Dermand honored for 75 years with American Legion

You may know Constantine “Gus” Dermand. He was raised in Webster City, and enlisted in the United States Navy in May of 1943.

On Tuesday, he was honored for his 75 years of membership in the American Legion by Post 191 in Webster City.

But long before Tuesday night, Dermand went to Farragut Naval Training Station, located in land-locked northern Idaho for basic training. Then he was sent to San Diego, California, for sonar school. In October of 1943, he was sent to Norfolk, Virginia, where he learned about destroyer escorts, according to Rich Stroner, 191 post commander.

After the classes finished in December 1943, Dermand was sent to the U.S. Naval Station in Orange, Texas. Orange, Texas, was the home of a large shipyard that produced 39 destroyers, 93 destroyer escorts, and 106 landing craft.

Dermand was assigned to one of the newly-commissioned destroyer escorts, the USS Koiner, VE331, Stroner said.

The USS Koiner then sailed up the coast to its home port in New York.

The ship provided protection for convoys crossing the Atlantic from Boston and New Jersey. Dermand would make nine trips to Europe, three to England, two to France — one of those escorting oil tankers to Normandy just after D-Day — and four to the Mediterranean.

On one of the trips, the USS Koiner sunk a German submarine about 60 miles off the New Jersey coast, Stroner said.

After the war in Europe ended, the USS Koiner sailed through the Panama Canal to San Diego to escort a new aircraft carrier to Hawaii. After that trip to Hawaii, the USS Koiner sailed to the South China Sea where it became a naval communications vessel.

Dermand left the service in March of 1946, and returned to Webster City.

He joined the American Legion that year.

As a civilian, Dermand worked at the Dermand’s Cafe and eventually became a partner in the business; he worked with the cafe from 1946 until 1985. He married Nancy Parrish in 1952, and was married for 68 years before she passed in 2020, Stroner said.

In 1986, he switched careers and took a job as a Webster City school custodian; he stayed there through 1991.

Dermand served 10 years on the Webster City City Council, some of them as mayor.


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