Park 78

SK2c Joseph Lloyd Pagel

DON’T BLINK, YOU’LL MISS IT

It’s Memorial Day 2016.  Reflection and BBQ’s.  I see a lot of memes asking to remember “this day isn’t about the BBQ”.  If you think about it, a lot of personal history gets discussed and shared over food, so maybe it does go hand-in-hand.  We’ve covered a lot of veteran’s stories thus far in this blog.  This post hits a few categories:

  1. Gone – a park that was decommissioned or no longer exists
  2. Survivor – someone who received a namesake park / playground while living

Back in the day, the Detroit Parks and Recreation Department had a somewhat staunch rule about naming parks.  Specifically they were named for those persons who had died;  persons who contributed significantly to the City of Detroit and/or highly decorated war veterans.  Exceptions were sometimes made.  There are only a handful of parks  where the person was living when they ‘received’ their honorary park.   Joseph Pagel falls into this category.  Lyle Maxton Skinner,  John Yaksich, Robert Simanek and Leroy Messmer were other veterans with this honor as well as a few non-veterans.

Joseph Lloyd Pagel grew up on Westminster Street – a North End Detroiter.  Records indicate during his younger days, he followed his father in profession as an interior painter.  He enlisted for service with the US Navy in late December 1941 and served a four year join rising in rank to Storekeeper 2nd Class.

Joseph Pagel receiving his award aboard the battle scarred USS Portland. Unfortunately, this file photo was marked for newspaper use. Source: Detroit Public Library
Joseph Pagel receiving his award aboard the battle scarred USS Portland. This file photo was marked for newspaper use. Source: Detroit Public Library

I’LL NEED THAT IN TRIPLICATE

Pagel was assigned to the USS Portland, a heavy cruiser warship known for its speed and use in scouting. It was here Pagel had duties similar to those of logistics or purchasing; keep the ship stocked with weapons, food, uniforms and  supplies, issue them as needed.  Often accounting functions were added under the direction of an officer.

I love dipping into the muster rolls. You get to see everybody aboard ship.
I love dipping into the muster rolls. You get to see everybody aboard ship.

THE TELEPHONE AS A WEAPON

A fierce battle at sea occurred on the night of November 13, 1942 often referred to as the Battle of Friday the 13th and always the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.  I wonder if Victor Miller might have done some research and borrowed the phrase for his screenplay?  Regardless, it was the culmination of a six month effort by the US to maintain the possession of an airfield on the island of Guadalcanal.

Pagel’s battle assignment was to maintain an open telephone line and relay messages regarding shelling.  When his ship was torpedoed, he was hit by shrapnel which penetrated both of his legs.  Despite intense pain, Pagel remained calm and at his post continuing to make directional reports for star shelling against the Japanese forces.  The USS Portland ‘got the assist’ with helping to sink the Akatsuki, a Japanese destroyer.

The USS Portland earned 16 battle stars during its extensive service making it one of the most decorated ships in history. Sailors nicknamed the ship “Sweet Pea”. She was scrapped in 1959. Photo: Public domain courtesy Wikimedia.
Look closely, all those while streaks on the right side of the ship are sailors lined up for the photo.  The USS Portland earned 16 battle stars during its extensive service making it one of the most decorated ships in history. Sailors nicknamed the ship “Sweet Pea”. She was scrapped in 1959.  Photo: Public domain courtesy Wikimedia.

Pagel only mentioned his injuries when the battle came to a lull.  He received the Navy Cross for his courage and perseverance.  He was discharged from service in October 1945. He continued to live in metro Detroit area until his death in April 2003.  He rests a hero in Arlington National Cemetery.

The Joseph Lloyd Pagel Memorial playground  was located south of Holbrook near Russell and Alger; overtaken by the service drive for I-75.

Pagel Playground in 1969.
Pagel Playground – 1960’s. Fingerprints and off gassing from other stored materials have made this photo dirty and faded.

With the assistance of Senator John Dingell, the City of Detroit re-honored Pagel in 1988 with a small triangular greenspace at the intersection of Holbrook and John R.   It’s named Pagel Parkway.  Don’t blink because you’ll miss the signage.

pagel park 3
It’s a traffic island. A ghost town until I stopped my car and got out. Detroit International Academy in the background.  

 

Have a great day.  Thanks for reading. © Andrea Gallucci, 2016 per the usual.