J.R. Coffey

J.R. Coffey was born June 10, 1924 in Plainview, Texas. His parents,
Homer and Beulah Coffey, moved to western Oklahoma where he grew up on a
farm and attended school in Sweetwater, Oklahoma. He enlisted in the U.S. 
Navy August 5, 1943. He went to boot camp at San Diego, California.

After completing boot camp he was assigned to gunnery school at the San
Diego Destroyer Base. After gunnery school he was assigned to the Armed
Guard and was sent to the Armed Guard Center at Treasure Island,

On October 28, 1943, he was sent to Seattle, Washington. A month later he
was sent to Portland, Oregon. On December 3, 1943, he was assigned to the
SS FRANK B. LINDERMAN as a S1C gunner. It was a new Liberty ship that
had just been launched. The gun crew hauled all the ammunition and put
it in the magazine, cleaned all the guns and made ready to go to sea.
The ship sailed down the Colombia River to the ocean and on a shake-down
cruse to San Francisco, California. While there the ship was loaded with
cargo and sailed in convoy to somewhere southwest of Hawaii. From there
the ship made its way alone and arrived in Milne Bay, New Guinea, on
January 12, 1944. It sailed from port to port among the islands and
returned to the U.S. for another load. 

It arrived March 17, 1944, and departed March 23, 1944. It returned to
New Guinea, Good Enough Island and several other islands. A field
kitchen was placed on deck and the ship was loaded with army troops and
sailed to Hollandia, New Guinea, where they were taken ashore by LCMs to
fight the Japanese. The ship returned to San Francisco in September
1944. J. R. was detached from the ship and went home on a 15-day leave. 

When he returned to Treasure Island he was sent to San Pedro, California,
and assigned to the SS ESSO MONTPELIER on October 16, 1944. It sailed
for Hawaii with a load of fuel for submarines. After pumping the fuel
off at the submarine base in Pearl Harbor it returned to the U.S. It
made two more round trips to Hawaii. After returning to San Pedro it was
reloaded and sailed to Guadalcanal. While there a nearby ammunition ship
exploded killing all aboard. It was a terrific blast. It was rumored
that a Japanese submarine torpedoed it. 

ESSO MONTPELIER returned to the U.S. in February 1945. It was loaded
with fuel and sailed to Ulithi. While there a kamikaze plane dove into
an aircraft carrier anchored in the bay. It caused a lot of damage and
killed or wounded some sailors but did not sink the ship. The ESSO 
MONTPELIER gunners were at their gun stations but were not in range to
fire. ESSO MONTPELIER left Ulithi and sailed through the Panama Canal on 
May 20, 1945. It continued on to Cartagena, Columbia. J.R. was among the 
two-thirds of the Armed Guard crew that received shore liberty while there. 
he ship was loaded with crude oil and sailed to New York, arriving June 1, 
1945. It was emptied and placed in dry dock. 

SIC J. R. Coffey along with the rest of the Armed Guard crew were detached
from the ship and assigned to the Brooklyn Armed Guard Center. He was
given a 26-day delay in route and went home, then to the Armed Guard Center 
at Treasure Island. He was assigned to the Naval Ammunition Depot, Mare 
Island, California. He was a squad leader of twelve seamen. They segregated 
and stored ammunition. While there he and his squad went to sea on an LST 
and dumped outdated and odd lots of ammunition, from the depot, into the sea. 
The voyage lasted about a week. 

He was discharged from the Navy at the U.S. Navel Personnel Separation
Center at Shoemaker, California on March 15, 1946. J. R. married Ellen
Holt from Utah on February 14, 1946. After he was discharged they
traveled to Utah for a visit with her parents, then went on to Oklahoma.

He attended the University of Oklahoma and received a degree in
industrial education in 1950. He taught high school in Ripley, Oklahoma, 
for one year. In 1951 he was hired by the U.S. Air Force as an aircraft 
mechanics instructor at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas. He worked as an 
instructor, curriculum developer/writer, equipment specialist, and training 
specialist for 32 years. As a training specialist some of his duties required 
him to travel to Air Force bases all over the world. He visited some of the 
places where he had previously been when he was in the Navy Armed Guard. 

He retired on March 2, 1984, and lived a life of leisure with his wife in 
Burkburnett, Texas. They had been married nearly 64 years when J.R. died on 
January 10, 2010, following a long illness, at the age of 85. He is survived 
by his wife, two daughters, one granddaughter and one grandson.

Picture below: J.R. Coffey in the Navy and a more recent picture










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