30 June 2013

Photos from an Historic Trip to Fort Miles

Category: Genealogy,Life,Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 1913

HECP TowerTwo years ago while in Lewes, DE visiting a family friend, we took a ride to Cape Henlopen State Park because there was an event going on at Fort Miles. I knew that my grandfather was stationed somewhere in the Lewes area during World War 2, but didn’t know much more than he was stationed on some sort of signal tower. During a tour of Battery 519, the guide was talking about how there had been a Navy unit stationed at the base and as he explained their function, monitoring and challenging ships coming into into the bay, it became apparent this was what my grandfather did. I commented on this fact when I posted the photos I took that day to my website. (You can view them here.)

Over a year later, I got an e-mail from someone from the Fort Miles Historical Society asking if I had any photos taken during my grandfather’s time there. As it turns out, my grandfather has an album that documents his entire time in the Navy. Some of the photos of the base in my grandfather’s album included some never before seen views. After sharing the photos and talking to several others including a historian, I helped my grandfather record some narrations and answer some questions. Before we knew it we were heading to Fort Miles so he could be interviewed.

A few weeks ago we went down there with my grandfather to meet the guys from Fort Miles, tour the base and discuss his memories of his time there. It was incredibly rewarding to be able to help preserve the history of the base, a history that my grandfather was a part of. It was just as rewarding to be able to walk around with him at a place that he hadn’t been back to for nearly 70 years and likely thought he’d never return to. I’m sure that the 22 year old Navy Signalman 2nd Class (SN2) who stood watch on that tower would never believe he’d someday return with his daughter and grandson, both adults, to be interviewed about his everyday activities of 70 years prior.

You can view the photos here.

14 May 2011

2 New Albums – Fort Miles and Lewes, DE

Category: Life,Photography,Site Updates — Posted by Michael at 2332

I just uploaded two new albums to the Photos section. They may not be as glamorous or stunning as photos of Alaska or Las Vegas, but some of the photos hold a special interest due to a tie to my family. While visiting a friend in Lewes, DE, we took some time to explore downtown Lewes including the waterfront and a historic churchyard cemetery. Those photos can be found in the Lewes album.

We also visitedĀ Fort Miles, a historic Army base at in what is now Cape Henlopen State Park. The fort consists of 15 observation towers (11 in Delaware, 4 in New Jersey), 10 gun batteries and other support structures such as barracks, etc. It was built during World War II to defend the mouth of the Delaware Bay from German ships and u-boats that might want to do harm to the vital ports of Wilmington and Philadelphia.

This facility holds a special interest for me because the people who assesed incoming vessels and decided whether the Army should blow them out of the water were US Navy sailors. One of those sailors on watch in Fire Control Tower #9 was my grandfather. While visiting Cape Henlopen we were lucky enough to be there on a day when the facilities were open for tours. We climbed tower #7 and toured gun battery 519. We also watched as renactors acted out a battle with the Germans that thankfully never really took place at Fort Miles. These photos can be found in the Fort Miles album.

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