Robert E. Jason

Hero Profile - WWII

Address when enlisted - 49 Cushing Rd.

Date of Sacrifice January 7, 1944 - Age 27

MM1c Robert E Jason lost his life on January 7,1944 in the sinking of the USS St. Augustine off the coast of New Jersey. He had enlisted in the navy on November 6,1940 and in April 1941 was assigned to the St Augustine, a patrol boat performing convoy duty from the north Atlantic to the west Indies. Jan. 6, 1944 was a cold and stormy night in Cohasset. As waves crashed along the dark and rocky shoreline, Civilian Coast Watch warden Herb Jason, out on his rounds, stopped along the Jerusalem Road coast and remembers thinking, "what a terrible night to be on the ocean."

Reprinted from the Cohasset Mariner:

Standing alone looking out at the tumultuous seas, Herb had no idea his cousin, Robert E. Jason, an MM1c (Machinist's Mate First Class) on the Naval ship the USS St. Augustine was fighting for his life in the waters off Cape May, NJ. It was a routine trip that ended in disaster, as he and 115 other brave crew members serving during World War II lost their lives that night. Today marks the sixty-first anniversary of his date of sacrifice.

Robert, who was known around town as Bobby, grew up at 49 Cushing Road. He attended Cohasset schools, and his cousin, Betty Maree remembers Bobby's childhood pet, a talking parrot of which he was very proud.

In 1934, Bobby graduated from Cohasset High School, and six years later on Nov. 6, 1940, the handsome and strapping 6-foot-6-inch tall Bobby enlisted in the Navy at the age of 22. In April 1941, he was assigned to the USS St Augustine, a patrol boat performing convoy duty from the north Atlantic to the west Indies.

The St. Augustine, a 272-foot long patrol gunboat, was originally built in 1929 for heiress to the FW Woolworth fortune Barbara Hutton. It was built at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., in Newport News, Va. as the steel-hulled yacht "Viking." It was later sold and renamed "Noparo" before being purchased by the US Navy in December 1940. The ship was then retrofitted and renamed St. Augustine on Jan. 9, 1941, and commissioned USS St. Augustine (PG-54) on Jan. 16, 1941.

The USS St. Augustine got underway from New York on Jan. 6, 1944 leading a convoy of ships bound for Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Late that evening, just southeast of Cape May, NJ, she was struck hard amidships by the merchant tanker Camas Meadows splitting her seams in the collision. In only five minutes, the boat sank into the Atlantic, the rough wintry seas claiming 115 of her crew, including Bobby. Only 30 crew members survived.

Although the accident which claimed Bobby's life took place Jan. 6, he was pronounced deceased on Jan. 7, the day his body was found. Once recovered, the Navy sent his body back home in a casket sealed with a glass cover. Due to his height, the oversized casket could only be brought into the family home for viewing after workmen removed the front parlor window.

Bobby's mother Helen Jason was so distraught with the lack of details the Navy provided her regarding her son's death, that she called upon longtime Cohasset resident and Navy Captain Herbert Grassie to see if he could press the Navy for more details. Friends say Helen was once a vibrant and community-minded woman who nearly went into seclusion at her home for the rest of her life after her son gave his for the country.

Nearly 400 Cohasset men and women answered the country's call during World War II. For eight families like the Jason's, the price of freedom was high. Bobby was the third Cohasset serviceman to die during World War II, and the first of three to die during 1944. Prior to Bobby, Merchant Sailor Allen Buffum and Navy Lt. Perry H. Johnson gave their lives in the name of freedom.

The town of Cohasset will never forget the sacrifice Bobby made for his country, and to ensure his memory lives on in the hearts of the town's residents, in 1947, the town renamed and dedicated the road at the south end of the common, Robert E. Jason Road.

Chairman of the Veterans Memorial Committee Glenn Pratt provided the Mariner with the information for this article. For more information on Robert E. Jason or any of the Cohasset veterans who have paid the ultimate price in the name of freedom, please visit the Cohasset Veterans Memorial Committee Web site at

Link to MM1c Robert E. Jason's ship web page
Link to another of MM1c Robert E. Jason's ship web page
Link to the third web page of MM1c Robert E. Jason's ship
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Cohasset Massachusetts