NEWPORT, R.I. (WAVY) — A Coast Guardsman from the Eastern Shore recently got the honor of leading the color guard at the commissioning of the Coast Guard’s newest cutter.
But it wasn’t until after the ceremony in Newport, Rhode Island, that he found out the ship’s namesake was a World War II hero from the Shore.
“I volunteered to do the ceremony as any new cutter entered into the guard is a big deal,” said Onley native Bobby Fetters, a Marine Science Technician 2nd Class who has eight years of service.
Come to find out the Cutter Maurice Jester (WPC-1152) was named in honor of Chincoteague’s Maurice Jester, who in 1942 became the first captain to capture the crew of a German U-boat during World War II.
After his USCGC Icarus sank the much heavier equipped U-352 off the coast of North Carolina , Jester was able to rescue 33 members of the U-boat’s crew, according to an account of the battle on Jester’s Arlington National Cemetery page.
Jester, who was 52 at the time after enlisting back in 1917, was promoted to lieutenant commander and given the Navy Cross for his leadership that day. He was also featured on the cover of “Life” magazine.
Fetters says after he learned Jester was from Chincoteague, he reached out to the Shoreborn page on Facebook, a bustling group which helps preserve the Eastern Shore’s history.
“[I] wanted to let Shoreborn know that they were being represented in the Coast Guard through him,” Fetters said.
The Coast Guard says the Maurice Jester is the third of six fast response cutters that will be homeported in Boston. As a Sentinel-class cutter, the 154-foot ship is designed to deploy independently on a variety of different missions, including search and rescue operations and patrolling ports and waterways.
It’s one of 65 new cutters that have been ordered overall to replace the Coast Guard’s 110-foot, 1980s-era Island-class patrol boats.