Michael Frank Kostal, Jr.
Born: September 12, 1922
Hometown: Coraopolis, PA
Service: U.S. Navy
Position / Rank: Lieutenant (junior grade)
Date / Place of death: June 1, 1944 / North Pacific,
near Matsuwa Island
Date / Place of burial: June 1, 1944 / Lost At Sea,
North Pacific near Matsuwa
Island; Tablets of the Missing
at Honolulu Memorial
Michael F. Kostal, Jr. entered the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps in the spring of
1941 and received his basic training at Fort Schuyler. After sailing as Engine Cadet
aboard the SS Mormacrey and SS Argentina. He returned to Kings Point for his
advanced training. While at the Academy he earned the affectionate moniker “The
Moving Man” because he was “always on the go.” He was one of 11 members of the
34 young men in his graduating class to volunteer for active duty in the Navy.
After he received his commission on 1 February, 1943 Michael Kostal was initially
assigned to the USS Stevens (DD 479) as the ship’s Assistant Engineering Officer. In
October he was transferred to the USS Pollack (SS 180), where he served as the
submarine’s Assistant First Lieutenant until April 26, 1944. From April 28 to May 3,
1944, he was assigned to Submarine Division Forty Three where he served in relief
crews aboard submarines undergoing overhaul between patrols.
At some point in early May, Michael Kostal reported aboard the USS Herring (SS 233),
another submarine. On May 16th, the Herring departed Pearl Harbor on its eighth war
patrol. A week later, the Herring stopped at Midway Island to top off its fuel supply.
From there, the submarine headed to a patrol area off the Kuril Islands. On May 31,
the submarine had a rendezvous with the USS Barb (SS 220). Some time after the Herring departed the Barb; the crew of the Barb heard Japanese depth charges and assumed the Herring had engaged the enemy. The Barb later picked up a prisoner who confirmed that the Herring had sunk an escort vessel for an enemy convoy.
Japanese records later revealed that the Herring had also sunk a merchantman in the
convoy. The following day, the Herring attacked and sank another two merchant ships.
However, in the attack, the submarine itself was sunk by a shore battery, which scored
direct hits on the conning tower.
There were no Allied witnesses to the attack, and the fate of the Herring remained
unknown for the duration of the war. When the submarine was not heard from by the
middle of July, she was listed as missing and presumed lost.
Lieutenant (j.g.) Michael F. Kostal, USNR was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart,
Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal. His name is engraved
on the Tables of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial. Ironically, a shipmate of
Kostal’s aboard the SS Argentina, George Greishaber, was also killed in action with the
Michael F. Kostal, Jr. was the only son and oldest child of Michael F. Kostal and Mary
Kostal. His younger sister was Marie. The 1930 U.S. Census indicates that the senior
Kostal was a “boat engineer” at a steel mill. Ten years later Mr. Kostal’s occupation
was identified as “machinist” at a foundry.