David Hogan Frohn
Born: July 30, 1921
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Service: Merchant Marine
Position / Rank: Deck Cadet
Date / Place of death: November 7, 1942 /
Date / Place of burial: November 9, 1942 /
June 8, 1943 / Holy Cross
Cemetery, Los Angeles, CA (final)
David H. Frohn signed on as Deck Cadet aboard the Liberty Ship SS Francis Drake on
September 3, 1942 at Los Angeles, CA. This was his first ship after completing the
curriculum at the San Mateo, CA Basic School. He joined Cadet-Midshipman Victor
Hugo, the Engine Cadet for the voyage to South and Central America.
On November 7, 1942 the Francis Drake was anchored about a mile off of Champerico,
Guatemala. As was customary in that port, transportation to and from ships anchored
offshore was provided by a harbor launch, towing a small lighter. At 1900 hours on
November 7, 1942, David Frohn and seven other crew members, including the ship’s
Second Mate, Mr. Carey, and Armed Guard Commander, Lt. Brady, boarded the lighter
for the short trip ashore. Unfortunately, the short trip ended in tragedy.
According to the report made by the ship’s master, S. Chapman to the American
Counsel in Guatemala City, at about 1915, as the launch and its lighter made its turn to
come alongside the pier, a swell capsized the launch. The Second Mate and Lt. Brady
realized that the lighter would likely collide with the capsized launch. They shouted to
the rest of the men to jump in the water and swim for the beach. However, only the two
officers jumped into the water. They successfully made their way to the beach.
When the lighter collided with the capsized launch the radio operator, a steward and
possibly David Frohn were thrown into the water. The remaining men lost track of the
men in the water, and each other, due to darkness and their efforts to keep the lighter
from sinking. With the help of rescuers from ashore the Francis Drake’s shore leave
party reached the shore where they realized David Frohn was missing. Efforts to locate David continued for several hours after the accident. However, David Frohn’s body was not recovered until the following day, November 8, when it washed up on the beach about a mile from the accident.
Burial services for Cadet-Midshipman David Frohn began at November 9 at 1400 when
pall bearers, four of the ship’s officers and crew and four of the ship’s Armed Guard
Sailors bore the flag draped casket and body to Champerico’s Catholic Chapel where a
Requiem High Mass was celebrated by Father August F. Herrera. From the chapel, the
body was taken to the local Catholic cemetery where David Frohn was buried with his
Rosary and prayer book.
David Frohn’s belongings and wages were turned over to the U.S. Shipping
Commissioner in Los Angeles when the ship arrived there a few weeks later. Although
Guatemalan authorities normally required the deceased’s body to remain in a
Guatemalan cemetery for at least four years, David Frohn’s remains were exhumed in
April 1943. His remains were brought back to his parents in Los Angeles for a final
service at St. Gregory’s Catholic Church and burial at Holy Cross Cemetery on June 8,
Cadet-Midshipman David H. Frohn was posthumously awarded the Pacific War Zone
Bar, the Victory Medal, and the Presidential Testimonial Letter.
David H. Frohn was the only son of David Watson Frohn and Helen Frohn. The elder
Frohn, who went by his middle name, was a linotypist for the Los Angeles Times.
David was born in Clarksdale, MS.