From Mutt to Maritime Hero

It could be said that Sinbad was like any other ordinary American. Sinbad was a mutt, a mongrel or whatever other inauspicious “m” word you can think of. We Americans are, after all, the progeny of the melting pot of cultures and races that find their way to our land.

In 1938, Sinbad was found as a stray by Chief Boatswain’s Mate A. A. “Blackie” Rother of the United States Coast Guard Cutter Campbell. Blackie fell in love with Sinbad and intended on giving the puppy to his girlfriend as a present. Unfortunately, she was not able to keep him because her apartment building would not allow pets. Sinbad couldn’t exactly be just some stray dog aboard a ship. Fortunately for Sinbad, the Cutter’s Captain, James Hirschfield, allowed Sinbad to be sworn into the United States Coast Guard as a regular crew member. Sinbad found his home and life’s mission along side his beloved crew of the Campbell.

Sinbad was a regular member of the Campbell’s crew.

He had all of the necessary
paperwork and official forms to prove it.

This picture shows Sinbad being “paw printed” for his
official service record.

Sinbad Getting Paw Printed
Sinbad Resting in His Official Bunk

Sinbad was assigned his own official bunk, he had his own Red Cross identification numbers, and service record. Sinbad was promoted and demoted several times and wore his service ribbons on his collar. Sinbad wasn’t just some ship mascot – he was a true sailor and war hero. Though Sinbad’s assigned duty was mostly below deck, his acute hearing helped to alert the crew of incoming enemy aircraft during World War II.

Sinbad’s most notable service occurred during a battle on February 21, 1943 when the Campbell took on the German submarine U-606. The Campbell prevailed and sank the U-606 but the cutter sustained considerable damage in the process.

The majority of the Campbell’s crew was evacuated except those considered “essential” personnel left behind to keep the cutter afloat while it was being towed to safety and repairs. Among those left behind was Sinbad. Captain Hirschfield believed that nothing truly bad would ever happen to the Campbell so long as Sinbad was on board.

On September 21, 1948, after 11 years of sea duty, Sinbad retires.

Sinbad Retires
Sinbad disembarks the  Campbell for the last time.

Sinbad disembarks

the Campbell

for the last time.

Sinbad retired as K9C (Chief Petty Officer, Dog). He spent his years in retirement like any other self-respecting salty sailor recounting war stories with his buddies in his favorite neighborhood bar. Sinbad frequented, Kubel’s, where he paid his own tab every month from his retirement earnings.

Sinbad’s courage and exploits live on. You can read about him in the book Sinbad of the Coast Guard, written by Chief Specialist George R. Foley, USCGR. At the time of the book’s publication, Sinbad was the only Coast Guardsman to have a published biography.

Today, a statue of Sinbad can be found on the mess deck of United States Cost Guard Medium Endurance Cutter USCGC Campbell (WMEC-909), the successor to the previous Campbell. There his likeness continues to protect the ship and crew from harm and Sinbad’s spirit is out-to-sea once more.

Sinbad at Kubel's the Neighborhood Bar

Sinbad is assigned
to the Barnegat
Coast Guard Station,
Barnegat Light, New Jersey.

Sinbad is looked after
by the Light Keeper and his family.

Sinbad is Assigned to Barnegat Light

On December 30, 1951 the Barnegat Light Keeper found Sinbad laying peacefully on the beach at the spot on the shore that he always liked to sit and look out to sea. Sinbad had passed.

Sinbad was buried by the United States Coast Guard with the honors he earned.

Today Sinbad is laid to rest at the base of the flagpole of the now-decommissioned light station at Barnegat, New Jersey.

Rest in peace, dear Sinbad, and thank you for the service to your country.

All of the black and white photographs in this article are
courtesy of the United States Coast Guard
as the USCG has placed that photographs in the Public Domain.

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