Obituary of Algerine D. “Al” Garner

Al Garner was a son of Asa Duggan Garner and Bessie Yopp Garner. In 1940 the Garners lived on Old Valdosta Road west of Ray City, but later moved closer to town on what is now known as Garner Road. Al’s father was a contractor who worked in heavy construction. His younger sister, Marjorie Garner, attended the Ray City School where she performed with the Glee Club. His brothers, Wendell and Carlton, attended high school in Nashville.

A.D. “Al” Garner attended Berry College in Rome, GA. After college he entered Officer Training and served in the Navy as a Lieutenant JG in the South Pacific during WWII.

 

Algerine "Al" Garner, of the Lois community near Ray City, GA, attended Berry College, 1940

Algerine “Al” Garner, of the Lois community near Ray City, GA, attended Berry College, 1940

A.D. “Al” Garner
Wednesday, July 11. 2012

A.D. “Al” Garner, 92, passed away Tuesday, June 26, 2012 at Appling Healthcare System. Garner was born in Laurens County, and resided in Berrien County before entering school at Berry College in Rome, where he graduated in January, 1944. He completed officer’s training school at Columbia University in New York City and entered the U.S. Navy, serving in the South Pacific in World War II. He was employed as the Farm Superintendent at the Georgia Baptist Children’s Home Baxley Campus for thirty years, retiring in 1985. Garner was active in civic organizations over the years and was recognized and awarded for his agricultural and farming achievements, including being named Appling County Farmer of the Year. He was a member of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church where he served as a deacon and taught Sunday School for sixty years, having retired from teaching the Joy Group Class. He sang in the choir, led singing, rendered many solos, served as church treasurer, chairman of the deacons and in numerous other church positions.
Garner was preceded in death by a son, Stephen Thomas Garner; a daughter, Barbara Carol Garner; five sisters, Louise Snipes, Frances Griffin, Jeanette Myers, Belle Calhoun and Marjorie Gaskins, one brother, William A. Garner; and long-time friend H.G. “Pap” Dennis.

He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Georgia Camilla Garner of Baxley; one son, Roger Garner and wife, Yolonda “Tootsie” Hires Garner, of Baxley; two daughters, Jane Coleman and husband, David Coleman, of Baxley, and Bonnie Coleman and husband, Steve Coleman, of Baxley; ten grandchildren: Heather (Stephen) Hale, Sam (Cindy) Coleman, Luke (Sail) Coleman, Jim (Faith) Coleman; Matt (Jennifer) Coleman, Anna Garner, Sarah (Travis) Crosby, Rebecca (Daniel) Carter, Asa (Tonya) Garner, and John (Kristy) Garner; 20 great-grandchildren; one sister, Betty Shaw of Rockledge, Florida; one brother, Wendell Garner of Orlando, Florida; and numerous nieces, nephews and other family.

Funeral services were held at 3:00 p.m. on Friday, June 29, at Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, with visitation held from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. prior to the service. Officiating at the services were the Rev. Darrell Quinn, Pastor of Mt. Vernon Baptist Church, and Dr. Paul Dennis, Pastor of Royal Baptist Church, Newnan.

Active pallbearers were grandsons: Sam Coleman, Luke Coleman, Jim Coleman, Matt Coleman, Asa Garner and John Garner.

Honorary pallbearers were the Mt. Vernon Joy Group and Encouragers Sunday School Classes.

Musical selections were presented by Jonathan and Anslee Hickox, Rick and Ann Herndon, Tammy Anderson, pianist, and granddaughter Heather Hale.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Georgia Special Olympics at specialolympicsga.org or Gracewood State Hospital, Augusta, Georgia.

Al Garner’s family wishes to thank everyone for your prayers, love and support, and to quote from a note received from niece and journalist Suzanne Comer Bell upon hearing of his death, words which express our thoughts and feelings so well…. “My world tilts a little today, as we lost a giant in our family last night (June 26, 2012), my beloved Uncle Al Garner. He was my oldest living uncle on my father’s side, one of six boys (counting blood and married uncles) who went to war in the forties from the Comer family. Such a gentle man, a champion farmer, cowboy, devoted husband, father, and grandfather. He joins many who live in our memories, and leaves many to hold each other in our tears today.”

Arrangements were under the direction of David E. Miles Funeral Home.

Memorial Day Remembrance of the Service and Sacrifice of Hubert Felton Comer

Hubert Felton Comer

Hubert Felton Comer

Memorial Day Remembrance of the Service and Sacrifice of Hubert Felton Comer

In the 2007-2008 Georgia Legislative Session, The Georgia Senate passed a resolution to dedicate the Ray City bridge over Cat Creek in memorial to Hubert F. Comer:

A RESOLUTION

Dedicating certain portions of the state highway system; and for other purposes.

WHEREAS, Hubert F. Comer served in the United States Navy and was assigned to the USS Rich, a destroyer escort during the Normandy invasion in June 1944; and

WHEREAS, the USS Rich hit three German mines off the Normandy coast two days after the Normandy invasion; and

WHEREAS, Hubert F. Comer was listed among the missing, and his body was never recovered; and

WHEREAS, Hubert F. Comer was awarded the American Area Campaign Medal, the European-African-Middle Eastern Area Campaign Medal, and the Purple Heart; and

WHEREAS, it is fitting and appropriate to honor Hubert F. Comer for his service and ultimate sacrifice in that service to the United States of America, the State of Georgia, and Berrien County by the naming of the SR 37 bridge on Cat Creek in honor and memory of his service and sacrifice.

Hubert  Felton Comer, age nine, was enumerated along with his family in the 1930 census living in the Lois community near Ray City, GA. He was a son of Margaret Jane Hudson and Audley H. Comer.  His father was a farmer, and Hubert and his older brother, Harold, assisted with the farm labor.

Hubert Felton Comer, 8th Grade, New Lois School, Berrien County, GA.

Hubert Felton Comer, 8th Grade, New Lois School, Berrien County, GA.

Hubert, and siblings who were of age, attended the one room school house at Lois.  A 1936-37 class photo (detail at right) depicting Hubert at about age sixteen is available at the Berrien County Historical Photos Collection.

Later, Hubert attended the Ray City School where he graduated from high school about 1940  (see Glee Club Gave 1939 Christmas Cantata).

Hubert Felton Comer enlisted in the U.S. Navy Reserve on April 6, 1942.

Hubert Felton Comer was born July 14, 1920 and died June 8, 1944.

The Nashville Herald
September 28, 1944

Hubert F. Comer Reported Dead

    Hubert F. Comer, 24, Carpenters Mate Second Class, U.S.N.R. , missing in action since July 9, was reported dead in a letter received last week by his wife.  The letter stated that he had been carried on the official records of the Navy Department in the status of missing since June 6, 1944.  He was servicing on board the U. S. S. Rich when that vessel was lost in the European Invasion as a result of enemy action.
     News of his death read:
     “It is with deep regret you are here advised that, although the body of your husband was not recovered, his commanding officer has reported that the circumstances surrounding his disappearance have lead to a conclusion of death.  It is hoped you may find comfort in the knowledge that he was serving his country at the time of his death.”
     He is the son of Mr. and Mrs. A. T. Comer of Ray City, who received similar news of his death.
     Young Comer was graduated from the Ray City high school in 1940 after which he was employed on construction projects at Augusta.  He enlisted in the Navy in April of 1942 and was married to the former Miss Paula Skinner in June 1943. His last leave at home was in March of this year.  He was a person of good moral character and his many friends are grieved to learn of his death.
     Survivors include his wife and parents, four brothers, M. Sgt. Harold Comer of Eglin Field, Fla., Sgt. James E. Comer, somewhere overseas, Jerry and Murray Comer of Ray City, and two sisters, Ms. Algerine Garner, of San Diego, Calif., and Miss Barbara Comer, of Ray City.

Aboard the USS Rich:

Hubert Felton Comer aboard the USS Rich (DE 695), WWII.

Hubert Felton Comer aboard the USS Rich (DE 695), WWII.

The USS Rich was officially described as, “DE – 695: displacement 1,800; length 306’; beam 36’10”; draft 13’6”; speed 24 knots; complement 215; armament 3 3”, 4 40mm., 8 20mm., 2 depth charge tracks, 8 depth charge projectors, 1 depth charge projector (hedgehog-type), 3 21” torpedo tubes; class Buckley.”

The USS Rich (DE-695) was laid down on March 27, 1943 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, MI.; launched June 22, 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ralph McMaster Rich; and commissioned October 1, 1943, Lt. Comdr. E. A. Michel, Jr., USNR, in command.

The USS Rich (DE-695) was laid down on March 27, 1943 by the Defoe Shipbuilding Co., Bay City, MI.; launched June 22, 1943; sponsored by Mrs. Ralph McMaster Rich; and commissioned October 1, 1943, Lt. Comdr. E. A. Michel, Jr., USNR, in command.

The USS Rich was laid down on 27 March 1943 at the Defoe Shipbuilding Company, Bay City, Michigan, the third destroyer escort to be built at that yard. She was launched on 22 June 1943, sponsored by Mrs. Ralph McMaster Rich, widow of Lt. Rich.

After completion, the USS Rich was sailed from the builder’s yard at Bay City, IL to Chicago, Illinois, arriving September 24, 1943. From there, she passed through the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal and down the Chicago River. At  Joliet, IL, pontoons were attached to the ship so she could be pushed down the Des Plaines River, Illinois River, and Mississippi River as part of a barge train.

USS Rich on the Mississippi River. Image source: http://www.informediate.com/USSRichDE695/Photos/PhotoGallery.htm

USS Rich on the Mississippi River. Image source: http://www.informediate.com/USSRichDE695/Photos/PhotoGallery.htm

The ship was docked at the Todd Johnson Shipyard in Algiers, Louisiana, on the west bank of the Mississippi at New Orleans.  Hubert Comer and the rest of the crew reported aboard, and the USS Rich was commissioned on October 1, 1943, Lieutenant Commander E. A. Michel, Jr., USNR, in command.

Crew of the USS Rich DE695 at commissioning ceremony in New Orleans, LA, October 1,1943. Image source: http://www.informediate.com/USSRichDE695/Photos/PhotoGallery.htm

Crew of the USS Rich DE695 at commissioning ceremony in New Orleans, LA, October 1,1943. Image source: http://www.informediate.com/USSRichDE695/Photos/PhotoGallery.htm

Hubert Felton Comer listed on the muster roll of the USS Rich (DE 695) during WWII.

Hubert Felton Comer listed on the muster roll of the USS Rich (DE 695) during WWII.

Following a shakedown cruise off Bermuda, the USS Rich was primarily engaged in coastal escort and patrol duty with Escort Division 19 (CortDiv 19) until the end of February 1944.   Then assigned to trans-Atlantic escort work, she completed three round-trip crossings by May. On May 10, 1944, Rich departed New York City in escort of a convoy to Britain in what would be her last transit of the North Atlantic.

USS Rich (DE 695)  somewhere in the Atlantic.

USS Rich (DE 695) somewhere in the Atlantic.

On May 23, 1943 the USS Rich arrived at Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and awaited a convoy to escort back to the United States. Instead, Rich was assigned to the Normandy Invasion force, and commenced preparations for “Operation Neptune”, the naval phase of the invasion of Normandy. She arrived at Plymouth, England on June 4, and was assigned as an escort to the battleship Nevada.

Delayed by weather for 24 hours, the “U” force sailed for France on 5 June, with Rich and her sister ship Bates in the screen of the bombardment group of Task Force 125 (TF 125), which consisted of the battleship Nevada and the heavy cruisers Quincy (CA-71), Tuscaloosa, and HMS Black Prince. On “D-Day”, 6 June 1944 and the two days following, she screened naval gunfire support ships off “Utah” Beach as they laid fire for the troops landed on Utah Beach to the northwest of the Carentan Estuary. On 6 June, Rich laid down a smoke screen which foiled an attack by German E-Boat.

On the morning of June, 8, 1944, soon after 08:45, she was ordered by the Commander of Task Group 125.8 (TG 125.8) aboard Tuscaloosa to proceed to Fire Support Area 3 to assist the destroyer Glennon which had struck a mine northwest of the Saint-Marcouf Islands. Rich proceeded at full speed to the area, and then followed in the wake of two minesweepers to the immediate area of the Glennon. Closing on Glennon, Rich dispatched a whaleboat, only to learn that her assistance was not needed at that point. Rich then started to round the disabled ship and take up station ahead of the minesweeper which had taken Glennon in tow. She moved at slow speed, with extra hands on the lookout for enemy planes and mines.

USS Rich with the USS Glennon

USS Rich with the USS Glennon

At approximately 0920, a mine exploded 50 yards off Rich’s starboard beam.

“Although men were shaken and power and lights lost temporarily, no serious damage occurred from the mine blast.  The ship was not so lucky when a second mine was encountered three minutes later.  A deafening explosion thundered from beneath RICH.  Men were thrown from the bridge to the deck.  A 50-foot section of the ship’s stern was torn off and set adrift.  Survivors attempted to cling to debris or swim to safety and the seriously wounded were helpless in the mangled wreckage.  A series of emergency reports reached the bridge – several torpedoes were making hot runs in their tubes; the main deck had sagged, vicinity of No. 2 engine-room; compartments forward of the engineering spaces had suffered only minor damage.  But, there was never time to assess the reports.  Only minutes later, a third mine unleashed its fury on RICH.  She stayed afloat less than thirty minutes before settling into the sea.  RICH and 89 crewmembers were gone.

Lt. Cmdr. Edward A. Michel, Jr. received the Navy Cross for heroism and devotion to duty.  USS RICH DE 695 was the last DesLant ship to go down to Nazi mines off Normandy.”

Roscoe, Theodore, “United States Destroyer Operations In World War II”, 1953, US Naval Institute.

One year after the sinking of the USS Rich, a memorial service was held in Ray City for Hubert Comer:

The Nashville Herald
June 7, 1945  Pg1

Memorial Services for Hubert Comer At Ray City Friday

      Memorial services for Hubert F. Comer, C. M. 2-C,  U.S.N.R., will be held Friday, June 8, at 4 E.W.T. at the New Ramah Primitive Baptist Church, Ray City.
       Seaman Comer served on the Destroyer Rich and participated in the invasion of France last June.  The U.S.S. Rich served as an escort ship and screening vessel in protection of heavier ships.
       During the invasion it stood by to render aid to another destroyer when it struck several mines and went down.   Seaman Comer went down with his ship and was never seen again.  He is survived by his wife, Mrs. Pauline S. Comer of Nashville, and his parents, Mr. and Mrs. A.T. Comer of Ray City, four brothers, Harold Comer of Eglin Field, Fla., James and Jerry Comer, who are overseas, and Murray Comer of Ray City, two sisters, Mrs. Algerine Garner, and Miss Barbara Comer of Ray City, and his grandparents, Elder and Mrs. Joe Hudson, of Bartow, Fla.
       Primitive hymns will be sung. Elder M. S. Peavy and Elder C. H. Vickers will officiate. A marker will be placed in the cemetery.

Memorial marker, New Ramah Cemetery. In Memory of Hubert F. Comer who died at sea, Jul 14 1920 - Jun 8 1944. "Nobly he fell while fighting for liberty."

Memorial marker, New Ramah Cemetery. In Memory of Hubert F. Comer who died at sea, Jul 14 1920 – Jun 8 1944. “Nobly he fell while fighting for liberty.”

Memorial marker for Hubert Felton Comer, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA

Memorial marker for Hubert Felton Comer, Pleasant Cemetery, Berrien County, GA