Hamilton County

Robert Harold Hagan



Robert Hagan, W. C. Sailor, Presumed to Have Drowned

Robert Hagan, Webster City sailor who was reported missing during a hurricane off the east coast early this fall, presumably lost his life by drowning, his commander, S. F. Quarles, has written the sailor’s mother, Mrs. Nettie Hagan.

Hagan served aboard the destroyer Warrington commanded by Commander Quarles who letter in part follows:

“I will attempt to give you as complete a description of the disaster as is possible in this letter. The Warrington, while carrying out a mission at sea, was caught by a most violent hurricane. Some entirely unpredictable engine trouble developed during the storm which seriously affected her ability to weather the storm. Radio messages for assistance were immediately sent out. The situation went from bad to worse before assistance arrived and the Warrington went down.

“At this time, the storm was raging with such fury as to make survival appear almost impossible on anything but a ship. Nevertheless, most all officers and men obeyed the order to abandon ship and all with the greatest display of courage that anyone could hope for. After taking to the life rafts and floater nets, survival then became a personal battle between each individual and the wind and sea. In a great many instances the stronger and otherwise more fortunate gave assistance to others. In spite of this many drowned or died from the accidental swallowing of salt water, exposure and exhaustion before rescued. Those of us who lasted until rescued consider ourselves more fortunate than wise or strong and grieve for those who were less fortunate.

“After abandoning ship, your son managed to get to a life raft. Extreme weather conditions prevailed at the time. With the raft bouncing about like a cork it was exhausting beyond words. In addition one could breathe without swallowing some salt water only with the greatest difficulty. In spite of all the elements against him, Robert’s courage and will to survive remained with him throughout, though his strength waned after a few hours of struggling. He was seen to disappear from the raft by his shipmates. The circumstances lead me to presume he lost his life by drowning or exhaustion and the effects of the salt water. A thorough search was made of the area by rescue ships and planes but with no success.

“Robert had been on board ship a long time and impressed all who knew him as willing and able. His loss to the navy and his country will be as sorely felt as it is personally to you and me.”

Source: Webster City Freeman, Webster City, IA - Dec. 18, 1944

Robert Harold Hagan, Machinist's Mate, Third Class U.S. Navy - MIA/DNB

Robert Harold Hagan was born Mar. 21, 1923 to Herschel J. and Nettie C. Fish Hagan. He died Sept. 13, 1944 aboard the USS Warrington (DD-383) and is memorialized at the East Coast Memorial, New York, NY, USA. He also has a cenotaph at Graceland Cemetery, Webster City, IA.

Robert had served two years in the Pacific area and had been in the Atlantic theatre only a short time. He was first reported missing in action. The official letter from the commander of the Warrington said he presumably lost his life by drowning during a hurricane off the east coast.

Daily Freeman Journal, Webster City, IA