Fallen Hero

Ensign

Stephen Leonard Fuld

October 17, 1907 - September 9, 1942
Hometown:
New York, New York
Entered Service:
May 30, 1942
Unit:

USS Muskeget

Rank:
Ensign, U.S. Coast Guard
Award(s):
Purple Heart
Cemetery:
Tablets of the Missing, East Coast Memorial

Before the War

On October 17, 1907, Stephen Leonard Fuld was born in New York City to Solomon and Dr. Florence Fuld. He had two siblings, Freddy and Ruth. Fuld, who would find his success in the burgeoning medium of radio, was born, notably, on the same day that Guglielmo Marconi began the first commercial transatlantic wireless service between Nova Scotia, Canada, and Clifden, Ireland.

Fuld grew up on the Upper West Side of Manhattan and attended the prestigious Horace Mann School in Riverdale, where he graduated in 1925. He spent one year at Dartmouth College, before leaving in 1926. Fuld continued his education throughout the years at both New York University and Columbia University noting, “I did not attempt to establish formal credits for my coursework as I was concerned with self-improvement and did not contemplate obtaining a degree.”

Shortly after leaving Dartmouth, Fuld worked as a bond salesman before finding his footing in radio. First, he worked at the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) as a radio salesman, and then at the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS). Fuld started as an account executive in the sales department and worked his way up to the Manager of Field Operations.

Fuld was married for six years to Jewel Dean Butler. After their divorce, the national press speculated on his involvement in a number of high profile romances, most notably to Hollywood star Dorothy Lamour. Fuld told the New York Daily News in 1939, “We’re from two different worlds, she’s a public figure and I’m just a radio man. But I’m very fond of her. More so than of any girl I ever knew.” In late 1942 Lamour, perhaps inspired by Fuld’s death, became known as the “Bond Bombshell,” and helped sell more war bonds than any other actress in Hollywood.

Photograph of the Fuld family (from left) mother Florence, Stephen, Ruth, and Frederick, August 10, 1913. Courtesy of the Fuld Family., Newspaper clipping showing Stephen Fuld with his girlfriend, Dorothy Lamour, June 23, 1939. Courtesy of the Fuld Family., A page from Stephen Fuld’s application to the U.S. Coast Guard, March 15, 1942. Official Military Personnel File, National Archives and Records Administration - St. Louis.

Military Experience

In between his schooling and various early jobs, Fuld showed a deep love of the sea. He joined the Merchant Marines while still in school and his positions ranged, in his words, from, “steward to an ordinary seaman.” His travels with the Merchant Marines took him as far as Shanghai, China and Yokohama, Japan.

Working in the world of broadcasting, Fuld was sure to have heard much about the early years of World War II, so it is not surprising that, although he was past draft age, he wanted to participate in the war effort. With his love of the sea, the U.S. Coast Guard seemed a natural fit. Fuld’s application for the U.S. Coast Guard included references from several high profile figures of the time: famed newsman Walter Winchell, aviation pioneer Sherman Fairchild (who wrote that Fuld was, “(A out) alert, aggressive, frank and honest”), and Jack Howard of the Scripps-Howard newspaper empire. It was Howard who further noted, “Fuld is a personable man of character, with a particular ability for administrative work requiring quick action without any sacrifice or thoroughness.” Fuld was quickly admitted and reported for service on June 23, 1942, in New York City with the rank of ensign.

Fuld served aboard the USS Muskeget. According to U.S. Coast Guard records, the Muskeget was a former freighter ship that was commissioned for service on July 1, 1942. The Muskeget had a permanent station out of Boston, Massachusetts for duty with the Weather Observation Patrol. Sadly, the Muskeget did not get to do her duty for very long, and she became the only weather ship lost in World War II. The official U.S. Coast Guard history from this point notes:

The USS Muskeget departed Boston on the afternoon of 24 August. The last report on the weather was received from her September 9th, 1942. On September, 11th 1942, the Monomoy reported she was unable to effect relief of the Muskeget due to failure to establish communications. Aircraft and ships in the vicinity were directed to search for and report any positive results. This search on 16 September proved fruitless.

The Muskeget was presumed lost in action with no survivors. At the time of her sinking, she had 121 men on board: nine commissioned officers, 107 enlisted men, one Public Health Service officer, and four civilian employees of the U.S. Weather Service. The government initially determined that there was not enough information to determine what sunk the Muskeget. After the war, German naval records recovered indicated that the German submarine U-755 reported torpedoing a U.S. auxiliary merchant cruiser in Muskeget's area of operation on September 9, 1942. All men aboard the ship were awarded Purple Hearts for their service.

Photograph of a World War II U.S. Coast Guard ship patrolling the North Atlantic Ocean, March 25, 1946. National Archives and Records Administration (RG 26-G, Box 148)., A U.S. Coast Guard cutter facing heavy seas off the coast of Greenland. National Archives and Records Administration (80-G-16486).

Commemoration

Fuld is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing on the East Coast Memorial Tablets of the Missing in Battery Park in New York City. He also has a memorial marker at the Evergreens Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York, where his family is buried.

Stephen Fuld’s name on the East Coast Memorial in Battery Park City, New York, April 11, 2019. Courtesy of Gena Oppenheim.

Bibliography

A Coast Guard cutter ploughs through a heavy sea off the coast of Greeland. Photograph. National Archives and Records Administration (80-G-16486). Image.

Fuld Family Photographs. 1910-1942. Courtesy of Linda Dudley Mutch. 

Mutch, Linda. E-mail messages to the author. November 23, 2018 - April 10, 2019.

Mutch, Linda. Telephone interview with the author. March, 10, 2019.

Inspection, Offices & Storehouses, Complaints against Service, Operations of Vessels, Trespassing; General Correspondence, 1910-1953, Records of U.S. Coast Guard, Record Group 26 (Box 985); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

Named Vessels Morris 1942 to Nourmahal 1942; Military Muster Rolls, 1941-1949; Records of U.S. Coast Guard, Record Group 26 (Box 17); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

On the fantail of a Coast Guard-manned patrol frigate…. Photograph. March 25, 1946. National Archives and Records Administration (RG 26-G, Box 148). Image.

Scope of Operations Named Vessels: Madalan – North Star; General Correspondence, 1910-1953, Records of U.S. Coast Guard, Record Group 26 (Box 780); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

Sea Patrols & Cruises, Whaling, and Weather Observation; General Correspondence, 1910-1953, Records of U.S. Coast Guard, Record Group 26 (Box 866); National Archives at College Park, College Park, MD.

Stephen L. Fuld, Official Military Personnel File, Department of the Navy, Records of the Bureau of Naval Personnel, RG 24, National Archives and Records Administration - St. Louis

“Stephen L. Fuld.” American Battle Monuments Commission. Accessed January 22, 2019. https://abmc.gov/node/514263

United States Coast Guard Historian’s Office. United States Coast Guard. Accessed August 6, 2019. https://www.history.uscg.mil/Complete-Time-Line/Time-Line-1900-2000/.