The Seaweed

USS Champlin DD-601  

Spring 2002

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"Lefty" Caufield, you can find his picture, second from the left. The picture is captioned "John Caufield (far right) with buddies, Panama, 1945".

Tom, the son, explains , "My mother was given the book on loan from a friend. She was reading it while waiting in a doctor's office and turned the page and was shocked to see his photo. She called me up and told me about it. I bought the book and sure enough. (I was able to obtain an autographed copy of it and gave it to mom).

"After seeing it, I looked up Mr. Caulfield on the internet and found only one in Cambridge MA. I sent a letter saying if you are the same Lefty as in the book, I'd love to hear from you. Two days later I got a phone call. It was him. He said, 'When I met with Brokaw I gave him a bunch of photos. Those two were selected.' He couldn't remember where the photo was taken so he guessed at Panama.

'Tommy, as soon as I saw your name on the envelope I remembered the whole thing." The photo in the book was taken in Virginia Beach in 1944 at a photo stand on the board walk. That is not a real bar they are in... it's a backdrop with prop beer bottles. (Notice the label missing off one of them). Lefty Caulfield and my dad were roommates in radar school at the Cavalier Hotel. (It is still there.. He and my mom went to Virginia beach in '92 and stayed there. From there they went to Charleston for a few days. He was retracing his navy days prior to he and I attending a USS Benson reunion in Williamsburg. Unfortunately, he passed away during the trip.

"I've spoken to Lefty several times since... He is a wonderful man.

Then Tom adds, "Thanks so much. I miss him dearly and any time I hear from some one who knew him, it is a thrill. Thanks again.". Thomas M. DiGiovanna, 2226 Appleblossom Dr, Miamisburg, OH 45342 4267 (937)866 6685

Remembering Gerald Kraatz

Bill Kraatz, son of Gerald Kraatz, writes in an E-mail, "I've really enjoyed going thru your entire site. My father, Gerald Kraatz, served on the Champlin from Apr 1943 to March of 1946 when DOD 601 went to 'mothballs'. He was an extremely patriotic man and fiercely proud of the Navy, but rarely talked of the 'war scenes' he certainly witnessed and was a part of. He was especially proud of escorting FDR to Malta.

"He talked often of a very close call he had one day in the crow's nest. The ship hit a huge swell and he was thrown out as the ship listed and hung on by his finger tips as he swung out over heavy seas, He remained terrified of heights from that day until the day he died, one month short of turning 76.

"Incidentally, on your published picture of the Champlin's fire control crew ( the 'Unknown' sailor on the top left is my Dad, Gerald Kraatz.

"Dad lived in the Niagara Falls, NY area his entire life. I moved to Northern Kentucky 25 years ago and coincidentally, now exercise with an old sailor who served approx. the same time my Dad did as a fire control operator on a 'tank'! I'm suddenly re living all my Dad's navel history! By the way, due to this site, my friend who was there, is very much impressed with the Champlin, saying "Six battle THAT'S a record to be proud of, my friend!

"Keep up the great work!" Bill Kraatz, 4 Sassafrass Lane, Florence, KY 41042 859 282 9500 or

      USS Champlin
The Name & The Man

A couple of years ago, Max Carpenter loaned me some material he had saved from his days aboard the Champlin. Included in that collection was an extensive article on Stephen Champlin, the man after whom the USS Champlin was named. Reading that material, which included an image of Stephen Champlin, got me to thinking about how little I knew of the man and his deeds - deeds that were of sufficient import to have two US Navy ships named after him.

          Stephen Champlin Photo

Recently, I had the good fortune to read entries on a genealogical forum devoted to the Champlin family name. There, I found correspondence from Robert Champlin of Ontario, Canada , in which he answered an inquiry from yet another Champlin regarding the naming of the USS Champlin. I contacted Robert Champlin, and asked him for as much genealogical information he had regarding our Stephen Champlin. He did just that - twenty seven pages of essays from various sources, including his own research. I can assure readers of The Seaweed that Stephen Champlin's spirit lived on aboard the USS Champlin DD-601! I have selected about three pages of material extracted from those essays for publication as a series over the next several issues of the Seaweed. I hope you will enjoy them as much as I have.

"Stephen Champlin, son of Stephen Champlin and Elizabeth Raymond Perry, was born at South Kingston, Rhode Island on November 17, 1789. Stephen's parents removed to Lebanon, Connecticut about 1795 and Stephen worked there until he was about sixteen years old - at which time he ran away from home in order to become a seaman. After walking the 28 miles to the Thames River in New London, Stephen went to sea, first shipping out on or about March 8, 1806 aboard a schooner bound for Demerara ,a port and river on British Guiana's Atlantic coast, and was impressed while in the West Indies, spending a few days aboard a British-Man-Of-War. He secured his release by producing a document entitled "United States of America - Protection #3598", which stated: "I, Jedediah Huntington, Collector of the District of New London, do hereby certify that Stephen Champlin, an American seaman, aged 16 years, or there abouts, of the height of five feet four inches, light complexion, scar on his head, has this day produced to me proof, in the manner directed in the Act entitled, "An Act For The Relief And Protection Of American Seamen", and pursuant to the said Act, I do hereby certify that the said Stephen Champlin is a citizen of the United States of America. In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and seal of office this 25th day of February, 1806".

"His next voyage was on a fishing boat bound for Newfoundland. Once there, he boarded a schooner bound for Bordeaux with a cargo of fish though bad weather drove them to El Ferrol (then a port city in north western Spain). While on this voyage Stephen was a Second Mate and kept the Captain's watch. Stephen returned to Connecticut in March 1808 and because of the trade embargo went to work on a farm until fall at which time he enrolled in a school at Colchester. Come spring time, Stephen again worked on a nearby farm for another six months. Then, in the fall of 1809, when the embargo was lifted, Stephen shipped out on the "Passenger",bound for Rio de Janeiro from New York, which was commanded by his uncle, Christopher R. Perry. During the return voyage to Baltimore in May of 1810, Stephen served as Second

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