Posted by: SJS | September 29, 2011

Belton Allyn Copp RIP

     On Tuesday evening, September 27th,  at around 9:45 pm Belton A. Copp died peacefully in his sleep at age 91 in Connecticut.  A few hours earlier that evening, according to his son Allyn, the Copp family had shared a large dinner.  The gathering overflowed with joy, remembrance, and tears.  At dinner, everyone had the opportunity to hold Mr. Copp’s  hand and enjoy his presence in their midst.

     Allyn also kindly shared with me a copy of the official citation from the office of the Commander of the  Seventh Fleet of the US Navy.  The citation accompanied the presentation of the Silver Star to Lieutenant (JG) Belton Allyn Copp, U.S. Naval Reserve,  for his heroism on the PT mission to Manila Bay in 1945.  The wording of the citation speaks volumes about this remarkable young naval officer who exemplified the very best of the PT legacy:

Belton Copp receives medal

Lt. Belton A. Copp receives the Silver Star (photo provided by Allyn Copp)

“By virtue of the power delegated to me, I take pleasure in awarding in the name of the President of the United States, the Silver Star Medal to:  LIEUTENANT (JG) BELTON ALLYN COPP, U.S. NAVAL RESERVE  CITATION   For distinguishing himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy in the Philippine Islands campaign.  On the night of 7 February 1945, as officer in tactical command of a two-boat patrol, Lieutenant (jg) Copp was assigned the hazardous mission of making a close in shore reconnaissance of Mariveles Harbor in connection with the proposed amphibious landing by U.S. forces in that area.  With complete disregard for his own personal safety, he led his section through a known enemy mine field and between enemy shore installations to obtain the desired intelligence.  The information obtained was of material assistance to the subsequent operation.  Upon retirement, a numerically superior force of heavily armed and armored enemy small craft attempted to ambush his section.  In a bold and aggressive stroke, Lieutenant (jg) Copp twice attacked this force, and succeeded in preventing the ambush.   One type “C” armed barge was heavily damaged, probably sunk, one other armed type “C” barge and one sub-chaser damaged, with probable damage to other unidentified enemy craft.  Heavy return fire started a fire in the ammunition locker of his own PT, wounded four of his men and seriously wounded Lieutenant (jg) Copp himself, resulting in the subsequent loss of his arm.  His conduct throughout was in keeping with the highest traditions of the Navy of the United States.   (signed) D.E. Barby, Vice-Admiral, U.S. Navy.    
 
     It was no accident that General Douglas MacArthur, on his promised return to the Philippine Islands in March of 1945, traveled on PT 373 – the craft commanded by Lt. Copp on that heroic mission to Manila Bay a month earlier.  MacArthur was keenly aware of the bravery and boldness of that crew.  He was mindful also of the sacrifice and heavy toll paid by that PT crew and its commanding officer.  Riding on the 373 was MacArthur’s way of saluting that extraordinary PT crew for serving on the first USN surface craft to enter those waters since the Japanese had driven the Americans out of Manila Bay in 1942. 
B Copp & honorees at hospital

Lt. Belton A. Copp & other honorees at military hospital (photo provided by Allyn Copp)

       Lt. Copp now joins his fellow PT officers like John F. Kennedy as well as enlisted PT sailors like Red Stahley who served with him on the 373.   These men served their country with courage, honor, and dignity.  They leave behind grateful families who will never forget their selfless heroism as part of the Navy’s Mosquito Fleet.

       May God grant rest, peace, and eternal light to his faithful servant, Belton A. Copp.  And may God grant consolation and deep peace to his family and all who loved him.

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Responses

  1. Oh man, what a great post. It gives me goosebumps when I think of how brave these men (PT sailors) were. It’s funny, my grandpa, while stubborn ;-), was the gentlest and kindest man I’ve known (along with my father).

    Yet, when the time came, he did what he had to do,and I imagine those things being horrible things, just like what Lieutenant Belton Allyn Copp had to do. They did them without complaint and with bravery, knowing full well the consequences for themselves, and for their countrymen back home.

    • Darren,
      Thanks so much for sharing. Your grandfather, like Lt. Copp and my father, was doing his duty as he served valiantly on the PT boats in the South Pacific. They all worked together as a team and accomplished amazing things. The more I learn about the work of the PT fleet, the more impressed I become with what they were able to do on those small, swift boats. I really appreciate your comments.
      Steve

  2. What a wonderful story of another brave sailor, Stephen. RIP Lieutenant Copp, you sacrificed so much, including your arm. Thanks for sharing all of this information. I hope God grants the family much peace and comfort in their memories.

    • Cyndy,
      Thanks for your supportive words and your expression of kindness for the family of Lt. Copp. Learning about his courageous service and having the opportunity to learn more about him from his family have been great gifts for me. I’m sure that knowing Lt. Copp made a big impression on my father when they were together in the South Pacific.
      Stephen


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