Minnesota WWII vet receives award for heroism during German U-boat attack

William Carlson received the Convoy Cup Award from the International Ship Masters Association for his heroism during World War II. (FOX 9)

A longtime Minnesota merchant marine captain is being recognized for his heroism in World War II.

His name is William Carlson, but he’s known simply as Captain Bill.

At 17 years old, Bill left Duluth and joined the Navy Armed Guard, which was assigned to protect supply convoys heading to Europe. He was on the passenger ship called the "SS City of New York" in 1942 when a German U-boat struck it with two torpedoes.

Bill kept firing his machine gun as the ship went under and swam to a lifeboat that he helped command and navigate for 16 days.

On Friday, the International Ship Masters Association presented Captain Bill with the Convoy Cup Award for his heroism. He received the honor at the Honorary Norwegian Consulate in Minneapolis.

After the war, Captain Bill served as either a captain or chief engineer on many ships sailing out of his home port in Duluth. He now lives in Minneapolis.