Pat Patterson

Larry Stephens Marine Corps 1958-1962 in uniform, sits with World War II Veteran Pat Patterson and the painting Larry painted of Pat standing watch at the Cape Mears Lighthouse. See other veterans stories in this week’s Salute to Veterans tab. 

Pat Patterson has many stories about his time in the service as a member of the Coast Guard stationed in Garibaldi during World War II. There are very few World War II veterans still alive today, but Tillamook County is blessed to still be able to listen to Pat as he remembers his time standing guard of our beaches in Tillamook County as a member of the Coast Guard.

Pat will turn 98 years old on Dec. 19 this year, but remembers his work well as he sat down with the Headlight Herald in light of Veterans Day this Thursday, Nov. 11.

Pat enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1942, but since it was the holidays, he reported in January of 1943.

“I signed up to work on landing craft,” he said. “We were ready to ship out, but there were too many people assigned to landing craft, our commander went down the line and pointed and when he reached me, he said ‘your going to Garibaldi.’” Pat says, he sent his best friend to a base in Bandon Ore. “It was really very random, our commander just went down the line pointing and telling the men of their assignments and I was told to report to Garibaldi, I never heard of Garibaldi,” He said.

Pat stayed on watch in Garibaldi until the war ended. He would ride the beach on horseback, “I stood watch,” he explained.

One evening when standing watch, Pat said he heard and felt depth charges going off south of Garibaldi. Pat says it was just south of the Cape Mears Lighthouse. “I could feel and hear the charges, many of them,” he said. “The Blimp squadron out of Tillamook was dropping bombs on a Japanese submarine, and they destroyed the sub during that battle,” Pat said. “I can still remember it today…I heard counting over the radio, 1,2,3 drop all of a sudden I could feel the blasts, it was four or five blimps dropping depth charges and they sunk a full sized Japanese sub. I really didn’t ever tell this story for many years.”

Pat said blimps worked well to defend against enemy subs because the subs had better range than our land guns. “They could shoot 21 miles and we could only shoot 18 miles out, so the blimps worked well,” Pat said. “They even found a dead Japanese soldier after that, he must have floated ashore and is buried in a cemetery in Pacific City.”

When the war ended, Pat still had six months left to serve. They took the horses away and moved him to Cape Lookout Lighthouse. “So I stood watch there for the remainder of the war,” he said. “I was the last military personnel to be stationed at the lighthouse.”

Pat married his first wife shortly after the war and stayed in Garibaldi managing the Edmonds Fish Corporation. “One day I handled 10 ton of Dungeness crab,” he said. “I did that for 28 years, then I went to work at a plywood mill for about three years.”

Pat was honored last summer when his stories were recorded by the National Archives about his time in the service stationed in Garibaldi.

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