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Naval Heroes 2


If you listened to yesterday's Datebook, you heard of Edward Henry Allen, a man from our land-locked state who served on board the aircraft carrier Lexington, and who died as a naval hero during World War II.

Marvin Lee Ramsden served as a gunner on board the Lexington, the same ship that yesterday's hero served on. Ramsden was born at Pleasant Lake on January 2, 1919. He became familiar with the cyclical movements of life and death at a very early age; his mother died when he was three, in 1922, leaving her husband and six small children to mourn her loss. Eventually, his father remarried. At the age of seventeen, in May of 1936, Marvin Ramsden enlisted in the navy, and he remained there throughout his career.

On this day in 1942, during the death-filled Battle of the Coral Sea, Coxswain Ramsden fought valiantly. The fighting was fierce; the Japanese were strafing and dive-bombing the Lexington, and many soldiers died. Ramsden received several wounds himself. However, he remained at his post, though he was at an exposed station. He continued to operate a range finder throughout the chaos of battle.

In the end, despite his valiant fighting, Ramsden did not survive the battle. However, for his conduct, he was posthumously awarded the silver star.

The Knox advocate later printed a brief news item on this engagement and several others, and the "lessons learned" on the value of aircraft carriers over battleships. In fact, there was a bill passed thereafter calling for construction "of 500,000 tons of aircraft carriers, while postponing the construction of five 60,000-ton super-battleships," mainly due to the crushing destruction and defeat caused by Japanese seapower.

In the meantime, like Edward Allen, Marvin Lee Ramsden was also honored by having a battleship, a destroyer escort, named after him. It was launched on May 24, 1943, sponsored by his mother, Mrs. James L. Ramsden, and was commissioned on the 19th of October in 1943, with Lt. Comdr. J. E. Madacey in command.

The Ramsden brought down an attacking Nazi aircraft in 1944 and was decommissioned and activated several times until 1960, when she was finally decommissioned into the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

She earned one battle star during World War II; but more than that, she lived to perpetuate and honor a North Dakota youth who, like several others, was born from the waves of the prairie and died on the waves of the sea.

By Sarah Walker


The Knox Advocate, Friday, June 26, 1942, p.1

Newsource Online, <http://www.hazegray.org/danfs/escorts/de382.htm>

Knox Advocate, Thursday, June 29, 1922, p.8