Coast Guard Heroes: William C. Hart

The Coast Guard Compass was proud to unveil the first 25 heroes the service’s new fast response cutters would be named for and we are even prouder to share the next 10 names with you in a continuation of our Coast Guard Heroes series. Over the next two weeks we’ll be sharing profiles of the namesakes of the Coast Guard’s fast response cutters, from legends of the U.S. Life Saving Service to courageous men who served during the Vietnam War. Today, we share with you the story of William C. Hart.


Rescued crew from the tug Thomas Tracy

Rescued crew from the tug Thomas Tracy


Written by Christopher Havern

William Charles Hart was born in Philadelphia, May 22, 1898. He graduated from St. Martin’s College and later enlisted in the U.S. Coast Guard Sept. 3, 1924. He was first advanced to temporarily boatswains mate March 6, 1925.

In November 1926, CG-213, with Hart in charge, stood out toward Absecon Bar to assist the stranded tug Thomas Tracy. Owing to the prevailing heavy seas, accompanied by a 70-mile gale, it was found necessary for the crew to abandon ship. To accomplish this, Hart skillfully maneuvered his boat near the tug and took off the crew. While this was in progress, one member of the crew of the tug fell overboard and was in imminent danger of drowning. Hart jumped overboard and affected the rescue at great personal risk, as the two vessels were not more than 8 feet apart in the raging seas. For his heroic and selfless action, Hart was awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal May 24, 1927.

William C. Hart as a Lieutenant (junior grade)

William C. Hart as a Lieutenant (junior grade)

Hart was also commended for actions in response to a floating gasoline fire in Arundel Cove while on board CG-210 Aug. 26, 1927. He was assigned to the Special Patrol Force-West off Florida from January to May 1928 and Special Patrol Squadron “Y” from July 1929 to November 1929. From 1933 to 1939 he served as a warrant officer in St. Louis with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. In September 1939 he reported on board Cutter Aurora in San Pedro, California.

Hart was advanced to Chief boatswains mate Dec. 23, 1940. Later, with the U.S. entry into World War II, Hart was commissioned a Lieutenant Junior Grade, Jan. 12, 1942. In October 1942 Hart was temporarily serving as the commanding officer of Cutter Catoctin at its commissioning. He was subsequently made the cutters executive officer. After commended service in World War II in both the Atlantic and Pacific theaters of operations, Hart remained in the U.S. Coast Guard until he retired Aug. 1, 1950.

William C. Hart passed away Feb. 12, 1963.


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