By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Abraham Loe McNatt, Naval Special Warfare Group 2 Public Affairs
When U.S. Navy Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Jeremy Trump looks at photos of his late grandfather, U.S. Coast Guard (USCG) Chief Motor Machinist’s Mate William Trump, it’s not just the same strong jaw line that is reflected back, it goes much deeper. Images of William Trump hold a legacy of service, sacrifice and honor. What others might see as heroism, the Trumps see as a family tradition anchored in service.
The legacy of service has been passed down to Jeremy Trump is the same legacy that has led the USCG to christen its newest sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC William Trump (WPC 1111), which was brought to life in a commissioning ceremony Jan. 24, 2015, at U.S. Coast Guard Sector Key West, Fla.
“This a great honor for my family, we are humbled by it,” said Jeremy Trump. “To have a ship named after somebody who you knew and grew up with is just a really, really, big thing and his presence still looms large here, no doubt.”
William Trump served aboard a landing craft infantry vessel (LCI(L) 90) during World War II and participated in four amphibious assaults as a first class petty officer. He fought in the occupation of Tunisia June 1, 1943, the invasion of Sicily July 9, 1943, and the landings at Salerno, Italy, Sept. 9, 1943. His military service is best remembered for his heroism during the invasion of Normandy June 6, 1944.
William Trump’s vessel was part of Flotilla 10, which carried about 200 troops into the Normandy invasion. The crew’s mission was to get the soldiers safely onto the beaches of France. William Trump volunteered to disembark his landing craft and head onto the beach to anchor a safety line for troops to follow.
During the D-Day landing the USCG lost four ships, more than any other time in a single day in the history of the service. Under severe enemy fire, William Trump waded onto the heavily mined beach, dragged an anchor and anchor line to shallow water and successfully secured the safety line. Because William Trump put himself in the line of fire to help others, he was awarded a Silver Star for his valor in action in the assault phase of the landing at Normandy.
William Trump joined the Coast Guard in 1942 at age 17 and retired as a chief petty officer in 1965. He passed away in 2009.
Jeremy Trump has followed in the steps of his grandfather’s military service, joining the U.S. Navy in 1992. He has served in numerous overseas deployments including four in support of counternarcotic operations, and six combat missions, as well as various short-term deployments to support the global war on terror.
“Being in a community where Silver Stars are hard to come by, and I’ve seen what it takes to get one, to get one on that day of days out there like that I just don’t think you could compare that to anything here today,” said Jeremy Trump. “So it’s a huge deal and he is one of the very few guys in the Coast Guard that has ever been decorated that highly for valor.”
Despite being an American hero, the grandchildren of William Trump had no idea about their grandfather’s World War II service. According to William Trump, a grandson and namesake of William Trump, they didn’t know, because they didn’t remember him talking about it.
What the grandkids remember was his service after the military career was over. For the remainder of his life, William Trump was an active volunteer in the community. Some of the most impactful memories for the grandkids came during the countless hours spent with their grandfather delivering food to those in need.
The first member of the family to join the military and the oldest of eight brothers and 24 total grandchildren, Jeremy Trump said it wasn’t until after he decided to join the military when he started talking to his grandfather about his military service. As he talked to his grandfather about military service his bond with his grandfather became much tighter and when he graduated Basic Underwater Demolition School (BUD/S) and SEAL qualification training he had his grandfather pin his trident.
“From a military perspective I’m amazed that there could be a correlation drawn between Jeremy’s service and my grandfather’s,” said William Trump. “I think a lot of it was just those character attributes were innate in my grandfather and it was more of an osmosis type thing. When Jeremy went off to BUD/S and someone asked me if I thought he could make it, I said ‘yes, unless they kill him because he won’t quit, I know him.’ And that was one of the things that came from our granddad, the tenacity. He just wouldn’t quit for anything.”
“Jeremy respected my dad hugely,” said Colette Eddy, the ship’s sponsor and William Trump’s daughter. “Those two became bonded with the military. Because Jeremy was the first military grandson to follow in my dad’s footsteps and choose a profession that was tough and not easy to get into they formed a unique and special bond.”
The honor and service Jeremy Trump sees when looking at a photo of his grandfather will now be seen in the white hull of the USCG William Trump by all the Coast Guardsmen who will serve aboard her. The ship will give new generations of service members a platform to serve from and weigh their own anchors in lives of service.