NEWSLETTER Spring 2004 - March 29, 2004
USS FULLAM (DD 474) Northern Solomons - Bougainville - Bismarck Archipelago Marianas - Western Caroline Islands - Iwo Jima - Okinawa
USS FULLAM (DD474)
I trust that spring has started to arrive in your area and that you all survived the harshness of winter. Things are greening up nicely around here after a much tougher than usual winter for us. Anyway, time to get out the golf clubs and hope for a few pars this year, and, maybe even a birdie!
On January 31 we lost another fine shipmate - Mike Plessi. Mike had serious back problems for several years and really suffered with them; however, his death was caused by a lung tumor. Mike will be sorely missed and we extend our deepest sympathy to his family.
As many of you are aware, Mike supplied all of the various logos, pictures, and rosters for these letters plus the envelopes and address labels. He did all of these things via his computers for which I envied him. I have arranged with my printer to make our envelopes and address labels; fortunately, he is doing this at a most reasonable cost to us.
Please correct your rosters as follows.
Bill DeMarco is already making plans for another Cape Cod reunion and advised that the dates are October 29-31, 2004. Put that date on your calendar and make plans to attend - details will follow in future letters. Let's be honest - the days are getting short!
In my last letter I mentioned that Pat Ferguson had sent me some information and a newsletter from an organization called the "League of Naval Destroyermen". I think that this group later became Tin Can Sailors possibly. Anyway, their newsletter of Aug-Sept, 1971, has a photograph of the FULLAM attendees at their Boston Convention. Those pictured are Wayne and Mary Rabideau, Tom and Olga Bruce, Nanette Rabideau, Doris and John Jeanisse, and Arnold and Mary Madsen. John Jeanisse was referred to as the "Commodore" of the FULLAM group. Sorry to say, but this picture is too faint to have reproduced in this letter.
Lately, the name of FULLAM has appeared twice in Naval History magazine. You recall that I quoted the portion about Admiral Fullam being the main author of the Bluejacket's Manual recently. Here is the latest about the man for whom our ship was named:
"In January, 1915, without Daniel's (Josephus, Secretary of the Navy) knowledge, Fiske and a few assistants met literally in the dead of night with Congressman Richard P. Hobson, the man who as a Navy lieutenant in 1898 had almost succeeded in blocking Santiago Harbor by blowing up the collier MERRIMAC in its narrow channel. With the consent of only the Navy's Admiral George Dewey, from that meeting came the legislation establishing the Office of Chief of Naval Operations. Although Daniels was able to constrain the new office's power in the early days, the creation of the post and its staff by legislation marked a turning point and ensured the growth of the uniformed influence that Luce, Fiske, Sims, David W. Taylor, William F. Fullam, and the other progressives knew to be essential for professional planning".
Judging by the above, Fullam ran with some mighty important people at that time!
Also, I had a shock recently when I received from Mike Tarr an o1d post card published by "S. Gold. U.S. Naval Station Photographer, North Chicago, Ill. Copyright, 1917". On the front of the card are pictures of President Woodrow Wilson and four Commandants of the Great Lakes Naval Training Station including Rear Admiral W.F. Fullam. From Nov. 20, 1911 to Feb. 25, 1913. I asked Mike to let me know how he ever located this card and I hope to have an answer before this letter goes to the printers. Meanwhile, I plan to send it to Garrett Lynch to place it in the FULLAM locker aboard the KIDD.
Recently one of our good shipmates sent me several vignettes of life aboard the Mighty "F" as he remembered; he prefers to remain anonymous so will honor his request. These are excellent and I plan to include a couple of them in future letters. Here follows the first two:
"The USS FULLAM was commissioned on the afternoon of March 2, 1943. The officers and crew moved on board in the morning. We carried our sea bags while marching from Frazier arracks to Pier 2 in the Charlestown Navy Yard. The commissioning ceremony was impressive. There were several civilian guests in attendance. The first watch was set.
Living on board an unfinished ship is some experience. Since there wasn't any steam, it was very cold in the living spaces, also no warm water for showering. The ship is noisy 24 hours a day as the yard workers continue to hammer, grind and weld. There wasn't any privacy as the female workers were all over the ship, day and night.
Welding cables were lying all over the decks, we were careful not to step on them. One evening I went on liberty and during the night there was about a 3" snowfall. The snow covered all of the welding cables. I came back on board about 0330 and while walking on deck I stepped on some bare cables. I didn't know what hit me, as all I could do was jump up and down like I was dancing. What a shock!
Some times we would find a yard worker lying in our bunk taking a nap. Besides standing watches, we would spend most of the time on working parties carrying on spare parts, tools, cleaning gear, rope, paint and food.
I was assigned as bow hook on the Captain's gig. The Chief Boatswain's Mate had us drilling and practicing lowering the boat, as well as running the boat. Good duty."
"Russell A. Arnett, CBM USN, was the boss of the deck force. A good man who believed in drills and training. If we didn't measure up to his standards, he withheld our liberty cards until we could satisfy him.
He taught us how to raise and lower the boats, handle the mooring lines, properly throw a heaving line, trolling a lead measuring the depth of the water, handling an anchor, splicing manila and wire rope, etc.
Of course, there was the constant chipping and painting, even on a new ship. Carrying supplies on board and standing watches. Young seamen stood sentry and messenger watches.
Several of us from the O'Brien were assigned to the 1st Division, which I was glad. Our leading division petty officer was Edwin M. Tucker, BMI/c USN. Another very good and capable man."
These are great and if any of you would like to come up with some, I would most appreciate it. In fact, I plan on having one for the next newsletter!
Recently, I got to wondering as to when I left the FULLAM for the last time so checked the logs and it turned out to be November 18, 1945. Actually, I lacked a few points from discharge so took advantage of a 30-day leave, and, while at home I received orders from the ship to report to Great Lakes for discharge. Needless to say, I did so and my actual date of discharge is December 24, 1945, and I made it home Christmas Eve! Here follows the log entry covering a whole group of us who left on 30~days leave; a few of us are still around:
12 to 16:
W. W. EDWARDS
In case you have forgotten, the ship was docked at the Bremerton Naval Ship Yard across the bay from Seattle. Captain Boyd was still the Captain and Tom Wilson was the Executive Officer at that time.
Recently, I learned that you can have copies of old pictures made by computers, and, I am amazed by how C1ear they come out. I am so far out of the computer age it is pathetic! Anyway, I had two of the "Crossing the Equator Ceremony" pictures copied and they are below.
This is the second ceremony we had when Capt. Whitey Taylor was the Squadron Commander; he is shown in both pictures. The only others that I recognize is Ed Summers as Davey Jones, Swede Bergman as the Royal Queen, and ? Chrisman as the Royal Princess; let me know if any of you can name others in these two pictures:
In case you have forgotten, this coming April 9 will be the 60th anniversary of our entrance into the beautiful city of Sydney, NSW, Australia. I know many of you have fond and possibly would like to forget memories of those eight days we spent there. Remember we all had six days of liberty from 1300 to 1100 the following day - WOW!
Have a great spring,
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