By Eric Gaertner - Muskegon Chronicle
The life of a valiant U.S. Coast Guard member and the sailing career of a 320-foot whale-back steamer came to a tragic end 75 years ago, leaving an unforgettable mark on Muskegon’s maritime history.
On Nov. 30, 1934, the Henry Cort and her 25-man crew were tossed by large waves onto the north arm of the break wall at the Muskegon harbor and U.S. Coast Guard Surfman Jack Dipert was swept off into Lake Michigan during a rescue attempt.
By the end of the drama-filled incident, Dipert became the only Coast Guard member from the Muskegon station to die in the line of duty and a thrilling rescue eventually saved the lives of the Cort’s 25 crewmen.
In addition, the tens of thousands of people who flocked to the area shoreline likely never will forget the sight of a large freighter listing at a 45-degree angle on the break wall.
A two-part commemorative program is planned for Monday in Muskegon to recognize the 75th anniversary of the maritime incident.
The public is encouraged to attend a 3:30 p.m. memorial near the current Muskegon Coast Guard facility along the southern break wall and a 6:30 p.m. program at the Lakeshore Museum Center recounting the incident and unveiling underwater footage of the wreck site.