Wisc. Coast Guardsman to be portrayed by upcoming film, ‘The Finest Hours’

A Marinette man will be in Hollywood next week for the premiere of a movie based on the true story of his father’s heroism.

“The Finest Hours” details the most daring small-boat rescue in Coast Guard history.

Matthew Maske grew up in Marinette, unaware of his dad’s amazing story.

But then a clue, one day when he was searching for batteries in his dad’s dresser.

“And I found a little newspaper clipping with his picture on it that said Erv Maske receives Gold Medal award for a rescue off the shores of Cape Cod. From there I asked him about it. He says, ‘Well, it was just something I did, no big deal,’” recalls Maske.

And that’s all Ervin Maske would say until 2002, the year before he passed away.

“When me and my sister traveled with him to the 50 year reunion, when we traveled to the 50 year reunion and the Coast Guard told the story at the Coast Guard station in Boston, it was unbelievable. We just looked at him, and it was like wow,” says Maske.

That day in Boston, Maske learned about that day in February 1952, and how his father and three other men braved 60-foot waves and hurricane force winds to rescue 32 men trapped on a tanker ship that had split in half and was sinking.

The daring crew received the Coast Guard’s Gold Life Saving Medal but would spend their lives haunted by the one man, the last one on the ship they couldn’t save.


Ervin Maske is portrayed in the “The Finest Hours” by John Magaro, whose film credits include “Unbroken,” “Carol” and “The Big Short.”

Magaro tells Collider magazine he got to meet the family in Wisconsin.

He said about Maske’s heroism, “He didn’t have to go out there. He just showed up. He could have easily said, ‘This isn’t my job. I’m not gonna do this.’ But he had that kind of, I don’t know if anyone here’s from the Midwest, but I grew up in Cleveland and I think there’s this Midwestern kind of generosity and warmth, and that you just do what you’re supposed to do.”


“You asked him about it and he teared up because, ‘We lost him. I had him in my hands and we lost him,’” says Maske.

First depicted in the book The Finest Hours, Maske’s story headed for big screen production in 2014.

“That’s my little ID card from when I visited the film set, and that was out in Quincy, Massachusetts,” says Maske, holding the photo ID.

“Definitely an experience that I’ll never forget,” recalls Maske.

Maske has only seen the movie trailers and is grateful Disney invited him to the Hollywood premiere on January 25.

“I think it’s going to be very emotional. I think it’ll bring back a lot of memories of my dad, you know the movie, it’s like seeing him all over again,” says Maske.

“The Finest Hours” opens in theaters around Wisconsin on January 29.

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