+13 USS Fullam DD474 Newsletter Autumn 2002


Northern Solomons - Bougainville - Bismarck Archipelago
Marianas - Western Caroline Islands - two Jima - Okinawa

Autumn 2002 NEWSLETTER
September 13, 2002

AUTUMN - September 2002

Shipmates of the Mighty "F"!
You will note that this letter is much earlier than usual for two reasons. The first is that I plan on being out-of-town (60th high school reunion) during the latter part of September and the early part of October. The second, and most important, is to inform you of the upcoming FULLAM mini-reunion.

Once again this mini-reunion will be held on Cape Cod from Friday, November 1 through Sunday, November 3. The place is the Mariner Motel Lodge located in West Yarmouth, MA, phone 800-445-4050. If you come early or stay later, you can get a room for $39.50, Monday through Thursday, while the Friday through Sunday rate is $59.50; you can call toll free for reservations.

Bill DeMarco sent me an E-mail with directions to the motel and here they are:
Cross the Cape Cod Canal over the Sagamore or Bourne bridge. Take Route 6 east to Exit 7. Turn left off the ramp. Then make first immediate left (Higgins Crowell Road). Go 2 1/2 miles to the second stop light (Route 28). Turn left onto Route 28 and the Mariner is 1/2 mile on the right.

I can only add that I sincerely hope many of you will take advantage of getting together with your old shipmates. In addition the Cape is a beautiful place to visit so plan on some extra days before or after the reunion. I was fortunate to attend last year and had a great time including a grand tour thanks to Ena and John Glencross. For further information or if you have any questions, give Bill DeMarco a ring at 781-289-1596 -- Email address: billdem99@aol.com.

With thanks to Max Yergin and Max Hartwell, respectively, they located two more shipmates as follows:-
Clarence P. Dodge 150 Crosse Pointe Rd. N. Edgecomb, ME 04556
Shelly E. Walsworth 1233 Firewood Rd. Jonesboro, LA 71251

Also, I have two address changes -
Stanley Blosk, PO Box 84, West Point, CA 95255 and
Walter Dehn, 2 Redhawk Ct., city and zip unchanged

When I mailed the last newsletter, there were several major forest fires raging in Arizona, particularly, around the community of Show Low. One of our shipmates, Max Hartwell, lives there so I asked him how he and his family made it through; here is his answer and they had quite an experience:

"Well" thanks to a couple of idiots, we lost over 450,000 acres of our beautiful forest. The fire came within two miles of my little corner of Show Low.

They were able to hold the fire just outside of town because for no known reason, the humidity went from 0 degrees to 45 degrees making it easier to" fight and control the east side of the fire! I'm sure it was God's Divine work!

It was damn scary and reminded me of picket duty --we never knew what the hell would happen next. We were on stand-by to evacuate, within an hours notice, for three days! The word finally came at 7:00 PM on a Saturday evening and 20,000 of us had to leave the White Mountains -Show Low, Lakeside, Pinetop, and the Indian Casino area, Hon-dah.

We were told to check in with the Red Cross in either Round Valley, Arizona, ,{about 40 miles east of Show Low) or Holbrook, Arizona, on Interstate 40 (about 50 miles north of Show Low). I choose Holbrook, checked in, spent one night on the floor of the gym and took off for Apple Valley, California, the next day, Sunday, to; stay with my daughter-, Linda --some kind of ex- perience!

Thanks to the prayers of everyone, I'm back home and "OK."

As promised, here follows Arch Kellem's memories of his experience during the sinking of the O'BRIEN; I'll include the same for Garrett Lynch and Rich Fernandez in future newsletters:

"Yes, I was aboard the O'BRIEN; ,:having been assigned in April, '42, while in Pearl Harbor. I had arrived in Pearl Harbor in February, '42, and spent a few days aboard the USS DOBBINS. There we assigned working parties for various local details, such as removing projectiles .for the ARIZONA and chipping paint and clean-up on a destroyer that had been burned from the raid. What a mess with 2-3" of oil allover the harbor.

The memory has faded a great deal but there are some things that remain clear. Some days before the ship went down, we were paid and had cash returned that I and some others had in the officer's safe. I had accumulated a whopping $120 on Seaman's pay of $21 (per month) then $36 per month; no where to spend it except 5cent a pack cigarettes that were stale.

Before the ship broke-up, the Boatswain mates made the rounds to all berthing spaces rousting everyone out to abandon ship. (There was no PA system). I Was on the top bunk in the Enginer's compartment and the Bos'n missed me on his first round; I was an unusually sound sleeper. By some instinct, he came back and felt me up there as it was hard to see a person on that top bunk. We had slept in our clothes due to the immanent danger that everyone knew about. We tore ass up to the fantail and stepped-off into the water by the liferaft along side, just in time. We held onto the side of that big liferaft what seemed like hours. The whale boat picked-up the survivors from each raft, one by one, and took them to the CIMMARON. Our raft was the last one to be picked-up. We had drifted far away and everyone hanging on was really worried that they had missed us. In the copied section (about the LANG) Rex Knight wrote, 'In orderly fashion her crew made their way to waiting boats for transport to the CIMMARON.' Well, maybe 'in :orderly fashion', we were picked-up from the liferafts but not within half an hour. As a young 17 year old, I was so exhausted hanging onto that raft that I had to be pulled in by the crew as well as others.

As I recall, the CIMMARON headed for San Francisco arriving November 1, 1942. We did not stop at Pearl Harbor, yet everyone wondered why because we desperately short of food. I remember eating beans and rice with worms in it. We were rationed a partial bucket of water to bathe and wash our clothes which we had on when leaving the O'BRIEN. There was no time for packing a sea bag when we had to abandon ship. The two weeks it took to reach San Francisco was uneventful and somewhat boring. We had a movie aboard that we saw over and over and over! It was "Wyoming" with Wallace Berry and Barbara Stanwyck. If I could find it again, I'd buy or rent it and see it again and again.

Upon boarding the CIMMARON I remember going to the engine room to dryout. I spread out my clothes on the hand rails and laid out my five $20 bills on the deck grating. Yes, that's when it happened! Someone opened a door close by and my $20 bills went flying allover the place. Luckily, after much scrambling around, I recovered them all!

In Sari Francisco we were processed and given 30-days leave. The crew was split and sent to three new destroyers -the FULLAM, the HUDSON, and another in Seattle.

Enclosed is a copy of the picture taken by AP wirephoto of the O'BRIEN and WASP the moment the O'BRIEN was hit. As you can see, we were hit in the forward section. There were two other 'fish' that missed us, one under us amidship and one just aft of the fantail. We had gone to GQ and were increasing speed to 25 knots. The explosion was something like running into a mountain. I was a seaman assigned to the handling room of the #35" gun. I had a 54 lb. projectile in my hands at that moment. After staggering around I was able to hold onto the slippery baby. One of our crew was a black fellow who was wearing the sound powered telephones. He heard the report and the three torpedos coming at us. The rest of us stood wondering why he jerked off the phones and undogged the door to the out side so fast; that was just before we were hit. I'm sure the O'BRIEN crew were happy and grateful that no one was lost and that the CIMMARON was there to pick us up. No complaints about the beans with worms or the movie either.

I sure wish I could remember that Boatswain mate that made the extra trip through the berthing compartment as otherwise I could have been the only casualty. I can state emphatically that I was one of the lightess sleepers in the Navy for the rest of my career. I wonder if Garrett, Joe and Rich remember it this way."

Arch advised that he stayed in the Navy for 27 years and served on nine ships during his career. He also stated that "of all the ships I served aboard, the FULLAM and the contacts and reunions bring back some of the fondest and interesting memories".
Thanks a million, for your memories, Arch.

I looked through a bunch of pictures that I still have but most are in too bad a condition to really see by printing them in this letter. If any of you have a picture or two you would like to pass on, send them to me and will try and include in future letters. Hard to believe but next Wednesday, September 11, it will be 60 years since I was sworn into the Navy. These pictures are getting that old, too.

Another reminder and that 'is that I have the ship's logs from its commissioning, March 2, 1943, through March 31, 1946. These are your logs too so if you need any information from them, let me know and I'll do my best to obtain it for you.

Since my next letter will go forward after the New Year, I'll wish you and your families a great Thanksgiving, a joyous Christmas, and the very best for 2003.

Your shipmate,
/s/ P.T.
Paul "P.T." Beyer

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