John C. Krogmann
John C. Krogmann
  • March 27, 1922 - May 16, 2017
  • Mclean, Virginia

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"JACK" (Age 95)
On Tuesday May 16th, 2017 beloved husband, father, grandfather, great grandfather, brother and uncle went to meet the Lord after enjoying an eventful life.
John was born in Washington, D.C. to Carl Anthony Krogmann and Josephine Clare Krogmann on March 27, 1922. He was one of five children that his parents were blessed to receive. He grew up in the Brookland area of the city on Kearney St. He was a 1940 graduate of McKinley Tech. Jack remembered leaving a Redskins game on December 7, 1941 and learning that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. His first thought, which was "where is Pearl Harbor?" was followed closely by an overwhelming desire to join the military to defend his Country.
Like many of his peers, he desired to become a US Marine and "fight" for his Country. However, one problem immediately presented. Krogmann was underage and required parental consent to enlist. He approached his father, who like a good husband, announced, " Go ask your Mother". Much to his chagrin, his loving mother's immediate and final response was "Jack, absolutely NOT!"
It turns out that his mother's unwelcomed decision likely saved his life as Krogmann later learned that all of the young men in his DC neighborhood of Brookland who joined the Marines (including his cousin, Buddy Fennell) passed away in the line of duty during World War II.
Soon after his mother's prohibition was announced, Krogmann found himself reading through the Washington Post when he came across the Parade section's spread on the Merchant Marine Academy in King's Point, New York.
With his mother's blessing, Krogmann sought an appointment with the Academy and shortly thereafter received a letter of acceptance in February of 1942.
He reported aboard in late March/ early April of 1942 and after two months of indoctrination, was off to sea.
Krogmann was initially ordered to report to SS Excello, an American Export Lines ship. Thereafter he sailed to Egypt, fully loaded, and escorted only about fifty miles from the port of Norfolk, VA by the US Navy. Thereafter, they continued alone to Trinidad, Cape Town, and ended the voyage in Port Said in Egypt to discharge.
The intended journey was to travel back to Cape Town and then on to the U.S. But, that did not happen.
On Friday, November 13, 1942, while traveling through the straits of Madagascar, a German U-boat torpedoed his ship. The sub surfaced, offered assistance to find any crew that was in the water, and gave them directions to locate land.
About 100 miles and 36 hours later, the three remaining lifeboats that had not been destroyed in the blast found land-- the town of St. John.
After a week of R and R, the crew joined a Filipino ship, the SS Dona Aurora, a Pearl Harbor survivor ship and went to Laurenco Marques and loaded Manganese ore. Thereafter, Krogmann set sail for Cape Town with the intended final destination being Baltimore.
However, on Christmas morning, 1942 at 0700, a torpedo struck this boat. This time it was from an Italian submarine.
At that time, the Italians took two prisoners. The first was the man seated next to Krogmann in the lifeboat. This man, a survivor of a previous torpedo sinking, had endured a long hospital stay as a result of that blast. Krogmann recalls that the Italians intended to take the Captain of the SS Dona Aurora, but when the captain stepped aboard, they doubted his identity and instead took the man next to Krogmann.
The other prisoner they chose was an Italian "mess boy".
Looking back on his time on the SS Dona Aurora, Krogmann felt "doubly lucky". First, he had once again avoided injury. This time due to his roommate being on deck at the time of the impending blast. His roommate located a sleeping Krogmann and pulled him from harm's way. And also, he was thankful that he had avoided becoming a prisoner of war, unlike the man seated directly next to him.
The sub submerged. Thereafter, Krogmann, again in a lifeboat, headed about 100 miles toward Brazil. While sailing through shark-infested waters, Krogmann's lifeboat was repeatedly circled by a large shark. The shark approached so closely that one of the crew members aboard Krogmann's lifeboat pulled a Bolo knife and slit the belly of the shark. Krogmann thereafter observed the shark's " buddies" viciously attacking that shark.
After 2 ½ days on the lifeboat, Krogmann's crew was spotted by a US Navy PBY plane. A British ship, the SS Testbank was in the vicinity to retrieve any survivors and was thereafter dispatched to pick up Krogmann and the other sailors.
The Testbank then took them to Trinidad, where Krogmann took a plane through Miami and on home to Washington D.C.
After ten days of leave, Krogmann returned to school and resumed his studies for the 3rd Mates Exam. Around November 1943, Krogmann received his 3rd Mates Certificate and was selected for an Ensign Commission in the US Navy Reserves.
Thereafter, Krogmann served in numerous convoys, without incident, on various ships in the European Theater.
After VJ Day, he came ashore and found civilian employment in the US Navy Hydrographic Office in Washington D.C. He remained in this position until he went on active duty in the US Navy during the Korean War. Jack was onboard the USS Boxer (CN-21) during the Korean conflict when it caught fire. After retiring from active duty, Jack remained in the US Navy Reserve where he retired as a Captain in the 1970s.
He married the late Shirley Poston in 1948 and they had three children. He also worked for the Department of Defense until retirement in approximately 1980. In 1968 he married Margaret Gibson and they had a long and wonderful marriage of almost 50 years. After his retirement back around 1980,