Interview With George H. Woods

From the interview with George H. Woods of Renton, WA conducted by Henry West at the Fort Worden History Center on July 11, 2002.  Mr. Woods served in the U.S. Army Company B, 532 Engineer Boat and Shore Regiment, 2nd Engineer Special Brigade from 1947 through 1949 at Fort Worden.  Here he describes his unit’s mission and activities:

“The mission was being able to take troops  and material into shore.  I was sent from Fort Flagler to Fort Worden to go to radio school, and then assigned to a small tugboat, the T5, which was here at Fort Worden.  The T5 was used to ferry troops to Fort Casey or Fort Flagler, it was a 65-foot with a crew of four moored right out on the pier.  The skipper was master sergeant James Conrad, Bill Handley was the chief engineer, Donald G. Barton was the boatswain mate and I was the radio operator.  We spent quite a bit of time living on the T5.  We did maneuvers down the Washington coast, up the Columbia River.  We went out through the Straits with a small boat.  There were three other vessels assigned here at the time, the Y64, a tanker vessel; a tugboat called the LT130, and a freight ship, the FS211.  They were assigned to go with us down the coast.  If one of the LCMs (Landing Craft Medium) would break down, the LT130 would put it in tow and the Y64 could refuel it off the coast.  I remember five or six vessels in tow that had broken down.  One time one of the LCMs got water in the bearing shaft and we had to sink it because it turned over from the weight of the engine.  The first trip with that group, we went all the way up the Columbia to The Dalles, OR.  With the next group, we just went into the Bonneville Dam.  On one of those trips on the Columbia, the tanker ran aground on a sandbar  and we had to get a tow boat to pull her off.  There was a lot of seasickness going out the Strait of Juan de Fuca, going across the bar into Grays Harbor and across the bar into the Columbia River. It was quite an experience for a land based soldier to go out in rough weather.  The whole reason for the training was to be able to exist in those conditions.

Later the opportunity to go to marine radar school at Treasure Island, CA came up and I was picked to go for six months. Because we were a marine group, we needed people to operate marine radar. Initially I had enlisted for 18 months, so I had to extend my enlistment to three years.  So, there I was, a GI down there with the Marines and Navy.  The Navy was really receptive, but the Marines weren’t too happy seeing a bunch of doggies, as we were called in those days, going to school.  After the six months, I returned to Fort Worden, my main base.  I was never out of Company B, 532nd .”

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