Interview With Robert W. Klum

From the interview with Robert W. Klum of King City, OR conducted by phone by Patience Rogge on December 4, 2008 from the Fort Worden History Center.  Mr. Klum served in the U.S. Army 369th Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment from 1951 to 1953 at Fort Worden.  Here he describes an incident that proved rather embarrassing for his commanding officer:

“The master boat must have been probably 80 feet long.  It was kind of like a PT boat, very fast, the colonel who was the head of our group rode on it.  They called it a Q boat.  The colonel got himself in big trouble one time.  All the companies (you can imagine how many boats we had) and the Q boat left Fort Worden at 3:00 AM and headed for the San Juan Islands.  I had no idea what we were going to do when we got there, but we went off to Blaine, WA, and anchored the boats just outside Blaine.  You could see the beaches of Canada at night.   We had a little fun sending light messages in Morse code, talking to sailors who were on the beach.  When we woke up the next morning, it was foggy, very foggy.  The Q boat went around and told us which way we were going to go, and then we would all follow.  We were underway about two hours, thinking we were heading toward the San Juan Islands.  All of a sudden, a big Canadian destroyer pulled up alongside us, honking his horn and telling everybody to shut off their engines; that  we were in Canadian waters and we didn’t have permission to be in Canadian waters and we were all under arrest.

The colonel who was on the Q boat that was leading us was very embarrassed and spent quite a bit of time talking to the commander of the Canadian destroyer.  He admitted he’d made a mistake and wanted help to try to find his way back home.”

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