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Coast Guard ship named in memory of Cumming native
Bottoms
A recent ceremony was held in San Diego commissioning the Coast Guard Cutter Benjamin Bottoms, named in honor of a Forsyth County native who lost his life in a World War II rescue mission. - photo by For the FCN

On Nov. 29, 1942, during the height of World War II, Radioman 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms, a Cumming native, and pilot Lt. John Prichard’s Grumman J2F-4 Duck amphibious plane went missing while attempting a rescue mission of the crew of a downed B-17 in eastern Greenland.

Though the duo had successfully landed on an ice cap, reportedly the first to do so, and rescued two members of the crew the day before, they returned late in the day to retrieve Army Air Force Cpl. Loren Howarth, and the plane went down as they attempted to make their way through a snowstorm on the ice cap.

To this day, the plane and its passengers have never been found.

While there have been numerous articles, documentaries and memorials covering the events of the crash and expeditions to find remains of the plane and those who were flying, the Cumming native has received a special honor more than seven decades since his passing.

Recently, the U.S. Coast Guard commissioned a fast response cutter, or FRC, the Coast Guard Cutter Benjamin Bottoms in his memory. The ship will be stationed in San Pedro, California and is the Coast Guard’s 32nd FRC.

“We’re very honored,” said Bob Bowden, Bottoms’ nephew. “I never actually knew Ben; he died in ’42 and I was born in ’49, but I’ve heard stories about him all of my life.”

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Radioman 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms, a Forsyth County native, and pilot Lt. John Prichard’s Grumman J2F-4 Duck amphibious plane went missing while attempting a rescue mission of the crew of a downed B-17 in eastern Greenland. - photo by For the FCN

During the commissioning ceremony, Adm. Charles Ray, vice commandant of the Coast Guard, said the ship named for Bottoms would sail for up to 30 years and “will save dozens, if not scores of lives.”

“When we talk about honor today, we are talking about honoring the courage of Radioman 1st Class Benjamin Bottoms as an example that we would all aspire to live up to,” Ray said. “To the families of Petty Officer Bottoms, I want you to know that your loved one will never be forgotten. All who serve in and around this cutter will hear his story and learn about his sacrifice.

“They’ll write the next chapter in the legacy of Benjamin Bottoms.”

The ship is designed for search and rescue, national defense, ports, waterways and coastal security, fish and migrant interdiction and fishery patrols.

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Members of Bottoms' family and Coast Guard officials recently attended a ceremony for the commission of Coast Guard Cutter Benjamin Bottoms.

Rupert Sexton, a former Cumming city councilman and a cousin of Bottoms, provided the Forsyth County News with some information about Bottoms.

Sexton said Bottoms would have been his grandmother’s first cousin but said he had not heard much about his family member until doing research on the family.

“That’s the strange part about it,” Sexton said. “We have a Bottoms family reunion, and his name has never been mentioned.”

Bottoms was born on Nov. 1, 1913 in Cumming and grew up on a farm near Marietta and graduated from Marietta High School in 1931.

The following year, Bottoms enlisted in the Coast Guard and was stationed around New England and worked on the Cutter Northland, a ship specifically designed for Arctic operations, as preparations were made for the ship to take on aircraft.

He rejoined the Northland in 1942 and was serving on the ship at the time of the plane crash.

Bottoms was declared presumed dead a year later on Nov. 30, 1943 and was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, given to those who have shown “heroism or extraordinary achievement while participating in an aerial flight.”

While the plane and bodies were never recovered, the search continues.

In recent years, North South Polar, a team of scientists, explorers and field specialists, has taken on a project known as The Greenland J2F-4 WWII Repatriation Project: The Duck Hunt, which is using radio equipment and other information to find any remains under the ice.

“I’d sure love for them to find him and bring him home,” Bowden said.