The FS-156

William. R. Bentler

Wm. R. Bentler CHBOSN USCG (RET) joined the Coast Guard in 1939 and served a tour of duty aboard the USCG 165' Cutter Daphne in 1941. She was doing ASW and search and rescue off the central California coast. He took the enlisted crew to Wilmington, Calif. where they manned the newly built FS-156. He relates the following events in a recent letter to Jerome P. Friedman who in turn sent it to Jack's Joint. 


"We sailed from there in a small convoy to Funafuti in the Ellice Atoll Group. We sailed from there in a small convoy headed for Guadalcanal. 

When only a couple of hours out. we broke a wheel rope. I suggested to the captain that we could strip some wire off of the jumbo boom and reeve a new wheel rope. He declined, and we headed back to Funafuti. 

We called the Navy several times for a pilot to take us inside the atoll but they never sent one. Since we had the relieving tackles rigged, we went in without the pilot and anchored in the same place the pilot had originally anchored us. 

The following morning the China Clipper flying boat, which I am sure you know, was under contract to the Navy, came in and landed. She was known as the "Cannon Ball," and primarily carried only ranking officers and U.S. mail. On her departure she had four enlisted men sitting up on mail sacks in the tail of the plane. 

She took off normally, and gained a few hundred feet of altitude when her starboard engine failed. She came down in a steep starboard list and hit the mast-head light standard atop of the king post. She went in over our bow. Fortunately, we had the launch in the water tailing off the stem. Between ourselves, and other ships in the anchorage, we picked up five dead and five live people. There was a loss of 22 in the accident, which was a hefty number in those days We were detained in the atoll for some time while an investigation was held. The BM1 and I were the last to see the main fuselage before it sank, so we worked the dive barge. We picked-up a body every few days. Then one day the wreckage released the rest of the folks. We were able to recover most all of the bodies.. 

We were finally released to sail and headed to Guadalcanal for a short stop-over and on to Milne Bay, New Guinea. From there our work was pretty much the same as the other FS vessels.

We eventually made it to the Philippines with stops at Leyte, Lingayen Gulf, and Subic Bay. We delivered a tank farm to Subic.

In a convoy back to Leyte, our starboard engine failed and we were falling behind. The convoy commander ordered a Navy LST to give us a towline. With their help and by us running our port engine we were keeping up. Unfortunately the Navy people had not put chaffing-gear on the towline, so it broke at their taff-rail and promptly wound up in our port screw. We had made a diving rig out of a gas mask and with air from the engine room I went-down and cut the line out of the screw. No small task, I will tell you. We were then able to make it in to Leyte.

Then it was back to New Guinea and a milk run along the coast. Thence to the Philippines once again. We were in Manila when the war ended.

I was transferred to the FS-203 and made a trip all around the Philippines. On our return to Manila the ship was turned over to a Filipino crew. At that point, I came back to the States in charge of a draft of 75 on a slow Navy Liberty ship. It was 26 days to San Francisco."

Chief Warrant Officer Bentler put in his full time in the Coast Guard and retired to the city of Stockton, Calif. where he went to work as Athletic Equipment Man and Business Manager at the University of Pacific, Stockton, Calif. He is now fully retired.

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