NEWSLETTER Winter 2004 - Jan 9, 2004
USS FULLAM (DD 474) Northern Solomons - Bougainville - Bismarck Archipelago Marianas - Western Caroline Islands - Iwo Jima - Okinawa
All I can say is TARE VECTOR GEORGE, or, WELL DONE! That is, my request for funds to continue this letter were unbelievable, and, all I can say is many, many thanks. Actually, you were generous enough to provide for another 12 letters or so for which I am truly grateful. Also, many of you wrote some complementary remarks concerning my letters and I modestly accept. Again, many thanks!
Once again, the Cape Cod reunion was marked by quality ~d little quantity as only three shipmates and two wives were in attendance;
the shipmates were John Crowther, Bill DiMarco, and John Glencross.
Bill said they all had a great time and spent a good~ time rehashing their days aboard the FULLAM.
Include in this letter is an up-to-date mailing list for the newsletter; if you note any mistakes, please let me know so that they can be corrected. Also, if you have any addresses for shipmates not listed, please advise me of them. As of this list, we have 76 shipmates, 10 widows, 9 family members, and 2 friends.
Speaking of family members, I have a request from Lana Shrader who is listed on our roster. Her father was Thomas Howard Cox and a FULLAM -plank owner; he passed away in 1978 at the age of 55. Quoting from her letter, she asks "I am searching for anyone who knew my Dad -and would like for them to contact me by mail or E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. My Dad joined the Navy in July, 1942, and was discharged on October 31,1945, as a Torpedoman Third Class. I know he was not on the Fullam the entire time he was in the Navy. but I do not know the names of the other ships on which he served, I' would appreciate any help or information you could give me. There are four of children who would love to know about that part of Dad I life. " Perhaps, one or more of you could help her,.
When November 1 came around this year, I could not help but remember that it marked the 60th anniversary of the Fuller's "baptism of fire". It was 19430 and we were off the beach a- Empress Augusta Bay, Bougainvillea, Solomon Islands, participating in the landing of the Marines. About mid-morning the first wave of Japanese planes, fighters and torpedo planes, attacked and the "Mighty F" took them under fire. I had a ringside seat from the starboard wing of the bridge and I can still picture those big red circles on the wings of those planes; I recall seeing our 5-inch burst~ inching closer and "closer to his tail but somehow he escaped. I don't think we shot any of those planes down that day but I bet we scared the hell out of several! I often felt that when those pilots saw that "474" on our bow, the92 realized right then that victory for them was now
impossible as the FULLAM had joined the fight and their cause was lost - no doubt, the turning point of WW 2!
In the latest "Naval History" magazine there is an article about Rear Admiral Aaron "Tip" Merrill, Commander of Task Force 39. This Task" Force of cruisers and destroyers participated in the Battle of Empress Augusta Bay and defeated a similar Japanese force. Here follows a couple of paragraphs from this article that should be of interest to us as-we were the screen for the transport group under Admiral Wilkinson during this entire engagement:
"We sailors should all have a clear appreciation of the limitations of aircraft as well as their virtures. When Admiral Wilkinson requested that T.F. 39 take position between St. George's Channel and Empress Augusta Bay in the event the retiring enemy Task Force reverse its course, "Air Solomons" replied that if this Jap Task Force reversed its course the air would destroy it before it could reach Empress Augusta Bay. Only the reconnaissance. planes which made the two excellent Contact reports were in evidence on this black and squally night. Had Admiral Halsey and Admiral Wilkinson failed to appreciate aircraft limitations the enemy Task Force might have destroyed our transports and mine laying detachment and shelled our troops and supplies which were freshly landed on the beaches of Empress Augusta Bay. Despite these tactical and other flaws, Merrill had achieved a great victory. By blocking the entrance to Empress Augusta Bay, he prevented the destruction of the Allied amphibious force landing on the beach. Omori never got closer than 35 miles of the U.S. transports at Cape Torokina. Merrill's plan required him to push the Japanese ships to the west, away from the Cape, both to give him more sea room for maneuvering and to allow any of his ships that were damaged to retire on the disengaged side."
Who knows but had things worked out differently, and, that Japanese force caught us, our war could, have been mighty short! I do recall seeing the gunfire flashes and fires from that battle as several of us were watching from the director deck over the pilot house. If any of you have any memories or thoughts of November 1, 1943, let me know.
In one of my recent letters I asked for any comments regarding crew members, particularly the odd ones. Anyway, I received a letter from Max Yergin from which I should like to repeat here - Max says:
"My thoughts of certain characters are good ones. I stood watch with Van Sandt, GM, on number four five-inch gun on night watch. He knew one of the Officer's cooks who would bring us coffee, fresh baked bread and cheese or other food. I also stood watch with Bowman, GM, and Garrett Lynch. They were great guys but not chow hounds like Van Sandt - coffee was better than nothing! I remember Hamilton, BM, who had a little trouble with an Officer's cook on the fantail who was dumping garbage. He called Hamilton a few nasty. words and, about that time the cook was on the deck. Hamilton could take care of most situations"
Do you remember all the cameras that suddenly showed-up aboard ship after the war was over particularly after we docked at Kodiak? I think most of us have many pictures from that period, and, please
note the following picture of the Bridge Gang probably taken in late September or early October, 1945, on the forecastle. I think Price King took as he is not in the picture but was still aboard at this time. The two stalwarts of our group, Bill Modrell, and Ed Summers, had already departed for discharge.
In my next letter I plan to write about an organization called the "League of Destroyermen" which was in existence back in the early 70's and, I think, eventually became the "Tin Can Sailors". Pat Ferguson sent me a copy of their paper called "The Aldis Lamp" for Aug-Sept, '71, and I'll try and include parts of it as some of our shipmates are photographed in it.
Have a great Holiday Season! Thanks again for your generosity.
Your old shipmate,
Caption under Photos on left
Rear Adm Henry C. Daniel, better known to friends as Ches is commander of Destroyer Flotilla 2.
Believe it or not, but here are three Commanding Officers of the "Mighty F". You recall that Captain Daniels commissioned the ship, Capt Kelly relieved him in June 1943, and Captain Boyd relieved him in December 1944. Their graduation dates from the Naval Academy were '24, '32, and '38 respectively. I got this picture of Captain Daniels and Boyd from an article about the Daniels brothers in a Philadelphia newspaper sent me several years ago from a forgotten shipmate.
On the flagship, the destroyer "Fullam," in 1944. Capt. John C. Daniel (center)was often mistaken by the crew for Ches, who had commissioned and captained ship.
Too big to put here is Fullam Association membership.
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