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Coastguardsman cooks it up in Korea

By: Steve Witmer
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Editor’s Note: This is the fifth and last in a series of articles in honor of Memorial Day that features veterans with ties to the greater Lincoln area. To see the previous articles, check online at lincolnnewsmessenger.com. By Steve Witmer Special to the News Messenger Philadelphia native Jim Di Pentino and some high-school buddies enlisted in the Coast Guard after graduating from high school in 1952. Having spent his early life exclusively on the East Coast, Di Pentino sought to broaden his horizons and applied for duty on the West Coast when he completed boot camp at Cape May, N.J. Di Pentino was sent to Alameda and assigned to the USCGC Taney, a 327-foot high-endurance cutter. The Taney crossed the Pacific to Korea and joined other Coast Guard vessels positioned off the Korea coast during Di Pentino’s tour aboard. The ship served as a communications support platform and plane guard, ready to assist aircrews forced to ditch at sea. His four years in the Coast Guard were rounded out with assignments aboard a lightship and an 83-foot patrol boat, both based in San Francisco. A commissaryman or cook, Di Pentino recalls putting a Thanksgiving turkey into the oven just as his patrol boat received a distress call. Rough seas caused the turkey to break open the oven door and bounce around the galley floor while all crewmembers were working on deck. When Di Pentino returned to the galley, he found the turkey banging against the bulkheads. Di Pentino cleaned it up, put it back in the oven and served it to the crew when they returned to port. Crewmembers remarked that it was the tenderest turkey they ever had. After leaving the Coast Guard, Di Pentino returned to Philadelphia where he served 23 years on the police force and 15 years in commercial-building maintenance. An avid tennis player, Di Pentino moved to Lincoln in 2001 to be closer to family members. Di Pentino, active in the Lincoln Hills Veterans Group, is also an avid tennis player. Di Pentino recalls the brotherly affection the coastguardsmen felt for the airmen they sought to rescue. Sadly, the flyers retrieved by the Taney had already perished when their planes crashed into the water. Memorial Day activities The Lincoln Posts of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars will conduct Memorial Day ceremonies at the three Lincoln-area cemeteries. They will be joined by Lincoln Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts to honor veterans buried at those locations.  n Sheridan cemetery, 10 a.m. Monday n Manzanita cemetery in Lincoln, 10:30 a.m. Monday n First Street cemetery in Lincoln, 11 a.m. Monday. Refreshments will be served at the Veterans Hall, following the 11 a.m. ceremony.