I am a 75 year old woman now but in 1941, I was 9 years old. I lived in Sheepshead Bay when the US Coast Guard Training Base and the Maritime Training Base were built and opened. I had relatives and friends in Manhattan Beach and joined in the group of children who marched behind the Coast Guard Marching Band. I am not sure if they marched outside the base many times a week or just once on the weekends. My father was in the Naval Air Force during WWI he was stationed at Floyd Bennet Field and worked as a mechanic on the planes that were stationed there. I remember watching the hundreds of coastguard men walk around Sheepshead Bay to the tiny walking bridge. One time there were so many on the bridge at one time it started to collapse. My friends and I did our very best to help the war effort by collect tin cans and what ever else was needed. We also heard the sound of big ships firing their guns. We could tell they were not very close. We were told that they were having target practice. But they were trying to stop German Subs from getting too close to the beaches. My father would take me to talk to the sailors or cost guard men when they tied up their small PT boats in Sheepshead Bay. I can still picture the boats and the young men on them.
I went to school in Brighten Beach. All the windows were covered in wide tape. We were required to wear identification tags and there were machine gun emplacements on the roofs of the apartment houses that lined the beach that went from Manhattan Beach to brighten beach all the way to Coney Island. Shore Patrol men patrolled the beaches and the sidewalk around Sheepshead Bay. They used to accompany my mother when she walked to visit her sister who lived in Manhattan Beach. Somehow or maybe because there was the Coast Guard Base and so many men there that I never was scared of an invasion.
Carol S Zilliacus
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World War II Stories -- In Their Own Words
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Updated on 20 February 2012...0839:05 CST
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