The Seaweed

USS Champlin DD-601  

Summer 2000 - Page 1

Lt. Owen Keeler on D-Day

Lt. Owen Floyd Keeler served as Executive Officer of the USS Champlin from July 1, 1945 to March 18, 1946. Prior to coming aboard the USS Champlin he served as Gunnery Officer aboard the USS Frankford. The following can be found in Stephen E. Ambrose's book "D-Day" published 1994 by Simon and Schuster. The background for this event is that the allied landing forces were unable to land sufficient field artillery to provide support for the infantry. Most of the tanks landed on Omaha Beach had been disabled by enemy fire. Naval vessels were available, but their fire-control parties had not made it ashore. On pages 384-385, Ambrose writes: "The gunships closest to the shore, the destroyers, did not dare fire into the bluff, even when they could see fortified positions, for fear of hitting advancing American infantry....Lt. Owen Keeler was the gunnery officer on the destroyer Frankford. He too was frustrated because he had no targets. Aside from all the other problems, 'German camouflage was excellent, so we could not see who was where or pinpoint anything to shoot.' His skipper, Lt. Comdr. James Semmes, decided to go in closer for a better look. Navigating by fathometer and seaman's eye, he got to withing 400 yards, as close as he could possibly go without running aground, but 'the camouflage on the beach was still good. We could not spot a target--and we did not know how far our troops had advanced.. . . .After two hours of such frustration, skippers began to act on their own responsibility."

On page 387, Ambrose continues: "Frankford fired away from shoal water 800 meters off the beach. Gunnery Officer Keeler recalled: 'A tank sitting at the water's edge with a broken track fired at something on the hill.

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Also in this issue:

Lt. Owen Keeler on 1
The Poet 1
Berman Diary: 55 Yrs. 2
From the Flag 4
USS Champlin Ship's 5
Champlin 5
Changing 5
Shipmates 5
Thanks and 6
Reunion 6

We immediately followed up with a 5-inch salvo. The tank gunner flipped open his hatch, looked around at us, waved, dropped back in the tank, and fired at another target. For the next few minutes he was our fire-control party. Our range-finder optics could examine the spots where his shells hit."

Floyd Owen Keeler died 9 January, 1999. The following obituary was printed in The Capital on 11 January 1999:

"Owen F. Keeler, a retired corporate executive, died of heart failure Jan. 9 at Anne Arundel Medical Center. A resident of Annapolis since 1980, he was 78.

Mr. Keeler was born and educated in Bedord, Va., and graduated from the Naval Academy with the Class of 1943. He was at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944, aboard the destroyer USS Frankford, and served in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of operation during World War II. He was in the Navy from 1939 to 1947, retiring as a lieutenant commander.

Formerly of Grosse Pointe, Mich., he owned his own automotive parts business for approximately 20 years. He retired in 1979 as director of product planning services at Chrysler Corp, where he worked for 25 years.

After moving to Annapolis, he was president of Perkins Demaris Corp., a commercial real estate firm.

Mr. Keeler was a member of the American Society of Automotive Engineers and a fellow of the American Society for Quality Control. He was an active member of the Civitan Club, the Naval Academy Alumni Association and the Naval Academy Chapel, where he was an usher and served on the Chapel Council. He also belong to the New Providence Club.

The Poet Graybill

The Ship's Deck Log for the midnight to four watch, or 00 - 04 to all you seasoned Salts, provides information regarding the location of the ship, how she was moored, the names of nearby ships and services being received from shore. For example, the USS Champlin's Deck Log for Wednesday, 2 January 1946, 00 - 04, reads as follows: "Moored starboard side to USS Nields (DD616) in USS Shenandoah nest, Folly Island channel, Charleston,

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