Lt. Charles Coburn Wounded
(1944) - Twice wounded and having served 52
months in the Pacific with only two leaves during that time, Lt. Charles
Coburn, survivor of the
USS Pecos and a subchaser, the
last two of which were sunk, is now at St. Albans Naval hospital in Long
Island where he has been sent for a rest.
In addition to the Purple Heart with a gold star signifying that he has been wounded twice, Lt. Coburn wears the following ribbons: Pre-Pearl Harbor, Philippines Liberation with two bronze stars; American Theatre, Defense of the Philippines, with a single bronze star; and the Asiatic-Pacific. Six bronze stars are on the Asiatic-Pacific bar for the defense of the Philippines, the Battle of Java, New Guinea and strikes against Manila, Leyte and Okinawa.
Lt. Coburn first entered service five years ago. He trained on the Wyoming and the Illinois, obsolete battleships.
He was then assigned to the Marblehead and was aboard that ship when she was hit.
Wounded, he spent a month in Java as one of the famous Dr. Wassel's boys.
He first landed with the Marblehead at Tjilatjap on the Southern coast of Java and was then taken inland 90 miles to Djocakarta along with 50 men who, besides other wounds, suffered from severe burns.
At the Baptist Missionary Hospital, Dutch civilian women cared for the boys, filling every request possible by bringing them cigarettes and other things right down to home-made ice cream.
While there, Lt. Coburn noted with interest that seven different class levels of language were spoken and, as a result, wall trade was carried on in the Malay language.
In describing the hospital, Lt. Coburn says it was a beautiful structure, being horse-shoe shaped around a magnificent garden. The patients had individual rooms with small verandas facing the garden. Chinese and Dutch medical men rendered the patients efficient and modern care. The food was plentiful and wholesome though very different from the American menu.
Sanitary conditions, however, were below our standards and not to the liking of the boys. For entertainment radios were supplied which, as did all radios in Java, signed off by playing the Dutch, British, Chinese and American national anthems.
During his internment in the hospital, Lt. Coburn was in constant contact with Dr. Wassel, who brought the boys anything they might need and who also acted as Naval administrator, doing all the paperwork necessary.
Before leaving Java, Lt. Coburn and the rest of the men contributed their left-over pocket money to the Javanese nurses whom they had taught to speak English by conducting lesson classes. The money amounted to more than the women would have made in two years.
The men had been scheduled to evacuate Java on the USS Shark, but the sub was sunk coming in.
Finally, heading out on the Pecos, they ran into disaster once again with the sinking of that ship.
Of a possible 700 aboard, only 500 were picked up.
Of the ten men in Lt. Coburn's group, only he and a Chinese boy survived. The Chinese, he said, are especially enlisted in the Navy for mess and are allowed duty in the Asiatic-Pacific area only. They do not receive American citizenship.
Lt. Coburn was picked up by a destroyer and taken to Australia. While in Darwin, the men on board were made a gift of 300 pounds of beef fillet which was given to them by an Australian girl.
Survivor Of Torpedoing Succumbs
(April 28, 1944) - Chief Engineer Charles
Coburn, 57, of 184 Hillside Avenue, survivor of the torpedoing of the tanker
Rochester off the Virginia coast in January 1942, died last Saturday following an operation.
From: Newspaper unknown, 1944
The Nutley Sun: Survivor Of Torpedoing Succumbs
Snail Mail: PO Box 110252, Nutley NJ 07110
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