Navy - Accounts of the Korean War

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Sunk by mine off South Korea 1 October 1950

[This information was submitted to The Korean War Educator by Navy veteran Ed Clanton of Lumber Bridge, North Carolina.]

Loss of USS Magpie, 1 October 1950

Brief narrative report of loss of USS Magpie while on
Minesweeping duty off Chusan Po, Korea.
Ship’s forward portion exploded and after section
settled by the head when Magpie struck a mine.
12 survivors.

10 October 1950
USS Dixie (AD 14)
From: CARPENTER, Vail P., BMC, 393 08 57 US Navy
To: Secretary of the Navy

(1) Commander Mine Division Fifty-two
(2) Commander United Nations Blockading and Escort Force, Far East
(3) Commander Naval Forces, Far East
(4) Commander-in-Chief, Pacific Fleet
(5) Chief of Naval Operations

Subject: Loss of the USS MAGPIE (AMS25)

Photos provided by Ed Clanton of Lumber Bridge, North Carolina.

(Click a picture for a larger view)

Reference: US Navy Regulations 1948, Article 0778

  1. As senior survivor of the USS MAGPIE (AMS25), my version of the MAGPIE loss is as follows: At about 1700, minus 9 zone time, 1 October 1950, I was on watch on the fantail, during mine-sweeping operations. The starboard sweep gear and magnetic tail were streamed. Three hundred fathoms of sweep wire was in use. We were in approximate position latitude 36-30 N., longitude 129-30 E., off Chusan Po, Korea, and on a southerly course. Steaming at ten knots. The USS MERGANSER (AMS26) was stationed about five hundred yards astern and to starboard of the MAGPIE. At about this time there was a tremendous explosion forward and the entire forward portion of the ship, forward of the stack, appeared to explode. The remainder of the ship immediately started to settle by the head. During this period I took shelter under the towing winch but could see forward. After the debris stopped falling I assisted in launching the port after ten-man life raft. After that I proceeded as far forward as I could to the break abreast of the stack, on both port and starboard sides, with the view of assisting any survivors or saving the ship. I encountered no one. After this inspection I abandoned ship, port side, to assist BENNETT, 365 32 49, EMFN, USN, who was in the water and shouting for help. BENNETT was injured and unable to adjust and inflate his life jacket. I assisted BENNETT to the raft and both of us boarded the raft. After being in the water and on the raft for a period of about thirty minutes, the USS MERGANSER (AMS26) Wherry towed us to the MERGANSER.
  2. There were twelve survivors: CARLOCK, Dale T., 344 79 03, FN, USN; CARPENTER, Vail P., 393 08 57, BMC, USN; DOBBS, Thomas D., 325 16 58, ETSN, USN; ESPINOZA, Leo L., 369 20 83, SN, USN; KEPFORD, James W., 345 02 15, FN, USN; McCLAIN, James H., 569 02 59, FN, USN; HARRISON, William E., 234 41 27, GM3, USN; BENNETT, Alex W., 365 32 49, EMFN, USN; BENSON, Richard B., 325 74 34, SN, USN; BLASSINGAME, Henry A., 581 07 35, CSSA, USN; KASTENS, Howard L., 344 82 35, USN; SANDERS, Howard W., 570 94 48, QM3, USN. The first seven survivors are now quartered on board USS DIXIE (AD14). The last five were transferred by USS MERGANSER to USS REPOSE (AH15) at Pusan, Korea for treatment. I do not know what disposition was later made of them.
  3. To the best of my knowledge all records and logs were lost, except pay accounts which were on board the USS DIXIE (AD14). Pay account of HARRISON, W.E., 234 41 27, USN, were lost with the USS MAGPIE.
  4. It is understood that Commander United Nations Blockading and Escort Force, Far East, had ordered an investigation to inquire into the circumstances resulting in the sinking of the USS MAGPIE and the injury or loss of the members of her crew. – (signed) VAIL P. CARPENTER


  1. Bash, Charles Russell, RDSN, USN - Dixon Valley, PA - MIA
  2. Beck, Robert Augustus, BMC, USN - Richmond, CA - MIA
  3. Calhoun, Stanley Louis, EMFN, USN - Pembroke, KY - MIA
  4. Cloud, George Grady, EN1, USN - Oakland, CA - MIA
  5. Coleman, Richard Allyn, YBN3, USN - Lewistown, MT - MIA
  6. Cook, Theodore Amos, QMSN, USN - Sacramento, CA - MIA
  7. Davis, Roy Anderson, HM1, USN - Russellville, KY - MIA
  8. Dowell, James Clayborn, EMFN, USN - Stockton, CA - MIA
  9. Durkee, Seth Dean, QM1, USN - Cashmere, WA - MIA
  10. Ferjaran, Vincente Quitugua, SD3, USN - Asan, Guam - MIA
  11. Ferrell, Harry Elmer, ENFN, USN - Cleveland, OH - MIA
  12. Horton, Charles Thomas, CSSN, USN - Columbiana, AL - MIA
  13. Hughes, Lloyd Edgar, CS1, USN - Ottawa, KS - MIA
  14. Krouskoupf, Eugene Paul, SN, USN - Zanesville, OH - MIA
  15. Langwell, ENS. Robert Warren, USN - Indianapolis, IN - MIA
  16. Person, LT. (jg) Warren Roy, USN - Pacific Grove, CA - MIA
  17. Rogers, Cleveland Green, SO2, USN - Foxworth, MS - MIA
  18. Scott, Richard Dale, BM1, USN - Peru, IN - MIA
  19. Wainwright, ENS. Robert Ernest, USN - North Andover, MA - MIA
  20. Wanee, LT. (jg) Donald Victor, USN - Gardena, CA - MIA

Casualties - Further Information

  • Langwell, Ensign Robert Warren

Robert Langwell MIA/KIA Korea October 1, 1950 aboard the United States Navy Minesweeper Magpie when it struck a mine and was one of the 21 Magpie crew members who went down with the minesweeper. Their bodies were presumed to have been lost at sea and their status was carried that way until 2009. Ensign Langwell remains were recovered after a Korean villager directed military personnel to a grave he had dug 59 years earlier for a body that had been washed ashore. Soldiers discovered a complete skeleton along with clothing and some identification cards. (Information supplied by Harry McCawley, Associate Editor of the Republic Newspaper and Memorial Committee Member)

Bob Langwell was born on July 30, 1924 in Columbus, Indiana, the only son of Arthur J. Langwell (1901-1991) and Edna Langwell (1904-1980).  His parents moved from Indiana to Arizona and are buried there.  Bob is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. 


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