Published On: Thu, Apr 10th, 2014

Last veteran USS Erie passed away

USS ErieWILLEMSTAD - The last surviving American soldier aboard the USS Erie, passed away early this month. Donald V. Leetch was a radioman on the warship, which was torpedoed off the coast of Curacao by a German submarine on November 12, 1942.

The ship was burning when it came ashore just where the Marriott Hotel is located. Six American officers and a Marine lost their lives in this attack.

Curacao and Aruba were working overtime in the production of fuel for the aircraft of the Allies. The USS Erie, which was a fairly new American warship with 180 people on board, has been just outside the harbor of Willemstad, Curacao in a convoy that was on its way to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It was 17:33 pm and the impact of the explosion, caused by torpedoes from the German torpedo U-163, was enormous.

At the place where the captain of the USS Erie came ashore in 1942, was recently a brief memorial ceremony held in the presence of the U.S. Consul James Moore. Allan van der Ree of the Battle Station Blaauw Force Curaçao 1942 Foundation is committed to a permanent monument on that spot. The monument is available at the Naval Base Parera, but it cannot be placed yet until the government gives the authorization for its placement on Koredor.

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