Mariner saves life of two one-legged shipmates
UNITED STATES MARITIME COMMISSION
|Cleared and Issued
Through Facilities of the
Office of War Information
The amazing coincidence of his having saved the lives of two one-legged ship's officers on widely separated occasions of enemy action has culminated in winning for a slightly-built young boatswain the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal, the U. S. Maritime Commission announced today. For injuries received in one of the rescues, Filipino-born Alberto Galza, whose home is at 2251 Barclay Street, Baltimore, Maryland, was also presented with the Mariner's Medal at a ceremony in the office of Captain Edward Macauley, Commission member and Deputy War Shipping Administrator.
The vessel on which Galza’s heroism was displayed was the SS Delisle, twice torpedoed and finally sunk. Officer on watch during first submarine attack off the Atlantic coast was Third Mate Robert Jones, still in service despite loss of a leg necessitating the use of two canes. With him on the bridge when the torpedo struck was Galza.
The explosion collapsed one side of the wheelhouse, throwing, Jones several feet and injuring his good leg. Galza was severely cut about the head. but he managed to carry Jones across the slanting deck to a lifeboat. Galza supervised manning and lowering of the boat and. all hands reached shore, Galza to be hospitalized.
The Delisle survived the torpedoing, was beached and after repairs Galza signed on again. Many months later, with Galza as acting third mate, the freighter was steaming off Newfoundland when a torpedo sank another ship in the convoy. While the Delisle was picking up that crew she, too, was hit.
Galza was at the stern, engaged in rescue work, but running forward to report to the bridge he found Capt. William W. Clendaniel, master of the ship and another Baltimorean (3715 Delverne Avenue) had been blown out onto the boat deck. There, unconscious, he was pinned down by a cargo boom that had fallen across his artificial leg.
All efforts to drag the master free were futile and as the sinking of the ship was imminent Galza unstrapped the leg, hoisted the hefty Captain to his shoulder and carried him to the rail. There he found all lifeboats had shoved off. A liferaft from another torpedoed ship floated by, however. Galza lowered the seriously injured Clendaniel and himself, returned to the sinking Delisle and retrieved the master's artificial leg -- and two puppy mascots.
A corvette came alongside to remove the men from the raft and waves it created washed the leg and puppies away. Victims of the torpedoing were put ashore in Newfoundland and hospitalized. Captain Clendaniel in due time was ready for sea again, except no artificial leg could be found for him. After a time his own was washed up on the beach, repaired and put to use.
The Distinguished Service Medal citation signed by Vice Admiral Emory S. Land, USN, retired, Chairman of the Maritime Commission, on behalf of President Roosevelt, says of Galza:
"His heroic actions on these two occasions, in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Merchant Marine, were instrumental in saving the life of one of his officers, and undoubtedly the sole means of saving the life of another."
The Mariner's Medal awarded was for wounds received in enemy action. It is bestowed on seamen by authority of Congress.
Galza is still going to sea, and is now awaiting loading of the SS Monroe with a war cargo at an Atlantic port.
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