Thursday, May 29, 2008


Hi Bill,

Almost forgot about you. Missed you. I was home this time. Sure was dead without you - 7 "shorts" - 1 "long"


Tuesday, May 27, 2008


September 4, 1944 Dear (Bill),

Recieved your letter and was very happy to hear you're getting a leave soon. I'll have my eye open for you so don't disappoint me.
(page 2 - right hand side) You asked for my number - it's Ta 5636. Did you get any thing for me on your last trip? A yo-yo? Honest Check, that's me picture, I wouldn't kid you. Here I am in soem more poses. This one was telen when I was begging for hamburgers.

(page 3 - left hand side) I'll try and be good till I see you. Maybe get another fella to come up with you and then maby Annie could come too, huh? Then Joe would only be absent.

Till I see you then - take care of yourself - have a couple hamburgers on me O.K.? Send me the bill.



Saturday, May 24, 2008


Later the Pride shot out to catch back up with their convoy, a trip that took two days. During their absence the convoy had been attacked again by torpedoes and another DE, the Fetchteler had been hit and sunk. The remainder of the trip was uneventful. After this trip the Pride was transferred to a submarine killer group. But in the meantime it was off to New York.

Monday, May 19, 2008


After the fray, the Pride and the Campbell headed for Algiers having on board all of the German prisoners. Coming in to dock they found admirals, generals, and panjandrum from Algiers ready to greet them and congratulate them on their bravery and prowess. It turns out the U-boat that they sunk was not just any U-boat, but U-371, the “Mediterranean Ace” who, with their 26 year-old captain, had been responsible for sinking 70,000 tons of Allied shipping.

Here is part of the story from the German perspective unknown until after the returned to Algiers. The first attack by the Pride had badly damaged the U-boat and put it out of commission. They had hit bottom, not cleverly hid out there. There they remained wedged at the bottom of the sea. The had to free themselves by working the one remaining engine and having the crew run from bow to stern. It was then that they were able to surface and set off their torpedoes before surrendering.

The picture is of William Valencheck commemorating the sinking of a sub by painting it on the side of the ship. Later generations of Coast Guardsmen would do much the same thing in their war on drugs. Pictures of snowflakes representing cocaine or marijuana leaves are painted on the side of the ship to mark significant drug busts.

Monday, May 12, 2008


The next day the Pride and Campbell were joined by three other ships, one American, one French, and one British. They knew that the U-boat must surface soon to get air and so they patrolled the area waiting for the opportunity to engage her. Soon all five ships picked up something on their sonar and headed out to the spot. The U-boat appeared but the ships had to be careful about firing for they were in close quarters and could possibly hit one of their own.

The Senegalese reported being hit by a torpedo. Soon many men were reported floating in the sea with lifejackets. It was assumed that they were from the Senegalese but it turned out that she was not damaged quite so badly. As the men were pulled onto ships it turned out that they were the crew of the U-boat. The Germans had shot off their torpedoes and then scuttled their ship, which was now going to settle on the floor of the ocean. 49 Germans including their captain were taken prisoner.

The Menges had lost 31 men, two of which were her officers. She had to be towed to the Brooklyn Navy Yard where she was grafted together with the USS Holder DE 401 which had also been hit by torpedoes. Within a relatively short spell the rejuvenated Menges would be back and patrolling along with the Pride.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


The Cambell joined in the search. Depth set charges were sent down. Seeing the disturbance in the water where the underwater explosion occurred the DEs would scour the surface of the water for evidence of a hit. This U boat captain was clever. The encounter had now gone on for seven hours and daylight was creeping over the horizon and the crew exhausted. But those in the armed forces cannot stop just because they are tired. This encounter was not finished.


As it turned out there were two submarines. The first that the Menges was hunting was only a decoy. It was the second submarine that gave the distressing blow to her. The search was on for the sub at fault. Soon sonar contact was made. The Pride made a hedgehog attack but it misfired and so switched to depth charge attack. The sub continued to head toward the Mediterranean where it would be even more difficult to track her. The Pride made another Hedgehog attack but it again misfired and so tried depth charges again. The sub dove and contact was lost for the moment.

William worked in the engine room and said that it was a distressing place to be under such conditions. There were oders for more speed or less or some such thing indicating the type of events taking place above decks but exactly what was occuring was a mystery. These were moments of high anxiety but not for losing ones cool. Men were counting on you.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


Looking off in the distance from the deck of the USS Pride, watching the Menges stray further and further away in pursuit of a submarine, sparks could be seen in the night. Undoubtedly it was the charges being set off by the Menges. But then the truth came over the radio. The TBS radio transmission reported the Menges had been struck by a torpedo! The Pride and the USS Campbell were ordered to assist. Off these ships went into the night to track down the attackers. It was an awesome and fearful site as the Pride cruised past the Menges, her stern blown away from the blast. She was dead in the water but there was not time to assist. Not yet. For sonar contact was made with the submarine and the Pride was on the prowl.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


As they headed back west, C. R. Peck was standing was the watch officer on DE Pride early in the morning of May third as the convoy entered the dangerous waters off the coast of Spain where Mediterranean narrows. Something was picked up on the radar and the DE Menges was sent to investigate. She caught a sub on her radar, tracked it and prepared to engage. But the devastating surprise was on them.

Monday, April 21, 2008


(top) August 8th '44

Dear Bill,
Here I am back in the same old dump. So far I haven't met anyone. My husband is in the Navy now. Still waiting to hear form you. Yours, Blanche.

(The VILLAGE BARN Restaurant, New York's Nite Club, at 52 West 8th Street, between 5th and 6th avenues in New York City, is the quaintest and most typically rural restaurant in the world. Its special features are exceptional cuisine, unusual entertainment and extraordinary dance music. Besides these, backwoods games and square dances of the Gay 80's are offered for the participation of the guests. There is NO COVER CHARGE at the BARN.)
June 28 1944

Hi Bill,

Remember the next alarm I'll see you there.


(Granby Street, Norfolk Virginia)

Thursday, April 10, 2008


The way to Bizerte was littered with sunken ships. A week was spen there but there was not much sight seeing in this war torn town and the crew was charged having met with its first real taste of war. It would not be its last or its worst.

At the end of the week they were to head back west in a convoy of 107 merchant ships, 12 DEs, a Coast Guard cutter, and the British AA cruiser Delphi. Below is a picture of William in Bizerte.


The USS Pride made it through this first contact with the enemy, a bit shaken up but ready as ever. The rest of the trip to Bizerte was without incident.

We tried asking Dad what they did when not sleeping, eating, or on duty and all he said was, "Not much." Cards seems to have been a large pasttime. But different endevors arise. Apparently William took to drawing. Here are some of the pictures that survive.This is the woman, Frances, that he eventually married.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


Full engines ahead! With two torpedoes heading straight for the Pride depth charges were dropped in order to divert the torpedoes from their intended target. A call came out from the port side. A torpedo passed close by but pass it did. But the danger was not over for a German torpedo plane passed over head. The Pride crew reacted by spewing the air with gunfire covering the deck with shell casings until the place disappeared. The threat was over.

For now.

(These reports taken from the Pride Reunion magazines.)

Monday, March 31, 2008


The air was filled with lights from bullets, tracers, and torpedoes. The USS Hamilton exploded sending fire and smoke a hundred feet in the air when the ammunition it was carrying exploded. When the Hamilton sunk it took 580 lives with it. Also sunk were the destroyer Landsdale (a radar destroyer that was the eyes and ears of the convoy) with 47 men and the merchant ship Royal Star that stayed afloat until the following day. Other damaged ships were towed to Algiers.

But the fear level for the Pride was just beginning. A transmission came from another DE, “Pride, there are two torpedoes heading in your direction!”


C. R. Peck writes, “At about 35 minutes after sunset USS LOWE reported radar contact on enemy planes from dead ahead to the east. They came in low over the water in poor visibility at twilight using the nearby Algerian coast to advantage. The USS Pride had visible contact to starboard with several attackers which were fired upon without apparent result. It is estimated between 18 and 24 JU-88s and/or HE-111s took part in the raid on the convoy from dead ahead in 3 separate waves using only torpedoes. They flew down the columns of ships and received anti-aircraft fire from escorts. From my gun control station on the flying bridge I could see numerous explosions on the convoy.


Saturday, March 29, 2008


Though the first trip across the ocean escorting more than 100 merchant ships, fully loaded on the way over, empty on the return was without incident, it would be on this second convoy that the Pride would gain her fighting spurs. After the short stop for repairs and supplies they set out again for the Mediterranean with a large convoy headed for Bizerte, Tunisia.

According to the writing of Captain Ralph R. Curry, USCG, “On April 20 1944, we passed Algiers during the day and all seemed well. But all hell was just in front of us.”
The above pictures show the USS Pride DE323 being refuled at sea.

Saturday, March 22, 2008


The Pride, together with the Menges (DE 320), the Mosley (DE 321), Newell (DE 322), Falgout (DE 324) and Lowe (DE 325) composed Coast Guard DE division 46. Joined with Navy Division 21 of six ships they formed Task Group 66 led by the cutter Taney. This was the escort for convoy UGS-38 that departed from the United States and headed for the Straight of Gibraltar, arriving on April 18th, 1944. Just West of Algiers the escort was strengthened by 4 vessels equipped with radio jamming equipment: U.S. Destroyer Lansdale, U.S. Minesweepers Speed and Sustain, and Netherlands Flak cruiser Heemskerk.

(from C. R. Peck)
Headge Hoges was written on the back of the picture above.

Monday, March 17, 2008


William Valencheck Fl/c
U.S.S. Pride D.E. 323
Fleet Post Office
New York, New York

Olga Valencheck
393 Third Street
Barberton, Ohio

March 26, 1944

Sailing along with . . .the home folks . . . .

Hi, Squirt!

Boy, what a bawling out you got from me this morning! You had come home some time in the night and our surprise at seeing you in the morning was replaces by our wrath at finding that you had been INDIANA the past three month that we haven’t heard a WORD from you! But it was all a dream!

I told this dream to the family at the dinner table today and both Dad and Nelle admitted that they, too, had dreamed about you the past two days. So all of that is an indication that you’ll be walking in on us one of these days. It’s just gotta be! When we all start dreaming about a certain thing, its got to be . . .

This is going to be just a short not but I must have to tell you about the shock we’ve just had. The war has come pretty close to us since you boys are in it but now we learn that Stan’s buddy and your friend, Elmer Simon, is one of the boys missing from the D. E. “Leopold” reported destroyed by an underwater explosion on March 10. I can’t get over it. I just won’t believe that Elmer won’t come back. The news just came out in yesterday’s paper and I’ve been wanting to call his mother but I don’t know what to say to her. She seems so nice from the one telephone conversation I had with her some time ago. I keep praying that Elmer will turn up.

Alice Zalar just got back from San Francisco where she has been for the past month and she is now calling herself Mrs. Jack Matozel. We didn’t think she’d marry while there!

Last Sunday was a wonderful onw for our whole family was home. The Zods came in from Cleveland very late I the afternoon and in that big snow fall. They brought Vic and Frankie who is home form the Merchant Marine for the first time in over 18 months. It was so good to see him. He still doesn’t wear his uniform when home. Odd? There were two of their cousins with them so we had quite a house full of men! Besides my blind date who showed up after he STOOD ME UP two days before! You know I don’t go in for blind dates (and don’t you look at me with that “Oh Yeah” expression!) but this one was a Sgt. Home on furlough and it was all arranged by a nice couple I know so what’s a gal to do???

We kind o’ though the Cleve, family would be here again today but no sign of ‘em yet. Frankie said he’d like to come again before going back. He’s supposed to have till the end of this month.

Today is a beautiful day if you don’t look down. The sun is shining and the birds are chirping all over the place but there is still some snow on the ground form last night’s light snowfall.

All is peace and quiet here at home right at the moment. It is the lull after dinner. Remember?

Soon I’ll be getting ready to go to the Club where we will meet Anne and Glen who are home for the weekend. We’ll probably bowl and spend a good bit of time at the club.

I saw Don down town I the window of the Pool Hall last Tuesday but didn’t get to talk with him. You’d swear he is a civilian he gets home so much! I talked with him quite a bit the other time he was home but didn’t get his address as he was to dome over for yours and Stan’s and I was going to let his. But he didn’t show up.

This is enough for now . . . By the way, did you get latest package from home. Nelle’s?

The family all sends their love.



March 24, 1944

Dear Will,

I was certainly glad to hear from you. I will hope you are in good health at the moment. You know, there is nothing like being physically fit. I suppose you didn’t get seasick on your trip, or did you? Well, hope not.

From what you wrote, I presume you don’t like the Coast Guard. There are others who are doing the same thing everyday too, for instance, the Army, Navy and Marines and especially me. I’m still working at the same place. All I do is eat, sleep, and work. I stayed home today though cause I hurt my ear in work yesterday. I have awful ringing in my ear. Since I stayed at home today there was a good chance to answer my mail.

Will, I know about Don being married. His sister is married too. I guess John’s doing all right. I see him every once in a while when I’m on my way to work. Right now I have a rider. I don’t have to ride the street car anymore.

Do you still mess around like you used to when you were with John on your last leave? I bet you do.

About Mary S., well I wouldn’t put anything past her, she’s liable to anything. But I wish she’d make up her mind about Jack.

Will, I saw your sisters Sunday afternoon. I didn’t stop to speak to them cause I was in a hurry. I think they were headed for Toni’s house because I met them on 15th and Tusc. I was going over to see my dead cousin. Do you know who J. R. Weber, the funeral director on Wooster Road was? He died the 15th.

I’m looking forward to your next leave just as I’m sure I’d like to see you again. I hope this letter reaches you before your next trip.

Loads of Luck
As Ever,
(over)I saw Len not very long ago. He didn’t see me though. He’s married now too.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Please notice that today's post is posted under page 26. It contains more pictures from Casablanca and it seemed more appropriate to post them there.

Thursday, March 6, 2008


William Valencheck

George Radlick USCG
USNAS Lambert Field
St. Louis MO, (21)


Hello Bill,

Answering your letter the very day I got it. That’s pretty good. Huh?

Well, I guess I can call you a sailor now can’t I? Got the salt caked all over your body yet, or did you have that before you went to sea?

It must really be wonderful to say you’ve been to Casablanca. I have aspirations of getting out of this racket (?) some day and do some sailing. Well Bill, let me tell you what I’m doing.

I’m stationed at a naval air station in St. Louis MO. Remember when I left Tonawanda to go to that day school? Well we trained dogs for guard duty and all we do down here is stand guard duty with dogs. All this duty is night work. We work two days and off one. It’s a pretty good deal but I’d like to get out of it if I could but the trouble is a fellow can’t get out of this duty no how. Remember Philyrs from Tonawanda? The guy you always used to call Gary? He’s down here with me too he says hello.

I just got a letter from Maise’s sister. She still writes to me. I also got a letter form Maise. The (*) lost thirty pounds! Penny still writes to me. She’s going to come to Chicago on a vacation sometime in April. I may go up and see her. (. . .)

Gee Bill, I wish now I would not have gone to that dog school. Just think, I could be working right along with you, and maybe have a rate pay now.

Maybe we’ll meet before this thing is over yet and we don’t, don’t forget about our date after this is over.

Guess I’ll be closing for now. Say hello to Mitch for me. Good luck and write soon.

Your pal,

George Radlick

Monday, March 3, 2008


These are some random pictures from that first journey overseas. Next stop: New York! Pictured below is Gibraltar 1944.
On the back of the picture below is written, "Tunis, North Africa, 1944"
Port of Bizerte North Africa, 1944. Though it looks like a desert notice the ship that is actually in the water to the left of the tower.
The following pictures are quite out of order but they were just recently found. The first that we was taken in North Dakota simply has "1942" written at the bottom.
The man in this great picture is identified as John Muldon.

Thursday, February 28, 2008


More sights around Casablanca on that first voyage over seas. A first major voyage for most of the men on the ship.


Can you imagine having the world opened up to you for the first time? It was horrible that war had to be experienced in order for it to happen, but the men were still able to take in parts of the world that they may not otherwise be able to see. Here are some more pictures from Casablanca.

Friday, February 22, 2008


For the next twelve months the USS PRIDE escorted badly needed men and materials to the fighting fronts in the Mediterranean area. The first convoy was to Algeria and though there were rough seas with which to contend aboard the not very stable Destroyer Escort (giving many men difficult stomachs) there were no challenges made by German submarines. They docked in Casablanca. They may not encountered any fighting themselves they were witnesses to the destruction wrought by war. These pictures show Casablanca Harbor littered with sunken ships.

Friday, February 15, 2008


Perhaps this letter was in with the mail also.

Niles California
January 24, 1944

Dear Bill,

Recieved your card asking me for Laurence Moise address. Sorry that I couldn't sent it to you sooner but the reason was that I didn't have it until now. We hadn't heard from him for quite a while but thank God we finally did. He wrote to me asking me to send him the picture of his four pals from North Dakota so I sent him the picture of you four boys. I almost know you boys by the way Lawrence used to talk about you.

It does a mother good to know that her son has met some nice boys and that they think so much of one another. So Bill write to him as often as you can as I know he will appreciate it. Of course Lawrence is awful to write himself. I sure have a time getting letters from him but still he isn't bad. I thought he would be worse but as long as I get a letter every so often that's enough for me. I just hope he is well and happy as I hope this letter finds you in the best of health and if ever you should be out this way I hope you will come to see us. You know you are always welcomed.

So Bill I wish you the best of luck and I pray and hope that this war will soon be over so all of our dear boys will come home to us so I will give you his address.

(The address is listed)

P.S. When you write to him tell him that I wrote you. He will be gald to hear it again. Thanks for you card.


Mrs. Mario Moise

Niles Calif.

P.O. Box 223