Interview With Donald E. Young

From the interview with Donald E. Young of Kingston, WA conducted by Tim Caldwell at the Fort Worden History Center on May 10, 2002.  Mr. Young served in the US Army 369th  Engineers Amphibious Support Regiment from 1950 to 1952.  Here he recounts the journey to Thule, Greenland and the duty there in the Summer of 1951:

“We took a troop train from Fort MacArthur in San Pedro, CA to Norfolk, VA across the southern states. We went aboard the USS Deuel APA 160.  We anchored out one night and then they made up this convoy of ships and headed up to Thule, Greenland.  It took us quite a while to get up there because there was so much ice. On the way, we saw lots of big icebergs.It took us better than a month, trying to get to Thule.  There were several ships in the convoy.  There was a Navy ice breaker, the East Wind that went with us.  They had a helicopter and tried to scout ways to get through the ice. Thule was a World War II air base, during the Korean War they were making it into an all-weather jet base and building it up, and extending it.  We handled supplies.  We  went up there primarily to run the landing craft, but the Navy ran landing craft so we acted as longshoremen.  We worked 12-hour shifts.  There were two shifts, we lived aboard the ship and they transported us back and forth.  We went ashore and handled cargo that was coming in.  We were unloading for 30 days, they said that during that time we unloaded more supplies than the initial landing in Normandy during World War II.  There were several big construction companies that were building fuel tanks, all kinds of earth-moving equipment.  One of our jobs was to unload an LST that was full of big heavy tractors and road graders.  We went in and turned off the turnbuckles.  Then the civilians came in and started the machinery and rolled them onto shore. We got back to the US on August 28th.  It only took a few days.”

 

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