LTC Joseph Warren “Warren” Stirni

LTC Joseph Warren “Warren” Stirni

Death 9 Jan 1945 (aged 36–37)
Burial Churchtown, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA
Plot Section B
Memorial ID 35314730 · View Source
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Joseph Warren Stirni graduated from Virginia Military Institute with an Engineering Degree. Upon graduation he went to work for NOAA and worked on several research vessells. He married Dorothy May Vinyard of Milford, De. in December.

LT Joseph Warren Stirni fought in the Philippine Islands until the fall of Corregidor with the U. S. Navy, taken prisoner-of-war, put upon a ship by the Japanese to be transported to a prison camp in Japan, but the first ship was bombed, many men died but he survived,and then while being transported to Japan in the "hell-ship" Enoura Maru, he was killed by American bombing of this unmarked in Takao, Formosa, January 9, 1945.

"Word has just been received that Lieutenant J. W. Stirni of the Coast and Geodetic Survey was killed by air action in the Philippine Islands. Lieutenant Stirni was taken prisoner by the Japanese early in 1942, and had been held prisoner until December 1944, when the prisoners were evacuated by the Japanese for Japan.

Lieutenant Stirni was with the Bureau for 14 years, having worked in both the Coastal Survey and Geodesy, although much of his time was spent in the Field.

He is survived by his mother, Mrs. C. R. Stirni, his wife, Mrs. J. W. Stirni (who also was a prisoner of war until February 5th of this year(1945), and was liberated by General McArthur) a brother, A. Richard Stirni now working in the Hydrographic Section of the Nautical Chart Branch."

The following is a living-history interview with Commander Morris concerning his experiences in World War Two. It was conducted by Ted A. Morris and Ted A. Morris, Jr., on October 30, 1994 in Las Cruces, New Mexico. Commander Morris is the brother of Ted Morris' father.

Well, what would you like to hear first of all? I'm George E. Morris, Jr., and was a Lieutenant, Senior Grade, with the U.S. Coast and Geodetic Survey out in the Philippines in December, 1941. When the war broke, I was Executive Officer of the ship "Research." There were two Coast Survey ships in the Philippines at the time, the "Fathomer" and the "Pathfinder." The "Research" originally was called the "Pathfinder," and it was built in '98 for Alaska. The Coast Survey built a newer ship they wanted to call "Pathfinder," so the old ship became the "Research." The "Research" was a two-masted sailing schooner. It had been built with the idea of operating in cold weather and had a big tumblehome. The only thing above the upper deck was the pilot house. Everything else was below decks. When I first went out to the islands in '29 and '30 the ship had been in the Philippines for some time, and the masts were still there and the booms were still in place. When I went back in '39, the booms had been replaced with strongbacks which were used for stretching awning over to keep the sun off the deck to make it a little cooler down below.

It was a good-sized, steel-hulled ship; we had a crew of 80 men and nine officers. Except for myself, the commanding officer and the engineer, they were all Filipino. We had seven or eight Filipino cadets on the crew who were training to take over our operations when the Philippines gained its independence.

We had an annual repair season for the ships when we completed minor repairs, and we were in Manila for winter repairs. We were at what was called Engineer Island, which had one of the best machine shops in the Philippines, run by the Philippine government. We'd haul out the ship, clean the bottom and make any hull repairs which were necessary. Principally, we'd complete any engine room repairs that required machine shop repairs that we couldn't handle aboard ship.

There were five officers with the Coast Survey there in Manila at the time: Captain Cowie, Lieutenant Commanders Egner and Shaw, Lieutenant Junior Grade Stirni, and myself

Captain Cowie was killed in a bombing raid early in the war. The Coast Survey had the only copy of the nautical almanac in the Philippine Islands for the coming year, and Captain Cowie had made arrangements with the Philippine government printing office to duplicate this for the use of the Navy. The day he was killed, he wanted me to go with him to get these duplicates. We each had an official car and a driver. We got these cars by going into the car dealers and taking the cars and giving them a slip of paper for it. We used the cars to go running all over town doing different errands. I didn't see much use to the errands, though I suppose we were making a showing to the public that we were doing something. Anyway, I asked Captain Cowie, "What should I do with my car?" He said "Well, you'd better keep your car." And so I didn't go with him. They bombed the building that the printing room was in while he was in there, and he was killed.

Lieutenant Commander Egner, as the ranking officer, then took charge of the Coast Survey there in the Philippines. When Egner moved up to director, I moved up to Commanding Officer of the "Research." Lieutenant Commander Charley Shaw was in Stotsenberg Hospital there in Manila. He had been down in Jolo and got tangled up with a native and cut up. Lieutenant Junior Grade Stirni was aboard the "Research."
After Christmas, the Japanese began bombing Manila, and a small bomb hit the launch we had moored alongside the' gangway of the "Research." The launch caught fire, but fortunately the standby crew aboard the Research was able to put the fire out, and the only damage was from where the fire had warped some of the side plates. We inspected very carefully below the waterline and could find no leaks.

During the night after this bombing, I was at home in our apartment in Manila, and one of the crew members came and said that the Army had given them orders to take the ship out, either to Corregidor or into deep water and scuttle it. So I went down to the ship. We just had the nightwatch crew aboard at the time, about one third of the crew. We were under power from the pier, so we got up steam and I took the ship out and cruised slowly down Manila Bay waiting for daylight to cross over to Corregidor.
Egner, Stirni, and of course Shaw stayed in Manila. Egner and Stirni were picked up as civilians and interned in Santo Tomas Concentration Camp. Some months later, probably about six months after the Japanese occupied Manila, the Japs discovered they had an Army Lieutenant in with the civilians in the prison, and they made a sweep to see if there were any other uniformed officers. Stirni didn't know what to do, so he looked for Egner to see whether he should report as an officer of the uniform service or stay as a civilian. Stirni couldn't find Egner, who was never much help to anybody, so he reported in and was taken up to Cabanatuan, but this was several months after the rest of us from Corregidor and Bataan were all up there. Egner stayed at Santo Tomas, and Charley Shaw was put in Bilibid prison. I saw Shaw when I was being transferred from Cabanatuan to Japan. He got back home after the war, but died, and Egner has died since. Stirni was killed when we got bombed in Tawan.


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  • Maintained by: Holly Holy(ND)
  • Originally Created by: Family Tree Climber
  • Added: 29 Mar 2009
  • Find a Grave Memorial 35314730
  • Find a Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for LTC Joseph Warren “Warren” Stirni (1908–9 Jan 1945), Find a Grave Memorial no. 35314730, citing Mount Zion Cemetery, Churchtown, Cumberland County, Pennsylvania, USA ; Maintained by Holly Holy(ND) (contributor 47620858) .