A WW II Sailor's Duty
Donald Wallace Fisher enlisted in the Coast Guard the week after the Pearl Harbor attack. When called, he was shipped to Ellis Island to take his boat test, and for boot camp. When he said he worked for the phone company before enlisting, he was sent directly to the S S Normandie, no boot camp, to work on the fire alarm system for it’s renovation to a troop transport. He was in the Coast Guard telephone section as a 3rd Class Electricians Mate- Telephone.
While in Washington State placing shore patrol telephones, he let it be known he was interested in the Coast Guard Academy. He’s not sure who put him in, but someone came out to give him some tests. He found out he was accepted after he returned to the east coast. He went to Atlantic City for the CRC (Candidate, Reserve Commission) course. He spent four months at the Coast Guard Academy, graduating in Jan, 1944
When he graduated, he spent a month teaching Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) on the Manasquan at the Academy.
After The Academy he took command as an ensign on an 83 foot
cutter, the 83508, doing harbor entrance control off the Virginia Capes
stationed out of Little Creek.
The crew consisted of two gunner’s mates, 2 signalmen, a cook, a sonar man (ASW), three boatswains mates, one chief boatswains mate, and four machinists mates.
At one point he had to take the boat at night to NY City to unload ASW rockets. He felt it had something to do with the transfer of 83 footers to the ‘Matchbox Fleet for NormandHe then took the boat to St. George, Staten Island for updating at Wheeler shipyard.
They were then loaded on the deck of the liberty ship Wiley Post for delivery to Panama where they were off-loaded. While drifting in the Windward Passage with engine problems on the way to Panama, my father talked to a gunner’s mate who said he was fishing on the “bottom”. The pole had about a hundred feet of line and the ship was in 2000 fathoms of water.
In Panama they were then loaded on an LST for the trip through
the Panama Canal to San Pedro, CA, the port for Los Angeles.
At San Pedro he commanded two to three 83 footers for training at Catalina Island.
His ship was then loaded on the deck of the Esso Memphis with a sister ship, 83397, for shipment to Eniwetok. During the voyage the Esso Memphis lost a crew member overboard who was never recovered.
Enewetak (or Eniwetok) is an atoll in the Marshall Islands of the central Pacific Ocean. Its land consists of about 40 small islets totaling less than 6 km˛, surrounding a lagoon, 80 km (50 mi) incircumference. It is the second westernmost atoll of the Ralik Chain
At Eniwetok the boats, 83508, 83397, and 83416, were organized as anti Japanese mini-sub patrols. During the uneventful tour, the crew spent much of the time catching lobsters and water skiing behind the patrol boat.
When the war ended his boat and crew were shipped from Pearl Harbor on a towed 484’ floating dry dock, ARD-08, with two other boats.
The minesweeper AMC-8, and the net tender Tamaha. The unique vessel at times weathered a tilt of 32 degrees in heavy weather en route.
He returned to the Port of San Pedro, Los Angeles, and then decommissioned from the active CG to the Inactive Reserve.
Donald Wallace Fisher
Branford, Conn 06405