MOUNT HOLLY HERALD
Mount Holly, N.J., Thursday, October 26, 1961
Seaman Tells Of Brush With Dread
SAN MIGUEL, P.I. -- A Birmingham seaman had a harrowing brush
with a dreaded Mako shark while skin diving in the South China
Sea, but escaped unscathed, thanks to his alert wits.
In a letter to home, Seaman
son of Mr. and Mrs. Hume C. Kumpf, of Birmingham, related the
spine-tingling adventure that occurred while he and a friend were
week-ending on the Capones Islands.
His letter follows:
"Last weedend, Kurt, one of the families from the Base, and I,
went to the Capones Islands for a picnic and some
"The most exciting event of the day took place while I was
skin diving quite a distance off shore in water about 30 feet
deep. Neither Kurt nor I took our aqua lungs along that day so
I was just snorkel diving on the surface, when I
saw a shark,
about a four-footer,
making a big circle around me -- deep down
in the crystal-clear water. You can imagine my surprise and
sudden fright! Well, it made one last big circle and disappeared
into the dark water of a ravine. I guessed that it had come up
from the deep water and was now returning there. Nevertheless
I began to head back toward shore.
"A few seconds later, while I was still far from shore and
still in deep water, I saw a shadow out of the corner of my mask.
I turned my head to look, and there,
not an arm's length from me,
swimming beside me, was
another shark. The thing was
than six feet long
and the color of blue steel with a white
belly and a pointed nose. Before I could do a thing it bent
its body in the middle so that
it was facing me -- and gave a
sudden lunge! In utter terror of his gnawing my torso,
I offered my arms and legs in a
shower of bubbles.
"The shark was, I guess, scared of the bubbles and
away, but as soon as the screen of bubbles rose he
a sudden attack! I kicked at his snout and waved my arms so
violently and yelled and groaned, underwater, so much that
again retreated to
a "safer" distance (about three feet).
"I can truthfully say, that in all my life I have never been
so terrified and so close to insanity. I could think of
nothing but his pulling me down and killing me but he hadn't
bitten me yet and I wasn't giving up. He stopped for a second
and came at me again. I didn't have a knife or a spear nor
any weapon to defend myself with since I was just diving to
"Without a SCUBA I could not dive down to get away -- and
since he was almost upon me again, I could not retreat. Suddenly
it flashed through my mind that sharks have been known to be
afraid of loud noises so
I slapped my hand on the surface of
the water with all my strength. I could just see
just six inches from my right leg, which was now
pulled up close to my body.
The sound of my hand on the
water did the trick, for he turned and finned down into
the dark water out away from shore.
"I swam toward shore just as fast as I could, trying not to
make any splash with my fins. I kept looking around and
behind me, sure that it would follow me but it didn't. When
I got to the beach I was
exhausted and trembling with terror.
It was the first time in my life that I really thought I was
going to die. I had been frightened before but never felt
that I was facing death. It's an awful feeling.
"Well, enough of that, except that I should tell you that
I have ordered a powered spear and knife from the Navy
Exchange and that I'll never again go skin diving with
nothing to defend myself with.
"By the way, we have deceided from the color and shape
of the shark that it was a Mako, which is one of the worst!
Boy, am I lucky he wasn't determined!"
Kumpf* enlisted in the
Navy in September 1960, took his
boot training at Great Lakes, and graduated from Yeoman school
in Bainbridge, Md., before being sent to his present post in
the Philippines, last March. At San Miguel he has served as
assistant editor of the station newspaper and is currently
doing clerical work in the administration office. He was
graduated from Pemberton High in 1960.
*alias - 'Matchbox' Ron
The above article was on the front page of the newspaper in October 1961
*alias - Ron