The Coast Guard's Only Hanging

It is not often that a Coast Guard base is the site of the execution of a Federal Death Penalty — in fact it has only happened once — but that was exactly the case in August 17th, 1929. Here’s some of the story from the history file of Station Fort Lauderdale, then known as Coast Guard Base Six (courtesy of the USCG).

“During a routine Prohibition Law Enforcement patrol, CGC 249 a 75 foot patrol boat commanded by Boatswain Sidney C. Chamberlain with its seven man crew and a U.S. Treasury agent on board stopped a small packet boat to inspect its cargo. The boarding party lead by MotorMan First Class Victor A. Lamby discovered 160 cases of contraband liquor. It was at this time that the boarding turned hostile. The two crewmembers of the packet boat, James Alderman and Robert Weech attacked and killed three members of the boarding party. Boatswain Chamberlain, was killed instantly by Aldermans pistol with a bullet in the back. Also killed were MotorMan Lamby, also shot in the back and U.S. Treasury agent Webster who was shot in the chest. Another “coastie”, ships cook Jodie Hollingsworth was shot in the shoulder and eye but survived to testify against Alderman and Weech. Both men were brought to trial for murder of federal officials. Since Weech did not actually kill anyone, he was found guilty and spent the rest of his natural life in federal prison. James Horace Alderman was convicted of three counts of murder and piracy on the high seas, he was given the death sentence. At 6:03pm, 7 August 1929, exactly two years to the day, Alderman was hanged until dead at Coast Guard Base Six.”

The link below highlights some more details about this case and what it was like to be part of the USCG during the “Rum War”.

Share This