S S FITZ JOHN PORTER

      SURVIVORS 1943

 

 

              Compliments of Linda Morehead

 
James and I, at about 6:30 PM, were talking about looking into buying a monument
for his uncle, Louis Andrew Acklen from Minden, that was killed/MIA when his ship,
the SS Fitz John Porter, was torpedoed and went down March 1, 1943.    We have
the letter from the president about his death but have no monument... not that we 
KNOW of, anyway.  His widow would know that but we don't know her or how to find
her.
 
Do you by any chance know Pat ? Acklen Brown from Minden?   She remarried after
he was killed and she married a "Buddy" Brown from Minden.  I figure if ANYONE
knows her, it would b  someone on Minden Memories.   I wonder if the Lloyd Brown that was my classmate
(or a year younger?) was her son?  Would any of you know?   I will attach a picture/s of her
for you to see if you remember her but the pictures are very old... from summer 1942
when the family was telling him goodbye immediately before he left for action.   
 
There is a LONG story about our finding out what happened to him... too long to
write it all tonight, I think.  Using the internet,  I found his best friend from the ship
in a strange way via the internet and we are in constant touch with him now.  We are
each the other's hero and that's the long story.  James met and went to dinner in his
and his wife's home in Olympia, Washington,  last August, I think it was.  I feel almost
as if HE is kin now.  He has also given us many of his papers that mentioned Uncle Louis
and what happened that night in 1943.   I also have a newspaper article about
Mr. Lafontaine that mentions Uncle Louis' death and their being best of friends.

                  

                         Larry LaFontaine, U.S. Navy

                             
This friend of Uncle Louis, Larry Lafontaine, had tried to find Pat and Louis' parents
after Louis died but he couldn't find them.   I THINK he had them listed as being in
Homer and they were in Minden, if I remember correctly.  Not sure.  Anyway, he has
felt guilty ALL THESE YEARS because he feels he was responsible for Uncle Louis'
death.    Why? 
 
It was a very hot night where they were in the Atlantic area.  Uncle Louis got off
watch just a short while before Larry got off watch and Larry suggested Uncle Louis
bring both of their "beds" (not what he calls it but can't remember the terminology)
up and sleep on the top deck where it was much cooler and that he would join him
there when he got off duty.  Shortly after, a torpedo hit directly on top of
Uncle Louis and he was the only casualty.  The others were picked up by a boat that
wasn't a military ship, if I remember correctly.  I have the info... just can't remember
at the moment.  (That's not at all unusual for me, you may have noticed!  lol )  I have
pictures of the crew survivors that Mr. Lafontaine gave us and of him, his medals,
etc. 

                                 

                                          Larry FaFontaine, US Navy, 1943

 
We have been so absolutely delighted with Mr. Lafontaine being so generous with
information shared with us that we have been able to alleviate his feeling of guilt
somewhat, it seems.  He is our hero, though, for another reason.
 
We had heard rumors that Uncle Louis was alive and was seen in the Minden area
after that but chose to leave since Pat was remarried by that time and he didn't
want to cause problems for her.  Therefore, all those years we had wondered if 
Uncle Louis was indeed dead or alive somewhere, unknown to all the family.  Well, 
Mr. Lafontaine cleared that up very well and, for the first time, we no longer had
to wonder and worry about Uncle Louis.    You don't know what a great feeling that
is for us!
 
I just had ANOTHER idea... perhaps some of your readers may know Pat Brown?  How
we would LOVE to contact her and SEE if Uncle Louis has a  memorial somewhere. 
We want to put one on the Acklen family plot in Minden Cemetery, anyway.  He was
the youngest sibling in the family, btw, and the tallest.   James was 4 when he left for
active duty and can't remember him at all.  Very sad.  Bobby was 6 but I can't
remember if he said he remembers him or not.  We almost feel we knew him, though,
through this fellow that was his closest shipmate. 
 
 
 Linda Holt Morehead
 
P.S.  I only have this one tiny picture of Pat... the center picture on the page.
        Uncle Louis is identified in the top right picture; Bobby and James
        in the bottom right one.   I will send more pictures as I find them to add to this story