In Memory of
Navy Chief Radioman
Gerald Edgar Bekke
Castlewood, South Dakota
May 25, 1922 -- October 7, 1944
Killed in Action in the Philippine Sea aboard the submarine Seawolf
Gerald Edgar Bekke was born in Hayti, SD on May 25,
1922. His parents, Henry and Othilda Bekke gave birth to him and his two
sisters named Eva and Harriet. As a child living on a farm, Gerald enjoyed
hunting, trapping, and living the farm boy life. He graduated from Castlewood
High School in Castlewood, SD in 1939. He went immediately into the Navy in
1940, just after high school. Gerald married Loretta Rowe on February 29, 1944
in Texas. They bore no children and Loretta died many years later from an
Mr. Bekke trained in San Diego, CA and spent four years
in the Pacific. He was stationed at the Philippine Islands and had become the
chief radioman six months before the USS Seawolf sunk. An additional
engagement Gerald participated in was Pearl Harbor. The submarine, The
Seawolf, in which the sailor served, was in the Philippine Sea, where both
friendly and enemy ships operated. The last communication with the ship was on
October 3, 1944, just 11 months before Japan signed the official statement of
surrender, ending WW II. There were no official or unconfirmed reports that
anyone on the Seawolf survived.
Secretary of Navy Forrestal wrote the following to
Bekke’s parents, Henry and Othilda, to show remorse for the loss of their son.
son, Gerald Edgar Bekke, chief radioman, United States Navy, has been carried
on the official records of the Navy Department in the status of missing in
action as of 6 October 1944. He was aboard the USS Seawolf when that vessel
was reported overdue from patrol and presumed to be lost.
The Seawolf was one of four
submarines engaged in special missions consisting of landing supplies and
personnel, as well as evacuating personnel. On 21 September 1944 she
departed from Zrisbane, Australia, on a special mission in the vicinity of
the Philippine Islands. The last communication with the vessel was on 3
October 1944 when she was in an area where both enemy and friendly ships
After holding the status of Missing in Action, Bekke’s
family received official notice of his death on October 7, 1945. The family
held a memorial service at Grace Lutheran Church in Watertown, SD, and a
memorial maker was placed at the Black Hills National Cemetery in Sturgis, SD.
He received both the Purple Heart and the Gold Star for his duty to the United
Gerald had two sisters named Eva and Harriet. Eva married
Howard Ching and they currently live in Watertown, SD. Harriet married A.W.
Ching, cousin to Howard, and they currently live in Bellingham, WA.
This information was respectfully submitted by Jennifer
Chase, seventh grade, Mickelson Middle School, Brookings, SD, May 2002.
Information for this entry was provided by Eva Ching, Watertown, SD, sister of