Ector B. Latham was
born on November 23, 1900, in Rockton, South Carolina. He
graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of
Science Degree in Civil Engineering in June 1924. He was appointed
as Deck Officer on June 5, 1925, and later was commissioned
as Ensign on March 8, 1926.
During his 32-year career, Captain Latham served aboard the
NOAA Ships EXPLORER, SURVEYOR, HYDROGRAPHER, first as Watch
Officer and later as Commanding Officer; the COWIE as Commanding
Officer, the PIONEER as Executive Officer, and his last sea
assignment as Commanding Officer, NOAA Ship BOWIE. His other
assignments included Geodesy, working in the East and Midwest,
Washington, D.C., Potomac River, Mountain States, and Florida;
Hydrography and Triangulation in New York; and at the time of
his retirement on October 1, 1957, the Midwestern District in
Captain Latham was transferred to the jurisdiction of the War
Department on September 3, 1942. He received several commendations.
His commendation from Headquarters 2nd Engineer Special Brigade
stated: "Major Ector B. Latham, K-100025, 532nd Engineer Boat
and Shore Regiment, is commended for his outstanding services
during the development of the Finschhafen, New Guinea area from
September 22, 1943 to November 15, 1943. At night and under
adverse weather conditions, Major Latham piloted Naval and Brigade
craft through uncharted and dangerous waters without mishap.
He personally navigated the majority of early resupply missions
from Lae to Scarlet Beach and Finsch Harbor. He displayed rare
courage and coolness under enemy fire, always being an example
to the officers and men under his command. In addition, Major
Latham has prepared detailed hydrographic surveys for Finsch
Harbor, Langemak Bay, Schneider, and Dreger Harbors."
During this time he was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries
received in action north of Saidor, New Guinea on March 6, 1944.
He was authorized to wear the Philippine Liberation Ribbon and
two Bronze Stars, the World War II Victory Medal, the Asiatic
Pacific Campaign Medal with two Bronze Stars and a Bronze Arrowhead.
He is survived by his wife, Grace and one daughter, Lucy Anne
NOAA CORPS BULLETIN, 6/1/1985