Baist, George H. 1944
Mr. Baist was an Engine Cadet on the liberty ship SS Lyman Abbott which was chartered by du Pont Co. It was in Bari Italy when the German planes bombed Bari. The force of the explosion of a nearby ship nearly capsized the Lyman Abbott, and a hail of wreckage damaged her lifeboats, tore great holes in her deck, and started fires. Fire hose lay uselessly severed, and fire extinguishers had been blasted to the deck where they spent their charges yet the attempted to beat out the fire. When another ship, torn from her moorings and ablaze from stem to stern, bore down upon the Lyman Abbott the crew was forced to abandon ship. By this time the harbor waters were ablaze with burning oil, but the Captain got his men through the flames in boats so damaged they were only kept from sinking by the buoyancy of their air tanks. But the Lyman Abbott cargo was vitally needed in support of the invasion and she had to be moved from the burning harbor before she exploded. Volunteers from her crew, under the personal leadership of Captain Dahlstrom, all in some degree wounded or burned, immediately responded–took the crippled and still burning ship out of port–and later returned her to discharge her critical combat material. Baist received a shrapnel wound and was exposed to mustard gas. He ended up in the British hospital for 5 days. Captain Dahlstrom’s courageous leadership, in keeping with the finest traditions of the United States Merchant Marine, was the inspiration for a valorous crew which would not yield to defeat. The Captain was awarded the Merchant Marine Distinguished Service Medal, for heroism in the line of duty. Baist also recalled when the SS Lyman Abbott was in England that German rockets were going overhead.
Mr. Baist also sailed as 3rd Asst. Engineer on the liberty ship SS Frederick Bouchard and 3rd Asst. Engineer on the Great Meadows. After the war he went back to school and was recalled during the Korean War where he was the Chief Engineer on a destroyer.