Presented by the Laurens County Historical Society, Dublin, Georgia. For questions and information, please contact Scott B. Thompson, Sr. at dublinhistory@yahoo.com.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

HONORING PATRIOTS IN A CITY OF PATRIOTS




Today is September 11, 2012.  Not a soul alive eleven years ago will ever forget the horror of the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Nor, will they ever forget the waves of patriotism from patriotic Americans which swept across the country. 

For centuries, Laurens County and Dublin have had more than their normal share of patriots.  On this Patriot's Day, let us go back in time to recognize some of our nation's patriots, for whom some of our city streets  are named. 

We all know that Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe and Jackson streets were named for our early southern presidents.  And,  Franklin, Lawrence (Laurens) and Marion Streets were named  for one Yankee and two South Carolina patriots of the American Revolution.

Truxton, Bainbridge, Rodgers and Decatur are not really household names.  These Dublin streets were named for naval heroes of the early 19th century.  Commodore Thomas Truxton brought the American navy on a par with the French and the British navies during the naval battles with the French in the Caribbean around the turn of the 19th century.  Truxton, commanding the "Constellation," captured the French frigates "Insurgente" and "La Vengance" and won the hearts of the American people.  William Bainbridge was a one time commander of the frigate "Constitution."  Bainbridge gained fame for his bravery and gallantry in the war with Tripoli.  Commodore John Rodgers served as executive officer of the "Constellation" under Truxton.  He captained a ship in the War of 1812.   Stephen Decatur, a commodore in the navy, was a hero of the War of 1812 and became even more famous after his death in a duel with a fellow officer.  Schley St., which runs into West Moore St., was named for Admiral Winfield Scott Schley, hero of the Spanish-American War.  Dewey St., was named in honor of Adm. George Dewey, another hero of Spanish-American War.

In September 1943, engineers began laying out the streets on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Hospital.  The streets were named for medical department personnel killed in action during World War II.   

Gendreau Circle was named for Capt. Elphege A.M. Gendreau of San Francisco, who was killed in combat in the South Pacific. Gendreau was an officer of the United States Navy during both World Wars. A native of Canada, he was commissioned an Assistant Surgeon, Medical Reserve Corps, with the rank of Lieutenant JG .

Captain Gendreau served as the chief surgeon on the staff of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet. In the summer of 1943, he was on temporary duty in the South Pacific inspecting medical facilities to improve treatment and care of battle casualties. Captain Gendreau voluntarily boarded the  LST-343 to assist in the evacuation of the sick and wounded from Rendova. The doctor was killed in a dive-bomb  attack on the LST on July 21, 1943.  Gendreau's dedicated service prompted Admiral Nimitz to recommend that a destroyer be named for him.

Blackwood Drive was named in memory of James D. Blackwood, of Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania and senior medical officer of the U.S.S. Vincennes.  Blackwood, of  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, enrolled in the Naval Coast Defense Reserve as an Assistant Surgeon in 1917.  Dr. Blackwood  served aboard transport ships in the Atlantic during World War I.  When the U.S.S. President Lincoln was attacked, Blackwood's heroic actions earned him a Navy Cross. 

Blackwood was appointed Medical Inspector with the rank of Commander in 1938 and reported to the Vincennes, on which he served  during the early months of World War II. During the Battle of Savo Island on August 9, 1942 in the Solomon Islands campaign, an American naval force was struck in a surprise night attack.  Blackwood was killed when the Vincennes sunk into the Pacific Ocean. 

Johnson Drive and Alexander Drive were named in memory of Cmdr. Samuel E. Johnson, of Clinton, Alabama, and Lt. Cmdr. Hugh R. Alexander, of Belleville, Pennsylvania. Alexander was killed aboard  the U.S.S. Oklahoma at Pearl Harbor. 

Lt. Cmdr. Edward Crowley, of San Francisco, had Crowley Avenue named in his memory after he was killed in the Solomon Islands.  

Neff Place was named in honor of Lt. Cmdr. James Neff, Senior Medical Officer of the cruiser U.S.S. Juneau.

Trojakowski Avenue was named in honor of Commander W.C. Trojakowski, of Schenectady, N.Y..   Trojakowski, a senior dental officer,  was killed in the blast from a bomb while carrying on his duties in a splendid manner on the main deck.  

Morrow Place was posthumously named for Lt. Junior Grade Edna O. Morrow, of Pasadena, Calf..    Nurse Morrow, diagnosed with terminal cancer,  was flying home from Pearl Harbor aboard Pan Am Flight 1104 in January 1943.  She was coming home to die when her plane crashed, killing all aboard. 

The last street, Evans Avenue, was named in honor of Lt. Cmdr. Edward E. Evans, of San Francisco, who was killed in the Solomon Islands in December of 1942. 

When Rod Peacock laid out Linda Vista Subdivision in the early 1970s, he wanted to salute many of the leaders of the United States Military who served in the Southeast Asian Theater of Operations during World War II.  

Merrill Street is named after General Frank Merrill, the leader of Merrill's Marauders.  Merrill's men defied all odds and triumphed over one adversity after another by tenaciously moving through the jungles of Southeast Asia.  Scott Drive is named for General Robert L. Scott of Macon.  Scott was a leading pilot of the famed "Flying Tigers." 

            Major-General Orde Charles Wingate was a British Army officer and creator of special military units in Palestine in the 1930s and in World War II. He is most famous for his creation of the Chindits, an airborne unit assigned to work behind Japanese lines in World War II.

        Lieutenant General Claire Lee Chennault was an American military aviator. A aggressive officer, Chennault  was a fierce advocate of fighters, when high altitude bombers were the predominant aircraft of the day.   Chennault retired in 1937 and went to work as an aviation trainer and adviser in China,.  The general  commanded the "Flying Tigers" during World War II, one of the Air Force's most acclaimed units. 

So when you drive  along these streets, don't just think of them as a way to get where you are going.  Think of those American Patriots who made so many unselfish and ultimate  sacrifices for all of us in America.   

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