COAST GUARD SURFMEN ON THE USS FULLER(AP-5)
by CBM(L) Mawood Boole, USCG (ret) as told to Richard Chenery
During WWII it was common to mix Navy and Coast Guard crews. It wasn't always well received.
In May of 1942 thirty of us who were Coast Guard surfmen, half BM2's and the rest MoMM2's (enginemen) were sent from our lifeboat stations to Norfolk, Virginia with orders to report aboard the USS Fuller(AP-5), an attack transport, to serve as landing craft boat crews.
When we surfmen first reported aboard the USS Fuller in Norfolk the Captain told us he didn't need us. He went to Base Headquarters to try to have us reassigned but was told he had to keep us in the crew.
The USS Fuller was a Navy vessel with a mixed Navy/Coast Guard crew. We could carry about 1600 Marines aboard the ship. We had 15 or 16 Higgins boats which were landing craft built in New Orleans which did not have bow ramps. They carried about 36 Marines at a time putting them on the beach. We also had two boats which were LCVP's that could carry a tank or large truck.
We landed Marines at Guadalcanal and at Tulagi in the South Pacific. Our ship also was in the Battle of the Coral Sea and was under Japanese air attack at Guadalcanal and Savo Island.
I was on the ship about fourteen months from May, 1942, until the last of June, 1943.
About two months before I left the ship the Captain was reassigned to Pearl Harbor. Just before he left the ship he called all of us surfmen together and asked if we remembered how when we first came aboard he said, "he didn't need us and tried to have us reassigned?" He had a change of heart. He went on to say, "whenever we used our boats we always kept 'em going. Some of his Navy boat crews were like that, but not all of them. "If he were going to another ship I would take all of you with me if he could."
The captain saved us several times by his actions. I can't remember his name now, but there were none better than him."
Jack, I hope you can add this to the priceless Coast Guard stories that you have collected and preserved. I plan to send you some more from the old "L" men that I have talked to.
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