Harry Boatman

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Harry Boatman

 

 

Dear Jim,

 My uncle was on the LST 333 too.  His name was Harry (no middle name) Boatman.  He was a machinist, and spent most of his time in the engine room, unfortunately.  I have many of his letters.  He wrote to his parents, brothers and a lot of friends. 

I would love to know if Harvey remembers Harry.  I have no one left to ask about Harry, as my father passed away in 1999.  My father spoke to me of Harry only a couple of times.  Each time he would become very emotional and confessed to me he felt responsible for Harry's death.  My dad enlisted in the Merchant Marines by falsifying his age.  Harry, being the middle son, wanted to follow in my father's foot steps, and he enlisted in the Navy by falsifying his age, too.

My father had heard a rumor on his ship about the LST 333 being sunk.  He was in a port and went to the Navy office there and he confronted them.  He wanted to know if his brother was indeed killed.  The Navy threatened to put him in the brig as what he was saying was classified information and he didn't have clearance to have it. 

 

 

 

My father stood firm and refused to tell them where he had acquired his distressing information or the name of the person who divulged this strictly confidential information.  He must have really been desperate looking because finally, someone relented, and gave him the awful news.

When my father told me the story, I was 15 years old.  It was the first and last time I ever say my father cry.  He keep everything inside and never mentioned a date of any anniversary of any related events as they rotated into current day, year after year.   

I realize now how sad and alone he must of felt when he would slip away into the garage from time-to-time to re-read Harry's letters, over and over.  He would never tell us that was what he had been doing and we never really noticed.  He always enjoyed working on things in the garage so it all seemed normal. But now as I look back, I remember him reading pages and pages of what I guess, were Harry's letters.

I know my father would have loved to have had access to this kind of website and all the information it shares.  Now, as I read through Harry's letters, I too, want to know all I can to find out every detail possible of what happened to him.  Now that I'm the one reading the letters, I feel closer to my father and I feel I finally have had a chance to get to know my uncle.  I feel honored to be the caregiver of those letters that are so priceless to our family.  Now it is my turn to carry the grief of Harry's loss. 

I would appreciate very much, if it is possible Harvey remembers anything about Harry.  From his letters, I know Harry spent most of his time in the engine room and that he enjoyed drinking and telling stories with his shipmates.  I can tell from his letters that he was quite the character and that's why I have hope that Harvey may remember him. 

Although I don't have a lot of information, other than he died that fateful night when the LST went down, I do recall my father mentioning that Harry had died from a concussion torpedo and there wasn't a mark on his body.  The story goes that my grandfather couldn't take the pain of having his son's young body being delivered to his hometown of Austin, Texas.  Because of that, Harry's body was buried in North Africa.   

Please let me know if I can provide any other information or if I need to send a picture of Harry.  I really appreciate any and all help you can give me in my quest to find everything possible about my brave uncle.

 Sincerely,

Carol Boatman Gage

09/27/2006

 

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