Cdr Evor S. Kerr, Jr. - Commanding Officer

First CO SEBAGO's first Commanding Officer was Evor Samuel Kerr, Jr., born Novemer , 1910 and died June 23, 1988. He graduated the U.S. Coast Guard Academy with the Class of 1934 as an honor man and retired as a Captain. He is known to have commanded the Cutters Hermes on Bering Sea Patrol from 1939 to 1940, SEBAGO during commissioning, and Cutter Mackinaw (WAGB-83) from 1956 to 58.

Prior to his assignment to SEBAGO he was Commanding Officer of CG Supply Depot, Brooklyn - a challenge that he met with distinction as explained below in a reprint from Coast Guard Magazine.

Between the Hermes and CG Supply Depot he was XO of Coast Guard Training Station Boston. He was the author of several books and articles about seamanship and life at sea, one of them being "The United States Coast Guard, It's Ships, Duties, and Stations," published in 1934.

Among his awards was the Commandants Citation.

The following article is reprinted from Coast Guard Magazine, date unknown. It relates how Cdr. Kerr started with a handfull of staff and built his small command into an integral part of the Coast Guard mission to provide a fighting force around the world. We should note that this article centers upon Commander Kerr, but that many Sebago Sailors were serving under him at the time in New York. I also suspect that many of the achievements noted in the article would not have been possible without the knowledge and expertise of another Sebago Plank Owner, LtJG Joseph Lipshie. Mr. Lipshie came to the Coast Guard from the garment industry and after his service with our Coast Guard he returned and became CEO of Salant and Salant, a national leader in the manufacture of work pants and shirts.

Commander E.S. Kerr and Staff Met Gigantic Procurement Problem and Solved It

Many tales have been written about valorous deeds of our Coast Guardsmen afloat and those the stormed the beaches with the first invasion forces in Europe and the Pacific, but few know the story of the supply problem the Coast Guard faced to keep those men on their posts of duty properly equipped.

Just after the infamous attack on Pearl Harbor, Headquarters assinged Commander (then Lieutenant) Evor S. Kerr, Jr., to the job of supplying clothing for the Maritime Service. At that time the Maritime Service was under the direction of the Coast guard, and the U.S. Maritime Service Purchasing Office was set up at 45 Broadway, New York City, with Commander Kerr as procurement officer. Initially, he had as assistants a Pay Clerk and a Yeoman, the latter borrowed from Coast Guard Recruiting Office in New York. The Commander, an Academy graduate, Class of '34, had had no previous experience in clothing, but it soon developed that the Commandant, and Rear Admiral F. L. gorman, had selected a man well fitted for the task of organizing a vast clothing procurement agency for the Maritime Service and, soon after, the Coast Guard.

In The Millions

The three-man purchasing office procured from scratch millions of dollars worth of clothing and was so successful in their endeavors that from time to time Headquarters directed them to supply clothing needs of the Coast Guard which the Navy was unable to obtain in sufficient quantities to mee the demands of a rapidly expanding service. Finally the Navy signified its intention of discontinuing the supply of uniform items to the Coast Guard, and the Coast Guard Clothing Depot was established in a ten-story building at 61 Hudson St., New York City.

On 1 July, 1942, the Clothing Depot began to procure all clothing items for the Coast Guard that were standard sea bag issue. Commander Kerr was designated Command Officer of the new station, and the Coast Guard personnel originally assigned to the Maritime Service with him were reassigned to the Clothing Depot. Commander Kerr immediately began expanding and organizing the unit and men were brought in rom the ranks who possessed knowledge of the clothing field. Others were recrited from civilian life, and soon a thoroughly rounded group of clothing experts formed a part of the new organization.

These men faced almost insurmountable odds in procuring clothing in such quantities as the Coast Guard required and geeting it to where it was needed most with no loss of time. It was heard to break into new markets at the time, for it was the peak of the Army and Navy purchasing period, and the larger services were hard presed to supply their own forces. It soon became apparent, however, that the Coast Guard clothing Depot had been well organized, for they literally stormed the woolen, cotton, and clothing industry to procure their needs on a "yesterday" delivery basis.

It was at this period that the Coast Guard set up a system of supplying clothing unique in every respect as to Army, Navy, and Marine Corps methods. The Clothing Depot purchased raw materials, had them manufactured into finished clothing items, stocked them, and shiped them direct to clothing lockers in the field. It was this short cut method, unhampered by yards of "red tape," that enable the Coast Guard to supply its expanding forces with their greatest need - Clothing.

Need For Urgency

Clothing contracts for raw and finished materials were placed in the market with virtually no written agreements between contractor and purchaser This was necessary, for the depot was faced with procuring materials so quickly that delivery on them, in many case, was obtained long before the paper work could be accomplished. The clothing market quickly became acquainted with the urgent necessity of supplying the Coast Guard with cloth and clothing thru the Depot personnel, who contracted the industry for these goods. These men were the Coast Guard's No. 1 salemen, who daily argue and cajoled the trade into selling us the materials needed to keep our men and ships and shore stations the best dressed in any service. It was no mean task to get what was needed from New York to our men in every part of the world. During these times the Depot had on "office hours" and it was not unusual for men to work all night in order to make urgent shipments to the field. Many of the personnel had four or five sepeate and distinct jobs to cover and yet they got the work out with no grumbling about the 14 or 15 hours a day spent in the Depot.

Every item of clothing purchased, and every yard of woolen and cotton goods was inspected thoroughly, and this was one phase where the Coast Guard was "tough" with the trade. The Clothing Depot soon became recognized as a competent buying organization that knew what it wanted and would accept nothing short of perfection in what it purchased. A complete and up-to-date textile testing laboratory was set up within the Depot, and tgechnicians already inlisted i the service were brought in to operate. The laoratory was the yardstick of the Clothing Depot in that every fabric and every uniform was tested and approved before purchase. Here also, new fabrics and faster dyes were developed so that our men wore the best clothing that could be procured.

Growing Pains

The ten-story building at 61 Hudson Street was found insufficient to house the materials eing purchased, and other properties in the New York area were annexed to cre for the overflow. The growth of the Depot was rapid and more elaborate systems were soon established in all phases of operation It was found necessary by Headquarters to assign more and more personnel to the Depot to carry on its functions.

In June of 1943 the Coast Guard Clothing Depot at the Coast Guard Store n Brooklyn merged and became known as the Coast Guard Supply Depot. Commander err, by virtue of his continued outstanding work and knowledge of the industry, was designated by Headquarters as Commanding Officer of this unit. At that time the procurement section of the Clothing Depot and its general offices were moved to the site of the Coast Guard Store at 42nd st. and 2nd Ave., Brooklyn, New York. From here all equippage items for ships and shore stations and clothing for the service were purchased and stocked.

Jersey City Annex

In Decemer of the same year Headquaters directed that all supplies for Coast Guard use be merged into one unit. At this time what is now Jersey City Annex of the Supply Depot was purchased. The buildin coered a square block in area and consisted of eight floors. Various supply sections then in operation at the Coast Guard Yard, Curtis Bay, Md., were moved to the Jersey City building. These sections consisted of ordnance, electronics, radio and other supplies. For the most part personnel from the Yard moved to Jersey City with their gear, and the Supply Depot of the Coast Guard now numbered some 750 officers, enlisted men, SPARS and Civlians. This represented rapid progress in the Coast Guard supply system since the initial establishment of the Clothing Depot, staffed by only a few men. Lt. Comdr. H.M. Harger was named executive officer of the Supply Depot.

During the expansion period of the Depot many oficers and enlisted personnel were detached to sea and foreign duty, and in return seasoned "salts" were transferred to the station. To those directly responsible for the growth of supply of clothing and other gear in the field, it was gratifying to hear, from thsoe retrning from sea, of the fine jobe done in getting items to them, and on time. Many men orginally attached to the old Clothing Deot, Store and Yard eventually returned to the Supply Depot wearing service ribbons for every theatre of operations.

Kerr Bids Farewell

When Cdr Kerr was reassigned to Cutter SEBAGO the personnel held a farewell dinner to honor him at the Grand Ballroom of the Hotel Astor on March 24, 1945. His farewell message to the staff spoke well of those that he led -

"You, of the Supply Depot, form a composite picture of true Americanism. You are plain, tough, loyal and practical; star performers on the job and hell-raisers off it! You are excellent saleswomen and showmen, with a retinue of stunts and jokes that make headlines. Your performance is a lesson of honesty, perseverance and true patriotism. You have worked far beyond the normal duty hours, and, by exercising sound business principles and good judgment, you have executed missions of great value to our combatant forces."

Your devotion to tudy is a precious trophy, of which I shall always be proud.

-- Commander E.S. Kerr, Jr.

Captain Kerr is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, Plot: Section 66 Site 1778.

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