Attalla man who saved more than 100 lives in WWII honored by the U.S. Coast Guard

Published: Apr. 1, 2023 at 12:48 AM CDT
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ATTALLA, Ala. (WBRC) - A family in East Alabama is celebrating the heroic efforts of Warren Deyampert, who’s credited for saving 100 lives in World War II.

On Thursday morning, the United States Coast Guard named their 51st Fast Response Cutter in his honor.

Deyampert’s cousin Pamela Jackson will serve as the ship’s sponsor.

Although they never met, she says she heard about Deyampert and his bravery her entire life.

Deyampert served in the Coast Guard early in World War II. He boarded the Escanaba in August 1941, a cutter full of rescue swimmers in the North Atlantic.

Over the next two years, he advanced from a third-class mess attendant to a second-class officer’s steward.

Deyampert and his fellow rescue swimmers drilled frequently.

In early February 1943, Deyampert and the others had a chance to put their skills to the test with temperatures well below freezing when an U.S. Army transport exploded with over 900 troops.

Deyampert and other rescuers sprang into action trying to save as many people as they could.

“Warren stayed in for over four hours,” says Jackson. “In the end, the ship Escanaba, the coast guard cutter had saved 133 people. They said Warren directly saved over 100 himself because he was pulling people in they were so frozen they couldn’t reach up.”

The Escanaba rescue system is credited with being the most effective method in saving several survivors.

“He didn’t know what was going on,” says Jackson. “He thought that he was trying to rescue as many people as possible. But Warren didn’t realize that he was not only rescuing those men, but he was also rescuing their future generations to come.”

A few months after Warren saved so many lives, the Escanaba exploded in what is believed to be the result of a torpedo. The boat sank within minutes, and Warren and 100 of his shipmates perished. Jackson says although he lost his life in a tragic way, he lived on principles instilled in him by their grandmother.

“Embrace my struggles. Embrace my fears. Warren knew the dangers of hypothermia,” says Jackson. “But he wanted to do all he could because he was always that way. He thought if anybody could do it, he could do it. If you needed help, he’s ready to give his 110%. That was my cousin Warren in a nutshell.”

Jackson is now considered a permanent member of the United States Coast Guard. She says she will support and advocate for the ship and its crew for several years to come.

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