“The legacy of heroes is the memory of a great name and the inheritance of a great example.” — Benjamin Disraeli
The foundation of our freedom has been built on the patriotism shouldered by our ancestors. As children, we are taught about our country’s birth and evolution depicted through the eyes of our prolific leaders. Lest we forget about the millions of every day individuals, our grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts and neighbors, that put everything on the line to defend the ideals that this country represents. Many of these men and women made the ultimate sacrifice with their lives to ensure our nation would be what it is today. These individuals are the true heroes. My great uncle, Daniel Arthur Seaman, was one of these men.
Born on October 14th, 1920 in Camden, New York, a small town in Oneida County, Daniel was the son of Merrill A. Seaman and Gladys I. Percival.[i] At the age of 6, his mother took ill and was hospitalized. A couple of days after her surgery, she passed away in a Rome, New York hospital.[ii] After her death, Merrill moved Dan and his siblings, his younger brother Glenn and older sister Naomi, to live with his father, Harlon Seaman.[iii] Harlon’s wife passed away two years later, so much of the maternal support for the Seaman children was provided by Carrie Percival, Daniel’s grandmother on his mother’s side of the family. Carrie and Dan bonded and maintained a loving relationship that would endure throughout the remainder his life.
By all accounts, Daniel was a well liked member of the community. He attended Camden schools where he’s noted in various press clippings to have taken regents courses in chemistry, math and typewriting. The relationships he forged with his teachers and friends were lasting and sincere.
One of the rare artifacts preserved from his childhood was a book of poems that Daniel created in the eighth grade titled Poems I Like.[iv] Students were asked to compile a collection of prose that they found moving and assemble them into a booklet. Each poem was hand written and featured a visual element that accompanied the piece. These images consisted of pictures that were embedded after the poem’s title. What’s memorable and foreshadowing, are the selections he chose. The opening poem features a colorful boat, in full sail, set against Walt Whitman’s O Captain! My Captain! Other selections include:
Indian Children by Annette Wynne, A Vagabond Song by Bliss Carman, Trees by Joyce Kilmer, The First Snow-Fall, O Beautiful! My Country! and Aladdin by James Russell Lowell, and The Rose and the Gardener by Austin Dobson. As a collection they seem to portray a love for nature, adventure and country.
Growing up in 1930s Camden saw Dan’s childhood influenced by the Great Depression. Families struggled in the area and many of the youth were leaving for employment opportunities in larger cities. Around 1935, the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-113 was established in nearby Empeville.[v] This program, administered by the United States Army, engaged approximately 200 New York City youth between the ages of 17-23 in area conservation projects. These boys, dressed in uniform, were often seen integrating within the Camden community. Combined with escalating tensions of international events and the influence of local environs, Daniel enlisted in the Navy in December of 1938, a few short months after graduation from Camden High School.[vi] By 1939 he had completed his basic training in Newport, Rhode Island.
Upon graduation from War College, Dan’s first ship assignment was aboard the USS West Virginia (BB-48) in 1939. Prior to its move to base in 1940, the ship was known to be around the San Francisco Bay area. In a letter from Daniel to Carrie Percival, he writes:
Did I ever tell you about the people living in Los Angeles who used to be in Mexico at the time Aunt Eva was? I went to visit them the other day. They were very nice and invited me to go out to their camp some weekend. I guess I will but it won’t be for quite a while because we are leaving for San Francisco before I get another weekend off and then by the time we get around to [Bremerton?] for our over hauling and come back here, it will be sometime in October.[vii]
Exactly when Dan was transferred off of the West Virginia is not clear. What is known is that he was not on board during the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. He continued for submarine training in New London, CT,[viii] although the exact dates of when he entered or when he graduated are still outstanding.
In personal correspondences dated between July of 1942 and October 1942, letters are written on New London, CT letterhead. Letters dated between September and December 1942 includes the ship USS S-16 designated on the return address. According to the Naval History & Heritage Command, the S-16 would have operated in the New London area from September 1942 into June of 1944.[ix] Therefore, it is very plausible that Dan Seaman was on this ship in the fall of 1942.
S-16 was re-commissioned on 2 December 1940. Following voyages to Bermuda and the Panama Canal Zone, she operated at St. Thomas from December 1941 through March 1942; in the Panama Canal area from April into August; and from New London during September and into June 1944, with operations at Casco Bay, Maine.[x]
Based on a September 5th correspondence to Carrie Percival, it appears that Dan was able to visit home sometime in August of 1942.
As you know by now I was home but with you gadding about I missed seeing you. I am sorry about it but it just couldn’t be helped. Perhaps I will have a chance to come home again someday. If so I will try to let folks know a while a head of time. Perhaps the next time Geraldine will be at home too.
Even though you know that I am back in the states everything we do is still confidential so it leaves us no more to write about than what we wrote before. I am feeling good as usual but a little disappointed about one thing. While home I met little Lorraine and told her I would write to her but it seems I have lost her address. If you see her tell her she will have to write first.[xi]
All of the personal correspondences within the range of July 6th, 1942 and October 5th, 1942 indicate Dan’s rank as MoMM2/c, Motor Machinist Mate 2nd Class. However, the first letter obtained from December 18th, 1942 indicates MoMM1/c, Motor Machinist Mate 1st Class. It’s assumed that his elevation in rank occurred within this time period. Some qualifications and key responsibilities of a Motor Machinist Mate include:
… Machinist’s mates work within the hull of a ship in fire rooms, boiler rooms, engine rooms or shops. These locations are sometimes hot and noisy. MMs may be required to perform some heavy physical work. They must be able to work closely with others and, in some cases, with limited supervision.[xii]
There is a large gap in the correspondences obtained that spans from December 18th, 1942 to August 9th, 1943. However, the latter date’s letter to Dan’s sister, Naomi, indicates that he was aboard the USS Tullibee (SS 284) for a short duration in 1943. This new Gato-class submarine was commissioned in February 1943[xiii] and had its first war patrol in July of 1943 in the western Caroline Islands. Her second patrol was in the area south of Formosa, off the China coast,[xiv] both patrols had undertaken military engagements.
There was something about Dan’s time on the Tullibee that made him uncomfortable. Of course, this type of information could not be relayed through letters in a time of war, but to his sister he writes:
I guess you haven’t heard about my being transferred from the Tullibee to a relief crew yet. There isn’t much to say except there were things I did not like about the Tullibee so when I got a chance to be transferred I took it. That was about a month ago and as yet I have had no reason to be sorry about it. There is a good chance here to pick up a little practical experience and at the same pay. I think I can get another submarine soon.[xv]
Maybe Dan’s intuition was right or maybe the ship was just another casualty of war. In either case, on March 26th, 1944, the USS Tullibee sank as a result of a “circular run of one of Tullibeeâ’s [own] torpedoes”[xvi] that resulted in the death of 79 of 80 crew members.[xvii]
Based on Dan’s August 9th letter, we can estimate that his transfer from the Tullibee around July of 1943. From this time until his next submarine assignment in September of the same year, he served as a member of the relief crew for submarine division 141.
On September 16th, 1943, Daniel Seaman reported for duty on the USS Scorpion (SS 278):
Thursday, 16 Sep 1943
1300 – MoMM1/c Daniel Arthur Seaman, USN, reported aboard for duty.[xviii]
The Scorpion was another Gato class submarine. According to Friedman, “It was impractical to build anything other than the current Gato class … OPNav ordered a 70 percent expansion program (43 submarines) on 16 August …”,[xix] of which the Scorpion was one.
Almost a month after arriving on board, Daniel was part of the ship’s 3rd war patrol,[xx] which departed on October 13th, 1943.[xxi] The map that follows indicates markings of the noon time GPS coordinates during this patrol. Yellow markings indicate interactions with other friendly vessels and/or events of minor significance. Red markings are dated and indicate incidents of significant contact with enemy ships. Additional details for each event can been read in Fred Gahimer’s research.[xxii] An interactive map can also be found on Google Maps.[xxiii]
The Scorpion’s 3rd war patrol concluded on December 5, 1943 as it returned to base at Pearl Harbor.[xxiv] During his time in the service, Dan’s younger brother, Glenn Seaman enlisted into the Navy and by December of 1943 he was also serving our country in the Pacific. On what would be his final known letter, he writes the following to Naomi:
Remember saying in your letter that I might run into Glenn sometime. I never considered it very likely but we did see each other. In fact, we were able to spend the best part of two days together before he had to leave. I was sure glad to see him. It was the first time since he joined the navy. He looks well but no different than ever. He also talks and acts the same. I think he still exaggerates his stories a little but I guess that isn’t really bad.
It seems that I am always apologizing for not writing more often or when I do write but guess there is nothing I can do about [it]. Maybe someday I can come home and tell you all about everything but right now I haven’t a thing to say.[xxv]
Although the disclosure of where and when Dan and Glenn where actually able to spend time together was not allowed, based on the deck logs, it’s probable that this time was spent on Midway Island sometime around December 1st, 1943 or at Pearl Harbor between Scorpion’s patrols.
Scorpion’s 4th and final war patrol left Pearl Harbor on December 29th, one day after Daniel’s final letter, bound for East China and the Yellow Seas.[xxvi] On its last report, January 5th, 1944, Gahimer indicates the following:
Wednesday, 5 Jan 1944
On this morning, SCORPION reported that a crewman had broken an arm, and requested a rendezvous with the submarine HERRING which was passing through the area on its return to Pearl, and could take the injured crewman back to the hospital. The rendezvous was made in the afternoon at 30° 7’N, 167° 30′ E. The sea was very rough, and despite several attempts to transfer him via a rubber raft, it was determined that it was too dangerous to both the injured man and the submarines, and the transfer was abandoned, as well as the rubber raft.
Thursday, 6 Jan 1944
HERRING sent a message reporting what had happened and stated “SCORPION reports case under control.” SCORPION was never heard from again.[xxvii]
Gahimer concludes his research with the following:
When no report was received from her by February 24, Midway was directed to keep a watchful eye for her, and SCORPION was directed to make a transmission. Neither of these measures proved fruitful, and SCORPION was reported on March 6, 1944 as presumed lost. No information has been received since the war that the loss was due to enemy antisubmarine tactics.
When the Gilbert and Marshall Islands were captured during the war, thousands of classified Japanese documents fell into the hands of the U.S. Navy. Among these documents were some red bordered “Notices to Mariners” showing the exact locations of Japanese minefields – vital information to U.S submarines. The Navy set up a special unit to translate these documents. The results were sent to submarine skippers in booklet form. Among the notices was information that the Japanese had laid new and extensive minefields in the East China Sea. However, it was much too late to help SCORPION. In the meantime, several submarines had made patrols in this area, crossing and re-crossing the (unknown) minefields without incident. It is probable that these mine lines were very thin, offering only about a ten percent threat to submarines at maximum, and steadily decreasing in effectiveness with the passage of time. SCORPION was lost soon after these mines were laid, at a time when they offered the greatest threat. She could have been an operational casualty, but her area consisted of water shallow enough so that it might be expected that some men would have survived. Since we know of no survivors, the most reasonable assumption is that she hit a mine and sank.[xxviii]
Back in the states, Dan’s father, Merrill Seaman was notified that Daniel was missing in action in March of 1944[xxix] and declared a casualty of war in April of 1944.[xxx] He was awarded the Purple Heart posthumously on August 8th, 1946. Today he is memorialized with a registered bronze marker in Forest Park Cemetery, Camden, New York, a marker at Fort Bonifacio, Manila, inclusion on the World War II monument in Washington, D.C. and as a member of the memorial to the Scorpion’s 4th war patrol located within Bobby Brown State Park in Elberton, Georgia.
“O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:
But O heart! heart! Heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.”
“O Captain!, My Captain!”, Walt Whitman
Bauer, K. Jack, and Stephen S. Roberts. Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1900: Major Combatants. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1991.
Camden Advance-Journal. “Dan Seaman aboard Sub Counted Lost.” Camden Advance-Journal (Camden, NY), March 23, 1944.
“Camden, Oneida, New York; Roll: 1620; Enumeration District: 11; Image: 189.0;.” In 1930 United States Federal Census, 13A. Digital file.
Comins, Gary M. “USS Scorpion (SS278) – 3rd War Patrol.” Map. Google Maps. February 27, 2013. Accessed March 3, 2013. https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=214009722160988118236.0004d6b6f5e66f2fbd971&msa=0&ll=21.543439,149.710777&spn=36.498385,25.004883.
“Dan Seamans.” In Reflections of Amboy: A History of the Town of Amboy, New York 1805-2004, edited by Roberta Cleveland and Edward Lescenski, 217. Vol. I. N.p.: Amboy Historical Society, 2004.
Friedman, Norman. “U.S. Submarines through 1945.” Appendix C to U.S. Submarines through 1945: An Illustrated Design History, 297. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995.
Gahimer, Fred, comp. Scorpion Diary: A History of the U.S.S. Scorpion Submarine, SS-278. Research report no. Draft. Unknown: unknown, 1998.
Groundspeak. “USS Scorpion (SS â€“ 278) – Bobby Brown State Park Elberton, GA.” Waymarking.com. Last modified March 2, 2010. Accessed March 1, 2013. http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM8AQF_USS_Scorpion_SS_278_Bobby_Brown_State_Park_Elberton_GA.
Mead, Jas. M. Jas. M. Mead to Merrill Seaman, February 15, 1946. Gary Comins, Liverpool, NY.
Naomi, Glenn and Dan Seaman – 1926. Photograph. 1926. Gary M. Comiins, Liverpool, NY.
Navy CyberSpace. “Navy Machinist’s Mate (Non-Nuke).” Navy CyberSpace. Accessed March 3, 2013. http://www.navycs.com/navy-jobs/machinists-mate.html.
Rome Daily Sentinel. “David A. Seaman Reported Missing.” Rome Daily Sentinel (Rome, NY), March 21, 1944, 11.
Rome Sentinel. “Mrs. Merrill Seaman Dies following Operation.” Rome Sentinel (Rome, NY), March 13, 1926, evening edition, 9.
Seaman, Daniel A. Daniel A. Seaman to Carrie Percival, June 21, 1939. Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
—. Daniel A. Seaman to Carrie Percival, September 5, 1942. Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
—. Daniel A. Seaman to Naomi Comins, August 9, 1943. Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
—. Daniel A. Seaman to Naomi Comins, December 28, 1943. Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
—. Poems I Like. 1934. Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
Snyder, Roy A. Camden Chronology. N.p.: R.A. Synder, 1984.
Syracuse Herald-Journal. “War Casualties.” Syracuse Herald-Journal (Syracuse, NY), April 6, 1944, 18.
US Navy. “S-16.” The Navy Department Library. Accessed March 3, 2013. http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s1/s-16.htm.
—. “United States Submarine Losses, World War II – Scorpion (SS 278).” The Navy Department Library. Accessed March 1, 2013. http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/sublosses/sublosses_scorpion.htm.
—. “United States Submarine Losses, World War II – Tullibee (SS 284).” The Navy Department Library. Accessed March 3, 2013. http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/sublosses/sublosses_tullibee.htm.
—. “USS Tullibee (SS-284), 1943-1944.” The Navy Department Library. Accessed March 1, 2013. http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-t/ss284.htm.
U.S. Navy. “USS West Virginia (BB-48), 1923-1959.” Navy Department Library. Last modified June 26, 2007. Accessed March 1, 2013. http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-w/bb48.htm.
[i] Camden Advance-Journal, “Dan Seaman aboard Sub Counted Lost,”Camden Advance-Journal (Camden, NY), March 23, 1944.
[ii]Rome Sentinel, “Mrs. Merrill Seaman Dies following Operation,” Rome Sentinel (Rome, NY), March 13, 1926, evening edition.
[iii]”Camden, Oneida, New York; Roll: 1620; Enumeration District: 11; Image: 189.0;,” in 1930 United States Federal Census, 13A, digital file.
[iv]Daniel A. Seaman, Poems I Like, 1934, Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
[v]Roy A. Snyder, Camden Chronology (n.p.: R.A. Synder, 1984), 74-75.
[vi]Camden Advance-Journal, “Dan Seaman aboard Sub Counted”
[vii]Daniel A. Seaman to Carrie Percival, June 21, 1939, Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
[viii]Camden Advance-Journal, “Dan Seaman aboard Sub Counted”
[ix]”S-16,” The Navy Department Library, accessed March 3, 2013, http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/s1/s-16.htm.
[xi]Daniel A. Seaman to Carrie Percival, September 5, 1942, Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
[xii]”Navy Machinist’s Mate (Non-Nuke),” Navy CyberSpace, accessed March 3, 2013, http://www.navycs.com/navy-jobs/machinists-mate.html.
[xiii]K. Jack Bauer and Stephen S. Roberts,Â Register of Ships of the U.S. Navy, 1775-1900: Major Combatants (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1991), 273.
[xiv]”United States Submarine Losses, World War II – Tullibee (SS 284),” The Navy Department Library, accessed March 3, 2013, http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/sublosses/sublosses_tullibee.htm.
[xv] Daniel A. Seaman to Naomi Comins, August 9, 1943, Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
[xvi]”United States Submarine Losses,” The Navy Department Library.
[xvii]”USS Tullibee (SS-284), 1943-1944,” The Navy Department Library.
[xviii]Fred Gahimer, comp.,Â Scorpion Diary: A History of the U.S.S. Scorpion Submarine, SS-278, research report no. Draft (Unknown: unknown, 1998),Â 55.
[xix]Norman Friedman, “U.S. Submarines through 1945,” appendix c to U.S. Submarines through 1945: An Illustrated Design History (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1995), 206.
[xx]Gahimer, Scorpion Diary: A History, 56.
[xxiii]Gary M. Comins, “USS Scorpion (SS278) – 3rd War Patrol,” map, Google Maps, February 27, 2013, accessed March 3, 2013, https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=214009722160988118236.0004d6b6f5e66f2fbd971&msa=0&ll=21.543439,149.710777&spn=36.498385,25.004883.
[xxiv]Gahimer, Scorpion Diary: A History, 67.
[xxv]Daniel A. Seaman to Naomi Comins, December 28, 1943, Kathy Stanton, Clay, NY.
[xxvi]Gahimer, Scorpion Diary: A History, 78.
[xxix]Rome Daily Sentinel, “David A. Seaman Reported Missing,” Rome Daily Sentinel (Rome, NY), March 21, 1944.
[xxx]Syracuse Herald-Journal, “War Casualties,” Syracuse Herald-Journal(Syracuse, NY), April 6, 1944.