Name: Edgar Anguish McKinnon
Birth: 14 NOV 1906 in Rutherford, Gibson Co, TN
Death: 13 MAY 1942 in Gulf of Mexico (28:29 N by 89:12W)
Burial: Body was never recovered.
Event: 18 SEP 1946 Awarded the Mariner's Medal, Posthumously
_MILI: WWII, U.S. Merchant Marine Service 1942
Reference Number: |
Edgar McKinnon served in the US Merchant Marines in 1942. This
was the time that the Germans had unleashed their U Boats into
the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico. Edgar was assigned to the
tanker, S.S. Gulfpenn as a Fireman/Watertender. This ship had its first encounter
with the U Boats on 28 FEB 1942 when they received word that an
unarmed oil tanker, the SS Oregon had been attacked by U-156
about 150 miles northeast of Mona Passage in the Atlantic (20
degrees, 44 minutes N by 67 degrees, 52 minutes W).
At 11:17 hours on 28 Feb, 1942, the unescorted and unarmed Oregon (Master Ingvald C. Nilsen) was
attacked by U-156 about 150 miles northeast of Mona Passage while steaming completely blacked out on a zigzag course at
10 knots. Twenty six of the survivors reached Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic and the SS Gulfpenn
rescued a group of four, five and a half days after the attack.
Several months later the Gulfpenn was to encounter another U Boat event.
This time, however, they were the target. On 13 May 1942 the unarmed
U.S. tanker Gulfprince was attacked by German submarine
U-506 approximately six miles south of the Ship Shoals (Louisiana)
Sea Buoy, 28:32'N, 91:00'W, but Gulfprince was skillfully handled and
evaded the first two torpedoes.
The second pair only struck a glancing blow and Gulfprince escaped
to reach New Orleans without further incident.
Later, the U-506 torpedoes and sinks the unarmed tanker Gulfpenn
at 28:29'N, 89:12'W; 12 men die in the initial explosion or perish
with the ship. Edgar McKinnon was below deck
in the engine room at 2:50 P.M. when the attack occurred. He was
killed immediately. Of the 26 survivors, one later dies of his injuries. A Coast
Guard plane directed the Honduran freighter "Telde" toward the position
of the survivors, and the merchantman rescued them.
Still later, the U-506 torpedoes the U.S. freighter David McKelvy approximately
35 miles south of the mouth of the Mississippi, 28:30'N, 89:55'W;
explosion ignites the ship's cargo of 81,000 barrels of crude oil
and forces the crew to abandon ship. U-506 retires without expending
further torpedoes, apparently thinking the freighter doomed. The Coast Guard cutter
Boutwell (WPC-130) rescues survivors.
The U-506, under the command of Kptlt. Eric Wurdeman, finally meet its fate
on 12 JUL 1943 at 3:50 P.M. in the North Atlantic, west of Vigro, Spain
(42:30' N 16:30' W) when a US B-24 Liberator aircraft (USAAF A/S Squad 1) dropped
7 depth charges. The U-506 was broken in two. The attacking pilot
dropped a lifeboat and smoke flares to assist the 15 men that were seen on
the surface. A British destroyer picked up six men on 15 JUL. Capt
Wurdeman and 47 of the crew were killed and the German submarine sank
to the bottom.
Prior to his service in the U.S. Merchant Marines, Edgar was employed with the
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. An interesting story was recently uncovered when Edgar's
nephew, Kent Ingram, had lunch with one of Edgar's old USACOE buddies. It seems
"Jimmy" (Edgar's buddy) was given an assignment to deliver some supplies
to a Corps work site and ask Edgar to go along with him to help out. They drove
a rickety old truck for many miles over very rough roads to make the delivery.
Once on the job site, Edgar ask Jimmy what they were delivering. Jimmy told
him it was a load of Dynamite. Egdar nearly had a heart attack when he thought about the
pounding the cargo must have taken over those old back roads. It's ironic to think that his
fear of an explosion would come to reality in his final minutes of life.
UPDATE 05 AUG 2004:
This editor has just been notified that an under sea research project has just found the remains of the
Tanker Gulfpenn in 1,820 feet of water. For further information, see their web site at:
A quote from the PAST Foundation's web site after exploring the wreck with their
Remotely Operated Underwater Vehicle:
"Massive torpedo damage is obvious on the aft starboard side, with the
hull plates and decking deformed, buckled and uplifted. The survey of the wreck
showed no armaments on the stern of the ship. This fact, in combination with other
distinguishing features, have allowed the archeologists to be sure that this is the
wreck of the Gulfpenn, hidden underwater for 62 years."
Father: Edgar Alonzo McKinnon b: 29 NOV 1874 in Montezuma (Chester Co), Tn
Mother: Maggie Dell Tyson b: 13 JUN 1884 in Gibson Co., Tn