by nathan oster
Glendon LaMar Scott was a torpedoman aboard the submarine USS Grayling when, while patrolling the entrance to the Manila Bay in September of 1943, it was lost at sea and never seen nor heard from again.
All 76 men aboard perished, including “Mar,” who was born March 27, 1923 in Kane, Wyo., the son of Herschel and Maye Scott.
Mike Scott, of Basin, knows the story well. Herschel and Maye were his grandparents, “Mar” was his uncle, and a Navy man and veteran himself, Mike has remained active in causes like the Patriot Guard Riders and the American Legion.
In the course of those duties, a thought occurred to him. “I’d been seeing the memorials done for other people who have been killed long ago and got to thinking about ‘Mar.’ I’ve looked for a marker for him for years, in and around Lovell, Kane, Greybull and elsewhere, and haven’t been able to find anything. There just isn’t one.”
So about a year ago, he set out to change that and to recognize his uncle for his service to his country, which posthumously awarded him a Purple Heart. With help from Clayton Dragoo of Atwood Family Funeral Home, he was able to obtain an official marker from the U.S. government, which he proceeded to place at the Donald J. Ruhl Memorial Cemetery.
A dedication ceremony for that marker will be held Saturday, Sept. 23 at 11 a.m. The public is invited to attend as a way of honoring “Mar” and the price he paid for his country.
A long road
Mike Scott said it was no small feat getting the marker from the government.
For Mar’s marker to say that he was a Purple Heart recipient, Mike had to prove it. A photo, showing his uncle’s name engraved on the back of it, wasn’t sufficient, so Mike was directed to the government facility in Kansas City where all service records are kept.
Mike wrote a letter, asking for his uncle’s records. But as luck would have it, a huge fire that ripped through the building in the 1970s destroyed some of those records. Others were damaged, either by the fire itself or from efforts by firefighters to suppress it.
Mike’s hopes started to fade.
But then a letter arrived, “a nice one” containing the authentication he was seeking and photocopies of what was left of his uncle’s service records. Some parts of those documents were, in fact, damaged in the fire, but enough remained to confirm his uncle’s name, date of death and Purple Heart designation.
With that hurdle cleared, Mike proceeded to ship the information off to the people who were going to create and ship the marker. More time passed. Eventually, in April of this year, the marker arrived. But to Mike’s disappointment, it had been damaged in shipping.
He sent it back. Again, a marker was made and shipped. And again, it arrived damaged and had to be sent back. Dragoo, aware of all the trouble Mike was having, placed a couple calls on his own, urged them to use a crate for the shipping. They did, and the third time proved to be the charm because it arrived fully intact and ready for installation.
Mike proceeded to have the marker installed in the VFW section of the cemetery.
He’s put out a Patriot Guard notice about the dedication ceremony, which will be coordinated by members of Basin’s American Legion post.
There aren’t many families in Big Horn County that can match the Scotts’ service to their country. Eight of them have served in wartime. Mar’s brothers, Damon and Joe, also served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. Damon — Mike’s father — served on destroyers, while Joe was “in the islands, being bombed continuously.”
Mike and his brothers Pat and Dick served in the Vietnam War, and the family tradition has continued in more recent years with Mike’s daughter Mindy and son Hal, and his nephew Ted, son of Jim Scott and Nancy Scott. Now a captain in the Army and doing very well, Mike joked that Ted is “the black sheep” in a family of Navy veterans.
But on Saturday, the focus will be on Mar.
“It’s not only to honor him, but all members of the Grayling as well as those who have lost their lives in service to their country.”
Through his research, Mike said he learned that the Grayling was home ported in Fremantle (Perth) Australia and that while in port, he met and became engaged to an Australian lady named Doris. Mike wrote the following:
“In his last letter to his father, he said he was looking forward to coming home and hunting birds. The letter was dated July 20, 1943. The Grayling departed Fremantal on their eighth war patrol on July 30, 1943, with a new commanding officer. They were to deliver supplies at different locations to guerrillas on Luzon in the Philippine Islands, which they did. They were further ordered to patrol the entrance to Manila Bay from Sept. 2 to Sept. 10, 1943. On Sept. 9, a Japanese ship was engaged in action with a submarine, ramming it just beneath the surface, possibly the Grayling.
“She was never seen nor heard from again. Seventy-six men were aboard the Grayling, earning her sixth battle star and Purple Hearts. The Grayling’s total record was 16 ships sunk and six damaged.”