Don Fuller Collection
The main page of our web site is now displaying a black background in memory of Chief Don Fuller. Don went to be with the Lord 23 September 2008. Since Don first contacted me about 10 years ago, he has been one of the main suppliers of information for the web site and I could always depend on him to proof any work I did. He spent hours going through the site helping to add information and correct what ever he found wrong. He is going to be missed and hopefully I will be able to keep the site up to his standards.
More important than the work on the
web site was his friendship and many prayers for his family, friends
and shipmates. Only a few of his caliber pass our way and we are the
richer by knowing him.
In 1943 Don graduated from Highland Park High School and went to work for the summer at the Chrysler Tank Arsenal in Warren, MI. The world was deeply embroiled in World War II and the United States war machine was in full swing.
It was September of that year when Uncle Sam sent a "Greetings" message to Don like thousands of other graduates that year. He immediately reported to the Federal Bldg. in Detroit and was sworn in the Naval Reserve as a Selective Volunteer. October 6, 1943 he departed for the Naval Training Center in Farragut, Idaho for Boot Training. After completing Boot Training he continued his Navy Training and graduated from the Hospital Corps School also at Farragut as a Hospital Apprentice First Class. (HA1/C)
His first duty assignment was the U.S. Naval Hospital, Mare Island, CA. There he worked on the amputation ward for half a day and continued his education the other half. This training included Advanced First Aid, Minor Surgery and Routine Nursing Care.
In early March 1944 he boarded the Merchant Vessel Day-Star for a 17 day zig-zag trip across the ocean to the French Island of New Caledonia in the South Pacific. Upon arrival at the island the first 2 nights were spent in a 4-man tent. Then was assigned to Mobile Hospital #5. In July 1944 was designated Fleet Hospital #105. Throughout the assignment Don worked on postoperative surgical wards. In addition he worked a ward exclusively for Marines suffering from Combat Fatigue. Along the way it was discovered that Don could type so consequently he was assigned to the Personnel Office writing letters to the Next of Kin for those unable to write home due to wounds or mental distress.
After 19 months the war was over and Don arrived home aboard the APA PRESIDENT POLK, (amphibious attack transport). It was a much faster trip than the one going overseas. Don enjoyed a 30 day leave and then reported to the LSM 31 (Landing Ship Medium) where he was the only medical rep. among a crew of 54. Don was a Pharmacist Mate Second Class at this point.
In April 1946 Don was release from active duty. He entered Highland Park Jr. College that summer under the GI. Bill. He soon learned that college did not provide the kind of action-oriented challenge he was used to. Consequently he boarded a bus on July 20, 1946 and headed for NAS, Grosse Ile. It was a great ride from Detroit to the main gate. It cost the huge sum of 25 cents. "I remember it like yesterday, I went past the main hanger and saw row upon row of yellow SNJ's lined up. There were also F4U4 Cosairs, F6F Hellcats, PBY's, R4D's, SNB's, TBM's and PV's. There were even a few SBD Dautlass's. The next thing I recall was the swearing in ceremony at the Administration Bldg. by LT. Keenan, the Personnel Officer."
I was once again in the Navy as a Pharmacist Mate Second Class but as a Station Keeper. I had a 4 year contract with a clause that I could leave anytime with a 7-day notice.
In 1946 a USO Show came to the base. Three of the old barracks were converted into apartments and called Veteran's Housing. Later they were renamed Navy Housing. In February 1947 we moved into a one bedroom unit which included light, heat and water all for the grand sum of $30.00 per month. Telephone service was not available in the housing at the time.
In the Dispensary at Grosse Ile all Corpsmen were obliged to learn the function of every internal dept. Working with NAVCADS was the task I enjoyed most. Working with College students who wanted to become Naval Aviators. Flying by helicopter to college campuses to administer screening physicals and mental exams were very rewarding. In 1961 Don was promoted to Chief Hospital Corpsman. In September 1963 he retired and was transferred to the Fleet Reserve.
Written by Hal Neubauer.
Don's wife Betty still resides in Riverview and have 6 children, 6 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren.
The next set of photos
are from the early
Web Master: Stanley Outlaw
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Revised: December 31, 2013