Rate /Rank: Merchant Marine Radio Operator

Clearwater, FL

 

Age 38 on July 9, 1943

Charles Crowley didn't have to enlist in the merchant marines in 1943. In fact, his many friends in Clearwater tried to convince him to stay home.
After all, he was chief clerk in the tax collector's
office and radio engineer of the police broadcasting station. There wasn't a soul in Clearwater who didn't know Charlie.

Although his poor vision could have kept him out of the service, in early 1943 he volunteered for the
merchant marines. He was 38.

"They need fellows with a knowledge of radios," he said. "It's my job." In July of 1943 the SS Sam
Heintzelman vanished from the Indian Ocean. The body of Charles Crowley, along with the bodies of the other seamen on the ship, were never found. Nothing was found, not even a life jacket.

For two years until the end of the war, Charlie's
wife, Evelyn, hoped he was a prisoner of war. But when the prisoners came home Charles Crowley was not among them.

"The ship never showed up when it was supposed to," Mrs. Crowley said. "That's all anybody ever knew."

Since then, Memorial Day has been special for Mrs. Crowley, not merely because of Charlie but because of the other boys too.

Charlie had worked for the city 18 years before
enlisting in the merchant marines. In another two
years he could have retired and lived with his wife
and two children in a new bungalow on Clearwater's north side.

Instead, Mrs. Crowley carefully saved two yellowed newspaper clippings that tell of the mysterious disappearance of the SS Samuel Heintzelman and the tragic end of Charles Crowley.

Memorial Day Vignettes By Tom Keyser
(published in a local newspaper, the name and date of publication are not known).

Information provided by Evie Henderson daughter of Charles Crowley.
   

 

  

Photo forthcoming.

Charles Crowley


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