Owner of ‘Mosquito Fleet Exhibit’ has PT boat purchased with local war bonds
Published 9:30 am Friday, June 2, 2023
BY ROZELLA HARDIN
David Batchelder, Carter County Veterans Service Officer, recently received a call from a gentleman who shared with him he had in his possession a WWII PT boat purchased by Carter Countians through war bonds.
The man was Frank J. Andruss, Sr., who owns and operates “The Mosquito Fleet Exhibit” dedicated to those that served on World War II PT boats, tends, and bases. It is a traveling exhibit that has been to several areas to help educate those that know little about these small boats. Andruss in an e-mail to Batchelder said he had been interested in the PT boats since he was 10 years old. He is now 66 years old and has written three books and is working on the fourth.
Andruss sent Batchelder a photo of the War Bond Plaque placed on the PT boat purchased by Carter Countians. The photo shows Lt. Joe Atkinson, Skipper of the board, putting up the war bond plaque in the dayroom of the PT boat. It is believed the lady helping him is Mrs. J. Frank Seiler of Elizabethton.
The boat, purchased by Carter County war bonds, was a PT-586 that served with Squadron 39 in the Philippines just before the war ended. The boat was made by Elco Naval Division in Bayonne, N.J., and completed around March 30, 1945.
A news clipping from the Elizabethton STAR dated April 21, 1945, reported Mrs. Alex Shell sharing with the John Carter DAR Chapter her witnessing the launching of the PT boat named for loyal Carter Countians when the plaque was placed recording the boat as a gift from bond buyers of Carter County to the U.S. Navy.
Mrs. Shell was among a group of citizens from Carter County who attended the plaque installation. The group was headed by J. Frank Seiler of the Carter County War Finance Committee, and included Mrs. Seiler, Mr. and Mrs. Alex L. Shell, Mrs. E.L. Caudill, and Judge Ben Allen.
Another STAR report noted in September 1943, the county quota for a third war bond drive was set at $401,800.
Another article in April 1945, noted the local war bond quota – the seventh – was set at $440,000, thus Carter Countians were big supporters of the war bond effort.
Bonds were bought by over 84 million Americans. There was a nationwide effort to advertise the bonds, ranging from sports events to radio show promotions. The purchase of the bonds was largely linked to patriotism and to people’s feeling of “doing their part” in the war.
Overall, there were eight bond drives with the last one known as the Victory Loan Campaign. Beginning in 1942 Americans could buy bonds on an installment plan through payroll deductions at the workplace.
The PT boats were used to motivate morale on the home front with a Victory Loan Bond Drive.