One thing that I have intended to do, but kept forgetting, is to
thank Mike Plessl from all of us for his providing the letterheads
and envelopes for the past several years! These have been a tremendous
help in publishing this quarterly letter plus his originality on the
artwork - a computer genius. I have a hunch your mailman has noticed
these envelopes and maybe even commented on them. Except for the few
occasions when the treasury has been able to contribute something,
Mike has provided all of these envelopes at his own expense. Thanks
a million, Mike!
Barring any last minute notifications, we went through these past
three months without the loss of a shipmate for which I am very
pleased to report. Also, I have no roster changes either.
In the last Tin Can Sailors bulletin there was a reunion notice
that might be of interest to you former O'BRIEN shipmates. In fact,
I wrote to the person in this notice and sent the last two news
letters in which I mentioned the O'BRIEN and the names of those on
our current roster who served on this ship; so far, I have not
received a reply and wondering if any of you have. Here follows
"USS O'BRIEN (DD415), at Pigeon Forge, TN. Contact Shirley
Coffman, 134 March Road, Luttrell, TN 37779. (866) 992-6567"
Recently, I was asked the question as to whether or not we would
have any further "formal" reunions. The answer is "no" which we
decided at our Norfolk reunion in 1998; however, it was agreed
that mini-reunions in areas where several shipmates resided were
suggested and urged. As a result, two mini-reunions have been
held on Cap Cod for the benefit of the substantial number of
shipmates who live in the Northeast and I think they are planning
on another this fall.
Recently, I purchased a book from Border's titled "Modern U.S.
Navy Destroyers" by S.F. Tomajczyk; it's rather small but very
reasonably priced. Anyway, it primarily describes the Spruance
and Burke-class destroyers and a real "eye opener" when compared to the
Fletcher-class like the FULLAM. Their size alone is impressive
but their various armaments, radars, sonars, etc. are really amazing.
I highly recommend it!
A few months ago Ed Summers sent me a letter in which he wrote of one
of his experiences in the Boston Navy Yard just after being assigned
to the FULLAM as follows:
"One afternoon at the Chelsea Navy Yard I was walking down the
Yard's main street with someone, I can't remember who. The yard
shifts were changing and the streets were crowded. I suddenly
heard a loud voice say "HALT". I turned around and saw a four-
striper motioning me to return. I was apparently the only one
he wanted as the other guy kept walking. I saluted and said
'Yes, Sir'. He then said, 'Why didn't you salute when you
passed me?' 'I'm sorry, Sir, I didn't see you'. '0 yes you
did. You looked right at me'.
The yard workers formed a circle around us and it was growing
bigger by the minute. I wanted to get away from there and not
knowing what to say, I said something stupid. I'm sure you
remember that British crews were manning some of the new DE's
there. 'I'm sorry, Sir, I possibly thought you were a British
naval officer'. 'Oh, you don't salute British officers?'. It
was getting worse as it went along. I said something about not
recognizing they were officers until recently, but that I do
salute them now. I then was told in no uncertain terms that I
would salute all officers including those of our Allies!
The crowd was growing as this went on, however, I thought I was
off the hook and could leave but it didn't end there. Next
question. 'How long have you been petty officer, first class?'.
'About two months, Sir'. Who promoted you?'. I intended to
tell him that I was with a group on New Caledonia returning to
the States for assignment to new construction. We were all
advanced to the next rating before we left. I got as far as 'I
don't know, Sir!. Then he started yelling, 'You don't know!
You don't know! You are unfit to be petty officer, first class!
I'm sending a letter to your Commanding Officer'. He then told
the younger officer with him to get my name and ship detail. The
crowd got out of his way when he left but I had to work through
them. Most of them were staring at me as to say 'You are going
to get it!.
I waited a few days, nothing happened. I finally asked our
Division Officer if our CO had received a letter after I told
him what happened. Lt.(jg) Brooks told me that our CO had
received a letter concerning this matter; it was from Captain
(I've forgotten his name) :the Navy Yard Commandant. He further
stated the Commandant was a very bitter man. He had made several
requests for sea duty and had recently been informed he would
remain at his present post until the war ended, then he would be
retired. Mr. Brooks then said, 'Don't worry about this. Cmdr.
Daniels is not taking any action with regard to this letter'."
Kind of along the same line, I was walking down State Street in
Chicago on liberty from Service School at Great Lakes 1n late 1942,
when I was suddenly stopped by a Chief PO. It so happened that I
failed to salute, yet even see, an Ensign standing there for the sole
purpose of catching any sailor passing by who did not salute him. My
punishment for this terrible act was being drilled by a Marine for
about two hours one evening; I had plenty of company as there must
have been about 30 of us who were caught. This was really the only
real chicken s--t that I must admit happened to me during my time in
Just looked at the calendar and the date of June 19 reminded me of
the same date in 1944, namely, the "Great Marianas Turkey Shoot" and
the start of the First Battle of the Philippine Sea. I looked up
this date in the FULLAM's log and here follows the entries for the
gist of that day:
Zone description Minus 10
Position 0800 ---------- 1200 ---------- 2000
Lat. 14-24.8 N --------- 14-07.5 N ----- 13-57.4 N
Long. 143-16.8 E ------- 143-32.5 E ---- 143-57.6 E
Steaming as before. 0814 Formation changed course to 25O deg T. 0847 Changed course to 100 deg T. 0903 Changed course to 250 deg T. 0936 Commenced zigzagging according to plan #6. 1002 Large group of enemy aircraft reported approaching formation from direction 260 deg T, range 139 miles. 1011
Formed anti-aircraft disposition 7V. FULLAM took station on circle 6 between NEW ORLEANS and SAN FRANCISCO. 1028 Formation turned to course 100 deg T. 1032 Changed speed to 22 knots. 1048 Commenced maneuvering to evade large scale attack by enemy dive-bombers. Commenced firing with all batteries on numerous aircraft targets. 1103 Ceased firing; enemy aircraft driven off or shot down. 1lll Formation again attacked by enemy dive bombers; commenced firing with all
batteries. 1130 Ceased firing, raid repulsed with several enemy aircraft observed destroyed. 1146 Changed speed to 23 knots. 1155 Formation under attack by enemy torpedo bombers; commenced firing With all batteries. 1200 Ceased firing; attack repulsed.
E. R. SCGWASS
Steaming as before. 1209 Formation under attack of another group of enemy torpedo bombers; commenced tiring with all batteries. 1212 FULLAM destroyed enemy torpedo bomber off port quarter. 1215 Ceased firing; attack repulsed. 1231 Formation changed course to 150 deg T changed speed to 21 knots. 1235 Formation turned to course 130 deg T. 1252 Formation turned to course 090 deg T, changed
speed to 22 knots. 1320 Formation turned to course l10 deg T. 1335 Large formation of enemy air-craft reported approaching from west. 1338 Commenced maneuvering by turns to various courses. 1358 Turned to course 080 deg T. 1405 Turned to course O6O deg T. 1415 Enemy planes attacking adjacent formation. 1430 Commenced maneuvering by turns to various courses. 1526 formation turned to
course 330 deg T.
E. R. SCHWASS
16-18 Steaming as before. 1626 Formation turned to course 310 deg T. 1650
Formation turned to course 100 deg T, changed speed to 18.5 knots. 1658
Total ammunition expended during day: 1424 rounds 4Omm; 1470 rounds 20mm;
204 rounds 5"/38. 1712 Formation turned to course 300 deg T, changed speed
to 18 knots. 1734 Fonmation half-masted colors in honor of men killed in days
action. l235 Formation turned to course 270 deg T. 1757 Changed speed to 21
E. R. SCHWASS
W.D. KELLY, Comdr, USN. Commanding Officer
F. D. BROOKE, Lieut, USNR. Navigator.
To be forwarded direct to the Commander in Chief, U. S. Fleet. either at
end of operation or at the end or the calendar month.
This was also the day that we suffered our one and only casualty of
the war - Roy West was wounded by a bomb fragment while at his GQ
station on the fantail 20's.
From the USS FULLAM PRESS NEWS 2ND ANNIVERSARY EDITION here are
Snoop"s comments of this momentous time .
"The word was passed over the speaker that we were approximately 50
miles from our objective, Saipan, and the air of confidence that
prevailed among the crew was displayed when all hands immediately
donned their lifebelts, gas masks, and broke out knives that
would have put to shame the machetes wielded by natives of the
East Indies. Yes sir, it took more than the possibility of Jap
shore batteries and aircraft to instill fear in the hearts of these
fellows, veterans of historic Emirau and Green Island fame, whose
bodies, case-hardened by Red Mallette's variety of CPO dogs, cold
cuts, and lemonade would carry them into battle in top-flight
We were given the pleasant task of holding reveille on the boys
from Nippon one morning to the accompaniment of five-inch salvos,
and this was the beginning of our hectic Marianas adventures which,
in one day alone, saw 407 Jap planes shot down ---no, we didn't
get the whole 407 but did bag a goodly share, say about two or
three; no, not hundred ---just two or three. Due to the fine
work of the radar gang and lookouts, of whom one was Mortimer
Goodwiri Dagenkolb, nary an enemy plane sneaked in on us ---
however, 'Dag' did take his job too seriously when he repeatedly
reported five-inch shell bursts as torpedo bombers employing their
own smoke screens."
During the Battle of the First Philippine Sea, we were part of Task
Group 58.7 under the command of Vice Admiral Willis A. Lee Jr. which
was also referred as the Battle Line. Included were the following:
WASHINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA, IOWA, NEW JERSEY,
INDIANA, SOUTH DAKOTA, ALABAMA
WICHITA, MINNEAPOLIS, NEW ORLEANS, SAN FRANCISCO
FULLAM, HALFORD, GUEST, BENNETT, HUDSON, MUGFORD,
CONYNGHAM, PATTERSON, BAGLEY, SELFRIDGE, YARNALL,
TWINING, STOCKHAM, MONSSEN
The above information came from a book titled, "Red Sun Setting",
by William T. Y'Blood originally published in 1981.
Here's wishing you all a great summer!
Your old shipmate
/s/ Paul T Beyer
Return to News Letter Index