e t

i t
t h e

i t

it

start."

g u n

s t a r t e d ,

t o o k

mags

u p

i t

t h i n g

t o

s t a r t e d

fi r s t

b u t

(Laughter.) And so I said:

and

a n d
w e

"We're

L~p here, so we might as wel I keep going. " We flew around and
fle~J
we

H:

S:

around

just

kept

and
on

I

said:

going. And

"Let

s

Smitty

take

it

came

ever
back

to
in

Rehoboth." And
the

car.

Find out if you can land when you ge~ to Rehoboth.

Ye s .

familiar.

I said I'd rather try and land someplace where I~m
So we did and we got down without too much trouble,

but it came down with an awful bang and didn't bounce much.

So

Sharp

when we got out of the airplane and started going through it,
it had over a drum, a full oil drum, a fifty five gallon drum
of water in the bilge. It had rained in and nobody had ever
drained it. It was mostly all back in the tail.

H:

A little aft CG.

S: Very definitely~ but we got that out and things cleared up
much better then.

HZ

It flew better without that extra 300 pounds back in the

tail.

S : Ye s , a n d w e g o t i t o u t b y p u n c h i n g a h o l e i n t h e f u s e l a g e
and letting it run out. Then Smitty put a drain plug in it.
There turned out to be a perfectly good grain plug there
a l r e a d y, b u t w e d i d n ' t k n o w w h e r e i t w a s .

(Laughter.> Well,

anyhow~ we flew just in practice for- a while and Smitty said we
really ought to do something about that airplane and get it in
decent ~hape.

In the meantime, Raul h~d sold it to me.

He

said we ouoht to put it in decent shape, so we did. Smitty and
his crew took it down, stripped all the paint off~ took all the
fabric off the wings and recovered them. We did the whole
thing on the base. They overhauled the engine from top to
bottom, a real major overhaul on the engine, the whole works.
When he got ;inished with it it was a pretty nice airplane.
It fle~ like a Mack truck~ but it was in good shape.

Sharp

H:

Well

I

is

a

place

good

believe
to

at

some

get

into

point
it,

in

you

the

put

game,

that

and

I

guess

amphibian

to

this

good

use one day~ didn't you?

S : Ye s , w e h a d a n e m e r g e n c y w h e r e o n e o f t h e a i r p l a n e s w e n t
into the water~ and we went out.

It was down almost at the

bottom of our area down off Chincoteague.

H :

To

it

was

k e e p

t h a t

going

t h i n g

into

the

i n

p e r s p e c t i v e ,

water.

Did

you

h o w

get

a

d i d

y o u

mayday

fi r s t
or

h e a r

something

of that nature?

S:

Ye s ~

p a i r s .

from

T h e

the

o t h e r

accompanying
a i r p l a n e

g a v e

airplane.
a

p r e t t y

We

always

d r a m a t i c

flew

in

s t o r y

o f

t h e

whole event.

H:

Now, you were at the base at the time.

S ,

We were at the base. Eddie Edwards was standing by there,

and I said:

"Eddie you and I are going out there and see what

we can see. "

H:

Okay

now,

who

was

flying

the

airplane

and

what

was

the

airplane that went down, do you recall?

S:

Ye s ~ i t w a s a f e l l o w n a m e d To w n .

Wait a minute~ tlnat~s not

Sharp

right.

Shelfus

p i l o t

w a s

flying

a

the

engine

was

one

f e l l o w

them.

n a m e d

airplane

failure

of

and

and

He

C r o s s .

Shelfum

went

in

the

was

the

T h a t ' s

was

r i g h t .

the

water.

observer,
C r o s s

observer.

We

and

arrived

w a ~

They
on

the

had

the

an

scene

as quick as we could.

H:

Was

S:

It

this

was

in

in

the

the

the afternoon.
fairly

hard

morning

middle

on

the

top

and

crest

of

a

of

of

the

the

evening?

day,

or

Do

you

recall?

afternoon--middle

of

It wasn't a bad day. The wind was blowing
there

was

caps and what not.
hit

or

fairly

good

sea

running,

with

white

I made a butchered job of the landing. We

wave

the

a

and

next

fell

wave

down

and

into

bounced

the

trough

up

again

just

and

below

finally

~ettled down in the water on the third wave.

H:

Okay

observe

S:

now,
as

far

c i r c l i n g

I ' m

a

t h e

as

you
the

first

flew

aircraft

in

onto
the

the

scene

what

did

you

water?

Well, we saw Cross in the water, because the other airplane

w a s

i n

when

l i t t l e

t h e

o n

t h i s .

a i r p l a n e s ,

s o

t h a t

airplane

other

T h a t

h a z y

a i r,

b e e n

o v e r h e a d .

s o

t h e y

was

a f e e r

m a d e

gone

t h a t

a~rplane

at

t h a t
had

a
the

L a t e r
t h e y

g o o d
time

S m i t t y

Henry

w a s

t h e

S m i t t y

w o u l d
m a r k .
we

p u t

Cross,

fi r s t

got
t h e
had

t h i n g

p u t

fl o a t
A s

I

r e c a l l

fl o a t
him

So

t a n k s

s a w.

N o w,

fl o a t

t h o s e

n o s e

there.

w e

t a n k s

d o w n ,
i t ,
it

i n

t h e

mumt

o n .

~potted.

t a i l

B u t

He

have
t h e

had

a

li~e

Sharp

preserver on, and he was in the water.

They had him spotted

and they just kept circling around him.

H:

But no sign o~ Shelfus?

S: We never did see him. He I think, had gotten out of the
a i r p l a n e , t h e o t h e r f e l l o w s s a i d , b u t h e s a n k r i g h t a w a y. H e
was gone. We found no sign of him. We landed as close to
Henry as we could. As I said, I made a very bad landing and
broke a

wing float at the time of the landing, which was my

f a u l t . We g o t H e n r y C r o s s ~ g o t a h o l d o f h i m q u i t e s i m p l y.
Didn't take us long. We hauled him into the plane and he had a
broken back. He was in quite a lot of pain. We got him into
the airplane. Eddie Edwards got him on the back seat of the
airplane.

I was still trying to keep the airplane afloat,

because the broken float
trying to keep

was pulling the ~ing domn, and I was

the wing up and keep moving into the wind to

keep it up.

H:

O k a y.

Yo u h a d p o w e r.

Yo u d i d n ' t l o s e y o u r p o w e r.

S: No no. Everything was Tine there.

It was obvious that we

were very badly equipped to do ~nything for Henry Cross. We
should have had blankets. We should have had all kinds of
e m e r g e n c y t h i n g s t o t a k e c a r e o f t h e p o o r g u y. We d i d n ' t h a v e
a thing.

We were all in summer uniform. We-~ jus~ jumped in the

airplane and were gone.

If we'd used our heads at all it would

have been a much better deal. But we got him in anyhow. We
turned around sort of crosswind to get headed toward shore.
could talk to the base.

I

I had a triangular antenna, from the

tail out each wing, on that airplane.

I could talk to the base

and I could talk to the other airplane, and we said we were all
right. We've got a busted wing float, and all that kind of
stuff. We can't take off again.

It was obvious with all that

water in that float we weren't going to get off.

H: How far off shore were you? Do you recall?

Four or five

miles, something like that?

S: Nor we were a lot more than that. We were outside of
Winter- Quarter Shoal by 4 or 5 miles, and I think it was at
least 35 to 40 mile5 off shore, if I recall.

I may be

exaggerating, but I don't think so.

H:

I have a plot on exactly where it was.

I was just

interested in your recollection.

S: We were oLitside of that and about the same latitude, so
then we started for shore. They had a Coast Guard boat alerted
to come out to LIe, and we were in eight of land, in sight of
Chincoteague Inlet when they got up to us. The question was
whether we should let them tow us on in or whether- we should
keep ta~iing in. Eddie Edwards went out on the opposite wing
from the broken float to balance the airplane, and he had to

Sharp

s i t

o u t

with

t h e r e

Henry

t h e

r e s t

Cross,

o f

t h e

which

was

poor Henry was in agony.
conscious.

t r i p ,
the

a n d

I

worst

w a s

part

i n

of

t h e

the

a i r p l a n e

trip,

because

I don't think he was really

I think he was completely out of his head. He was

moaning and more. Anyway, he wasn't a happy man. We got
ashore. The Coast Guard came and found us and they took us in
t o w.

I

take

us

going
better

h a d
in

a t

fi r s t
Let

slowly,

so

tow.

I

let

them

t h o u g h t

us

go

as

thought

take

us

i t

w o u l d

b e

as

could,

far

maybe

in

tow,

we

to

get

although

b e t t e r

i f

but

t h e y

we

were

Harry

in

I

afraid

was

d i d n ' t

quicker

we'd

they

might pull our bow chock out or do something and we~d be in
worse trouble yet.

H:

S:

Pull you through the waves.

So

anyhow

they

did

take

us

in

tow

and

he

did

a

good

job,

and he took us into Chincoteague Inlet to the Coast Board
Station there, and we got Henry out, and we were met by an
ambulance

that

took

him

to

Salisbury

they could for him and he recovered.
t w i c e

i n

t h e

h o s p i t a l .

B u t

a f t e r

h e

Hospital.

]'hey

did

all

I went to see him once or
g o t

o u t

o f

t h e

h o s p i t a l ,

he went directly home, and I never saw him again afterwards,
nor have I heard from him afterwards.
or anything.
him,

and

again.

they

There

I don~t know where he is

He had a very nice wife, who was down there with
both
was

a

just

disappeared.

report

that

he

wa~

Never

heard

working

as

from
a

them

civilian

at

the Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama, that he was

Sharp

working

down

better.

But

I

there
never

as

a

civilian.

could

find

So

he

anybody

knew him or had any record of him.

must

at

have

Maxwell

gotten

Field

who

I don't know what happened

to him.

H :

We l l ,

t o t a l l y

t h a t

c e r t a i n l y

i n t e r e s t i n g

repaired

it

there

w a s

c a r e e r.

on

the

a

r e a l

S o

y o u

beach,

interesting

phase

of

your

got the airplane back and

and

e v e n t u a l l y

g o t

i t

b a c k

t o

Rehoboth?

S:

Ye s ,

a l l

t h e

we

pulled

w a t e r

it

o u t

up

o f

on

t h e

the

beach

fl o a t

a n d

at

Chincoteague

s t r a i g h t e n e d

i t

and

get

a r o u n d

~nough ~o that it wa~n~t a drag too much on the airplane.
t o o k

i t

o ff

R e h o b o t h

t h e
t h e

Chincoteague

b e a c h

f o l l o w i n g
Coast

late at night.

H:

Some

of

j u s t

o ff

d a y.

Guard

t h e
We

s a n d

d i d n ' t

Station

till,

a n d
g e t
it

fl e w
i n

i t

t o

seemed

u p

I

t o

t h e
to

me,

quite

I don't know what time it was.

the

written

accounts

say

eleven

hours

of

taxiing,

which seems like an awfully long time.

S :

I t

g e t t i n g

w a s n ' t
i n .

b u t

w a s

t a : : l

But

it

I

h o u r s

~ o u l d n ' t

o f

t h i n k

t a x i i n g .
t h a t

W e

w e r e

e l e v e n

m o r e

t h a n

a

h a l f

h o u r s
o f

t h a t

I n g .

H:

e l e v e n

did

take

you

a

good

total

eleven

hours

to

get

in.

Sharp

S:

Oh,

H:

it

Okay

took

you

us

went

a

long

on

r o u t i n e

o p e r a t i o n s ,

y o u

d i d

S :

a l l

T h a t ' s

time

back
i f

to

y o u

r i g h t .

T h e

a i r p l a n e

base
t o

and

c a l l

started

fl y i n g

doing

o v e r

your

w a t e r

l i k e

who

he

h e

d i d

a

pulled

g o o d

m a d e

a n o t h e r

r e s c u e .

To m

I forget who was with him, and I

in front of Rehoboth Beach.
B u t

in.

r o u t i n e .

remember

t h e r e .

get

the

w a n t

San~chagrin was flying it,
can't

to

j o b ,

out

of

the

water,

but

it

It wasn't off shore.
d i d n ' t

t e a r

t h e

was

right

It was right

a i r p l a n e

M:

He didn't have as big waves as you

S:

No,

H:

That's two crashes at sea that you mentioned so far.

you

u p .

all have others at Rehoboth?

S :

Ye s ,

w a s .

W e

I

don't

I

think

t h i n k
h a d ~

w e
I

so.

h a d

t h i n k

t h r e e
w e

l o s t

i n

t o t a l ,

fi v e

w a s n ' t

p e o p l e

i t ?

t o t a l

I

t h i n k

w a s n ' t

i t ?

sars so on our plaque down there.

H:

That's

S:

I hate to be so hazy about things that were so important.

a

matter

of

record.

i t
I t

Sharp

H :

i ' m

n o t

t r y i n g

t o

c o l l e c t

s p e c i fi c

d e t a i l s

t h a t

a r e

w r i t t e n

someplace, l~m more interested in how you felt and how you saw
itand

how

you

perceived

what

went

on

at

that

time.

The

reading and~writing ~omeplace we can read, the opportunity to
d i s c u s s
o f t e n ,

i t

w i t h

p e r i o d .

day-to-day
mechanic

He

a s

f a r

things

i s

L e t ' s

n o t

g o

operations

or

Smitty?

y o u

got

to

be

a s

engineering

of

b a c k

of

engineering

a v a i l a b l e

the

a

l i t t l e

base.

officer,

one

of

b i t

How

t o

real

you

famous
his

m o r e

this

ones,

n o t

m u n d a n e ,

chief

called

him,
if

you

inventions

and

S:

Well,

M:

Oh~

S:

Oh, yes, he's still around.

M:

Where does he live?

S:

He lives down just south of town, somewhere.

M:

Near Wilmington?

S:

still

with

We l l ,

sure--

he~s

go,

t h e

about

whatever

the

o f t e n .

that nature.

he

officers

v e r y

Ye s , l ~ v e

where

it

i~.

alive?

I saw him last week.

been to his house, and I can't remember just

will,

Sharp

M:

Well, we can find him in

S:

Oh, yes.

H:

the phone book.

Sd~re.

Well, basically, then--

S:

His name was Everett Smith.

H:

We l l ~ b a s i c a l l y, t h e n , y o u k e p t 2 0 t o 2 5 a i r p l a n e s g o i n g

and

covering your area with two to four airplanes at all times.

Did you run some north

and some south, or did you run them all

just in a circle?

S:

It was pretty much in a rectangle. We sent them out, t~o

at a time. At some pQint, I forget just when it was, they
started the

COnVOy

business, and then it was a matter of

meeting the convoy~ staying with it for two hours~ and being
relieved by the next group every two hours. Those Fairchilds
had about a four hour range, but we didn't want to keep the
boys out there for over two hours if we could help it. So they
relieved each other every two hours.

H:

N o w y o u r c o n v o ~ d u t y, y o u j u s t fl e w p a r a l l e l t o t h e c o n v o y

and

~Jatched for submarines?

S:

Ye s y e s .

Generally

just

a

sort oF oval pattern around.

They'd change it and make figure eights, do all kinds of things

Sharp

to mix it up So that if he were watching us~ he wouldn't figure
out our pattern.

H:

Keep from getting drunk.

you

all have any submarine sightings?

(Laughter.)

During that time did

S: We had one that was definite. We had another one that was
not definite.

In fact, I know it wasn't definite. The one

that was definite was out off of Five Fathom Bank. There was a
tanker coming around the buoy and a submarine had been stalking
i t ~ a p p a r e n t l y. H e s t u c k h i s n o s e u p . H e s t u c k h i s p e r i s c o p e
up to take a

look,

and one of our fellows spotted him. He dove

r i g h t a t t h e p e r i s c o p e . H e w a s n o t v e r y f a r a w a y, a n d h e d o v e
right at it and apparently all of a sudden the periscope was
all full of airplane, and the guy didn't take time to see what
kind it was, and he dove and went down and the rest of the
StOFy is not very definite, because we could never confirm it.
B t L t I d i d s e e a s u b m a r i n e u n d e r t o w t l n e n e > : t d a y.

H: Excuse me now. When he dove at the

submarine, was that

during the period of time when you were

equipped with bombs.

not?

H:

Okay', that was prior to your being equipped.

Sharp

S ;

Ye s ~

i t

thrashing
he

stuck

w a s
in

his

p r i o r

the

t o

water

nose

in

t h a t .

after

the

H e

d o v e

that~

mud~

and

and

a n d
our

was

t h e r e

w a s

fellows

trying

to

a

l o t

believe

get

o f
that

loose.

The

following morning there was a submarine under tow going up the
Delaware Bay.
;:ind.

I did not see any markings on it at all of any

I wouldn't have any idea if it was ours that was being

towed

in

for

caught.

some

reason,

or

if

it

was

the

one

the

airplane

I mean the one that stuck his nose in the mud. We

like to think that was what happened. The Navy would never

confirm it, would never say anything about it. So we really
don't know what happened~ but it makes a good story to smy that
we Stuck one in the mud.

Nobody is going to debate it.

H:

S:

The

say

it

other
was

fellows

one

the

that

turned

most

out

to

be

convincing

reported,

first

he

a

hoax

complete
I

ever

reported

hoax.

saw.

seeing

a

But

One

of

I

must

the

submarine,

then he said no we didn't see the submarine, but we maw oil
bubbling Lip from the bottom and it's moving.

It

something coming up from a sunken tanker or some
It's

moving.

It's

going

ahead

like

this.

So

I

other source.

went

look mysel~ and that was after we got the bombs.

out

to

I told him

before I got tlnere, just drop one of your bombs and just se~
what

H:

happens.

So

they

did.

They

had

two

they had 100 pound bombs at the time.

fifty

pound

bombs.

Sharp

S:

]hey

had

had

great

four

fun

of

those

watching

between

them

blow

two
up

airplanes

in

the

and

water.

they

So

came out and flew around and I had the Sikorsky.

all

then

I

I flew the

Sikorsky because it was the only airplane on the base that had
a

d e p t h

better

c h a r g e

take

o n

that

i t .

out

We

and

h a d

see

o n e

what

d e p t h

c h a r g e .

happens.

So

I

S o

I

s a i d

went

Qut

I

and

sure enough this submarine was just going along as nice as yoc~
please,
l i t t l e
this

and

t u r n

way,

it

was

t o

the

t h e

moving
r i g h t

most

right

a n d

along,

t h e n

convincing

i t

thing

and

then

it

would

take

w o u l d

t a k e

a

l i t t l e

t u r n

you

ever

saw.

So

I

a

dropped

my depth charge and the submarine just kept doing what it was

doing, and we kept following along and so forth, so ~inally I
said

we

better

airplanem

do

something

watching

it

and

I

about
went

this.

So

ashore.

we

We

got

two

called

up

the

h e a d q u a r t e r s i n N e w Yo r k a n d t o l d t h e m w h a t w a s g o i n g o n . T h e y
got a B-17 from Mitchell Field to come down and he dropped some
s t u ff

o n

i t .

N o w

w a i t

a

m i n u t e ,

t h e

fi r s t

o n e

w a s

t h e

N a v y

i n

Cape May. They came down with OS2U's. They dropped some on
i t .

T h e

s a m e

r e s u l t .

A n d

B-17"s to come down.

t h e n

t h e y

g o t

M i t c h e l l

F i e l d

a n d

t h e

I think ther~ were two of them, and they

just blasted the whole ocean apart. Same thing.

(Laughter.)

So then they got a Navy vessel to come down there and they
apparently couldn't hear anything, and they were the people who
figured out ~vhat happened. They called me up and I went over
to Cape May and they said they thought they'd solved the
mystery.

They

told

me

what

it

was.

There

had

been

a

tanker

Sharp

sunk there a number of months before, and it had developed a
leak, rusted through or something, and there was oil coming UP
and the tide was moving it down, yoLl see, in a most convincing
manner. And they figured OLit what it really was,
very exciting day, I'll tell you.

H:

Well, we dropped five pieces of

oil

slick.

S~

Nothing more than just practicing.

H:

ordnance on that particular

How about any other bombings, do you recall any?

How about your on ~hore, on land, while you were on the

ground, aspects? Did you have a pretty regimented
organization? A lot of drill and that sort of thing?

S~

N o , n o t r e a l l y.

I'm not a very regimented fellow.

I'm not

a v e r y m i l i t a r y k i n d o f a f e l l o w. F r a n k l y, w e w e r e b u s y d o i n g
what we were supposed to do, any time off that the boys got, I
wasn't going to march them around the field for no good purpose
that I knew of, and so we didn't really pay much attention to
that until we got ~everal directives reminding us that we were
n o t d o i n g o u r d u t y, a n d t h e n w e ' d g o o u t a n d I g o t a Vi c t r o l a
with a loud speaker and a marching record, and we'd march up
and down a time or two, but really our drill was not much.

We

had a fellow who was in charge of the guard unit, and he was an
ex-Army man, and he loved to drill people, and he loved to get
out there and call the command~, but nobGdy took it terribly

Sharp

seriously.

out

H ~ Yo u w e r e

there

fly airplanes and not to wear your

to

feet out.

S :

T h a t ' s

r i g h t .

called

down

about

being

slapped

for

We
it

d i d n ' t

several

sloppy

their

with

wrists

p a y

m u c h

times.

the

from

a t t e n t i o n

We

also

uniforms

time

to

got

and

time

but

a n d

w e

called

that
we

g o t

down

kind

of

weren't

thing.
very.

I tried to set somewhat of an e>~ample~ but I wasn't very
a t

i t .

H :

Tw o

good

fi n g e r e d

s u b j e c t .
or

not

that

U ~ u a l l y

your

nature.

M;

It

know

the

had

a t

guards
That's

two

patch

Geographic
t h a t

w r i s t

as

red

s l a p p i n g .

t h i s
wore
an

j u n c t u r e
any

p r e s c r i b e d

i t .

rifles

a s k

special

on
It

Guard
We

I

illustration

exists.
CAP

L o u i s a

a

was

at

c a n ' t

i ~

y o u

a

CAP

patch

We

can't

a n y b o d y

or

h e r

H;

I

never

Didn't

question

saw

wear
at

it

white

CAPG.

several

Rehoboth
ba~es

and

either.

find

w h o

the~

I~ve

didn't

We

National
any
h a s

directive
s e e n

it.

at

of

patch.

W O r ~ .

S:

p e t

w h e t h e r

anything

guard

in

a t

r e c a l l

with

illustrated

base.
fi n d

l o o k i n g

insignia

o~

blue

i s

asked

know

it

that
either.

i t

Sharp

while

we're

insignia

on

that

insignia,

they

put

a

on

lot

of

their

the

bases

airplanes

had

and

a

special

things.

I've

seen some versions of the one for Delaware with a goose
dropping a bomb and several different things.

M:

Blue Hen's Chicken.

H:

D i d

y o u

a l l

a c t u a l l y

h a v e

a n

o f fi c i a l

b a s e

i n s i g n i a ?

S: Oh yes, we did and we had decals of that and they were on
every

airplane,

weren't
a

used.

We

H:

H:

have

don't

don't,

pillow,
i t ' s

to

certainly

But

a

get

I

know
have

which

a

picture

there

never

she

b e a u t i f u l

if

of

seen

gave

t h i n g

are

me

one.

at

a n d

I

any

decals,
Es

that

Kimball

the

time,

of

~ t i l l

h a v e

did

that

t h a t .

that.

there

appreciate

must

be

it.

some

pictures

of

it.

There are some pictures of it~ but unfortunately there are

s e v e r a l
really

M:

a n d

I

If you kno~J somebody who could make a color picture of that

we~d

S:

I

needlepoint

i n s i g n i a ,

M:

and

v e r s i o n s

sure

which

o f

i t

one

i n

t h i s

was

the

l i t t l e

b o o k l e t

correct

a n d

version

of

I

n e v e r

w a s

it.

The one in the National Geographic is the correct version.

Sharp

H:

T h e s e c o n d o n e w a s a l i t t l e n a u g h t y.

S:

A n d t h a t o n e w a s d o n e b y Z a c k M o s l e y.

M:

Remember your aircraft marking?

He did that cartoon.

S : Ye s , I r e m e m b e r t h a t . G r e a t d e a l o f c o n t r o v e r s y a b o u t
that. The original insignia had the red propeller, and I don't
know what the point was in taking the propeller out. I think
they wanted to differentiate u~ from the rest of the CAP
airplanes for some reason. But I don't know why we should have
been.

H : We l l , t h e r e w a s a p a r a l l e l s t o r y. A t t h e s a m e t i m e t h e A i r
Force took the red center out of their star.

H; And it had something to do with confusion between Japanese
airEraft marking and US aircraf~ marking. Now I've just
a s s u m e d t h a t t h a t w a s t h e s a m e t h i n g o n C A P.

S:

We l l . t h a t ' s a s g o o d a r e a s o n a s a n y.

M:

We just found the directive of July of ~42.

all

planes on Coastal Patrol will have the red propeller

It said that

Sharp

removed from the insignia, and it will be returned to the
insignia or the insignia completely obliterated before the
plane leaves service with Coastal Patrol. So no other planes
but Coastal Patrol had that insignia.

H."

Regressing back to your original -

S:

We did pay attention to that.

(Laughter.)

H: After being fussed at. Regressing just a little bit back
to the Cross incident.

Yo u , o f c o u r s e , w e r e , y o u a n d E d w a r d s ,

g o t t o b e c a r e f u l , I g e t h i m c o n f u s e d w i t h m y g o v e r n o r. Yo u
were awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross by President
Roosevelt.

S .

No, the Air Medal.

H: The Air Medal.

I ' m s o r r y, n o t D F C . T h e A i r M e d a l b y

President Roosevelt. How did that come about? How did you
first find out they had selected you ~or the award?

S:

I don't really recall.

I remember there were some rumors

t h a t t h a t w a s g o i n g t o h a p p e n . E v e n t u a l l y, w e w e r e c a l l e d t o
Washington.

I w e n t o v e r i n t h e S i k o r s k y.

I flew it over, met

our wives in Washington and went over to the White House.

We

waited in the waiting room for quite some time to get into the
august presence of the president. We apparently caught him a

Sharp

little by surprise,
time.

H:

because he

was picking his teeth at the

( L a u g h t e r. )

Good anecdote.

S ; B u t h e r e c o v e r e d f r o m t h a t v e r y g r a c e f u l l y. H e i n v i t e d u s
in and he was very gracious, congratulated u~ and pinned on the
medals.

I'm not really quite clear about this either. He

indicated at the time, he said this is the first time that this
medal ha6 been awarded. Now I think he might have meant this
is the first time I have awarded this medal.

M:

I wonder if he could have meant awarded to anyone outside

of the service.

S: And we were ~till at Rehoboth. Eddie Edwards left about
two or three months before we quit, because he said he had a
chance to get in the Navy as a flying officer. And I said;
" Ta k e i t , b o y, a n d g o . " A n d h e d i d . T h e n h e w a s s t i l l i n
training someplace, when this thing happened, so he was called
down at the same time.

H: Now ba~k to the comment Roosevelt made. He was probably
referring to the fact that you two were the first civilians.

M:

It says right here it was the first time this military

medal has been awarded to a civilian.

Sharp

S:

I think that's right. The president, I think he was

confused. He said this is the first time this medal has been
awarded. So we took it that we had number I.

I'm sure that's

not right.

H: Well, in the case of the president, I doubt very seriously
that he would award Air Medals to the military people~ because
it's not one of the higher military decorations. For a
civilian, of course~ it was about the highest there was.

M:

S:

It could have been the first time he personally awarded it.

I~m sure that's what he meant. But we thought

at the time

that we were the first people to get it.

H: Aside from that I'm sure you had a certain degree of pride
and accomplishment not only in receiving of the medal~ but the
Fact that you saved the boy's life, which is the net result.

S: Well, I think both Eddie and I felt that we were terribly
upset that we didn~ find Shelfus. We felt that we had really
let the side down there.

I always felt a little embarrassed

that I busted up the airplane in the process.

(Laughter.) We

w e r e v e r y p l e a s e d . W h o w o u l d n ' t b e ? To b e r e c o g n i z e d . W e
t h o u g h t i t w a s a n a w f u l f u s s o v e r v e r y l i t t l e ~ f r a n k l y, w h e n
you thought o~ what else was going on in the world at the time.

Sharp

The only other anecdote I have about the trip to Washington
was

after

all

the

tumult

and

shouting

had

died~

Eddie

and

I

went over to Washington National where we had landed because
w e

w e r e

c i v i l i a n s

a n d

c o u l d n ' t

g o

i n t o

t h e

A r m y

fi e l d .

We

landed at Washington National and parked the airplane and went
in to the White House. When we came back we were in a long
conga

line

of

airplanes

going

out

to

take

off~

and

in

front

of

us were ~everal of what we thought were perfectly tremendous
airplanes

at

that

time,

E-54's.

One

of

them

was

cleared

to

Sander and one of them was cleared to someplace down in the
West

Indies~

England.

and

was

one

The

another
in

of

front

cleared

us

I

for

don~t

a

non-stop

remember

flight

where

to

he

was

going anyhow~ but we sat there quite a while vJhile these
clearances
fellow
back

in

were

front

there.

given

of

He

us

and

was

called

everybody

kind

the

of

tower

got

parked,
and

out
so

of

there.
could

what

asked

he

the

The

see
beck

LIS
is

that back there? The man in the tower said:

"I'm not sure.

I'ii

a

ask."

The

So

fellow

a h e a d

o f

he

in

called

the

m e .

(LaughLer.)

us

and

airplane
I

That

w a n t
was

said

said:

t o

the

we

s e e

it

" Te l l

i f

i t

silliest

was
that

r e a l l y

fellow

w i l l

looking

Sikorsky
to

S-39.

take

off

fl y. "

airplane

you

ever

s a w .

H :

We l l ,

Te x a s

y o u

did

d i d

with

theirs

rescue.

They

lost

the

that

were

two

b e t t e r

it

w i t h

when

y o u r

S i k o r s k y

they

tried

completely.

In

down

plu~

to

effect

fact,

themselves.

t h a n

they

But

t h e

their

p e o p l e
water

almost

that

all

lost

turned

i n

Sharp

out to be a satisfactory story in that everybody got

picked up.

We l l , t h e s e c o n d t w o d i d a n y w a y. We l l y o u k n o w t h i s

is always

a difficult question to ask.

words~

I stumble sometimes for

because I don't want to lead people. How do you feel
personally about the ~ontribution made by CAP Coastal Patrol
during that period?

S: Well, I think that we felt that we had filled a gap.
Whether the gap was really worth filling, I really don't know.
The sinkings right off the mouth of the Delaware Bay did stop.
We didn't have any more after that. Sinkings didn't stop, but
the one~ right there did. So anyhow somebody must have spread
the word that the mouth of the Bay was being guarded at least.
H o w m u c h c r e d i t o u r fl y i n g s h o u l d h a v e To t t h a t , I h a v e n o
idea. But if it saved one tanker, it was worth while.

I think

all of us at the end were thinking we had served our purpose.
If the military were prepared to take over the job, or if the
job had to be continued, we'd be glad to get out of it and get
on to something else. There certainly was no glamour in it.
There certainly was no real fun. Our esprit de corps was
great, and just being there with those fellows was great. I
think that shows so well in the loyalty those fellows have had
for our reunions.

M:

How many do you get at your reunion~?

S:

Oh, we get a very high percentage of the people that are

Sharp

s t i l l

l i v i n g .

s m a l l

A n

r e u n i o n

a w f u l
t h i s

l o t

y e a r.

o f
I

p e o p l e

t h i n k

a r e

t h e r e

g o n e .
w e r e

We

3 5

h a d

o r

a

4 0

v e r y

p e o p l e

there.

Hi Good group. When you closed down Rehoboth in August of
~43, what did most of your people do?

S:

Well,

before

the

base

closed

down~

they

got

us

all

to

join

the Army. Everybody on the base had an opportunity to go and
e n l i s t .

We

w e r e

e n l i s t e d

a s

p r i v a t e s

i n

t h e

A r m y.

T h e n

c u r

duty assignment was to go back and do what we were doing. So
we

were

in

the Army

at

the

time

we

quit.

Go

everybody

that

was

there certainly scrambled around to see what they could do, how
they
t h e

could
r e a r

pilots

better

r a n k .

got

We

flying

their
a l l

job,

s c r a m b l e d

assignments

instructor~ or ATC pilots.

H:

Did

of

that

S~
or

on

of

them

go

into

one

o~

being

a r o u n d .
place

or

a

buck

A l m o s t

private

a l l

another,

o f

in

t h e

either

as

I went in Air Transport Command.

To w

Ta r g e t

operations

or

anything

nature?

I don't think so.
didn't

eligible

H;

some

instead

do
to

I think they either went into the Army

anything.

do

There

were

a

lot

of

people

who

weren't

anything.

There were a lot of them past the point where they could go
active

duty.

In

closing

let

me

just

throw

it

open.

Is

Sharp

there

anything

in

a

S ~

as

N o ,

that

has

occurred

to

you

that

you

want

to

throw

postscript?

I

d o n ~ t

t h i n k

s o .

E ~ : c e p t

t h a t

i n

r e t r o s p e c t ,

s u r e ,

y o u

always had people that you wished would do something else, or
act

differently,

in

any

organization

you've

got

tQ

have

those

things happen, but by and large, we had the greatest group you
ever

saw. As

I

said,

their

esprit

de

corps

was

always

darn

good. Of course, we had periods when we were down if we'd lost
somebody or that kind of thing. But they always bounced back
and they always did their jobs and there was a minimum of
bitching and complaining and so forth.
been

healthy,

H~

No.

S:

Since

these

Yo u

if

you

have

then,

reunions

to

the
is

hadn't

have

feeling
just

had

some

of

But

it

wouldn't

have

that.

of

that.

camaraderie

marvelous.

and

Everybody

so

has

forth
a

of nostalgia about it and they come back and bring

at

great deal
t h e i r

k i d s

and even their grandchildren now.

M:

I ~ust want to point out one thing. When Les asked you

whether

you

felt

perhaps

you

have

it

was

worthwhile,

forgotten,

that

in

I'm

sure

Flying

you

have

Minute

Men

read,

but

there

a quote of a German submarine admiral who, in the war trials,
was asked why the submarines stopped plying the east coast of
the United States. His answer was~

"It was those damn little

is

Sharp

red and yellow planes."

S:

W e l l

I

t h i n k

did

stop showed that

H:

Again,

Hugh

t h e

(Laughter.)

f a c t

t h a t

t h e

So you did do the

s i n k i n g s

r i g h t

a t

something happened.

thank

you

for

your

time

and

effort.

job.

the coast

C I V I L A I R PAT R O L H I S T O RY
United States Air Force Auxiliary
www.CAPHISTORY.org
www.TeamCAP.org

www. G OClVl LAI R PAT RO L. com

,CIVIL
AI R PATROL
O ;

I N i

~

l i

O D o , ~

0

O P

' V ~ I I A h

O I I I N l l