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Donald Robert Donovan
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Birth: Jan. 22, 1921
Hampden County
Massachusetts, USA
Death: Jan. 29, 1945
Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands

In Memory Of Donald Robert Donovan
S1 US Coast Guard

The loss of U.S.S. Serpens

The continuation of the large World War II campaigns took hundreds of ship loads of cargo and supplies to maintain the tremendous logistical appetite of the invasion forces. The Coast Guard performed this duty without fanfare and with little notice. The staging areas for the vast pacific operations lay well away from Japanese attacks. The island of Guadalcanal for instance served as a depot for supplies that would eventually be shipped to the front. During the war the Coast Guard manned over two hundred cargo vessels for the Army and Navy. During what was considered a fairly routine loading operation, the Coast Guard cargo ship Serpens suffered a violent explosion causing the Service's single greatest loss of life.

The Serpens (AK-97), spent nineteen months transporting supplies in the Pacific. On 29 January the ship lay anchored off Lunga Beach at the island of Guadalcanal. The 14,250 ton ship was loading depth charges when a shattering explosion occurred. After the great concussion, screeching shells filled the air and debris rained over the harbor. When the smoke cleared, only the bow of the vessel could be seen along with floating debris, dead fish, lumber, and torn life jackets floating in the water.

On board were 197 Coast Guardsmen, one man from the Public Health Service, and 57 Army stevedores. Only two men on board survived the blast. Both of these men had been in the boatswain's locker and walked out on the floating portion of the bow with only slight injuries. Other survivors included two officers and six men ashore at the time. The explosion of the ship has never been fully explained, but has been attributed to a mistake in handling the dangerous cargo on board.

The dead from Serpens were originally buried at Guadalcanal. In 1949 the remains were brought to the United States to be interned in Arlington National Cemetery. In November 1950, a monument was dedicated to these men. This grave site is the second largest mass grave in the Cemetery and is a stark reminder of the sacrifices that many men in the Coast Guard made during World War II.
Family links: 
  George Anthony Donovan (1893 - 1965)
  Madeline Francis Quinlan Donovan (1890 - 1978)
  Donald Robert Donovan (1921 - 1945)*
  Doris Roberta Donovan Aldrich (1921 - 2008)*
  Donald Robert Donovan (1921 - 1945)
  John Joseph Donovan (1927 - 2006)*
*Calculated relationship
Note: Donal is the twin brother to Doris Donovan Aldrich buried here. His younger brother, my Father, John is also buried here.
Massachusetts Veterans Memorial Cemetery
Hampden County
Massachusetts, USA
Plot: Sec. M1, Row B, Site 22
Maintained by: BDonovan
Originally Created by: Avalon
Record added: Aug 31, 2008
Find A Grave Memorial# 29441742
Donald Robert Donovan
Added by: BDonovan
Donald Robert Donovan
Added by: BDonovan
Donald Robert Donovan
Added by: Avalon
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- Arleta ♥
 Added: Jan. 22, 2014

- Natalie
 Added: May. 22, 2012
World War II Veteran
 Added: Jan. 31, 2012
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