Howard Payne Conway, Jr.
Born: January 9, 1919
Hometown: Charlotte, NC
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Engine Cadet
Date / Place of death: March 19, 1942 / U.S. East Coast,
35-05′ N, 75-30’W
Date / Place of burial: March 19, 1942 / U.S. East Coast,
35-05′ N, 75-30′ W / Lost at Sea
Howard P. Conway signed on aboard the SS Liberator as Engine Cadet on March 4, 1942 at New Orleans, LA. He had previously served aboard the SS Howell Lykes.
Some time thereafter the ship loaded 11,000 tons of sulphur at Galveston and was
bound for the Port of New York without escort. On the morning of March 19, 1942 the
ship was three miles west of the Diamond Shoals buoy when it was sighted by U-332.
The fact that the Liberator was not steering an evasive course made the ship an easy
target for the submarine which fired one torpedo at the ship. At 1619 GCT the torpedo
hit the Liberator’s port side, destroying the engine room and killing five men, including
Engine Cadet Howard P. Conway, Jr. The explosion destroyed one life boat and blew
the hatch off of #4 hold. However, during the 20 minutes or so the ship remained afloat
the thirty-one surviving crew members launched the rest of the lifeboats and got away
from the ship. They were picked up later the same day by the Navy tug USS Umpqua
(AT-25), and transported to Morehead City, North Carolina.
Although Cadet-Midshipmen Lewis and See had actually been lost in a sinking almost a
month before this, the news of Cadet Conway’s fate was the first confirmation of a
fatality to reach the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps schools at Kings Point and
Pass Christian. At both schools he was mourned as the first cadet to die in the conflict.
The mess hall at Pass Christian was later named in his honor.
Howard P. Conway, Jr. was the only child of Howard Payne and Miriam Parker Conway.
The elder Conway was the Southern District Manage for Grinnell Company and also for
the General Fire Extinguisher Company, based in Charlotte, North Carolina. Father
and son often took salt water fishing trips. Howard Jr. attended Woodberry Forest
Preparatory School in Virginia, where he was elected Senior Prefect in recognition of
his personal integrity. After graduating from Woodberry Forest, Howard attended and
graduated from Williams College.