Manley Cospelich was a boat owner and captain from Mississippi City, Mississippi. Mississippi City was the original county seat for Harrison County, today it is a community located in Gulfport along Courthouse Road. Manley ran a deep-sea charter boat known as Manjoann (sometimes spelled Man Jo Ann) for over forty-one years. Manley originally worked as an automobile mechanic, but later became involved in salvage operations, towing targets for the Air National Guard firing practice, ferrying pilots out to bring in banana boats, and rescuing boaters in distress. During his tenure as captain of the Manjoann, Manley was involved in a series of rescue efforts which were recognized by the United States Coast Guard in a letter dated November 25, 1960.
The letter indicates four dates during 1960 in which Cospelich provided rescue efforts. The first occurred on May 27, --Manley rescued a man who had fallen overboard when the Coast Guard Cutter NIKE was involved in assisting the Silver King II. Manley recovered the individual and brought him to safety. Two days later on May 29, the Manjoann rescued a boy who had fallen overboard and lacerated his hand on a motorboat propeller. Thanks to Manley’s actions, the boy was airlifted by a Navy helicopter and brought to a hospital within twenty-five minutes of the injury.
On August 11, Manley assisted in the recovery efforts of the fishing vessel Hardy B, which was reported to the Coast Guard as overdue. Coast Guard aircraft located the vessel and Manley volunteered to tow it to the Gulfport Small Craft Harbor. Finally, on October 15, the Manjoann arrived on Ship Island in response to the Miss Jan running aground. Manley worked to refloat the boat and tow it to Gulfport.
Beyond his rescue efforts, Manley was also known to haul vehicles out to the Barrier Islands. In a photograph included in his nomination form, Manley can be seen standing proudly next to a jeep that had been brought to Cat Island. Manley Cospelich was a boat owner who ran deep-sea charters, but to these numerous individuals he encountered at sea, he was much more than just a captain, he was an unforgettable hero.