Coast Guard Foundation President Susan P. Ludwig presented the crew of the newly commissioned Coast Guard Cutter Rollin Fritch with a $5,000 gift for their morale fund during the vessel’s commissioning ceremony in November, 2016.
The 154-foot fast response cutter (FRC) is the 19th commissioned into the fleet and is based in Cape May, New Jersey - the first FRC stationed outside Florida and Puerto Rico. Fritch’s area of operations includes coastal and inland waters from North Carolina’s southern border to parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, and is designed to patrol closer to shore replacing the 1980s-era Island-class 110-foot patrol boats.
The cutter is named after Seaman 1st Class Rollin Fritch, who died Jan. 8, 1945, during a battle off the coast of Luzon in the Philippines. Fritch, a member of a gun crew aboard the USS Callaway, bravely remained at his post as an enemy aircraft collided with the vessel. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star Medal.
From the official U.S. Coast Guard history on Fritch:
“The transport ship USS Callaway was off the coast of Luzon, in the Philippine Islands on Jan. 8, 1945, when desperate Japanese kamikaze attacks were launched in a determined effort to break up the landings.
“Seaman First Class Rollin A. Fritch served as a member of a gun crew aboard Callaway and manned his station aggressively when the Japanese kamikaze aircraft attacked the vessel. He unhesitatingly relinquished all chance of escape as the plane plunged toward the target and remained steadfastly at his gun. He continued to direct his fire with unrelenting fury upon the enemy until carried away with his weapon by the terrific impact.
“Ultimately, 29 of Callaway ‘s crew were killed and 22 wounded. With indomitable fighting spirit and unyielding devotion to duty in the valiant defense of his ship he gallantly gave his life for his country. For his heroic and selfless actions in the face of the enemy, Fritch was posthumously awarded the Silver Star.”