Gov­er­nors Island Fun Fact: Who Was Samuel S. Coursen?

[cap­tion id=“attachment_7073” align=“aligncenter” width=“300”]The Lt. Samuel S. Coursen in transit The Lt. Samuel S. Coursen in transit[/caption] Before Gov­er­nors Island was trans­formed into a haven of cul­ture and relax­ation for New York­ers to enjoy, it served as both an Army and Coast Guard base for over 200 years. All three of Gov­er­nors Island’s incar­na­tions are com­bined in the Lt. Samuel S. Coursen fer­ry, which shut­tles thou­sands of vis­i­tors to and from the Island every week­end dur­ing the sum­mer. Lieu­tenant Coursen, the name­sake of the 860 ton fer­ry, served in the Army and demon­strat­ed tremen­dous hero­ism dur­ing the Kore­an War. Giv­en the Island’s mil­i­tary his­to­ry, it is fit­ting that the fer­ry was named in hon­or of some­one who ful­ly embod­ied the ideals of the U.S. Army. Hav­ing grad­u­at­ed from West Point Mil­i­tary Acad­e­my in 1945, Coursen was deployed to Korea five years lat­er. In a bat­tle on Octo­ber 12th, 1950, Coursen was killed in the act of sav­ing a fel­low wound­ed sol­dier. Though he did not sur­vive the encounter, Coursen’s sac­ri­fice did allow the wound­ed sol­dier to live. Trag­i­cal­ly, Coursen was only 24 years old. Coursen’s val­or earned him not only a Pur­ple Heart, but also the Medal of Hon­or, the high­est mil­i­tary hon­or giv­en in recog­ni­tion of risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.” Award­ed a year after his death, Coursen is one of only 627 per­son­nel to receive the award posthu­mous­ly. In 1956, a new pas­sen­ger and vehi­cle fer­ry was chris­tened the Lt. Samuel S. Coursen, which is the same boat that brings all of our vis­i­tors to the Island today and has reli­ably in use for almost six­ty 60 years. Last week would have been Lt. Coursen’s birth­day so as we want­ed to take a moment to salute him and the fer­ry that bears his name.