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"It was a horrible sight." (Video interview, 26:58)

   John V. Boylan
Collection image
John Boylan at time of interview
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 357th Harbor Craft Company
Service Location: Normandy, Omaha Beach, Southern France; Fort Dix, New Jersey; Norfolk, Virginia; San Francisco, California
Rank: Warrant Officer 1
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Like many of his high school classmates, John Boylan entered the Army just as soon as he turned 18, in 1942. Poor eyesight initially limited him to kitchen patrol, but his diligence led to a commission as a warrant officer, and he was sent overseas to serve as a tugboat captain with the 357th Harbor Craft Company. Patrolling the harbor outside of Cherbourg, France, he witnessed the sinking of the SS Leopoldville--a troop ship carrying replacements for the Battle of the Bulge--after it was torpedoed by the Germans on December 24, 1944. Boylan’s tugboat helped with the rescue attempt, pulling soldiers out of the frigid water. Despite their valiant efforts, over 700 soldiers died in the Christmas Eve tragedy.

Interview (Video)
»Interview Highlights  (3 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: video (55 min.)
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 Video (Interview Excerpts) (3 items)
Taking the warrant officer exam; prank played on him after he received his commission. (03:52) Seeing Leopoldville explode; what we witnessed; rescue efforts. (04:10) Humorous encounter with Mickey Rooney. (00:33)
  
 

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  The Library of Congress  >> American Folklife Center
  October 26, 2011
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