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USCG CABLE SHIP PEQUOT - UNITED STATES
OUR SAILORS' STORIES
This page tells another one the stories of the sailors who served aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cable ship Pequot during World War II. The Pequot served as a harbor defense cable-laying and repair ship under direction of the US Navy. Her full story can be found on the Pequot Home Page.
NORM ZINNER - YEOMAN 1st CLASS
Once the war broke out, Norm went to work for the War Ordinance Depot in Cleveland earning $35 per week where he performed general clerical work, took dictation using shorthand, typed-up correspondence, and did general filing work. But Norm wanted to do more to serve his country and the war effort. On July 1st 1942 he enlisted at the US Coast Guard District Office in Cleveland, which was part of the 9th Naval District. He listed his occupation as a “stenographer” and his enlistment papers detailed his abilities with shorthand, typing, business English, business machines, accounting, history of business, and his pre-war work as a clerk-typist.
With Norm’s 2-years of college business administration and much industrious work experience already behind him, the Coast Guard immediately gave him the rating of Yeoman 2nd class and, with a minimum of basic training, shipped him off to the 9th Naval District’s Office of the Coast Guard Inspector at the Marine Iron and Shipbuilding Company in Duluth, Minnesota. This Great Lakes shipyard built more than 20 ships for the Coast Guard during WWII including most 180' Cactus Class Buoy Tenders.
So Norm suddenly found himself, at $96 per week, in the middle of a bustling shipyard helping to oversee and inspect construction of buoy tenders including the USC Cowslip (WLB-277). Norm and other Coast Guardsmen were sent to Duluth to immediately take over the ship once it was completed and serve as the Cowslip’s first crew. So upon commissioning on October 17th 1942, Norm became a “plank owner” on the Cowslip and served as her first Yeoman when she went into service. After two months helping to shake down the Cowslip, Norm was transferred to the Captain of the Port (COTP) in Gloucester, Massachusetts on December 1942 where he served under the Senior Coast Guard Officer at Coast Guard Station #23. Shortly after his enlistment, Norm enrolled in a series of correspondence courses offered by the U.S. Coast Guard Institute. He received very high marks and was awarded his Yeoman certificates which helped him advance in rank. While serving at Gloucester he was promoted to Yeoman 1st Class on April 8th 1943. He also took chemical warfare training during his time at Station #23 on the Atlantic Coast.
On April 26th 1943 he was transferred to the Commanding Officer for transfer pay
accounts in Salem, Massachusetts before receiving orders for the District Coast
Guard Office Receiving Station in Boston where he got orders to ship aboard the
Coast Guard cable layer Pequot. He joined the crew of the Pequot on July
19th 1943 where he served as the ship’s Yeoman until well after World War II.
After Norm’s father Jack died in September 1942 at the age of 52, Norm
faithfully sent home $50 each month to help support his mother and 16 year old
sister Dorothy. After Jack died, Fannie did her best to keep the Sunbeam Shop on
152nd Street in Cleveland going but her income was only about $110 per month.
After a series of applications Norm was able to get a US Coast Guard
“Substantial Support” allowance of $37 per month sent to his mom and sister
while he was at sea aboard Pequot.
On March 4th 1944, after the Coast Guard posted a $2000 bond on his behalf to
the Post Office Department through New York Casualty Company to the Chief of
Naval Operations, Norman was officially designated as a Navy Mail Clerk to
operate a branch post office of the New York Post Office aboard the Pequot. So
beginning in April of 1944 Norm earned an extra $15 per month compensation for
being a “Class 1 Navy Mail Clerk.”
In September 1944 Pequot Captain Lars Sande wrote the Commandant of the Coast
Guard recommending Norm for promotion to Chief Petty Officer and wrote a strong
letter of support that included a sample of Norm’s shorthand and a dictation
test administered by Sande. The response the next month was that “No vacancies
presently exist within the service at large for chief petty officer with his
specialty therefore advancement cannot be considered until needs of the service
justify the action,” so Norm was put on the eligibility list but the promotion
never came to be.
One day while on shore leave, Norm met Boston native 18 year old Lenore June
Sgan who was a theater major at Emerson College. “I was working in a drugstore
and Norm came in one night,” Lenore remembers. “We really hit it off and then
got to know each other as time went on. He was a very handsome man!” That
casual encounter took hold and Norm and Lenore were married by Rabbi J. M.
Jacobson in Roxbury Massachusetts on October 7th 1945.
We have learned that in November of 1945 Norm was put on a 5-day “Captain’s
Mast” restriction for disobeying an order, but the details of his infraction
were not included in his service record, yet like most of the Pequot crew he did
earn the World War II Victory Medal, and the American Campaign Ribbon, and was
acknowledged for war duty outside the territory of the United States.
At the end of World War II, like some of his other shipmates, Norm stayed aboard
Pequot until January 11th 1946 when he was transferred to the US Coast Guard
Barracks at 14 N. Chambers Street in New York City until when he was honorably
discharged out of Brooklyn at Personnel Separation Center #3 on January 21st.
He was given a $28.85 travel allowance and total discharge pay of $59.49. Norm
also applied for and received a $128.40 authorization to ship his house hold
effects to help he and Lenore move from Boston to Cleveland.
After the war Norm went to work as a salesman for Metropolitan Insurance where
he enjoyed a highly successful career in the Cleveland area until he retired
from the firm. He and Lenore had three children, Joy, Jeffrey, and Brian. Norm
continued to play tennis, bowled and enjoyed playing cards. The couple traveled
and visited Alaska, Israel, France, and England. Lenore had a highly successful
acting career on stage, television, and in radio well into her 70s. Lenore says
that “Norm did several shows with me and he even sang in one of them where he
surprised everyone with the quality of his beautiful baritone voice.”
Every effort has been made to trace and acknowledge copyright. The authors would welcome any information from people who believe their photos have been used without due credit. Some photos have been retouched to remove imperfections but otherwise they are true to the original.
If you have comments or queries specifically
about the Pequot or her crew, please contact
Click here to go to the Pequot Main Page.
Research and design: Chip Calamaio and Richard Walding