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Freedom isn't free: In memory of S1c Charles Austin Garnett (1924-1943)

A model son of Adair County, just 18 years old, died when the the tanker steamship was torpedo fired by the Japanese Imperial Navy Submarine I-17, ending the life of Seaman 1st Class Charles Garnett Austin, in an engagement north of New Caledonia.
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Seventy-five years ago last week, Seaman 1st Class Charles Garnett Austin, an eighteen year old native of the Pellyton community, died in defense of his country. He was the son of C.J. & Letho Austin and the grandson of C.R. & Mollie Austin.

On May 3rd 1943, the S.S. Stanvac Manila, a US-built flag tanker steamship flying the colors of Panama, left port in Balboa, Canal Zone, bound for New Caledonia, with "a complement of 165 men consisting of 50 merchant crew, 27 U.S. Naval Armed Guard, and 88 U.S. Navy personnel of different ratings who were crew members of the 6 PT boats on deck."

Three weeks later, the ship had made its way to within about 100 nautical miles (115 land miles) of Noumea, Grande Terre, New Caledonia. In the early morning of May 24th (ship's time), a torpedo fired by the Japanese Imperial Navy submarine I-17 struck the port quarter of the ship, and "Eight (8) of the merchant crew, 3 of the Navy gunners, and one crew member of the PT Squadron were lost." The Naval Armed Guard deaths included that of bluejacket Austin.


The gravesites of most military personnel lost to torpedoes and kamikazes are marked only by the ocean waves. S1c Austin's name appears on The Tablets of the Missing at Honolulu Memorial, Honolulu, Hawaii, and a memorial marker located in the Pellyton Cemetery near his parents' gravesite bears the inscription, "C. Garnett Austin / S.1.C. / U.S.N. / Lost at Sea."

In the spring of 1946, the Pellyton correspondent for the Adair County News paid poignant homage to S1c Austin, a friend who had died half a world away:
"The war is over now and all of the boys from this place have returned except one and he has gone the way no traveler ever returns. His name is Garnett Austin. He was a seaman and his ship was sunk by the Japs. The writer personally knew Garnett, as he and our boys went to the same high school together. He was a good hearted fellow, doing good to all with whom he came in contact. I never heard him use any bad language. Let us hope all is well with him."
Freedom isn't free.

(Quotes not otherwise cited were found at ; retrieved May 28, 2018.)

Compiled by JIM

This story was posted on 2018-05-28 11:05:11
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