NEWSLETTER Summer 2004 - July 6, 2004
USS FULLAM (DD 474) Northern Solomons - Bougainville - Bismarck Archipelago Marianas - Western Caroline Islands - Iwo Jima - Okinawa
Summer, July 2004
Dear Twenty-five Percenters:
In case you are wondering about my salutation, here is how I came up with it. Over the past several weeks, and, with the recent dedication of the World War 2 Memorial, how many times have we heard that there were 16 millian of us who serrved in that great war. Now that number is down to 4 million who are still alive - thus that makes just 25%!
Hopefully, we are all still around as no word of the passing of any shipmate since my last letter; let's try and keep it that way. Along with Jimmy Carter and George H. W. Bush, 1'11 also turn 80 this year - 1'm exactly one day younger than Jimmy Carter if that is anything to boast about.
Once again, the namesake of our ship came up which is getting rather weird after all these years. Anyway, I received an E-mail from a person in Hawaii that there was a letter from Admiral Fullam for sale on Ebay. I had my stepson check it out and sure enough, there it was; I had him put a bid on it but it had already sold. However, lo and behold, he was able to get a copy from Ebay which I am including below:
COPY OF ABOVE minus signature
UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY
September 22, 1914
Mr. Anthony R. Parahley,
I have received your letter asking for my autograph. I do not class myself as a "famous American", and there is little chance that I ever will be one; but I suppose the signature to this letter will be all that is necessdary and you are quite welcome to it.
Surely, he would have been proud of the record of "his" ship and, especially, the quality and competence of the entire crew!
Recently, I read a book that I highly recommend. The title is "The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors", authored by James D. Hornfischer, ISBN 0-553-80257-7. It is the true account, primarily, of the three destroyers and two destroyer escorts in the Battle of Samar and "Taffy 3". Two of the destroyers, JOHNSTON and.HOEL, were sunk and the one destroyer escort, SAMUEL B. ROBERTS, sunk. It leaves one with feeling that we were a most fortunate ship!
How many of you are considering a visit to the new World War 2 memorial? I am planning on making a one day trip to Washinton just to visit this new memorial and the Navy Memorial. For example, I can leave here (Kansas City) at 6:00 AM arrive at the Washington National airport at 9:30 AM. I was advised that the Metro serves National and I can ride directly to the Memorial plus other areas I may choose to visit. I leave Washington at 7:30 PM which gives me plenty of time to see what I wish. I haven't decided on an exact date as yet but if any of you are interested, let me know; maybe we could set a date and meet at the memorial.
As promised, here follows two more vignettes from the anonymous shipmate. He titled the first, "FULLAM Returns from Cuba", and, the second, "Mare Island Navy Yard, Valljo, California".
"The FULLAM arrived off of Boston Harbor during the mid-watch and since the submarine nets were closed for the night, the orders were to cruise in figure eights until daybreak.
During the 0000-0400 watch, I was manning the helm, when a radioman, came into the pilot house to report that they had picked up a German submarine sending a message in five letter code very close to us. This radio transmission was picked up by the FULLAM's radio direction finder.
Captain Daniel was called to the bridge and the situation was explained to him. After thinking it over for a minute he said, "See those lights over there, that means liberty in the morning. We will continue our patrol, call me if you sight him."
After the Captain left the bridge, everyone in the pilot house was wondering why we didn't go after that G-- D--- Nazi. After much discussion, we decided that since radar and sonar hadn't picked him up, it would be a futile goose chase. The best explanation was that since the ship's crew was so green and stupid, the Captain was adverse to engage an experienced U-boat. Anyway, it made for an exciting Mid-watch".
"After about two weeks training in the San Diego area, we were ordered to the Mare Island Navy Yard which is a few miles north of San Francisco at a small town called Vallejo.
While there, our two forward 20mm guns were replace with two 40mm mounts. This gave us much more fire power and better protection against planes.
Several of us got to attend two gunnery schools. The first one was held right on Mare Island, a small arms school taught by a Mrine sergeant. We learned to shoot a Thompson sub-machine gun, a 1903 Springfield rifle and a 45-cal. Luger.
The ship's cooks packed us a lunch and we marched across the island. At lunch time the Marine left us to go to the Marine Barracks to eat. A big mistake! We ate and got bored waiting for him, so we first shot up the glue bubket to paste up the targets. Then, we riddled the targets to pieces. We then went after the big game. All over the West Coast there were barrage balloons tethered to a cable and one happened to be floating right over our heads. So we began to shoot at the balloon. The Marine returned just in time because we were just about to shoot it down. He was mad, mainly, for destroying his targets.
I wondered why we were sent to small arms school until two years later. I was thankful we went as I needed the knowledge. More about that later. Also, we got to learn more about barrage balloons later, too.
We were sent to a 40mm and 20mm gunnery school at Pt. Monterra, California; got to ride in an Army truck for a hundred miles each way. We stayed at the school for five days. I guess the training was good although I spent most of my time in a 5"/38 caliber gun.
In August we set sail for Pearl Harbor and back to the war zone. This was my second trip out there. After leaving Pearl and on our way to the South Pacific, we crossed the Equator. Fortunately, I was already a Shellback and could have dished it out during the initiation ceremony but chose not to.
NOTICE! -- NOTICE! -- NOTICE!
Once again Bill DiMarco is planning a FULLAM mini-reunion on Cape Cod this fall; the date is October 29-31. The location will be the Mariner Motel at West Yarmouth, Massachusetts; having been there in 2001, I can assure you it's a great place to meet. In addition, the area is very scenic and drive to the end of the Cape is well worth the extra time. This could be one of the last opportunities to get together with your old shipmates and I would certainly recommend making every effort to be there. Bill will be sending out postcards around September 1 to remind you plus additional information.
Here follows a little vignette from yours truly; I've been thinking about this one for a long time:
"Sunday, April 9, 1944, was a beautiful, cloudless, bright autumn day as seven ships of the mighty South Pacific fleet entered the harbor of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Each ship had its largest American ensign flying majestically from their masts virtually glistening in the bright sun. Along the shore were lines of Australians looking, and a few clapping, as these ships passed in review. In order, the USS MONTPELIER (CL57) led followed by the USS CLEVELAND (CL55), the USS FULLAM (DD474), the USS BENNETT (DD473), the USS HUDSON (DD475), the USS HALFORD (DD480), and the USS GUEST (472).
As a 19 year old Quartermaster 3/c whose Special Sea Detail station was in the after steering engine room, I was not going to miss this dramatic entrance. Consequently, I went up the ladder from this duty and opened the hatch by the after 20mm guns and depth charges; although sitting on the edge of the hatch with the sound powered phones on my head wasn't exactly comfortable it was well worth it. After 60 plus years I can still see those flags, the ships, the shoreline, the people, etc. I finally had to give up my seat to the electrician's mate who served in the after steering engine room with me.
We finally arrived at our mooring which was in Woolloomoolo Bay, starboard side to dock #11 with the USS GUEST alongside to port and the USS HUDSON outboard of the GUEST. I think they called the liberty party before the lines were even secured. However, the first ones ashore were the designated Shore Patrol from the Ship. They were Dagenkolb, RT l/c, in charge, Phillips, GM 2/c, Brinley, BM 2/c, and Winders, CM 2/c.
Those eight days in Sydney were a great experience and ones that all of us who were there will never forget. Remember we had six liberties from 1300 to 1100 the following day!"
Two things - in case you question "autumn" in April, we were in the Southern Hemisphere. Also, believe me, my memory is not that good relative to the details - I had the benefit of the ship's logs!
Think about the WW 2 memorial and the Cape Cod reunion!
Your old shipmate,
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