+4-14 USS Fullam DD474 Newsletter Spring 2003


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

Spring 2003 NEWSLETTER
April 14, 2003

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 deficit.

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 to you.

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 Institute. 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 contents."

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 memory too:
"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:

"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

Return to NewsLetter Index
Return to FULLAM Home Page

Make your own free website on Tripod.com