Marion Michael Chrobak
Born: September 8, 1921
Hometown: Linden, NJ
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Engine Cadet
Date / Place of death: January 9,1943 /
North Atlantic, 56-15′ N, 22-00′ W
Date / Place of burial: January 9,1943 /
North Atlantic, 56-15′ N, 22-00 W’ / Lost at sea
Marion M. Chrobak signed on as Engine Cadet aboard the SS Louise Lykes on December 29, 1942 at the port of New York. He joined four other Kings Point Cadet- Midshipmen, Charles Gassner (Deck), Allen Miller (Deck), Robert Vancure (Engine) and Eugene Walters (Deck) who had made the ship’s previous voyage to the Mediterranean. In addition, the ship’s Third Assistant Engineer, Frederick Baumann and Third Mate, Harry Wolfe, were former U.S. Maritime Commission Cadet Officers.
The SS Louise Lykes sailed without escort from New York on January 2, 1943 carrying a cargo of ammunition and other war supplies bound for Belfast, Northern Ireland. The ship was hit by four torpedoes fired from the surfaced U-384 at 2025 on the evening of January 9, 1943. According to German Navy records, the Louise Lykes’ cargo exploded with what was described as “a terrible blast” forcing U-384 to dive to avoid being struck by pieces of the wreckage. There were no survivors among the 50 merchant crew, 34 Naval Armed Guard, and 10 U.S. Army personnel aboard, including the five Cadet-Midshipmen and two Cadet Officers. This was the single deadliest sinking in the Academy’s history.
Cadet-Midshipman Marion M. Chrobak was posthumously awarded the Mariner’s Medal, Combat Bar, Atlantic War Zone Bar, Victory Medal and Presidential Testimonial Letter.
Marion M. Chrobak was the eldest son of Stanislaw and Frances Chrobak, Polish immigrants. According to the 1930 U.S. Census, Stanislaw Chrobak was employed as a pipefitter at a factory in New Jersey while Frances worked as a Housekeeper for another family. Marion had an older sister Sophie and a younger brother Chester.
Photo of SS Louis Lykes