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Monument Commemorates Service of USS Biscayne During World War II

USS Biscayne Monument

USS Biscayne Monument. Courtesy of Andy Kelly Photography.

From time to time, we get the opportunity to assist a veteran who wants to recognize a ship or shipmate. Stanley Morrison served on board the amphibious force flagship USS Biscayne (AVP 11/AGC 18) during World War II. Now 93 years old and living in Pennsylvania, this radioman has a fond place in his heart for Biscayne, a veteran of both the Mediterranean and Pacific theaters during the war. Through his generous donation, a granite marker was  installed at the Miami Military Museum in March 2012. Our Executive Director, Captain Todd Creekman, USN (Ret) played a small role in facilitating this process and helping this veteran’s dream become reality.

Biscayne was originally commissioned as a seaplane tender in 1941, but was converted to an amphibious force flagship in 1943. During World War II, the ship participated in campaigns in the Mediterranean at Sicily, Salerno, and Anzio, as well as Operation Dragoon, the invasion of Southern France, which took place 68 years ago today. She later served as the flagship of a destroyer squadron and subsequently participated in the invasions of Iwo Jima, Kerama Retto, and Okinawa. After the war Biscayne was turned over to the Coast Guard and served as USCG Dexter (WAVP-385, later WHEC-385) until decommissioned and returned to the Navy in 1968 for use as a target.

Morrison happens to be an NHF Member, and consulted with Creekman on possibilities for publicizing his efforts and promoting the idea of a monument. Creekman spoke with historian Bob Cressman of the Naval History and Heritage Command, prompting Cressman to pen a story for Naval History magazine about Biscayne. Creekman further suggested that Morrison and the Biscayne veterans contact the Navy League in Florida to see if a home could be found for the monument. Through this connection the Biscayne group soon began to develop a relationship with the Miami Military Museum, and all of the pieces began to fall into place. The location made perfect sense, given that the ship was named after Miami’s Biscayne Bay. In a formal ceremony held on 11 March 2012, the monument was unveiled and dedicated, finally establishing a place of permanent remembrance for the ship and her crew.

USS Biscayne 80-G-223478

USS Biscayne (AVP 11) Serving as invasion force flagship for the Anzio landings, 21-22 January 1944. National Archives Photo 80-G-223478.

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23 Comments

  1. Robert tenpenny

    Reply

    That was my uncle Wally’s ship. Gunner Walter Tenpenny. He passed away september 16 th 2012.

    • LEILANI HODGERSON FLORENCE

      Reply

      Hi Robert,
      My dad Norman “Gene” Hodgerson was on the Biscayne with your uncle. They use to talk on the phone all the time and exchange Christmas cards every year. My dad died 3-18-11. I think the next time I go to Miami I am going to the Memorial and take some pictures. I use to live down there and go fishing all the time with my family on Biscayne.

  2. John E. McLaughlin

    Reply

    ROBERT,
    My Dad, John J. McLaughlin, served on Uss Biscayne from ’43-’46. He was a loader on a “pom-pom” gun. He told me if the gunner was hit, he was next in line. I guess it is possible he was standing next your uncle. He passed 10/2006. He was 17yrs. old in 1943. They were children, they were HEROES! Condolences to you and God Bless your “Uncle Wally”. God Bless Them All.

  3. Dave Kopfensteiner

    Reply

    My father, Robert Kopfensteiner was assigned to the ship June 30th 1945, after serving on the USS Panamint during the Okinawa invasion. He was a radio man (RM3c). He later went back on the Panamint.

  4. Clifford J. Newell

    Reply

    My father, Joseph J. Newell served on the ship from 42 to 45. He was a quartermaster,
    and his gun station was a 20mm. He was very fond of the Biscayne. He passed on
    Sept.26, 2002.

  5. david murphy

    Reply

    My father, Robert Murphy, served on the Biscayne with the US Army 6th Signals Battalion from its service in North Africa through Italy to the south of France. It’s funny, Dad was in the army but because of his service it’s the Navy he remembers fondly. He will be 90 this year, so a little younger than a lot of the guys in his unit on the Biscayne at that time. He remembers a lot about the Biscayne, and he is still especially proud to have served under Admiral “Close Up” Connolly. He remembers Connolly as a commander who was competent and courageous, respected and liked by all his men. Dad, as an Irish Catholic kid, was especially proud of Connolly achievements as a Navy Admiral.

    • Douglas Plummer

      Reply

      David,
      I recently found out my grandfather was in the sixth signal attached to the navy as well. Maybe your father knew him. Preston Hilton from the piney woods of Louisiana. I got the info from the daughter of another member, Jim Tweedie.

      • David Murphy

        Reply

        Douglas, I just saw this. I will ask dad about Preston Hilton and let you know. All best, David m

        • Douglas Plummer

          Reply

          David,
          I just saw your comment. If you would like to send me an email, my address is plummerd41@yahoo.com. From what I can tell the unit was attached to the Admiral in charge of amphibious operations as liaison between the navy and the army units assaulting the beaches.

          Doug

    • Richard Brown

      Reply

      David:

      My Dad may have been your Dad’s replacement! My Dad was James Kenneth Brown from Fort Smith, Arkansas. He joined the Biscayne in New Your City after the service in the Mediterranean. He was on the Biscayne at Iwo Jima and Okinawa and served as a cryptographer. Like your Dad, my father was in the Army Signal Corp but attached to the Navy. Dad passed away in 08/1987.

      Richard

  6. Frank Jasionowicz

    Reply

    My Father, Joseph Jasionowicz served on board the Biscayne, he was a Radar Technician. He was there for Salerno, Sicily and Anzio. He passed in 2001.
    The War correspondent, Ernie Pyle was on the ship as well.

  7. Ilene Anderson

    Reply

    My uncle, Berthel “Bob” Roberts served on the Biscayne for pre-commissioning detail on May 1, 1941 and was on board when commissioned. He was a chief radioman and commissioned Ensign during this tour of duty that ended in January 1944. He retired from Naval service as an Executive Officer in 1957. Uncle Bob is 95 and living in La Jolla, California. He claims that his time on the Biscayne was his favorite time in the Navy and has great memories of the men he served with.

    • Reply

      Berthel Roberts, my father, passed away on November 4, 2015.

      Since none of my cousins has the name “Ilene,” exactly who are you Ilene Anderson?

  8. Tom Marron

    Reply

    Hi All

    My dad Thomas Marron was on the ship. He has told me many stories about it.. You were all great men and thanks for what you did.

  9. frank m/ tooze MD FACS

    Reply

    i was aboard the Biscayne from october ’44 to march 46 serving as ensign USNR thru all the pacific campaignss

    • samuel PSG (ret)

      Reply

      does Seaman Stanley J. Pilat ring a bell. He ran the paint locker. Or so he said. Because of his example, I served 3 years in the navy,then 17 years as an army mp ending up after another 23 years, a major in homeland security.

  10. Sally Whitehead

    Reply

    My dad, William K. Hart, served on the USS Biscayne as a motor machinist mate 1943-1946.

  11. Linda Wiley Phelps

    Reply

    March 21, 2016

    My Dad, Robert M. Wiley, served on the Biscayne as lieutenant commander and passed away December 21, 2002 at the age of 85.

  12. Ryan Siemer

    Reply

    My grandfather served on the Biscayne during WWII. He just passed way last week May 27 2016. Loved all of his stories about that ship.

  13. samuel PSG (ret)

    Reply

    my father served on her until the ent of the end of the war. He never talked much about the war except an incident dokside when he was on armed guard and a chief he did not admire came in after midnite after the pass word was changed. e-mail me and I will be delighted to share the story.

  14. jay Minotas

    Reply

    My dad Stan Minotas, served on the Biscayne as Chief Petty Officer. Never told to many stories about the war. But attended a meeting aboard ship with General Patton and took notes form the meeting that my Mother “God Rest Her Soul” threw away. I saw them in the basement then went back later to retrieve them and they were gone. What a shame.

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