Kostal, Michael Frank, Jr.

Michael Frank Kostal, Jr.
Born: September 12, 1922
Hometown: Coraopolis, PA
Class: 1942
Service: U.S. Navy
Position / Rank: Lieutenant (junior grade)
Date / Place of death: June 1, 1944 / North Pacific,
near Matsuwa Island
Date / Place of burial: June 1, 1944 / Lost At Sea,
North Pacific near Matsuwa
Island; Tablets of the Missing
at Honolulu Memorial
Honolulu, Hawaii
Age: 21

Michael F. Kostal, Jr. entered the U.S. Merchant Marine Cadet Corps in the spring of
1941 and received his basic training at Fort Schuyler. After sailing as Engine Cadet
aboard the SS Mormacrey and SS Argentina. He returned to Kings Point for his
advanced training. While at the Academy he earned the affectionate moniker “The
Moving Man” because he was “always on the go.” He was one of 11 members of the
34 young men in his graduating class to volunteer for active duty in the Navy.

After he received his commission on 1 February, 1943 Michael Kostal was initially
assigned to the USS Stevens (DD 479) as the ship’s Assistant Engineering Officer. In
October he was transferred to the USS Pollack (SS 180), where he served as the
submarine’s Assistant First Lieutenant until April 26, 1944. From April 28 to May 3,
1944, he was assigned to Submarine Division Forty Three where he served  in relief
crews aboard submarines undergoing overhaul between patrols.

At some point in early May, Michael Kostal reported aboard the USS Herring (SS 233),
another submarine. On May 16th, the Herring departed Pearl Harbor on its eighth war
patrol. A week later, the Herring stopped at Midway Island to top off its fuel supply.
From there, the submarine headed to a patrol area off the Kuril Islands. On May 31,
the submarine had a rendezvous with the USS Barb (SS 220). Some time after the Herring departed the Barb; the crew of the Barb heard Japanese depth charges and assumed the Herring had engaged the enemy. The Barb later picked up a prisoner who confirmed that the Herring had sunk an escort vessel for an enemy convoy.

Japanese records later revealed that the Herring had also sunk a merchantman in the
convoy. The following day, the Herring attacked and sank another two merchant ships.
However, in the attack, the submarine itself was sunk by a shore battery, which scored
direct hits on the conning tower.

There were no Allied witnesses to the attack, and the fate of the Herring remained
unknown for the duration of the war. When the submarine was not heard from by the
middle of July, she was listed as missing and presumed lost.

Lieutenant (j.g.) Michael F. Kostal, USNR was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart,
Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal and World War II Victory Medal. His name is engraved
on the Tables of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorial. Ironically, a shipmate of
Kostal’s aboard the SS Argentina, George Greishaber, was also killed in action with the
Navy.

Michael F. Kostal, Jr. was the only son and oldest child of Michael F. Kostal and Mary
Kostal. His younger sister was Marie. The 1930 U.S. Census indicates that the senior
Kostal was a “boat engineer” at a steel mill. Ten years later Mr. Kostal’s occupation
was identified as “machinist” at a foundry.


One thought on “Kostal, Michael Frank, Jr.

  1. On 11/6/2010 Joesph Mahoney sent the following E-mail to George Ryan.
    In your Email of October 20, 2010 to me, you mentioned the date in which Michael Kostal is mentioned. I’m not sure what date you wanted. However I offer the following.

    In the current Fall Issue of the Kings Pointer, “Alum News”, I wrote for the Class of 1943 a story
    about the cadet days of Kenneth Holcombe ’43. In the story it was mentioned that Holcombe was in the Submarine Service, and was assigned to a pool of officers that were on call for the selection by the Sub’s Captain . Ken Holcombe was asked by the Captain of the Submarine Herring if he had engineering experience. Holcombe said he didn’t. He was a deck cadet at Kings Point, hence the Captain kept looking for an engineer from the pool. The Captain found another Kings Pointer in the pool who was an engineer. His name was Michael Kostal who had graduated from the Academy in December 1942, Section 1H2 (later changed to A102). The significant point that Ken Holcombe made to me was that he was lucky not to have been selected for duty on USS Herring since it left on its patrol and was never heard from again.

    While reading the Wartime Seas Stories that you sent me I read about Michael Kostal and his service aboard the USS Herring. I have since told Ken Holcombe about what happened.

    Regards the report that Michael Kostal married Captain Tomb’s daughter, it was common knowledge with all the cadets at the time. The marriage, if it were so, would have been in January 1943. Captain Tomb at the time was the first Superintendent of the Academy.

    In another e-mail 10/20/10 to George Ryan, Joe Mahoney stated the following:
    In your Email of October 20, 2010 to me, you mentioned the date in which Michael Kostal is mentioned. I’m not sure what date you wanted. However I offer the following.

    In the current Fall Issue of the Kings Pointer, “Alum News”, I wrote for the Class of 1943 a story
    about the cadet days of Kenneth Holcombe ’43. In the story it was mentioned that Holcombe was in the Submarine Service, and was assigned to a pool of officers that were on call for the selection by the Sub’s Captain . Ken Holcombe was asked by the Captain of the Submarine Herring if he had engineering experience. Holcombe said he didn’t. He was a deck cadet at Kings Point, hence the Captain kept looking for an engineer from the pool. The Captain found another Kings Pointer in the pool who was an engineer. His name was Michael Kostal who had graduated from the Academy in December 1942, Section 1H2 (later changed to A102). The significant point that Ken Holcombe made to me was that he was lucky not to have been selected for duty on USS Herring since it left on its patrol and was never heard from again.

    While reading the Wartime Seas Stories that you sent me I read about Michael Kostal and his service aboard the USS Herring. I have since told Ken Holcombe about what happened.

    Regards the report that Michael Kostal married Captain Tomb’s daughter, it was common knowledge with all the cadets at the time. The marriage, if it were so, would have been in January 1943. Captain Tomb at the time was the first Superintendent of the Academy.

    In an e-mail dated 10/20/10 to George Ryan Joseph Mahoney stated:
    I saw a story about
    Michael Kostal ’42 (on about page 248). He was about 3 months
    ahead of me graduating. I knew him, and as I recall he married the
    daughter of Captain Tomb, the first Superintendent of the Academy.
    I had heard that he was killed in the war, but never knew any details
    Thanks again. Joe Mahoney :43

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