Interview With William F. Gurley

From the interview with William F. Gurley of Kingston, WA conducted by Ken Brink at the Fort Worden History Center on July 2, 2002. Mr. Gurley’s father, Captain Franklin Chris Gurley of the U.S. Army Coast Artillery Corps, commanded A Battery at Fort Worden from 1937 to 1940. The Gurley family lived on Officers Row in Quarters Six West during their time at Fort Worden. Here Mr. Gurley talks about what it was like to be living on the post in the years before World War II:
“It was a hell of a fine place to be a kid. We had the parade ground to play football on, had the gym to play basketball in, everything was here. In those days, of course, if you had five guys to play football with, two on one side and three on the other. We didn’t have uniforms and that kind of stuff. We just played ball to have fun.
…There was no guard at the gate or anything like that. Anybody who wanted to come on post, came on post… The only time there were any restrictions was when they were having a service practice and firing the weapons, then you couldn’t go up on the hill. (That didn’t happen very often because) they didn’t have enough money to shoot it very often back before the war.
…We were just kids like everyone else (in town)…If somebody saw you misbehaving, it was a pretty small town and it didn’t take long for it to get back to your folks; so, if the person who saw you didn’t straighten you out very shortly, when you got home your father would.”
Describing his father’s job at Fort Worden commanding A Battery:
“It was full time, leading these people, having them and seeing that they were trained properly on the weapons they had to use up on Artillery Hill. Oh, all the military courtesy, and the marching and the drilling, and all of that business. He had to oversee that and make sure it happened. Of course, let’s face it, the first sergeant did most of the actual doing; but the officer was responsible.”
When asked about memorable characters:
“Colonel and Mrs. Pace; the commanding officer, Colonel Cunningham. Charlie Meyers, Major Meyers. Chuck Meyers was his son. Chuck was going to go to the Military Academy, but a bunch of us were up on Artillery Hill one day and we were climbing down that real steep escarpment that you can see from the lighthouse. Chuck slipped, fell all the way down to the beach and dislocated his hip, fractured his leg. We got him out of there, but that was the end of his hopes for the Military Academy. He had one leg that was shorter than the other after that. I don’t know what happened to him. I don’t know what he did.”

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