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AtlanticDivers

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Reply with quote  #1 

Joe Paul Tidwell (U.S. Navy Fireman Second Class) is the only living survivor of the sinking of the DD-130 Destroyer Jacob Jones. The ninety-two year old veteran will be visiting Cape May this Sunday July 24 as his grandson Eric Tidwell ventures out to the wreck site. Eric is a certified scuba diver, his life time desire has been to honor his grandfather by diving the site. On Friday July 23 with the help of volunteers from Atlantic Divers and the dive boat Cape May Explorer Eric accomplished that goal. He also paid tribute to the lost crew of the Jacob Jones by making the dive.

The following is a summary of Eric’s reflections and desire for his grandfather this up coming weekend:

I write this in hopes of peaking the interest of Local/National news stations and/or Government Officials in and around Cape May, New Jersey to garner support for my 92-yo grandfather.

You see, he is part of a slowly withering treasure trove of historical WWII National Assets and has a unique tie to Cape May, although he never even lived there. He is one of 11 survivors of the USS JACOB JONES (DD-130), which was torpedoed by a German U-Boat off the coast of Cape May on the morning of 28 February, 1942. I am not sure, but he may also be the sole remaining survivor of this tragedy and after being picked up following several hours in a lifeboat, was brought to Cape May to recover.

It occurred to me (and my wife) that when my grandfather dies I will miss a tremendous asset that I can never thank enough for his service and dedication to this country. I also came to the realization that every day we lose more and more of these National Assets and I felt it important to ensure my Grandfathers story didnt die with him.

The wreckage of the JONES sit in about 120 feet of water off the coast and in late July, with the help of local diver Gene Peterson from Atlantic Divers Inc., I intend to dive to the sight and see whats left of her. I am planning to bring my grandfather along (although he might not go out on the dive boat) and show him the town that he was brought to those many years ago.

He has never talked to me about the event, but Im sure has shared the story with my Father, Uncle and Aunt - who are planning to make the trip as well. A few years ago he passed on all of the newspaper clippings that he kept on the incident, so me and my Father were able to piece together some of the information we now know.

I’m not too sure what I expect from writing this, but if you have the time and would like to do some sort of special interest piece on him I figure it would be a good thing. Please let me know if you are interested as Im sure he would get a kick out of it and I, and my family, would be greatly appreciative of your effort. His health is degrading but has always had a razor sharp memory.

Also, please pass this along to your cohorts in the media and/or local government. Again, Im not sure who would like to engage, but the more eyes that see it the better.

Thank you in advance.

James "T-Bone" Tidwell

CDR, U.S. Navy


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njdiver

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Reply with quote  #2 

Would he be interested in witnessing the reefing of the USS Arthur W, Radford DD968?  It is slated to be reefed that week.

AtlanticDivers

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Reply with quote  #3 

Eric's  main goal is to dive the Jacob Jones.  His grandfather and family are here on a limited time basis.  Although the sinking of the Radford is an exciting, historic and memorable tribute, again the main goal is the Jacob Jones.

Joseph Paul Tidwell was only one of eleven, that survived the torpedoing and  sinking of the destroyer.  The Jacob Jones was attacked by the German submarine U-578.  Two torpedoes struck and killed most of the crew and officers.  As the stern sank to depth the detonation of their ship's own depth charges killed nearly all remaining on the surface except for twelve.

 It is incredible that he also survived that bitter February night.  After diving into the icy cold water he climbed aboard a life raft and lay in the frigid seawater for several hours before being picked up by the patrol boat Eagle 56 in the height of a storm. One of the remaining twelve did not survive the rescue transport to Cape May.  

Now, he remains the only one left out of the eleven and his frail health is of particular concern.  The window of opportunity is very limited for this, so we will stick to that first objective.  The honor to be able to achieve this goal is Eric's main concern. 



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njdiver

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Reply with quote  #4 

The reefing should be on Thursday the 28th. The DNREC has arranged to have a Cape May-Lewes Ferry available for Ex-crew and VIPs.  Mr. Tidwell and his family would be honored guests in that company.    If they are still in the area they would be most welcome. 

wrickenbaker

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Reply with quote  #5 

My Grandmother's brother died when the USS Jacob Jones went down.  Very little was know of the event and the family never received any information about the location of the memorial or the location of the sinking or circumstances.  I have been searching for information about him.  DO you know if this 95 year old survivor is still alive?

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