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As a young man, OTTO and REINHARD HARDEGEN (102-LIFE-1985) were school buddies; went to school together, played sports together - and chased the same girls. OTTO said that HARDEGEN always got the girls.
As a young sea cadet, OTTO served aboard several sailing and merchant ships and his final posting before the military was aboard the luxury liner SS COLUMBUS. The ship was in a Mexican port when the war broke out between Germany and England, and the COLUMBUS was ordered to find some way to make it back to Germany from Mexico. They were spotted by the cruiser USS TUSCALOOSA and even though the United States was "neutral", the cruiser shadowed the liner and was constantly broadcasting their position to the British. The German crew knew what was in store, so they practiced "pulling the plug" to scuttle the ship when they would be faced with the inevitable and soon enough, two RCN corvettes were seen on the horizon and the crew did what they had practiced - the ship was stopped dead in the water, set afire and explosive charges set deep in the bilges. The crew orderly abandoned the ship and rowed to the American cruiser, which took them aboard and put them ashore on the east coast of the United States where they were immediately interned as combatants. OTTO and some others, was shipped completely across the United States and imprisoned on Angel Island in the bay where they could look out at Alcatraz, the famous prison where, at that very time, notorious gangster Al Capone was held.
Being a loyal German, OTTO quickly escaped and got passage aboard a Japanese liner (Japan and Germany were allies and Pearl Harbor had not yet occurred) and he rode to Yokahama where he caught a train home to Germany. He was assigned to a supply ship and during a transfer of torpedoes and other supplies to U-106 under JÜRGEN OESTEN (1681-1990), and he immediately knew that he HAD to be a U-Bootfahrer. After much schooling, he was assigned and moved up until he became II. W. O. aboard U-405 and rode that boat for several feindfahrten (war patrols). He was transferred off to go to Commander's School and the boat sailed without him - and never returned. They were involved in the famous duel on the high seas with the USN destroyer USS BORIE in which both U-405 and USS BORIE were lost; the entire German crew was lost and 1/3 of the American crew was lost.
After the war, OTTO migrated to Cuba where he became owner and operator of a shipping company bringing supplies to the islands of the Caribbean and along the central American coast. When that country turned to communism, OTTO migrated to the USA and lived his remaining years in Florida.
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