In the early days of the Great War, America was woefully unprepared as is usually the case. And with the Coast Guard pulled into direct combat support operations, vessels that would be scrapped in good time were fixed us best could be done and put to sea. Sent to the South Pacific, the Hunter Liggett was one of the ships used to transport Marines to Guadalcanal. As a damage control specialist, Burr was tasked with trying to keep the old ship whole, regardless of what the problem might be and the problem was made more difficult by a number of possible threats. First, the waters they would be traversing as quickly as possible to deliver the Marines was full of reefs and shoals, yet there were no charts available of current conditions. And since the Japanese ruled the skies in 1942, the chance of being in the position of unloading troops while being attacked at any time was always a possibility. Yet, somehow the delivery of troops was successful and the Liggett stayed on her post until she was released.
The South Pacific is, of course, very humid and very hot, approaching one hundred degrees, but when the transfer of station came, Uncle Burr and the crew were next to report to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, yet the quickness of the transfer meant they only had hot weather uniforms. They did, however, prevail and the Japanese invasion never materialized very far. Then when the war ended, Burr came home for a long visit but was committed to remaining in the Coast Guard. He loved his work and, of course, the sea.
My first real memories of him surfaced early in the 1950s when he was assigned to North Atlantic iceberg patrol. Cutters are quite small compared to the larger Navy vessels, yet their duty was to maintain station in the frigid North Atlantic, always prepared for search and rescue mission in those treacherous waters. Heavy gales, sometimes much stronger, monstrous waves like skyscrapers and ever changing currents had to be dealt with while maintaining their vigil over the shipping routes and also keeping lookout for icebergs.
Uncle Burr's home port was with the First Coast Guard District in Portsmouth, Virginia and when he had a short liberty leave in port, he would ride the ferry from Norfolk to Newport News where my dad would pick him up and bring him home for a visit and well deserved rest. I remember as he walked into the house in his travel uniform, his decorations and ribbons and his windburned smile brought a chill down my back. He was my hero as a little boy and I looked up to him. He told me stories, showed me pictures of places he had been and I saw up close and personal how close he and Mom were. She was very proud of him, too and Dad liked him very much. Those were wonderful visits.
So, why you might ask did I choose to write about him on my blog? After all, I've told a few stories about him which are part of my legacy book, "Summers at Old Nags Head." Well, in a nutshell I guess I better answer that question and here is my answer. You, see, when I think about this wonderful man and his love and sacrifice he willingly made for his country, I think about so many of our young people today, impressionable kids who instead of being taught the greatness of our nation and the sacrifice so many made for freedom are taught to be ashamed of America. And I have to say it both troubles and saddens me, for no place on earth has done so much for so many, often without even being given a word of thanks. And if future generations, or at least so many of them, choose to lose their allegiance to the land that is America, the very nation that was created as the grandest experiment ever in self-governance will collapse and fall. And the very people who have pushed for that will find that not only will they have no "safe room" to hide in, they'll be mired in tyranny as well.
Thank you, Uncle Burr and all those who so honorably served our nation in such times of need and I pray that we as a nation will have a rebirth of that Spirit to continue to keep us free. Have a blessed day.