The Men The Spirit The Ship The Mission



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.


Yeoman 1st Class
Norm Zinner - United States Coast Guard. Boston, Massachusetts 1943.

Norman Marvin Zinner was born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 27th 1921 to Austrian-Hungarian emigrants Jack and Fannie (Oster) Zinner.  The family ran a small men’s clothing store and tailor shop in Cleveland where Norm and his sister Dorothy grew up. Norm attended Cleveland’s Glenville College Preparatory High School where he played on the school tennis team, studied piano, was active on the debate team, and joined the glee club where he was known for his distinctive baritone voice. After high school graduation in 1939, Norm attended Cleveland College of Western Reserve University as a Business Administration major for two years.  While he was going to school he worked part time in the family business, and as a biller and dispatcher for Motor Express Company, as a clerk typist for the Majestic Knit Wear Company, and he did riveting and sheet metal work for a manufacture of stove pipes.

3. The main entrance to the Baker Memorial Building in 1942 where Norm was enrolled in Cleveland College of Western Reserve University. (Case Western Reserve University Archives) 4. Norm attended classes such as this one in 1941 at Cleveland College before he joined the Coast Guard. (Case Western Reserve University Archives)


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.


5. The Marine Iron and Shipbuilding Company was one of the biggest and busiest shipyards on the Great Lakes during WWII. (US Coast Guard) 6. Workers preparing to lay the keel for a Cactus Class buoy tender at Marine Iron and Shipbuilding Company 1942 (US Coast Guard)


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.


7. Here we see vertical bulkheads being installed and hull framing being fabricated on one of the 180 foot buoy tenders during 1942. (US Coast Guard) 8. The lower hold bulkheads of the USC Cowslip being positioned above the keel.  October 28th 1941. (US Coast Guard)


9. With flags flying, a buoy tender is made ready for launching at the Duluth Minnesota shipyard in 1942.
(US Coast Guard)


10. A Cactus Class buoy tender slides off the ways at Marine Iron Shipbuilding.  Other ships of the same class are seen under construction in the background. (US Coast Guard) 11. The commissioning of the Buoy Tender Cowslip October 17th 1942. Although we can’t spot him in this photo, we know that Norm Zinner participated in this ceremony. (US Coast Guard)


12. The buoy tender Cowslip (WLB-277) fully fitted out.  Cowslip stayed in Coast Guard service for more than 60 years. Today the ship still serves in Nigeria as the NNS Ologbo (A-502)  (US Coast Guard) 13. As one of the original crew, Norm Zinner was a “plankowner” on the USC Cowslip (US Coast Guard). For more information on the Cactus Class Buoy Tenders of the 1940s see: USCG_HAER_Report.pdf


14. The Cowslip in heavy seas on North Atlantic Convoy duty. We know that Norm served aboard this ship during her first two months of sea duty. (US Coast Guard) 15. Eastern Point Light Station along the rocky Atlantic coast was one of the Coast Guard facilities around Gloucester, Massachusetts where Norm was stationed before shipping aboard the Pequot.
(US Coast Guard)


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.”

16,17. On April 10th 1944 Norm and Gunner’s Mate Roger Calamaio took each other’s picture up on a hill overlooking Neetham Massachusetts. We think that since Norm was the Pequot’s Yeoman and Roger was a Coast Guard jeep driver familiar with the Boston area, that the two sailors often traveled around the city together to pick-up supplies when the Pequot was in port. (Calamaio family)


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. 

20. Captain Lars Sande’s recommendation to the Commandant of the Coast Guard for Norm’s promotion to Chief Petty Officer. (Norm Zinner service record)
Click To Enlarge
  22. Part of the shorthand dictation test Captain Sande gave Norm before recommending him for promotion.  (Norm Zinner service record)
Click To Enlarge


21. Norm’s Efficiency Marks from September 1942 through June 1944 were submitted to support his promotion.  (Norm Zinner service record) Click To Enlarge.


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.

18. Norm in his dress blues out for a night on the town with Lenore during WWII. (Zinner family) 19. Norm brought Lenore aboard the Pequot for a visit where they had their picture taken up on the forward deck. circa 1945 (Zinner family)


23. Norm and Lenore’s wedding party, Boxburry, Massachusetts October 7th 1945.
(Zinner family)


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.”

24. Norm and Lenore at a Metropolitan Insurance Company banquet in the 1960s. 
(Zinner family)
25. Norm receiving a Metropolitan Life Insurance Company “Millionaire’s Club Award" circa late 1970s (Zinner family)


26. Norm Zinner relaxing at home during 1985 (Zinner family) 27. Norm and Lenore Zinner, Cleveland, Ohio 1980s. (Zinner family)

Norm Zinner passed away from cancer on November 26th 1991 at the age of 70.

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
 Chip Calamaio, 938 E. San Miguel Avenue, Phoenix, 85014, Arizona, USA. (H) 602-279-4505.

Click here to go to the Pequot Main Page.

Research and design: Chip Calamaio and Richard Walding