USS FULLAM DD474
Spring, 2003 April 14,
I don't know what it is like in your area, but, spring has certainly
sprung around here. The grass is greening and the flowers are coming
up, so, all we need now is plenty of moisture to make up a substantial
Sorry to start off this letter like this, but, I must report the
loss of two more fine shipmates.
The first is John Wier, who passed away on December 28,2002
The second is Charlie Jones, who left us on December 31. 2002
You recall that John was our first Gunnery Officer and then became our
second Executive Officer when Gerald Christie was transferred;
I certainly respected John and I know the rest of you did also. Charlie
was a Storekeeper and one of the ship's outstanding boxers; he's the
one we all griped to when the ship ran out of anything. Our sincere
condolences to their families -they will be missed.
Recently, I watched the tape of our 1994 reunion in Baton Rouge that
Walt Dudutis made and he did an outstanding job - even saw things
that I missed the first time I watched it. If any of you would like
to view this tape, please let me know and I will be glad to mail it
In the latest Tin Can Sailors bulletin our shipmate, Garrett Lynch,
has a great article in it; he's quite an author! If you do not belong
to TCS, try and locate a copy through a friend or maybe your public
library might have a copy.
How many of you still have your "Bluejacket's Manual" that we all
received in Boot Camp? Well, here's a surprise for you as related
in "Proceedings" , the monthly magazine published by the Naval
Quoting from the February issue:
"With thousands now in training, Lieutenant Ridley McLean compiled
the first edition of the "Bluejacket's Manual" in 1902. The U.S.
Naval Institute published 3,000 copies.
McLean was not alone. A number of texts dedicated to the enlisted
sailor appeared that same year. Along with the "Bluejacket's"
Manual", smaller texts known as the" Recruit's Handy Book" and the
"Petty Officer's Drill Book" also hit the fleet that year, both written by Lieutenant Commander William F. Fullam, who later commanded
the Great Lakes Naval Training Station and became Superintendent
of the Naval Academy.
Sized to fit in a sailor's pocket, the "Handy Book" was the first
text to catch the eye of the Navy's leadership. On 17 November
1902, the Navy Department issued General Order 114 requiring every
recruit be issued a copy of the book and be required to know the
I wonder if anyone on board the FULLAM, officer or enlisted man, had
the remotest idea that the Bluejacket's Manual" which we all carried
was written primarily by the gentleman for whom our ship was named!
After the FULLAM was returned to Norfolk, it was used to test its
ability to withstand underwater explosions; apparently this would help
in the construction of future destroyers. A while back Garrett Lynch
received a picture from the Tin Can Sailors archives of the FULLAM
undergoing one of these tests, and, I hope it shows-up well enough
to include in this letter:
Photo not added.
You will note that the searchlights, torpedo tubes, 40mm guns, and
#5 5inch mount have been removed; in addition, a tripod mast was
installed and the ship's number was certainly much larger. Not long
after the tests were concluded, the ship was sunk by "friendly fire".
I received a letter recently from Frank Curreri, former Gunner's
Mate, and here follows portions of it; Frank has a pretty good
"The reason that I am writing to you and others is that we did not
pick up anybody from the NOA because I saw the NOA coming right at
us. I was Gun Captain on #1 40mm on starboard side - I called to
the bridge telling them she was dead ahead. Daylight was just
coming out and I just kept telling the bridge she was heading
straight at us. She hit us on the starboard side of our bow
plus hitting the #1 40mm gun tub - I and the gun crew ran to the
port side before she hit us. The boys on the 40mm's thought I
was hurt or went overboard. The Gun Captain on #3 40mm was Elmer
Moore and on #5 40mm was my good friend, Russ Kling. (Russ came
to visit me several times).
Our bow was really banged-up but we kept firing our 5inch shells
at the beach. We went into dry dock and the Seabees repaired it
enough to get back to the states. We also went over the side
to repaint the hull -remember that?"
Frank even listed the following Gun Captains:
5 incher 40mm
#l Ed Johnson #1 Frank Curreti
#2 Louie Castillo #2 ? Gordon
#3 Walt Dudutis #3 Elmer Moore
#4 ?? PhiIlips #4 Phil Whitney
#5 Garrett Lynch #5 Russ Kling
As promised, here follows Garrett Lynch's experience on the sinking of
"The O'BRIEN's crew was not removed in boats. The O'BRIEN had one
whaleboat and I saw the Captain, Exec and most of the officers plus
several wounded men getting into the boat. The rest of us jumped
into the water and either clung to a life raft or floated alone with a
kapok life jacket for flotation.
I personally was in the water two hours before the CIMARRON pulled
up and stopped near our raft. The sea was very rough. They
dropped a cargo net from the starboard well deck. Three times I
tried to climb the net and three times I, along with many others,
was knocked off by the high waves. Each time the barnacles were
cutting us badly.
After the third time I was so exhausted I could not climb anymore.
I began to drift away from the ship's side and I thought I would
be left. And then a miracle happened. A big wave pushed me under
the stern very near the screw and rudder. A Jacob's ladder was
hanging off of the ship into the water. I was washed right into
the ladder rungs. This was an act of GOD as I could not even
move my arms to paddle or swim. I hung there for awhile before
someone on the CIMARRON saw me and pulled me up. While hanging
on the ladder, I saw one man get hit by the slowly moving
propeller and come up on the other side of the ship and he survived.
After the rescue, the LANG and CIMARRON did not proceed to Pearl
Harbor. The LANG may have but the CIMARRON headed directly to the
states. We traveled alone to San Francisco and arrived on November
I, 1942. Thirteen days on the CIMARRON, sleeping on the steel deck,
no soap, no toothpaste or razor, and eating just two
meals a day, mostly soup and crackers."
It was hard to believe, but last March 2nd marked the 60th anniversary
of the commissioning of the FULLAM! What a better way to mark this
momentous occasion than to quote the infamous SNOOP in the 2nd
anniversary addition of the FULLAM PRESS:
"With the arrival of March 2, 1943, the exodus from good old
Frazier took place just as the sun was starting to rise in the
cold eastern sky, and, the scene of fellows with half-closed eyes
with sea bags and mattresses hanging from all parts of their
anatomy equaled that of the annual pilgrimage to Mecca in all of
its magnitude and splendor. The good ship FULLAM wasn't much to
look at in those days, being infested with yard workers who
carried welding torches, riveting guns and putrid moron jokes.
That afternoon the dress canvas was broken out and the commissioning
ceremonies began with all hands falling in on the fantail and
never failing to cast covetous eyes at the galaxy of feminine
pulchritude which adorned the hastily and somewhat shabbily
constructed grandstand on the pier. This audience was comprised
mostly of Officers' and chiefs' wives and girl friends, but Hoboken
Hamilton upheld the pretige of his new shipmates by having a young
miss from Boston present who was currently employed as a riveter
in the yard. You probably have heard of her - she answers to the
name of Rosie.
After a few solid renditions by that solid band of the year from
the Fargo Building (and we only wish Ben Barrett had been there to
hear them), Commander Daniels, now a Captain, accepted the command
of the USS FULLAM (DD474) and Chief Boatswains Mate Arnett piped
the first watch"
Here's wishing you all a great spring!
Your old shipmate,
Paul "P.T." Beyer
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