From the interview with Colonel Alexander C. Page, U.S. Army ret., of Mesa, AZ conducted by phone by John Clise from the Fort Worden History Center on May 20, 2004. Col. Page served in the Corps of Engineers Brigade 532nd ES&B at Fort Worden. His military career spanned the years 1945 to1975. He earned a Bronze Star and the Legion of Merit for his service in Korea and Viet Nam. Here he describes life at Fort Worden, with some help from his wife, Betty, and some of his other experiences:
“We arrived at Fort Worden in March of 1948. The weather was good. We were very well received by the people who were there in the brigade, most of the brigade was overseas in Eniwetok at the time…They gave me responsibility for all the equipment that was sitting down in the motor pool, there was a lot of it. I was supposed to make sure it was kept up to operating condition and accounted for. I was a Second Lieutenant at the time. After about four months, the rest of the brigade returned and I became a platoon leader in one of the shore companies.”
Mrs. Page: “…We lived down on Water Street on the third floor of a building owned by Mr. Aldrich. He had turned two floors into apartments and there were about ten of us lieutenants and families that lived down on Water Street….It was just so much fun. First of all, we were all there and were all young. When they had a parade we’d just kind of look out the window and watch it go by. The people downtown were very friendly. …None of us had very much money, so we would get together and play cards and have iced tea and coffee. Everything took place at the Officers Club out at Fort Worden, we would go out there and dance and what have you.”
Col. Page: “Then we moved to a housing project in town, where the golf course is now. That housing project was all wood, just one story with a piece of plywood between your set of places where you had a two bedroom unit and the next family’s two bedroom unit. You could hear one family to the next family to the next family all the way through the whole place. …We were then in Doctor Chris’ house over his garage. We also went to Fort Casey, where we did basic training for the 5th Army. They’d send trainees there and we’d train them over on Whidbey Island. We had a house over there that had 21 rooms in it. We’d invite a whole bunch of people from Fort Worden to come over for a weekend and we’d fill it up. It was fun, and we had our own boats at the time so you could go back and forth.
One time we pulled out of Fort Worden, went out to the Pacific Ocean, down the Columbia River, all the way up the Columbia to The Dalles…. On this particular trip, we lost one of the LCM’s (Landing Craft Medium) It just split open and that was due, I reckon, to the failure of the seam. These were World War II amphibious boats and LCM’s. We didn’t lose anybody on that boat.
…Another time, we went on a mission all the way through the Panama Canal to the East Coast with our boats. Then we had to go by ship to do an operation with the Marines down to Vieques Island. Our boats were carried by ship. They came and picked us up and we became kind of the lieutenants on the boats by being deck officers. They put us through the course on being a deck officer before we left. We were gone about six months.
…In July 1950, we picked up the whole brigade and went to Korea. We made the landing at Inchon with Marines and the Army. We were part of the amphibious operation. Then we took the 7th Division and went all the way up around and landed at Iwon, which is above Hungnam, up there at the Chosin reservoir close by. Then, when the Army was pushed back, we went to Hungnam and did the evacuation of everything we could out of Korea back south through Hungnam … we went down south,back to Pusan, to Seoul, to Inchon . The we pulled out and went back to Japan.”