William Dailey Dugan
A Daughter’s Story
Wasn’t he so darn cute, my dad, William Dailey Dugan, who served on and survived the sinking of the USS Gambier Bay. He was running along the walkway (I don’t remember what he called it) with a group of other men, one his best friend, when he saw another sailor down. He stopped to help him while the others ran on. Seconds later a shell hit just ahead of him, causing him shrapnel injuries, but all those who had been running with him were killed. My Dad’s, typical selflessness, compassion and kindness in stopping to help a shipmate saved his life. He and others floated in the vast ocean for three long days, fighting off sharks drawn by blood in the water; watching others lose their senses from drinking sea water and delirium from injuries. He told of a sailor who was “out of his head”, letting go of the rope to go down to get something from his locker. The sailor disappeared under the water, never to resurface. Besides sharks, thirst, pain, and exposure, they lived in fear of a Japanese ship coming by and either killing them, or worse, taking them prisoner. Mercifully, the first ship to come by was a US destroyer (I belief, or maybe a U boat, I can’t remember, but couldn’t take them on, but they contacted a larger ship to rescue them. It would be more long hours of waiting before it finally arrived to free them from their watery prison. I’m so very proud of my late Dad (passed 1/22/2006), for his courage, but mostly for the man he was; ever gentle and kind and loving. A devoted, loving husband to my dear late mom and devoted, loving dad to his five children. He rests in peace at the national cemetery in Canonsburg, PA.
Story submitted by Cheryl Cunningham, daughter of William Dailey Dugan
William crossed the bar in January 2006